Officers and Staff


Destinee Grove (President):

Destinee is a second-year M.S. Kinesiology student (College of Public Health) in the athletic training program. She serves as an anatomy and physiology teaching assistant. A North Carolina native, Destinee joined TUGSA to learn more about unions and help advocate for her and peers; this will be her second year as a member and first year as president. She looks forward to engaging with members to increase union power and create a healthier work environment. In her free time, Destinee serves as an athletic trainer for Temple’s cheerleading squads and various club sports. You can find her in Pearson 253.


Evan Kassof  (Vice President):

Evan Kassof is an opera maker, composer, conductor, and former physicist based in Philadelphia. Evan’s music has been performed around the world, from Tenerife to Yerevan and by groups such as London’s Ensemble x.y, New York’s ensemble eise-en, and Boston’s Sound Energy. His operas “Colony”and “Greenland” – libretti by Aleksandar Hut Kono – were performed in London at the Royal Opera House, and “Greenland” was revived in 2016 in London and Budapest, and again in 2018 in the Philadelphia Fringe, part of ENAensemble’s “The Propaganda Machine Show”. He studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and the Royal Academic of Music before coming to Philadelphia to pursue his PhD from Temple University.

With a background in physics, Evan’s compositions often use science as source material, collaborating with physicists on “Heat Death” and “Turbulence”. As Vice President of Temple’s graduate employee labor union (TUGSA), Evan’s chamber music had made a dramatic political shift. “Cosmos 3 – Or – A Succession of Fascist Clowns” and the mock-tone poem “Collective Bargaining” each are based on his experiences negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement for TUGSA. He is currently Music Director of the Philly-based group ENAensemble.


Brandon Miller (Director of Organization):

Brandon Miller is a 3rd-year PhD student in the English department focusing his research on 19th century American literature and rhetoric. As a TA, he teaches Analytical Reading and Writing to primarily first year students. He was excited to find that Temple was one of a handful of universities with a graduate student union and that there were many opportunities to get involved. In addition to his desire to improve working conditions for TAs and RAs of the university, Brandon is passionate about making visible the labor that graduate students and adjuncts perform to educate Temple undergraduates about social justice.


Elysia Petras (Treasurer):

Elysia Petras is a third-year Ph.D. student and Teaching Assistant in the Department of Anthropology, and she concentrates in Historical Archaeology. She received her BA from Bard College where she studied Spanish Literature. She is motivated by building community for graduate students and raising awareness of worker’s rights.



Matt Ford (Director of Community Outreach):

Matt Ford is a second-year Ph.D. student and Teaching Assistant in the Department of Sociology. He holds a BA in English and Sociology from the University of Delaware and a MS in Criminal Justice from Saint Joseph’s University. He believes strongly in the importance of working with and learning from as diverse an array of individual voices and likeminded organizations as possible, both inside and outside the bounds of Temple’s campus. Furthermore, Matt feels the insights provided by an organized, active, and expansive membership are essential to TUGSA’s ongoing efforts at bettering the lives of our colleagues, neighbors, and allies.


Jennifer Burd (Secretary):



Natalie Midiri (Staff Organizer):

Natalie is currently enrolled in the MEd program in Early Childhood Education and is a community/labor organizer who has spent the last 10 years fighting for working class political change in Philadelphia. 



Margrace Navarra (Membership Organizer):

Marygrace Navarra is an MFA student in Film & Media Arts, and she concentrates in screenwriting. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York, where she studied English. Her work often approaches the peculiarities of young womanhood with critical focus on power and narrative. She writes fiction as well as narrative film. She is thrilled to be a part of TUGSA and work with her fellow graduate student workers.


Ariel Natalo-Lifton (Sexual Harassment Officer):

Ariel Natalo-Lifton is the Sexual Harassment Officer for TUGSA. She is a fourth year PhD candidate in History who has taught at Temple and been a member of the union for the past five semesters. Academically, she focuses on women’s military history and the gendering of the military institution. Ariel is experienced in both organizing and advocacy work, having spent many years volunteering with SafePlace, an advocacy organization and shelter for women and children escaping domestic abuse, and served as an organizer of Take Back the Night. Furthermore, she has spent the last decade working in an unofficial capacity with survivors of domestic abuse and sexual violence from volunteering as a counseling escort to helping survivors navigate the legal and academic reporting processes. As a survivor of harassment, assault, and stalking herself, she is passionate about making education and advocacy surrounding these issues.


Lindsay Bartkowski (Office Organizer):

Lindsay is a seventh year Ph.D. Candidate in the English department. She specializes in working-class and labor history and literature in the U.S. Her intellectual and political commitments and her experience as a graduate employee at the University have brought her to TUGSA where she’s excited to serve the interests of its members.


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