Cristian Rivera Foundation

Cristian Rivera Foundation Team

Director

Sarde Laurente
Sarde Laurente

Creative Director

Bryan Vallejo

Team

Emma Hall
Niyomi Shah
Niyomi Shah
Zach McKinley
Aayush Gandhi
Aayush Gandhi
Niyomi Shah
Niyomi Shah
Rhea Maladkar
Rhea Maladkar
Sydney Forte
Sarde Laurente

Bio:
Sarde graduated from Montclair State University with a degree in Nutrition and went on to teach cooking, urban gardening, and environmental education classes throughout NY and NJ. She has extensive experience providing nutrition and sustainability workshops within juvenile detention centers and affordable housing units with the goal of serving others and promoting a healthy relationship with food and the environment for all. When Sarde was diagnosed with Lupus 5 years ago, it became her passion to help others reach their full potential no matter what their circumstances, abilities, or obstacles. She is thrilled to bring hope to DIPG patients and families and to help them overcome the impossible through her work with the Cristian Rivera Foundation.

Bio:

Bryan Vallejo is an instrumental member of the Cristian Rivera Foundation. Bryan attended the Borough of Manhattan Community College where he received his Associate’s in Multimedia Programming. He continued his education at the Institute of Pittsburgh for animation. Bryan has always had a passion for drawing and creating images so that they can come to life. One of his biggest accomplishments was the opportunity to illustrate “Cristian’s Journey” written by CRF Founder, John “Gungie” Rivera. Bryan is grateful for the potential that John saw in him, as well as his role in CRF.

Bio:

Emma is a senior at the University of North Alabama. Her major is Journalism and Digital Media Production with a minor in Professional Writing. Emma was born in Huntsville Alabama and raised by her father. He taught her to care for and help those around her. Her dreams including helping as many as she can with her work and art.

She is thankful to the Cristian Rivera Foundation for the opportunity and is ecstatic to connect with others through the foundation. From here, Emma plans to continue her work with social media and writing to produce her own novel.

Niyomi Shah

Bio:

Niyomi is a rising senior at Northview High School from Duluth, Georgia. Niyomi has founded a non-profit where she shares her passion for dance to help restore mental and physical health that may have been affected through COVID. She actively leads many other service events in her community and is engaged in research of other rare diseases. Interning at CRF gives Niyomi the opportunity to satisfy her scientific curiosity about DIPG and take steps towards her goal of becoming a physician.

Bio:

Zach graduated from the University of South Carolina with a Degree in Media Arts and Psychology. Currently he works as a freelance photographer in Columbia SC. Recently he has gotten into graphic design and hopes to hone his skills here at CRF. Eventually Zach would like to move to NYC to work for a media company. In his free time he enjoys rock climbing and learning instruments.

Aayush Gandhi

Bio:

Aayush Gandhi is a student and published author with a passion for learning about the complexities of the human body. He has experience working with teens facing substance abuse disorders in his hometown as well as experience in the field of mental health, where he has published multiple articles as well as being a primary author of a book. Interning at CRF gives Aayush the opportunity to merge his scientific interest in oncology with his passion for writing to create meaningful impacts in the world.

Rhea Maladkar

Bio:

Rhea was born in Washington D.C., but was raised in Huntsville, Alabama. She is a junior at The University of South Alabama in Mobile, Alabama, and is pursuing a major in Psychology, along with minors in Marketing and Industrial Organizational Psychology. Rhea served as the Philanthropy Chair for her sorority, Phi Mu, this year. Phi Mu’s philanthropy is Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and she is very excited to continue her journey with non-profits by working with The Cristian Rivera Foundation. 

Bio:

Sydney is a rising sophomore and is transferring to the University of South Carolina to pursue a bachelor’s degree in English and International Affairs. She plans to attend law school where she hopes to specialize in corporate law and eventually start her own non-profit aimed at helping disadvantaged single mothers. This is an exciting opportunity for her and she can’t wait to learn more.