Who We Are Team All Team Members Leadership Team Youth Development Operations Development Community Building Red Hook Farms Board of Directors Yvonne Martinez Brathwaite Interim Executive Director Yvonne Martinez Brathwaite Interim Executive Director Yvonne Martinez Brathwaite has spent her career in the field of youth development. As an executive leader at Global Kids, her work focused on global education, social justice, and human rights programs across NYC for youth in underserved communities. Prior to joining Global Kids, Yvonne managed and provided professional development, coaching, and capacity-building services for nearly 20 years at the Partnership for After School Education (PASE). She started her career working directly with youth, running social service and leadership development programs. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Wesleyan University and a Master of Public Administration from New York University. Yvonne was awarded the Adam Solomon Award for Excellence by Tanenbaum Center which recognizes education leaders who are committed to fostering and creating equitable and inclusive learning environments. She volunteers her time at International School of Brooklyn as Board of Trustees Vice President and has actively worked to strengthen the school’s DEIB practices. A native New Yorker, Yvonne was raised in East Harlem and has lived in Brooklyn for nearly 30 years! Aphia Messiah Chief Administrative Officer Aphia Messiah Chief Administrative Officer Aphia Messiah has over 15 years of experience in the nonprofit sector, primarily working in operations and leadership roles. In her previous role with New York Peace Institute (NYPI), she served as the Director of Operations. She was instrumental in scaling the organization by focusing on people and culture, financial management, technology, and overall administration of the organization. Before joining NYPI, Aphia was the Head of Operations, Participant Experience at IIE, an organization that supports educational and cultural exchange programs. She was responsible for implementing new systems, processes, and centralizing operations. Aphia is a Project Management Professional (PMP) and a member of the Project Management Institute (PMI). She holds a Bachelor of Science in Applied Mathematics & Statistics and Sociology from Stony Brook University. Aphia is an innovative leader who is passionate about supporting mission-driven organizations. She grew up in the Bronx but has been living in Brooklyn for past 18 years. Joe DeFeo Director of Development Joe DeFeo Director of Development Joe DeFeo has been involved in the non-profit development field for over 25 years. He has focused on helping to strengthen the communities that he is part of and making equity a priority. Prior to joining RHI, he served as the Deputy Director of Development for The African Parks Foundation of America. Before that, he was Director of Development for The Children’s Museum in West Hartford, CT. There he helped fund, shape, and launch educational outreach programs that were inclusive and accessible to local families-both inside and outside the museum walls. Prior to that, he spent several years in the private sector as a small business owner, all while helping to raise funds for various small non-profits, ranging from arts programs to community centers to food pantries. His focus is on strong communities, sustainability, equity, and asking the essential questions. Joe lives in Brooklyn, where he and his son can be found attending Cyclones games and exploring all the local neighborhoods have to offer. Catherine McBride Director of Community Building Catherine McBride Director of Community Building Catherine leads a team of five community-based staff members in advocating for Red Hook public housing residents through a multi-pronged program strategy. Under her leadership, RHI launched the Local Leaders Program in 2014, which has trained over 250 Red Hook public housing residents in emergency preparedness and local organizing. The Local Leaders have since led Participatory Action Research and led campaigns to address critical public housing health issues related to mold and lead. Catherine served as Co-Chair for the New York City Participatory Budgeting Steering Committee from 2015 to 2016. Catherine holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Social Work from NYU and an MSW in Community Organizing, Planning and Development from Hunter College’s Silberman School of Social Work. Saara Nafici Director of Red Hook Farms Saara Nafici Director of Red Hook Farms Saara joined the farm team in May 2015, bringing over fifteen years of experience in inquiry-based, experiential environmental education with youth. She worked in youth garden and bicycle-based programs in Berkeley, San Francisco, and Boston and ran the teen apprentice program at Brooklyn Botanic Garden for seven years. Saara holds a Bachelor of Science in Conservation and Resources Studies from the University of California, Berkeley and a Masters in City Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She is a longtime activist, feminist, bicyclist, botanist, and youth educator. Naiyma Holmes Director of People Operations & Culture Naiyma Holmes Director of People Operations & Culture Naiyma leads a team of six staff members dedicated to supporting daily program activities, ensuring efficient financial protocols, and maintaining the community center’s facilities. A lifetime Red Hook resident, Naiyma first joined RHI a Diabetes Health Educator. She quickly rose into new roles on the operations team including Office Assistant, Office Manager, and Finance Manager. Naiyma left RHI briefly to serve as the Operations Manager with the New York City Participatory Budgeting Project. Naiyma returned to RHI in 2017 to serve as Director of Operations. She is committed to lifting up the Red Hook community through her capacity as senior staff member. She is known throughout the neighborhood as a leader. Michael Lopez Jr. Director of Older Youth Programs Michael Lopez Jr. Director of Older Youth Programs Michael has served as a non-profit leader with a focus on workforce development and education strategies for 14 years. During this time he has committed to stand in solidarity with vibrant communities; investing in the people of the South Bronx, East Harlem, Suffern, N.Y. and the West side of Chicago. Michael leads a team that provides academic, employment, advocacy and socio-emotional services to 300, sixteen to twenty-four year old residents of Red Hook. Prior to joining RHI, he was a program and strategic initiatives manager for City Year and acted as co-chair for the Afrolatin@ Forum. He also co-founded a Lower East Food Pantry. Michael is dedicated to bridging opportunity gaps alongside marginalized people as they develop their communities. Karen Ross Director of Health and Wellness Programs Karen Ross Director of Health and Wellness Programs Karen V. Ross is a Director of Health and Wellness Programs who works with Red Hook Initiative to help shape RHI programs to support the mental health and wellness needs of its participants and direct efforts to increase access to health and mental health services and resources for residents of the Red Hook Community. Karen firmly believes that lasting change begins with engaging people where they are and creating essential collaborative relationships. Karen knows that empowering our youth is paramount and aids in the remarkable work RHI does to improve the lives of its participants and the community. For the last 15 years, Karen has had the privilege to work with different populations within the nonprofit sector. Most recently, Karen helped to shape and guide the practices of the Student Health & Wellness department at Teachers College Columbia University. Before this, Karen led her social services team of Hospitality House to move many families into permanency by means of diligent efforts centered around multi-dimensional services. Karen is a licensed social worker trained in multi-systemic therapy-substance abuse. Karen was born and raised in Red Hook and is dedicated to contributing to RHI’s mission and strengthening the Red Hook community. Karen loves to spend time with her family and although she doesn’t teach anymore, she still loves to dance. Natisha Romain Director of Adolescent Youth Programs Natisha Romain Director of Adolescent Youth Programs Natisha Romain is a Youth Development Professional, Researcher, and Adjunct Lecturer. Natisha is an Afro-Caribbean woman, from the island of Grenada, who was raised in Brooklyn since coming to America 25 years ago. She has over 13+ years of experience working with inner-city youth, a passion for mentoring programs, and qualitative research experience. Natisha has worked with youth from as far as Hunts Point in the Bronx to as close as East New York Brooklyn. She knows the importance of building community through identifying both the commonalities and life challenges our young people face. She believes that through this juxtaposition, youth-adult relationships, and effective mentorship, our youth can be empowered to do anything they can dream of and more. Some of the research projects that Natisha has been a part of have challenged the status quo by conducting research with, for, and by young people from across New York City. From researching a local Red Hook makerspace program to the impact of COVID-19 on youth service providers to changes in the youth labor market, research like this gives youth workers, such as herself, more comprehensive data that could help drive change and influence youth program design and growth. Natisha is a graduate of the CUNY School of Professional Studies with a Master’s in Youth Studies. Sherri Harden Facilities Office Manager Sherri Harden Facilities Office Manager Sherri is the currently the Facilities Office Manager at Red Hook Initiative, and member of the Operations Team supporting the day-to-day functions of the organization. In her role, Sherri oversees daily administrative tasks, such as record-keeping, financial transactions, inventory and client correspondence, facility upkeep, vendor relations, and management of RHI’s front desk receptionist staff. Sherri is celebrating 14 years with RHI. She brings a passion and drive to be an agent of change to build others up, and believes in the importance of RHI’s mission to be “resilient” to respond in times of crises and voice the community needs. Sherri is the recipient of numerous awards including The Helping Hand award for her work in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. She also recently participated in the Jewish Community Relations Council Women’s Fellowship and the United Neighborhood Houses Emerging Leaders Cohort. Away from RHI, Sherri loves to travel whether it’s a “staycation” or a vacation, and enjoys shopping, movies, and music. Naomi Guzman-Bensdon Senior Manager of Individual Giving & Special Events Naomi Guzman-Bensdon Senior Manager of Individual Giving & Special Events Naomi Guzman-Bensdon (she/her) is honored to apply her over five years of non-profit expertise as the Senior Manager of Individual Giving and Special Events at RHI. She looks forward to embracing the community, deepening integral bonds, and curating exciting and engaging events for friends of the organization. Her experience in arts and education based non-profits such as America-Israel Cultural Foundation, Kaufman Music Center, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra have furthered her passion for education accessibility. As a native New Yorker, she benefitted from similar programs in her youth that shaped her outlook on the systemic barriers within the education system. Outside of the office, Naomi can be found supporting local businesses, teaching voice lessons, and performing with choral groups. Naomi holds a BM in Music Management with an emphasis in Classical Voice from the Hartt School at the University of Hartford. She currently resides in Brooklyn. Brendan Parker Assistant Director of Red Hook Farms Brendan Parker Assistant Director of Red Hook Farms Brendan joins the farm team a varied career in public school garden education, market farming, and community gardening. He has been farming since 2010. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies from Stony Brook University, where he became deeply engaged in understanding our nation’s broken food system. Brendan feels that urban agriculture and education are among the most important pieces to lessen the impacts the industrial world has had on our environment and our personal health. When Brendan is not contemplating the soil food web you may find him somewhere in Queens searching for a new country’s cuisine to sample. Nellis Dorlisme Workforce Development Manager Nellis Dorlisme Workforce Development Manager Nellis (he/him) is the Workforce Development Manager at the Red Hook Initiative. Nellis is a dynamic strategic planner who provides direct support services to the young adults of the Red Hook Community with their employment and college ambitions. Nellis, a Red Hook native, has collectively over 8 years with youth development, digital marketing, product management, & community organizing. His passion for ludology, social advocacy, & alternative paths to education leaves him intellectually curious about how technology can be leveraged to bridge the skill gap between American youth who plays video games and employers who don’t recognize the legitimate technical & interpersonal skill-set video games cultivate. Will Suarez Volunteer & Partnership Manager Will Suarez Volunteer & Partnership Manager William’s (he/him) undergraduate education in community based arts administration (SUNY Potsdam) has prepared him for the behind-the-scenes work of development and relationship building. By working in the space between our donors, volunteers, staff and participants Will is fortunate enough to see the effect our work has and champion its impact and significance in the local community and beyond. A proud Brooklyn native, Will is honored to represent an organization and staff whose work is as impressive and whose dedication to their community runs as deep. You can find Will riding his bike around Red Hook and South Brooklyn meeting with the soon-to-be volunteers and local business owners or on Red Hook Farms enjoying the scenery. Michel’le Thomas Community Relations Manager Michel’le Thomas Community Relations Manager Michel’le Thomas, born and raised in Red Hook Brooklyn. Michel’le is in my mid 20’s trying to live her best life the only way she knows how. In between living her life she is also trying to break the barriers for women. When Michel’le say barriers she means literally the things people don’t expect from us or to accomplish she wants to become that inspiration. Create those type of environments where women can walk in the room and light it up, talk our shit, & be at our most comfortable. Michel’le has a dream, a dream to empower and inspire women all over the world. To come together and create safe spaces where we can be ourselves, gain self-love to accept ourselves in every possible way, build confidence wherever we may lack it, create and share opportunities that can benefit each and every one of us. While doing these things for ourselves individually, she wants us to do it for each other. It wouldn’t be her dream if she was not making it a reality. It can’t happen without you. Michel’le needs you, we need each other. So on that note let’s get to it #whatyoufeelinglike Tevina Willis Community Organizing Manager Tevina Willis Community Organizing Manager Tevina is a lifelong Brooklynite, community organizer, educator, and Red Hook resident. With a passion for entrepreneurship and employment advocacy, Tevina founded her own non-profit organization in 2012; Aesthetic Soul Community, training residents in community organizing and capacity building. Tevina joined RHI as a member of the first cohort of Red Hook Local Leaders. Local Leaders is a 10 week Emergency Preparedness leadership course that prepares communities to collectively respond to emergencies. She joined as a staff member in 2017 and in addition to now facilitating Local Leaders, she organizes and manages the online and physical community bulletin board Red Hook Hub. Tevina is very passionate about helping her community to be advocates for positive change and equity for themselves and their neighborhood. Currently, the Community Organizer Manager, Tevina works with her Community Building Team to advocate and organize around public housing issues in Red Hook. Jasmin Banaei Clinical Counselor Jasmin Banaei Clinical Counselor Jasmin (she/they/he/all pronouns) is a Clinical Counselor with Red Hook Initiative. They are a mad, queer, West Asian, person. Their core values are rooted in a belief every person has love, creativity, and resilience to share and hopes to give everybody the space to work towards reclaiming their expression, care, growth and self-acceptance. Jasmin understands systemic oppression to be distribution of trauma. In the past Jasmin has worked as a counsellor in various settings; harm reduction, newcomers and asylum seeker groups, group counseling detainees in a city jail, and crisis-work. Erica Petropoulos Job Development Specialist Erica Petropoulos Job Development Specialist Erica Petropoulos (she/her) is the Job Development Specialist at the Red Hook Initiative. Erica is excited to bring the skills & knowledge she’s gained through her work in the nonprofit sector to RHI. Prior to joining RHI, Erica was a Job Coach II at New Haven Works, where she worked with 150 job seekers at a time to help them obtain gainful employment. In this role, Erica also collaborated with employers in and around New Haven to encourage local hiring. Previously, Erica worked as Campus Advocate at the YWCA New Britain Sexual Crisis Service, where she provided crisis counseling to survivors of sexual assault, and implemented educational programming on college campuses. Erica holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from the University of Connecticut. In her free time, Erica enjoys exploring local parks, seeing live music, and spending time with friends, family, and her cat. Generra Garris Job Readiness Specialist Generra Garris Job Readiness Specialist Generra Garris is the Job Readiness Specialist at Red Hook Initiative, supporting the Young Adult program with one-on-one support with resumes, cover letters, and mock interviews. She teaches young adults from the Red Hook Houses interpersonal skills around personal and professional development. Marissa Cappel Case Worker Marissa Cappel Case Worker Marissa helps young adults aged 18-24 in the Red Hook community with resources, goal setting, planning events, anti-violence and over policing teach backs and youth leadership. Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Marissa has been working in youth development for 13 years. It is important to Marissa to make sure every young person she engages, knows they have a voice whether it’s for their own personal life or community. Kara Smith Red Hook Community Health Network Manager Kara Smith Red Hook Community Health Network Manager Kara (she/her) leads the Red Hook Community Health Network, a partnership of community-based organizations who serve the Red Hook community and are committed to seeing equitable health outcomes for neighbors. Prior to joining the team at RHI, she supported data analysis and policy development for collective impact initiatives in West Michigan and the South Bronx. Kara holds a Bachelor of Science in Social Work and Sociology from Calvin University and a Master of Social Work from Case Western Reserve University. Outside of the office, she can be found bikepacking in the Hudson Valley, in the kitchen attempting to perfect a batch of baklava, and running alongside her neighborhood run club. Betty Bernhart Community Building Outreach Worker Betty Bernhart Community Building Outreach Worker Betty Bernhart is the Community Building Outreach Worker with Red Hook Initiative and the community to maintain a safe environment in the community. Betty believes in positive change in our living conditions in NYCHA while giving resources to the Red Hook community. Betty started at RHI as a cleaner and returned in 2021 to help the community in Red Hook and beyond. Betty is certified in First Aid CPR AED and is also a state of New York Notary and is currently taking GED classes to obtain her GED to go to college to study mental health. Betty loves animals, reads books, and enjoys quiet time to better prepare herself for the challenges she faces as a member of the Red Hook Houses. Xiao Sun Community Building Outreach Worker Xiao Sun Community Building Outreach Worker Xiao Sun is the Community Building Outreach Worker at Red Hook Initiative. Xiao has filled in a gap the organization has yet to be able to fill for a long time by providing opportunities to our Mandarin-speaking community, allowing them to feel welcomed and right at home at RHI. Kiyana Slade Lead Youth Organizer Kiyana Slade Lead Youth Organizer Kiyana is the Lead Youth Organizer at Red Hook Initiative, committed to creating change and improvement of the issues affecting youth in public housing. She also creates a space for young people to learn how to advocate for equity and social change for their community. Kiyana currently holds an Associate of Urban Studies from Guttman Community College. Kiyana was born and raised in Red Hook, Brooklyn and is proud to be a true leader passing down the torch to generations of Red Hook youth leaders. Madeline Jenkins Development & Communications Associate Madeline Jenkins Development & Communications Associate Maddy Jenkins is the Development & Communications Associate with Red Hook Initiative. Madeline is a hard working, detail-oriented, creative professional invested in creating change within her community through her strong ability to develop and implement comprehensive long and short-term strategic marketing and communications plans. Prior to Madeline’s 3-year involvement on the development team, she’s expressed her passion for video production as a Digital Steward participant by directing, producing, coordinating and performing in 10+ Red Hook Initiative films, including managing projects from concept to completion. Madeline is a proud Red Hook, Brooklyn native. Noemi Fana Contracts & Operations Associate Noemi Fana Contracts & Operations Associate Noemi Fana is the Operations & Contracts Associate at the Red Hook Initiative. As a Red Hook native, Noemi has been a participant at RHI since middle, engaging in several programs/events. Noemi truly believes in the RHI’s mission to nurture and empower the youth in Red Hook as she’s seen it work first hand. With her sweet and friendly demeanor, Noemi hopes to support the organization that played a huge role in her adolescence. Noemi is currently pursuing her Master’s in Legal Studies from American University and received a BA in Criminal Justice from SUNY Albany. Joseph Wilson II College Retention Specialist Joseph Wilson II College Retention Specialist Joseph is a native of Brooklyn, a product of the NYC DOE with 7 years of experience in Higher Education from working in CUNY, a Private 4-year and Ivy League. As a first generation college student, Joseph understands the complexities and challenges that Black and Brown students face once they step on any campus and has served as an advocate for equitable practices wherever he has been. He leverages his passion for Black and Brown students by looking for ways to prepare them to succeed in college and in the workplace. Joseph recently completed his M.A. of Higher and Postsecondary Education from Teachers College, Columbia University and holds a B.A. in Public Administration with minors in Black Studies and Communications from Baruch College. He lives in the best borough in NYC, Brooklyn. Kyah Harris Adolescent Youth Worker Kyah Harris Adolescent Youth Worker Kyah Harris is a Youth Worker who facilitates reproductive and sexual health programs to the youth at Red Hook Initiative. She is a Red Hook native who has participated in multiple aspects of our youth program pipeline. The work that Kyah does teaches youth how to practice and promote safe sex so they can then teach it to their peers. Kyah believes that the work she does builds confidence, encourages responsible decision-making, and creates opportunities for youth voice and leadership through the facilitation of activities and workshops of their interest. Kyah has conducted multiple workshops and events around reproductive and sexual wellness, including RHI’s annual health fair, World aids day, the domestic violence event, and many more. Kyah is CPR first aid /AED certified. Kyah has a high school diploma and is working towards furthering her education in the public health field. Delayjah Pringle Adolescent Youth Worker Delayjah Pringle Adolescent Youth Worker Delayjah Pringle is one of the Youth Adolescent Staff who works with Red Hook Initiative to engage the youth in different afterschool programs which will educate them for the real world, to prepare them for real world situations, and to most importantly have fun. Delayjah believes that the youth is the future to accomplishing their goals on what they want to become and have the support that they need to lead them out of their comfort zone. With the right resources and opportunities that RHI brings, it’ll give the youth a good understanding of what they want to do for the rest of their lives. Delayjah first landed at RHI in 2019 as a career starter. She was currently in high school and was being educated in career starters on how to make resumes, cover letters, and prepare for interviews. She was awarded a certificate of having the most participation in career starters. In 2020 she moved on to tier 2 and became a peer health educator to be educated on sexualities, mental health, and other health topics that teens must learn. Delayjah became a peer health navigator in the summer to educate the youth based on what she learned and run peer health events. She was awarded a certificate for completing a peer health navigators program throughout the summer. In the year 2021, Delayjah moved on into becoming a Photojournalist. She wanted to learn more about photography and the arts of it. She upgraded into being part of digital stewards which she had made websites (Digital Stewards (cargo.site)), podcasts (https://open.spotify.com/show/3UT0uFWb1EIOhMFWYe5rgt?si=34ced67b5a3c4987) , and a tiktok page (https://www.tiktok.com/@digitalstewards?is_from_webapp=1&sender_device=pc) of the work that she and her team had done. She was awarded for the most hard work in her digital stewards team. Delayjah is a highschool graduate, class of 2022. She is a freshman college student in St. Francis college getting her Bachelors and Masters degree in psychology for 5 years for her being in the BA/MA program. Delayjah loves to talk and listen to people, helping them with their problems, and is very interested in mental behaviors. Delayjah is also a self taught cosmetologist, currently a beginner in doing hair, nails, and lashes. She loves to do hair, dance, write, and play basketball. Dominique Bible Academic Advisor Dominique Bible Academic Advisor Born in Brazil and raised in Brooklyn, Dominique believes that everyone is a genius, and that it is the educator’s responsibility to observe, nurture, and empower the genius already there. Finding alternative and community education was life-changing for Dominique. They went on to study at Goddard College, focusing on Community Education. Their graduate thesis investigated culturally responsive and inclusive history education. Their work and life include mental health advocacy and anti-racist efforts. Dominique has over ten years of education experience with learners of a variety of ages and in a variety of settings. They have worked with hundreds of young people and plan to work with thousands more. As Education Specialist, Dominique oversees day-to-day operations for all middle and high school education programs at RHI. Jennifer Silvestre Receptionist & Executive Assistant Jennifer Silvestre Receptionist & Executive Assistant Jennifer first landed at RHI in 2019 and is currently the Receptionist and Executive Assistant with RHI. Upon completing the Career Starter Series workforce development training program, she earned a part-time internship at a Marketing Firm as a Marketing strategist. Jennifer was born in the Dominican Republic and has an Associate Degree from LaGuardia Community College majoring in Criminal Justice and has been a Red Hook resident since 2011. Chasity Green Evening Receptionist Chasity Green Evening Receptionist Chasity is a receptionist who works at Red Hook Initiative. Chasity has lived in Red Hook her whole life and believes that anything can be done when it involves community. Chasity has experience working at learning centers such as Kumon and dental offices as the front desk. In her free time, she enjoys baking with her sister. Chasity has earned a degree in Restorative Dentistry and an Administration bachelor’s degree from the City College of Technology. She enjoys helping people and putting a smile on their faces! Raffi Paunan Maintenance Raffi Paunan Maintenance Raffi Paunan has served as the Maintenance worker at RHI center for five years. Raffi enjoys helping his colleagues and is always looking for more things to clean, get rid of and build. Koron Smiley Farm Coordinator Koron Smiley Farm Coordinator Koron is an experienced farmer from Red Hook, Brooklyn and has been a part of urban agriculture for 2 and a half years now. He has found peace & tranquility, justice & relevance through farming, giving him more motivation to continue getting through body stressing seasons. The opportunity to work this closely with plants, people & animals create a space where Koron can endlessly learn and express his passions for farming. Justin Craig Farm Coordinator Justin Craig Farm Coordinator Justin is a Green City Force alum who has worked on the farms since spring 2020. A Red Hook resident, he believes in advocating for communal sovereignty through: farming healthy food, cultivating youth development and supporting local creatives and entrepreneurs. Amalia Jaimes-Lukes Farm Education Co-Coordinator Amalia Jaimes-Lukes Farm Education Co-Coordinator Amalia is a Brooklyn native passionate about urban farming and agricultural education. She graduated from Bryn Mawr College with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology. Her agricultural career began while managing a vegetable garden for a day camp in 2015. Since then, she’s farmed alongside Philadelphian youth at Heritage Farm, and worked as a Farm Educator for City Growers. Amalia believes urban farming is essential to urban ecosystems and hopes to make social impacts through the growing and distribution of fresh foods. Joshua Colón Farm Education Co-Coordinator Joshua Colón Farm Education Co-Coordinator Josh (they/she/he) is a queer organizer, activist and nature lover with a passion for food sovereignty and mutual aid work. They hope to use their community gardening experience to create spaces for unity and solidarity, where our youth can imagine new possible worlds built on the strength of community action. Josh joins the Farm team experienced in growing food in urban environments using traditional soil techniques and aquaponics systems as well. Chris Cardona, President Program Officer, Philanthropy Ford Foundation Chris Cardona, President Program Officer, Philanthropy Ford Foundation Chris Cardona, RHI Board President, Program Officer, Philanthropy, The Ford Foundation, has dedicated his career to making philanthropy more accessible to communities. Currently, he works at the Ford Foundation, programming the Philanthropy portfolio, which seeks to increase uptake of open and inclusive practices among U.S. foundations and to engage more individual and institutional donors with social justice. Before joining Ford in 2015, Chris led philanthropic services for TCC Group, specializing in strategy, capacity building, and evaluation for the social sector. Previously, Chris worked at Hispanics in Philanthropy, where he last served as program director for the Northeast, managing seven grant making sites, and developing and implementing fundraising strategies. Earlier, while pursuing doctoral studies, he co-managed the execution in Santiago, Chile of a multi-country survey project, investigating the impact of changes in the world of work on citizen participation. Chris earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from Williams College, and a masters and Ph.D. in political science from the University of California at Berkeley. An active speaker and writer on philanthropy, he blogs at www.cardonac.net and can be found on Twitter @chriscardona. Chris is married to his college sweetheart, Catherine Sumner, an arts fundraiser, and they live on the Upper West Side, where they try to keep Chris stringed-instrument collection to less than home-engulfing proportions. Nanda Prabhakar, Vice President Executive Director, Spring Creek Recreational Fund Nanda Prabhakar, Vice President Executive Director, Spring Creek Recreational Fund Nanda Prabhakar serves as Executive Director of the Spring Creek Recreational Fund. Previously, Nanda was the Senior Vice President of Program Operations at the New York City Mission Society, one of the nation’s oldest social service organizations now in its third century of fighting the war on poverty. Nanda, who worked with the Mission Society since March 2015, is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with nearly 20 years of experience providing services to at-risk youth and families and 10 years of experience working specifically with court-involved youth. As Senior Vice President of Program Operations, Nanda oversaw the program operations and day-to-day leadership of NYC Mission Society’s programmatic divisions – Education & Program Development, Contracts & Outcomes, Children’s Programs, and Career & Education Pathways – which support a portfolio of diverse youth-serving programs. Nanda was responsible for the programmatic success of NYC Mission Society, ensuring seamless team management and development, program delivery, quality control, and evaluation. Prior to that position, she served as the Mission Society’s Senior Director of Adolescent and Young Adult Programs. Prior to joining the Mission Society, Nanda acted as the Coordinator of Social Work Services for the Office of the Kings County District Attorney’s, Youth and Congregations in Partnership (YCP) program, an alternative to incarceration program for Brooklyn youth involved in the juvenile and criminal justice system. While with YCP, she designed and facilitated youth development and job readiness workshops, provided individual and group therapy, and created paid and unpaid internship opportunities for youth. A Brooklyn resident, Nanda holds a Masters of Public Administration from Baruch College, a Masters of Social Welfare from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Bryn Mawr College. Michael Lee, Vice President Managing Director, Corporate Development, New York Institute of Finance Michael Lee, Vice President Managing Director, Corporate Development, New York Institute of Finance Michael Lee is Managing Director of Corporate Development at the New York Institute of Finance, a 95+ year old educational institution that trains professionals from over 120 different countries in finance. He is responsible for all the operations in the U.S. office including sales, marketing, customer success, and finances. Most recently Michael was Executive Director of Apex for Youth, a nonprofit organization that provides mentoring, education and after school programs to underserved Asian youth in New York City. During his seven years, Apex grew from a $400K budget serving 150 students to a $3.2M organization serving over 1,000 students a year. A native New Yorker, Michael previously served as the Director of Development at the Committee of 100, an organization of Chinese American leaders who address issues concerning Asian Americans and U.S.-China Relations. Michael received an M.S. in Fundraising and Philanthropy from New York University and a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania in East Asian Studies. He serves on the Chinese American Planning Council (CPC) board of directors, teaches martial arts and lion dance at Norman Chin’s Southern Praying Mantis Kung Fu School, is a founder of the Chinatown Rotary Toastmasters Club, and is president of the 529 Court Street Condo Board. Michael grew up in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, where he now lives with his family. His sons Connor and Maxwell attend Basis Independent Brooklyn next to the Red Hook Farm. Michael and his wife Grace are members of our Red Hook Farms CSA. Maria Mottola, Secretary Nonprofit Consultant Maria Mottola, Secretary Nonprofit Consultant Maria Mottola, Secretary, is a Nonprofit Consultant for NYC nonprofits and philanthropies. Maria served as the Executive Director of the New York Foundation from 2003-2021 and served also as a Program Officer there from 1994 to 2002. From 1989 to 1994 she was Executive Director of the City Wide Task Force on Housing Court, a housing advocacy organization that promotes the reform of New York City’s Housing Court. Before that Maria was the Director of Neighborhood Programs for four years while also serving as a community organizer at Lenox Hill Neighborhood House on the Eastside of Manhattan. Maria has been an adjunct instructor at the Hunter College Graduate School of Urban Affairs and Planning since 1996. She chaired the founding advisory board of the New American Leaders Project. Maria was a co-chair of the Neighborhood Funders Group, a national affinity group from 2003 to 2006. In addition to that Maria acted as an executive-on-loan to Gladys Carrión, the Commissioner of the New York State Office of Children and Families from 2010-2011, working closely with the commissioner and her senior staff on a variety of projects. Andrew Strauss, Treasurer Andrew Strauss, Treasurer Andrew Strauss, Treasurer, served as Chief Executive Officer of Skinder-Strauss from 2011-2021. Andrew grew up with Skinder-Strauss, an 89-year-old family business whose 250 employees provide a laundry list of products and services to attorneys in New York and New Jersey. From 1998 – 2010, Andrew worked at The Riverside Company, a global private equity firm which manages $4 billion invested in small businesses, and where he rose to Managing Partner. Andrew graduated Princeton University with an A.B. (Highest Honors) in Mathematics, received his M.A. in Philosophy from Princeton, and earned his M.B.A. in Finance at Columbia University. He settled in Brooklyn Heights in 2009, where he lives with his wife (Katie Buckels) and daughter (Maisie, who attends Saint Ann’s). He turned 50 in 2015. In 2002, Andrew received the President’s Award from Womanspace, Inc., for his support as a volunteer and co-chair of the Campaign for Womanspace. Womanspace is a nonprofit in Mercer County, N.J., that provides a comprehensive array of services to individuals and families impacted by domestic and sexual violence. Gregg Bishop Executive Director, Social Justice Fund, Joe and Clara Tsai Foundation Gregg Bishop Executive Director, Social Justice Fund, Joe and Clara Tsai Foundation Gregg Bishop is the Executive Director of the Social Justice Fund, Joe and Clara Tsai Foundation. Previously Gregg served as the Commissioner of the NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS). Gregg was charged with running a dynamic City agency focused on equity of opportunity that leads to economic self-sufficiency and mobility for New York City’s diverse communities. SBS actively connects New Yorkers to good jobs, creates stronger businesses, and builds a thriving economy in neighborhoods across the five boroughs. From 2015-2020, he oversaw the opening of new Workforce1 Career Centers, certified a record number of minority and women-owned businesses (M/WBEs) to compete for government contracts, helped businesses to open nearly three months faster, and expanded services to women and immigrant entrepreneurs. Born in Grenada and raised in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, Gregg formerly served as Deputy Commissioner of SBS’ Business Development Division from 2012 to 2015. He began his tenure at the agency in 2008, and was responsible for a suite of programs designed to make it easier for businesses to start, operate, and grow, and to recover from emergencies. Prior to his career in government, Gregg served as the Senior Manager of Workforce Development at NPower. Gregg received a Master’s degree in Integrated Marketing and Management Communication from Florida State University, and graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.S. in Business Administration from Florida A&M University. He studied International Management and Marketing in Tokyo, Japan, and is a graduate of Harvard Kennedy School’s Senior Executives in State and Local Government program, and the Coro Foundation’s Leadership New York. He is an adjunct professor at Baruch College’s School of Public Affairs and serves as a board member of Red Hook Initiative. Dr. Millicent Comrie Physician, Maimonides Medical Center Dr. Millicent Comrie Physician, Maimonides Medical Center Millicent A. Comrie, MD, MOH, FACOG is the Director and founder of the Center for Women’s Health, Maimonides Medical Center for Women’s heath in Brooklyn. Dr. Comrie was also Clinical Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the State University of New York (SUNY) – Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn. Dr. Comrie did her residency at LICH in obstetrics and gynecology, and was the hospital’s Chief of Adolescent Gynecology from 1983 to 1989. She is particularly interested in the management of fibroids and menopause and has established the Fibroid Center, the only facility in Brooklyn offering an integrated gynecological, surgical and/or radiological approach to treatment. Over the past several years, she has increased community outreach and forged alliances with community organizations to improve women’s health. Dr. Comrie holds an MD from SUNY- Downstate and an MPH in maternal and child health population and family planning from Columbia University School of Public Health. She is a fellow of both the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Brooklyn Gynecological Society, and a member of the Organization for International Development and the Caribbean – American Outreach Association. She also served as Director of the Myrtle Ferguson Girls Rescue Center in Kingston, Jamaica. She has done medical missions in Jamaica, West Indies. Dr. Comrie received the Physician Recognition Award from LICH in 1996, and the Masters teacher Award in Obstetrics and Gynecology from SUNY Alumni Association in 2001. Additionally, she was honored by The Victims of Violence, Rape Crisis Intervention program, for her dedicated and compassionate care of survivors in crisis. Dr. Comrie has been selected as one of the top black doctors in New York and New Jersey. She was selected as one of the top 100 by New York Magazine for 3 years in a row. David Friedman Partner, Sitex Group David Friedman Partner, Sitex Group David Friedman is a founding partner of Sitex Group LLC (“Sitex”). Founded in 2002, Sitex is a real estate private equity firm focused exclusively on acquiring and re-positioning industrial assets in the New York and New Jersey markets. David oversees the firm’s daily operations, capital structure and disposition strategies. David also manages the firm’s fiscal controls, including underwriting, accounting and investor reporting. David’s 19 years in the real estate industry includes experience as an analyst at LaSalle Investment Management, a leading national real estate investment and advisory firm. David began his career practicing public accounting. David is a certified public accountant and received his Bachelors of Business Administration from the University of Colorado. David is also a member of the Urban Land Institute (ULI). Originally from Chicago, David lives in New York City where he and his wife are raising their two teenage children. Brandon Holley Chief Financial Officer, Shoptrue Brandon Holley Chief Financial Officer, Shoptrue Brandon Holley is the CFO of Shoptrue, a tech startup in AI ecommerce. Previously she was CEO of Everywear, an e-commerce platform that she started in 2013, which was acquired by Shoptrue. Before that she had a career in publishing as Editor-in-chief of Lucky Magazine, Jane and ELLEgirl and a business lead at Yahoo. She first joined RHI as an after-school program instructor in 2005 and joined the board in 2006. She lives in Red Hook. Ms. Holley graduated from Barnard College. Rebecca Kirszner Katz Founder, New Deal Strategies Rebecca Kirszner Katz Founder, New Deal Strategies For two decades, Rebecca Kirszner Katz has helped candidates, campaigns, causes and personalities shape the narrative and tell their story. Katz has worked in every level of government – from the local to the federal. She has expertise in communications planning and strategy, rapid response, media relations, and message development. Katz is a rare communications specialist who has experience successfully navigating both the daily grind of big city news-cycles and long-form journalism. She has a knack for helping clients mix both the serious and the soft in order to shape public image, develop narratives that drive a positive message, and preempt unflattering stories. Katz has worked in nearly every political setting imaginable, beginning in the House of Representatives, then on presidential campaigns, and later running Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid’s war room, which helped position Democrats to win back the Senate. In 2019, Katz founded New Deal Strategies, taking a gamble that a consulting firm could survive without taking any corporate clients. It’s paid off – and with clients like Congressman Jamaal Bowman and Pennsylvania Lt. Governor John Fetterman, Katz has established herself as a go-to communications strategist. Katz has a BA from Clark University and a Master’s in Government Administration from the University of Pennsylvania’s Fels Institute of Government, where she has also taught graduate courses on congressional politics. Janice McGuire Nonprofit Consultant Janice McGuire Nonprofit Consultant Janice McGuire was Executive Director of Hudson Guild for 19 years. During her tenure, Janice implemented the organization’s first strategic plan and its first capital campaign. Since her retirement, she has worked on a variety of projects as an independent consultant to the public and non-profit sector providing support in areas including strategic planning, organizational development, staff and Board training, and operational restructuring. She is also an adjunct lecturer at the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College. Prior to her tenure at the Guild, Janice secured the first federal grant to New York City to develop a program co-locating coordinated school and community services. She also worked as a teacher for New York City public schools and at LaGuardia Community College and in management positions in a number of other NYC-based non-profit organizations. Janice has also served on the boards of a variety of civic and non-profit organizations as well as a member of Manhattan’s Community Board #4. She has a BS in chemistry from Mount St. Vincent and an MAT from Harvard University/School of Education. Janice lives in Brooklyn, NY. Thomas L. McMahon President and Founder, TLM Associates Thomas L. McMahon President and Founder, TLM Associates Before founding TLM Associates in 2005, Thomas McMahon worked in senior positions in New York City government for twenty-five years. Most recently, he served as General Counsel to the New York City Council. Prior to that, (1999-2001) Mr. McMahon worked for the New York City Partnership and Chamber of Commerce as their Senior Vice-President with responsibility for the business organization’s government affairs agenda in Washington, Albany and New York City. From 1989 through 1999, he worked at the New York City Council Finance Division, serving as Director of that office from 1994 to 1999. From 1985 to 1989 he worked in the Koch Administration’s Office of Legislative Affairs where he served as First Assistant Legislative Representative. He began his career as a staff person in the New York State Assembly. Amanda Sue Nichols Attorney and Philanthropist Amanda Sue Nichols Attorney and Philanthropist Amanda Nichols is an attorney and philanthropist who works with nonprofits focused on quality of life, education, and cultural opportunities for families throughout Brooklyn. Born and raised in South Florida, Amanda moved to New York to attend New York University and never looked back. After receiving her J.D. from Fordham University School of Law, Amanda and her husband Patrick moved to Brooklyn. They fell in love with the borough and decided to set down roots. Three kids later, Amanda dedicates her time to her family and to serving Brooklyn communities in her roles as the President of the Cobble Hill Association, Chair of the Board of Trustees at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, and a member of the Brooklyn-focused giving circle Allinbklyn. George Suttles Executive Director, Commonfund Institute George Suttles Executive Director, Commonfund Institute George Suttles leads Commonfund’s educational, market research, and professional development activities as Executive Director of Commonfund Institute. He also serves as a member of the Commonfund Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Office. Prior to joining Commonfund, George was a Program Officer at the John A. Hartford Foundation, an independent, national private foundation focused on improving care for older adults. Before joining the foundation, he was a Vice President, Senior Philanthropic Relationship Manager at U.S. Trust/Bank of America. In this role he worked with private and institutional clients on issues related to best practices in strategic grantmaking. He is a member of numerous nonprofit boards including Laundromat Project and the New York Foundation, where he serves on the investment committee. Currently, he is on the Adjunct Faculty at the New York University (NYU) School of Professional Studies, teaching classes on private and corporate philanthropy. George received a B.A. from Wesleyan University, an M.A. in Philanthropic Studies from Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy (IUPUI) and an M.P.A. from Baruch CUNY School of Public Affairs. Jennifer Wheary Jennifer Wheary Jennifer Wheary lives in Brooklyn and works with a variety of nonprofits and corporations on issues affecting college access and success. Previously she was a senior fellow at Demos, a think tank, where she conducted public policy research and wrote about education and economic opportunity for national publications. Prior to Demos, Jennifer co-founded several successful startup endeavors in digital media and education. She holds a B.S. from Cornell University and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Education from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Eden Wurmfeld Film and TV Producer Eden Wurmfeld Film and TV Producer Eden Wurmfeld is a Film & TV Producer who has been making both fiction and documentary films since 1994. She produced the award-winning indie hit Kissing Jessica Stein, acquired by Fox Searchlight bringing it to hit box office success. She went on to produce Puccini For Beginners, which premiered in competition at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival. Eden’s first documentary effort, the critically acclaimed ITVS Sunset Story aired nationally on PBS Independent Lens in 2005 and won the jury award at the Tribeca Film Festival as well as the audience award at LAFF. No Impact Man premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2009. She is currently producing the Netflix Original, Saving Capitalism, featuring Secretary Robert Reich which will launch worldwide in 2017. Her other documentary credits include Left on Purpose (Gunpowder and Steel, 2016), My So-Called Enemy (PBS) and Romeo Romeo (FilmBuff, PBS). Eden and her husband Justin Schein, are both native New Yorkers. They have two elementary aged sons, Micah and Jesse.