Experience

field coordinator, janos marton for manhattan district attorney

December 2019–December 2020, New York, NY


Impact Intern, The Bail Project

June–August 2020, Virtual


judicial intern, judge wilma guzman (bronx supreme court, civil term)

September–December 2019, Bronx, NY
Drafted judicial opinions based on written arguments and performed research via WestLaw and the C.P.L.R..


advocacy intern, transitcenter

June–July 2019, New York, NY
Wrote online content about the NYPD’s fare evasion statistics, analyzed data about the MTA's workforce, and came up with a new award—the “Lifetime Depreciation Award”—for the annual “Pokies and Schleppies” ceremony, designating the worst buses in New York City.


campaign for smart justice intern, aclu

January–May 2019, New York, NY
Tracked criminal justice reform positions of 2020 presidential candidates and conducted criminal justice research on elections, sentencing, homicides, and jail closures.


immigration casework intern, office of u.s. sen. kirsten gillibrand

September–December 2018, New York, NY
Reviewed casework from constituents and sent inquiries to USCIS, the State Department, and other agencies expressing congressional interest.


leadership

student representative, macaulay scholars council

September 2018–Present, New York, NY
Voice the concerns of the John Jay Class of 2022 to Macaulay staff and representatives from other campuses at monthly meetings and events.


vice president of campus affairs, macaulay scholars council

July 2019–June 2020, New York, NY
Work with Student Development and Macaulay clubs to facilitate student engagement through monthly meetings and other events.


speakers and programming curator, tedxcuny

September 2018–November 2019, New York, NY
Worked with the Speakers and Programming team to recruit speakers, workshop their talks, and help them give their talks at an annual conference.


Editor-in-Chief, The phoenix at townsend harris high school

June 2016–June 2018, Flushing, NY
Published monthly literary magazine issues, including an annual 150+ page edition, while hosting monthly readings, organizing weekly staff meetings, and managing editorial staff.


awards

jeannette k. watson fellowship

March 2019–Present, New York, NY
Awarded a highly selective three-year fellowship that develops the potential of remarkable students to become effective and humane leaders.


Silver Crown Award for The Phoenix, Columbia Student Press Association

March 2018 & March 2019, New York, NY
Awarded for outstanding June 2017 and June 2018 issues of The Phoenix.


The Anthony Chiarenza Memorial Award, Townsend Harris High School

June 2018, Flushing, NY
Awarded for outstanding work as an editor of The Phoenix.

projects

TitleDescription
Who's Taking Cop Money?How much money Democrats representing New York City have accepted from law enforcement unions in the 2020 cycle.
Congressional Democrat Tracker: Leftist EditionMy determination of how leftist members of Congress truly are, based on their recent votes.
NYC Council CandidatesA detailed tracker of the 300+ candidates for City Council, made with Daniela Finlay.
NYC Council IncumbentsData on New York City councilmembers.
NYC 2020 Presidential General by DistrictComparison of presidential performance in NYC legislative districts, 2016 to 2020.
Leftist Congressional Slate ComparisonsHow different leftist slates of candidates perform in the 2020 elections.
2020 Fundraising, NYC Legislative Candidates Fundraising totals and notable contributions for 2020 New York City legislative candidates.

press

The Appeal's The Briefing

"Police Unions Make Policing More Dangerous" with John Mathews, June 5, 2020


CNN

"A 19-year-old called out New York Democrats accepting police campaign donations. To his surprise, many have listened," by Alex Snyder, June 2, 2020

"In the wake of protests against the death of George Floyd, nine New York Democratic elected officials have at least partially reallocated their police and crime-related campaign donations, most of them to bail funds in New York City.

It all started with a 19-year-old college student from Queens."


The Appeal

"New York Legislators Pledge to Reject Campaign Donations from Law Enforcement)" by Bryce Covert, June 2, 2020

"As protests against police brutality continue in the U.S., some Democratic New York lawmakers have said they will no longer accept campaign donations from law enforcement officials, and have pledged to donate the money they have received to bail funds and other community organizations.

Their pledges come in response to a document created and shared on social media by Aaron Fernando, a student at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice who also works as a field coordinator for Manhattan district attorney candidate Janos Marton. The document, posted on Saturday, details how much money every New York lawmaker has received in the current campaign cycle from groups representing police officers, state troopers, corrections officers, and court officers."


NPR

"'I'm Willing To Fight For America': 5 Student Activists On Protesting For Change," by Anya Kamenetz, June 19, 2020

"'I'm not the first person to talk about the power that this money can have. People in criminal justice spaces have known about this for a long time. I'm just somebody who compiled that data to an easily accessible spreadsheet.' And sometimes that is all you need."


Financial Times

"Police money in US politics under scrutiny as calls for reform grow," by Christine Zhang, August 3, 2020

“'There are clear correlations between policies made and money taken on the state and local level,' said Aaron Narraph Fernando, a community organiser in Queens who launched the initiative to track New York City officials who received donations and convince them to reallocate the money."


The Indypendent

"Queens Student Activist Gets NYC Pols to Return Cop Union Funds," by Carrie Klein, June 8, 2020

"Aaron Fernando was looking into the campaign finance contributions of some progressive candidates he follows when the country erupted into fury over George Floyd’s murder by a Minneapolis police officer.

'Is this a good time for me to drop my list of NYC elected officials who’ve taken cop money this cycle?' he wondered aloud on Twitter.

Soon after, Fernando released a spreadsheet of lawmakers and district attorneys who have accepted money from police, correction and court officer unions. The list shows that 57 New York City Democrats have accepted $353,795 from police in the 2020 cycle alone. "

WNYC's All Things Considered

"How A Spreadsheet Forced Elected Officials To Return Police Union Contributions," with Jami Floyd, June 8, 2020

"Two weeks ago, an honors student at John Jay College posted a spreadsheet showing how much money political candidates running in the New York primaries this money are getting from police groups across the state. The tweet went viral, and one after another, candidates, many of whom had touted their progressive credentials have rushed to return the money. The student behind that spreadsheet, Aaron Fernando, says it makes voters wonder if officials who say they support police reform really mean it.

'You have to ask yourself, is it possible that you're not fighting as hard as you are for this policy because of who's giving you money?' he said."


NBC News

"New York Democrats redirecting contributions from police to bail funds," by Gwen Aviles, June 1, 2020

"While the protests and their spotlight on aggressive policing tactics undoubtedly inspired these politicians to re-donate contributions from law enforcement organizations, some of them were also compelled to do so by activists, including Aaron Fernando, a 19-year-old college student who created a spreadsheet using data from the New York State Board of Elections database outlining the amount of money New York Democratic leaders were awarded by police and correction officer PACs.

Fernando said he independently began compiling the data on May 24 upon noticing that some Democratic leaders 'were taking a substantial amount of money from law enforcement unions.' He posted the spreadsheet to social media, where it has since been shared widely. Several politicians who choose to re-donate police-associated contributions referred to Twitter posts, including those with the spreadsheet, as an impetus."


vice

"How to Find Out Which Politicians Are Financially Backed by Cops," by Katie Way, June 3, 2020

"'I expected nothing,' Fernando said. 'I expected no politician would care, I expected nothing was going to happen. But then the reaction was massive, people really, really cared about their elected officials taking this money.' Once incumbent New York State assemblywoman Aravella Simotas announced on May 30 that she would redistribute $5,350 in donations from police-affiliated groups to bail funds and other local organizations fighting mass incarceration, in Fernando’s words, 'all the dominos fell.'

Since then, ten New York City Democrats, including Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz, City Council member Mark Levine, Assemblywoman Karines Reyes, and State Senator Mike Gianaris, have returned or redistributed a total of $29,250, and Fernando is optimistic that there’s more to come.

But in the meantime, he’s been offering advice to people around the country looking to hold their elected officials accountable in the same way. VICE asked him to share his tips for readers interested in following in his footsteps on how to use public resources to find and identify donations from law enforcement to politicians, and how to get politicians to redistribute it."