Our Team

CEO

John "Gungie" Rivera

Creative Director

Bryan Vallejo

Senior Editor

Kristine Aponte
Kristine Aponte

Junior Editor

Cassidy Paredes

Team

Alecia Gortsema
Chloe Yanush
Chloe Yanush
Clara Crittenden
Lauren Forte
Lucrecia Dobler
Lucrecia Dobler
Madison Clark
Victoria Novoa

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.

Kristine Aponte

Bio:
Kristine Aponte attended Temple University in Philadelphia where she studied Communications and Global Studies. There, she became heavily involved in the school’s broadcasting program, TUTV, and was especially dedicated to the development and execution of the university’s first Spanish-language talk show and news broadcast as both producer and on-air personality. Kristine is passionate about her culture and the entertainment industry and can’t wait for what she’ll learn at Rivera Marketing & Media Group and all the brands under their umbrella.

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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Bio:
Alecia Gortsema is a Junior studying Neuroscience with an emphasis on Behavioral Systems at Michigan State University. She is originally from the beautiful Traverse City, Michigan. Aside from her studies, Alecia is passionate about health, fitness, travel, and of course, writing. Post her undergraduate studies, Alecia hopes to continue her education at a graduate school program. She is elated to be joining the NYCTastemakers team to evolve her writing and advance her professional skills.

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Chloe Yanush

Bio:
Chloe Yanush graduated from Rowan University in May 2021 with a degree in International Studies and History. While in school she also studied French and Arabic. Currently she is spending the year in France teaching english to french middle schoolers. Most inspired by Anthony Bourdain, she loves learning about new cultures and communities through travel and food. She is excited to begin a career writing to keep people informed and interested in the world around us.

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Bio:
Clara Crittenden is a student at California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo, majoring in English and minoring Philosophy. She is passionate about social issues regarding women’s rights and LGBTQ+ rights, as well as environmental concerns affecting our planet as a whole. In addition, she hopes to grow her career as a writer at NYC Tastemakers by bringing awareness to important topics and providing a fun and unique perspective to relevant events occurring within today’s sociopolitical climate. 

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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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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:
Madison Clark is from Southern California. She is originally from Connecticut but is currently a college student at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Her major is business, but she hopes to move into a concentration of marketing, fashion design, and advertising. Madison has always enjoyed being a writer and learning all about the fashion industry. She also has a passion for writing book reviews, bringing awareness to various political issues, and being an advocate for the body positivity movement. She is excited to not only develop as a person but as a writer and student!

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Bio:
Victoria Novoa is from Austin, Texas, and an upcoming sophomore at Indiana University at Bloomington. With a major in English and a minor in Public Relations, Victoria loves reading, writing, and coming up with new creative ideas. Aside from her interests in literature, Victoria is passionate about music, being an advocate for different social and political issues, as well as spending time with her friends and family. She is excited to begin this new journey with the NYCtastemakers team!

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