Meet The Team
Estee Smith joined NCRC in April 2022 as Healthy Communities Director where she is responsible for leading the organization’s efforts on workforce development, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), SNAP Employment and Training (E&T) and their intersection with social determinants of health. Prior to NCRC, Estee was responsible for community engagement efforts at Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), specifically within PBS KIDS and PBS Station Services. At PBS, Estee supported PBS member stations in connecting high-need communities with PBS content and resources. Estee worked with stations to develop, test, and evaluate parent and educator-focused initiatives adapted in local communities nationwide. She also led community engagement efforts to provide training and support to member stations identifying and enhancing ways of utilizing data for impact based storytelling, meeting station business goals and providing insight into audience engagement.
Prior to PBS, Estee led the state of Missouri’s SNAP E&T efforts across 32 counties through her work at University of Missouri Extension which was contracted to provide workforce development services to unemployed and underemployed Missourians receiving SNAP employment and training services. Estee additionally worked with Central Missouri Community Action delivering family and workforce development services, particularly families receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) employment and training services. She developed community relationships in Central Missouri while facilitating community-based workshops and being a part of human services coalition groups. Additionally, she served as an advisor and facilitator for front line staff earning the Family Development Credential through University of Connecticut and Missouri Community Action Network.
Estee is a graduate of the University of Missouri – Columbia. She is a Chicago native, now currently residing in Arlington, VA and is most passionate about social equity issues. Estee enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling, art, music, and exploring the DC food scene.
Nayeli Pelayo is Operations Director at NCRC’s Community Development Fund where she oversees the management of the organization’s programs and internal operations. Nayeli has over 10 years of experience working in advocacy for social justice nonprofits with an emphasis in DEI, communications, fundraising and people management at organizations including National Immigration Law Center, American Immigration Council and GRID Alternatives Mid-Atlantic. Most recently, she served as co-executive director at ProgressPop, a nonprofit focused on producing pop culture content to increase civic participation with the goal of making the US a more equitable society.
She holds a master’s degree in Public Administration with a certification in Nonprofit Sector Management from California State University, Northridge, and a bachelor’s in Journalism. Originally from California, Nayeli is bilingual in Spanish with native fluency and currently lives in the DMV on a small suburban homestead with her husband and son.
Zaba Rashan joined the NCRC Community Development Fund as a program manager in 2021 with a primary focus on the organization’s small business technical assistance and portfolio management. Her professional experience spans the non-profit, federal, and government contracting sectors where she has worked on issues in foreign affairs, security, humanitarian aid, climate change, small business education and sustainable housing.
Prior to joining NCRC, Zaba worked as a researcher in support of government and NGO clients and managed a portfolio including the CDC, State Department, World Bank, USAID, and the US military. She regularly provided briefings and situation reports as a subject matter expert on the security and humanitarian situations in Afghanistan, Central Asia, and Pakistan. Prior to that, she oversaw the day-to-day operations of the marketing and communications departments at the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals where she worked closely with the executive team to produce the organization’s annual publications and entrepreneur programming.
Zaba received her master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University in International Affairs and bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Irvine in Political Science. A polyglot with fluency in English, Spanish, Arabic and Farsi, Zaba is a humanitarian at heart who believes in thinking globally and acting locally.