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RAISED BY A SINGLE FATHER ON THE UPPER WEST SIDE along with three siblings after his mother died when he was 10, Steven Appel has called the Upper West Side home for more than 25 of his 31 years. Steven’s Jewish upbringing instilled in him an unwavering commitment to fight for justice and equality for all people. Steven lives on 106th street and cares deeply about the future of our community. Since graduating from Queens College-CUNY in 2009 as Valedictorian, Steven has built a reputation as a progressive and innovative social entrepreneur. Steven combines bold vision and integrity with a collaborative servant leadership style that unifies people and produces extraordinary results. He is a different kind of leader. When his college newspaper’s budget was cut, Steven paid staff out of his own pocket. He holds an MBA in Management & Sustainability from Baruch-CUNY. Steven is a dreamer and a listener, but above all—a doer. 





THROUGHOUT HIS LIFE STEVEN HAS LED. Most recently, Steven co-founded the Center for Ethnic, Racial and Religious Understanding at Queens College (CERRU), along with Mark Rosenblum, John Vogelsang & Sophia McGee. CERRU is a non-profit organization dedicated to facilitating cross-cultural engagement to advance understanding. As assistant director for five years, Steven helped grow CERRU to a staff of 8 with an annual budget of nearly $700,000. His work impacted thousands of lives in Queens and he oversaw hundreds of intercultural events and programs.

Elected three times as editor-in-chief of his college newspaper, Steven led the newspaper for three years, winning 17 state and national awards, some for the first time in CUNY history. As editor-in-chief, Steven led the fight against corruption in student government. 



DRIVEN BY THE DESIRE TO SERVE OTHERS AND INSPIRED BY HIS LATE MOTHER'S CALL FOR UNITY, Steven co-founded the Center for Ethnic, Racial and Religious Understanding in 2009. The five years Steven spent as assistant director of CERRU profoundly shaped the way he thinks about diversity, unity, community renewal, and the future of our nation. As the three-time elect editor in chief of his college newspaper, Steven founded and edited a section dedicated to interfaith dialogue—one of the first college newspapers in the country to do so. 





STEVEN HAS A STRONG RECORD OF INNOVATION. At CERRU Steven conceived of—and developed—two original initiatives: Noticing that students tended to self-segregate in the cafeteria, Steven developed CERRU’s Lunchtime 2.0 program, an innovative program designed to reinvent the cafeteria space to encourage intercultural dialogue. The program was so successful that Lunchtime 2.0 placed as a global semi-finalist for BMW’s Intercultural Innovation Award and was feaured on ABC News. 

Steven also conceived of and developed CERRU’s annual Social Innovation Exchange. The Exchange brings together diverse social innovators from around the world once a year at Queens College to share their work with the public. The Exchange has attracted hundreds of members of the community and has put social innovation on the map in central Queens.



steven-image-3STEVEN IS A PROGRESSIVE. He believes in fighting for a more compassionate and understanding world where we all have an equal chance of reaching our deepest potential, especially the most vulnerable among us. 

Steven currently works at a non-profit that serves low-to-moderate income communities with financial literacy programs in 43 states. 

Steven taught public school students through the Museum of Jewish Heritage—A Living Memorial to the Holocaust about combating hatred and the Holocaust.

He has spent time volunteering with survivors of domestic violence and their children and worked in one of the poorest areas of Cairo, Egypt, where he developed a grant proposal to fund a new school for Christian and Muslim children. 


In 2009 Steven co-founded the Center for Ethnic, Racial & Religious Understanding at Queens College. His work impacted thousands of lives in Queens and he oversaw hundreds of intercultural events and programs focused on everything from income inequality to immigration reform to combating hatred and anti-Semitism to human trafficking and racial injustice. More than 100 students were intensely trained by CERRU in facilitating difficult conversations through semester-long fellowships. More than a 1,000 students attended CERRU intercultural events and dialogues. 

To this day, CERRU continues to thrive and bring diverse people together in Queens. In January 2014, the Queens Courier listed Steven as a “Rising Star in Queens” for his work in bringing diverse people together in the borough. Due to his leadership at CERRU, he was selected by the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) as a Queens Fellow for 2013-2014. Steven has also been recognized by Congressman Joe Crowley, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, and former Queens Borough President Helen Marshall for his leadership and vision in co-founding CERRU.


In March 2009, with some modest personal savings, Steven co-founded Kangaroo Baggage LLC, an airport baggage delivery company with his two brothers. Although the company eventually failed, Steven learned invaluable lessons and gained newfound appreciation for small business owners and the sacrifices they make.


Steven currently serves as senior manager of communications and events at Working In Support of Education, a national non-profit with programs in 43 states that develop financial literacy and readiness for college and the workplace among low-to-moderate income communities.



Steven is an accomplished photographer who loves dogs and enjoys traveling.

Published Articles

Unleashing the Potential of Women, Huffington Post, August 21, 2016.  

Race for the 69th District: Fighting Corruption & the Politics of Division & Fear, Black Star News, September 6, 2016.