StudentDebtCrisis is a non-profit advocacy organization dedicated to reforming funding for higher education in America.
Robert Applebaum, Co-founder / Executive Director
Robert Applebaum is an attorney from Staten Island, NY and the founder of ForgiveStudentLoanDebt.com. Rob is a 1998 graduate of Fordham University School of Law and, thereafter, he served as an Assistant District Attorney in Brooklyn, N.Y. between 1999 and 2004. After 5 years of service as an ADA, because of his exponentially increasing student loan debt, Applebaum made the unfortunate decision to leave a public service job he loved for the private sector, where he remained for the next 5 years.
In late January, 2009, frustrated with countless bailouts of the very institutions responsible for the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, news of lavish vacations, exorbitant bonuses and office redecorations, Robert Applebaum authored an essay entitled “Forgive Student Loan Debt to Stimulate the Economy” which he posted to a new Facebook Group by the same name. Due to the overwhelming popularity of the Facebook group, Mr. Applebaum founded ForgiveStudentLoanDebt.com so as to advocate for both current and former students struggling under massive amounts of student loan debt.
Applebaum’s petition on the White House’s “We the People” site, which garnered over 32,000 signatures, resulted in a direct response from the Obama Administration when they unveiled the “Pay As You Earn” initiative in October, 2011.
Rob’s most recent petition on SignOn.org, in favor of H.R. 4170, The Student Loan Forgiveness Act of 2012, has over One Million signatures and, on June 28, 2012, he presented his petition to Rep. Hansen Clarke, author of H.R. 4170 at a press conference at the Capitol.
Robert Applebaum has written on the topic of student loan debt for The New York Times, Salon.com, The Guardian and The Hill. He has been featured in BusinessWeek, The Economist, U.S. News & World Report, The Huffington Post, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Now on PBS, Nightly Business Report, RT America, PBS NewsHour and Default: The Student Loan Documentary. Follow him on twitter @bobbyapples
Natalia Abrams, Co-founder / Director of Operations
Natalia Abrams is an educational advocate working toward solutions to provide accessible, quality, affordable education for all students. Natalia’s first engagement with activism was protesting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. She continued her passion by majoring in Women’s Studies at UCLA where she was a student intern at the Feminist Majority Foundation. Upon graduating UCLA in 2009, amid an economic crisis, the issues of education and student debt became the forefront of Natalia’s advocacy.
In 2011 Natalia co-founded the Occupy Colleges initiative, a national student movement. While serving as a the media representative of Occupy Colleges, Natalia wrote for the Student Nation, personally appeared on The Dylan Ratigan show on MSNBC, CBS Sunday Morning and Free Speech TV. In addition, Natalia has been quoted in the New York Times, Huffington Post, The Nation, NPR, Reuters, AP, Nation of Change, among many other media sources. Natalia is passionate about engaging with college students and tackling the issues of student debt. She currently serves as a Backbone Campaign research fellow and the Co-Founder/Director of Operations for StudentDebtCrisis.org – Follow her on twitter @nataliaabrams
Kyle McCarthy, Co-founder / Direct of Communications
Kyle serves as a “people mobilizer” by assisting social change organizations with social media campaigns and marketing for good, and his projects have appeared in hundreds of media outlets. He is a graduate of Mount Saint Mary’s University in Maryland where he received a degree in Business and Marketing and received his M.A. from the University of San Francisco. Kyle also serves as a Fellow with the nonprofit, the Backbone Campaign and was recently listed as one of “10 advocates fighting for student loan reform” for leading a grassroots campaign around DEFAULT: The Student Loan Documentary and for launching OccupyStudentDebt.com. He has written for Huffington Post, Yahoo, The Nation, Nation of Change, International Political Forum, and more. Connect with Kyle on Twitter @KyleMcCarthyism.
Aaron Calafato, Co-founder / Artistic Director
Aaron is a professional actor and storyteller. His work specifically deals with using performance and storytelling as a social tool to instigate conversation, civil discourse, and social change. He is a recent recipient of a 2012 Emerging Artist Grant from The Puffin Foundation and currently touring his solo-piece FOR PROFIT as seen in: The Chronicle , Campus Progress, NPR, WEWS ABC Channel 5 , The Fiscal Times, TheHill and Washington Monthly. Follow him on twitter @AaronCalafato
Jacob Willman, Video Editor
Steve Abrams, Webmaster/ IT