Our Team

CEO

John "Gungie" Rivera

Creative Director

Bryan Vallejo

Senior Editor

Lauren Forte

Junior Editors

Cassidy Paredes
Lucrecia Dobler
Lucrecia Dobler

Team

Hala Swelam
Harmonie Diezhandino
Jazmine Loayza
Kamryn Chappelle
Li Ping Huang
Sabine Gillelen

Bio:

John “Gungie” Rivera is considered one of the finest “conductors” in the music and nightlife space.   His journey began in the Castle Hill section of the Bronx while witnessing the way music always brought his family together.

Gungie, the first word that was ever uttered out of his mouth, became his moniker early on.  The name also became synonymous with introducing various venues to the masses so they could enjoy new genres of music in hip-hop and freestyle.

John “Gungie” Rivera started his career as a DJ, introducing the world to the classics we enjoy today.  His passion for music and bringing people together quickly led him to becoming one of the most sought-after nightclub promoters in New York City history.

Beginning his journey in the late 1980’s, Gungie would dominate the nightclub scene for three decades.  That path would place him as the “Go-To” if you needed your record played, your band put on a stage, or wanted the best entertainment experience New York had to offer.

Gungie, never satisfied with complacency, transitioned over to becoming a well-respected Music Industry executive, producing hits and eventually landing his own recording label, “Prestigio”, under the Sony Discos umbrella.  Gungie struck immediate gold as label CEO when his first artist introduced under the “Prestigio” title became the fastest selling independent artist in Sony Discos Distributed Label history to go Gold.

Gungie tied all of his contributions together when he formed Prestige Productions, which boasted industry-leading clients from television, radio, and Corporate America.  Prestige Productions also became one of the largest concert promoters in the Latin and urban genres in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Japan.

Despite all the success and accolades that Gungie has achieved, his most rewarding achievement is to give back to the community and youth.

When the political world approached Gungie’s company to engage a younger demographic to vote and understand the issues that are impacting our youth, he leveraged the power of music and created “Salsa the Vote”.  The campaign empowered our youth and involved them in decisions that affected their future.  Gungie also organized marketing and fundraising campaigns for the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club, produced the annual galas for Promesa Foundation, and was part of a Latino division for the charitable organization LIFEBeat.

Out of his love for the arts and cultural engagement, Gungie has done work for the Puerto Rican Traveling Theater and co-produced plays for Teatro SEA, a bilingual non-profit organization founded in Puerto Rico that produces socially conscious and educational productions for children and young adults. Some of the company’s famous plays include The Roberto Clemente DC-7 playas well as La Gloria, a play honoring the life of Celia Cruz and other iconic Latin singers.

Bio:
Bryan Vallejo is an instrumental member of the Cristian Rivera Foundation. Bryan attended the Borough of Manhattan Community College where he received his Associate’s in multimedia programming. He continued his education at the Institute of Pittsburgh for animation. Bryan has always had a passion for drawing and creating images so that they can come to life. One of his biggest accomplishments was the opportunity to illustrate “Cristian’s Journey” written by CRF Founder, John “Gungie” Rivera. Bryan is grateful for the potential that John saw in him, as well as his role in CRF.

Bio:
Lauren Forte is a recent graduate of San Francisco State University with a degree in English and Literature. As a college student, she developed a strong interest in writing about politics and human rights, which eventually led to her wanting to become a writer. She spends a lot of her free time writing in her blog, where she discusses the importance of self-care and mindfulness. She is pleased to expand her writing career and to keep the public up-to-date with current events.

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Bio:
Cassidy Paredes recently graduated from Liberty University with a BS in English and Writing. While in college, her passion and love for writing inspired her to publish her two books, Picture Perfect and Even This Will Fade, on Amazon. She is excited to start the next stage of her career with NYCTastemakers and continue growing as a writer and editor.

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Lucrecia Dobler

Bio:
Lucrecia is a journalist and English bachelor from Buenos Aires, Argentina. She has a passion for writing, research, design, and teaching. She has been a Literature teacher for the past 6 years, and she has helped design educational material in English for almost as much. She loves reading, cinema, and music. She hopes to grow as a writer and her writing to be fun and inspiring.

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Bio:
Hala Swelam is an international student from Egypt at Arizona State University, majoring in Communications. College encouraged her interest in writing. Hala is passionate about movies, music, history, and culture, in addition to her adult life being jump started by her transition away from home. She joined NYC TasteMakers to talk about the cultural aspect of her transition from Egypt to the US, as well as her passion for the art of films and music.

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Bio:
Harmonie Diezhandino hails from the sunshine state, where she plans to pursue her bachelor’s degree in animation. Animation is one outlet for her many creative interests including, drawing, acting, designing, and of course, writing! Harmonie is passionate about storytelling and engaging audiences, so she looks forward to bringing her passions and sunny disposition together on the NYCTastemakers team.

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Bio:
Jazmine Loayza was born in Miami, FL and is a recent graduate of Southern New Hampshire University with a BA in English. Her undying love for writing was in part inspired by her military upbringing, which frequently brought her to new states, schools, and people from all walks of life. As such, she is fiercely dedicated to advocating for those who are considered minorities, disabled people, and members of the LGBT+ community. She is also passionate about the arts. Jazmine is honored to join the NYC Tastemakers team, where she hopes to flourish as both a writer and a professional.

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Bio:
Kamryn Chappelle is a student at the University of Montevallo, majoring in English and minoring in Business. She is from Selma, Alabama and has a passion for reading, writing, travel, culture, and music. After completing her undergraduate studies, she hopes to further her education with a graduate program for journalism. She is beyond excited to join the NYCTastemakers team to gain more experience in the writing industry and make professional connections. She looks forward to writing articles about her passions and sharing her interests with the world.

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Bio:
Li Ping Huang was born in Taiwan and immigrated to America at the age of 8. She currently resides in Antioch, CA, and is attending a community college in the fall, but she will be starting the spring semester of freshman year as a music industry major at the University of Southern California. In the future, she hopes to become an artist manager. Her current passions are discovering new music (especially in the fields of K-Pop and J-Pop), filming/ video editing, and trying out new restaurants. She is eager to compile articles surrounding her favorite topics, such as music and food, and acquire professional experience in promotional/ marketing writing as a team member at the NYCTastemakers.

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Bio:
Sabine Gillelen was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area of California. The diverse culture of this area, along with the international schools she attended, inspired Sabine to attend university outside of the US. She is currently earning a BA in Economics and International Studies at St. Louis University in Madrid, Spain. Sabine is passionate about traveling, food, politics, and various art mediums, from visual to audible. Her favorite aspect of traveling has always been the opportunity to connect with and listen to the life stories of people from different cultural backgrounds. So naturally, she is ecstatic to develop her passion for storytelling through writing as a member of the NYCTastemakers team.

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