Jill Eisenhard

Founder & Executive Director

Jill Eisenhard

Founder & Executive Director

Jill founded RHI in 2002 and since then has led RHI to become a nationally recognized model for place-based social change. Using a model that combines youth development, community organizing, and local hiring, RHI employs over 150 people from Red Hook and returns over $1.5M in staff salaries and wages to the neighborhood, each year. Jill has over 20 years of direct youth work experience with a racial equity and social justice lens. Formerly a Program Implementation Manager with the Carrera Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program at the Children’s Aid Society, she oversaw four after-school programs in the South Bronx and Washington Heights as well as providing training and technical assistance to the national programs.

Under Jill’s leadership, RHI received the 2012 “Building Brooklyn Award” from the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, the Gold Medal for Excellence in Nonprofit Management from NPCC and the New York Magazine (2012), the NBC Universal Innovation Award (2018) and the Brooklyn Community Foundation Spark Prize (2018). In 2012 she received the Coro Alumni Leadership Award for Civic Engagement. She was featured in the July 2012 issue of More Magazine under their “Job Genius” series. In 2014 Jill was named to Crain’s 40 under 40 and was a City & State Above and Beyond honoree in 2016. Jill holds a BS from Cornell University. She is currently a Sterling Fellow with the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation.

Javier Lopez

Chief Strategy Officer

Javier Lopez

Chief Strategy Officer

Javier is the Chief Strategy Officer for Red Hook Initiative, one of New York City’s more successful youth development not-for-profit organizations. Javier leads RHI’s community building, urban farming and neighborhood Wi-Fi programs. In addition, he co-leads the organization’s development, external affairs and racial equity work.

Before joining RHI, Javier spent 15 years spearheading racial and gender justice policies and programs that aim to improve public health, expand public transportation, end urban gun violence and improve access to affordable housing in communities of color. He brings deep expertise in collaborative efforts to advance racial equity and is a frequent speaker on how public health is the best system to support racial equity.

Javier has extensive experience in eradicating urban gun violence. He comes to the work offering racial justice centered tools that include research, policy analysis, program planning and narrative change. During his free time Javier co-facilitates “How to advocate for racial justice in your school” with parents of students of color school throughout New York City. He is a husband to his wife Michelle and a father to Ava, Maximilian and Leandro.

Ericka Medina

Senior Director of Programs

Ericka Medina

Senior Director of Programs

Ericka oversees RHI’s youth development programs. Before completing a bachelor’s degree at SUNY Oneonta, and joining the RHI professional staff, Ericka was one of RHI’s first Peer Health Educators. In this role she worked to educate other Red Hook youth about reproductive health. In college she pursued her interest in public health.

In 2013, RHI hired Ericka as a full time Reproductive Health Educator. She was promoted to High School Program Manager in 2015, and served as Director of Adolescent Programs from 2017 through summer 2019. In August 2019, she advanced to become the Senior Director of Programs, a senior management position within RHI.

Barrie Koegel

Chief Operating Officer

Barrie Koegel

Chief Operating Officer

Barrie is responsible for overseeing the breadth of RHI’s day-to-day operations, ranging from finance to administration, facilities and HR, with the goal of designing and implementing systems capable of supporting RHI’s continuous evolution and growth. Prior to joining RHI in 2014, Barrie directed human capital and financial operations at Fenton, the country’s oldest and largest social change communications agency.

She started her career pulling all-nighters on a variety of political campaigns and briefly dipped her toes in the food world as a caterer and pastry cook, where, most notably, she was fired by Tom Colicchio. Barrie loved majoring in American Studies but has learned way more in these professional roles and from exceptional colleagues than in any classroom

Naiyma Holmes

Director of HR & Culture

Naiyma Holmes

Director of HR & 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.

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.

Vanessa Nisperos

Director of Professional Development

Vanessa Nisperos

Director of Professional Development

As Red Hook Initiative’s Director of Professional Development, Vanessa leads training and support strategies to increase the professional capacities of RHI staff. She focuses on the intrinsic and external motivations that allow people to overcome structural and personal barriers in their quest for meaningful career paths.

When she joined RHI in 2016, she brought with her 15 years of experience in nonprofit program development and youth service provision. Vanessa has led programs through design, delivery and evaluation in after-school and in school program settings, including YMCA, YWCA, Girls for Gender Equity, and Girls For A Change.

She is passionate about identifying and removing barriers to mental health access, which she supports through the Connections to Care Initiative of Thrive NYC, an innovative community counseling and mental health partnership between RHI and Sunset Terrace Family Health Center at NYU Langone. Through this work, Vanessa became a certified trainer in Motivational Interviewing through the Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers (MINT).

Michelle Munnings

Director of Finance & Administration

Philippa Crowne

Director of Development

Philippa Crowne

Director of Development

Philippa leads RHI’s fundraising and communications team of three staff members, providing oversight on individual and institutional cultivation strategies, major fundraising events, board relations, volunteer programs, digital communications strategy, and data management systems. Under her leadership, RHI’s community of donors and allies has grown to provide increased support for the agency’s innovative work.

Philippa is celebrating over ten years working within the nonprofit sector, where she has passionately advocated for communities rallying for justice and equity. Prior to joining RHI in 2015, Philippa worked for numerous local arts and education focused organizations including the New York Foundation and Workmen’s Circle. Philippa was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York and holds a BA from Bard College. Away from RHI, you might find Philippa training for a triathlon, trying to knit a sweater, or catching a local dance performance.

Aquilino Zuniga

Finance Manager

Aquilino Zuniga

Finance Manager

Aquilino is the Finance Manager at Red Hook Initiative. Born in Panama, his job is to make sure all numbers are in balance and making sure everyone gets paid, you can also find him helping around, sometimes as a Spanish translator, or plain and simple helping moving things around.

He has a BA in accounting and business administration, and he’s also a musician and a producer, his passion, he also teaches music and video production to the young people, with the whole idea of keeping them busy and on the right path. Aquilino really enjoys Red Hook Initiative, as he always says this “is the best place I’ve ever worked”.

Sherri Harden

Office Manager

Tarik Bell

Education Manager

Tarik Bell

Education Manager

Tarik provides academic enrichment and college access programming for over 100 youth at RHI. He is dedicated to creating equitable educational spaces that encourage youth of color to reach their full potential by providing culturally responsive programming, teaching advocacy skills, and providing access to post-secondary opportunities. Using an equity lens, he is committed to building spaces for black and brown youth to learn to love, experience empathy and have unencumbered access to their history.

With over 10 years of experience in youth and curriculum development, Tarik believes that all students are capable of being their best selves, and it is our job as educators to provide them with all of the tools they need to get there.

Michael Lopez Jr.

Young Adult Program Manager

Michael Lopez Jr.

Young Adult Program Manager

Michael has served as a non-profit manager in workforce readiness and education for 14 years. He has committed to stand in solidarity with communities such as East Harlem, Chicago’s west and south sides, Suffern, NY and the South Bronx. Michael manages a team that provides academic, employment and socio-emotional services to over 300 young adult 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, and co-founded a Lower East Food Pantry. Michael is dedicated to bridging opportunity gaps alongside marginalized people as they develop their communities.

Natisha Romain

High School Program Manager

Natisha Romain

High School Program Manager

Natisha came to RHI in 2018, with over eight years of experience working with inner-city youth, a passion for mentoring programs, and qualitative research experience. She received a Master in Youth Studies from the CUNY School of Professional Studies. She understands 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, young people can be empowered to do anything they can dream of and more.

Kimberly Canady

Reproductive Health Education Manager

Kimberly Canady

Reproductive Health Education Manager

Kim has dedicated the past 16 years of her professional life working in the area of human sexuality with a specific focus on HIV/AIDS/STI advocacy and the elimination of other health disparities that impact women and youth. Kim’s journey in health education started at age 15 when she was a peer health educator in the Teens Helping Each Other (THEO) program located at SUNY Downstate.

Kim has worked across several organizations in the interceding years and brings a wealth of experience to RHI not only as a health educator, but with the lived experience of being a youth led change maker. Kim recently graduated Cum Lauda at The New York City School of Technology were she has obtained her bachelor degree in Human Service. Kim is excited about starting her masters degree in social work in the Fall of 2020.

Jose Hernandez

Receptionist

Tyteana Griem

Receptionist

Deanna Cherry

Middle School Youth Worker

Deanna Cherry

Middle School Youth Worker

Deanna started working for RHI in 2001, as a Community Health Worker to provide reproductive health education to women in Red Hook. Deanna’s proudest moment since working at RHI is having a good relationship with young people of any age in the community.

Deanna works for RHI because she enjoys coming in and being with youth. Deanna started her career in Red Hook about 30 years ago working at the PAL Miccio Daycare. Since then, Deanna has impacted thousands of women and children in Red Hook.

Monia Pringle

Middle School Youth Worker

Monia Pringle

Middle School Youth Worker

Monia is a facilitator, creative writer, comedian, and actress aiming to bring illusions and dreams to life. A resident of the Red Hook projects since birth, Monia participated at Red Hook Initiative as a young woman, engaging in various programs, workshops and events.

In 2017 Monia returned to RHI as a staff member, building her skills in curriculum development and program facilitation. She now leads middle school youth in improvisation and self esteem building. Her goal is to utilize her passion for creative arts to help others express themselves. Monia believes that with integrity, one will always have a purpose and the support to overcome any obstacles.

Javon Webb

Middle School Youth Worker

Sanji Downing

Academic Advisor

Sanji Downing

Academic Advisor

Sanji is pursuing a BA in Mathematics from SUNY Buffalo State College and is an Academic Advisor with a proficiency in math for Red Hook Initiative. Sanji’s outgoing and very detailed oriented. Her ability to develop strong lasting relationships both professionally and personally is the driving force behind everything she does.

Jazmin Nazario

Academic Advisor

Jazmin Nazario

Academic Advisor

Jazmin is a former Red Hook Initiative participant and Red Hook native, is now one of the Academic Advisors, specializing in mathematics. Jazmin works closely with middle and high school participants in support of their academic endeavors. Her other work at RHI also includes mentoring first year college students, given she is a current senior at Fordham University.

Jazmin has aspirations for instructing adolescent mathematics, and is particularly interested and invested in bringing STEM awareness and education to communities, such as Red Hook.

Melanie Berkowitz

Social Worker

Gina George

Social Worker

Florie St. Aime

Social Worker

Florie St. Aime

Social Worker

Florie (she/her/hers) is a LCSW born, raised, working and living in Brooklyn NY, describes herself as an anti-oppression based clinician. This label roots her work in naming and blaming social constructs instead of individuals; encouraging healing and self-care as resistance; and reintroducing human connection and acts of love as radical action. Florie does this through a variety of mediums including organizing/activism, group facilitation/workshops and individual counseling.

When not social working, Florie can be found traipsing all over the city with her loved ones indulging in good entertainment, food and healing spaces.

Sheryl Nash-Chisholm

Youth Jobs Developer

Sheryl Nash-Chisholm

Youth Jobs Developer

Sheryl Nash-Chisholm (she/her) is the Youth Job Developer at Red Hook Initiative. Currently, Sheryl is facilitating a workshop that teaches young people job skills they need to know for employment. The young people Sheryl works with are leaving middl school and now entering their high school years. Employment is a very important stage in their lives.

The passion that Sheryl feels is the first time each group finishes their resume, knows the purpose of a cover letter, goes on an interview, dresses for success and creates a networking event. It’s such a rewarding experience when you know that youth can remember something that Sheryl says and they smile and shake their head.

Janeka Godbold

Reproductive Health Fellow

Generra Garris

Professional Development and Young Adult Fellow

Juan Tejada

College Access Specialist

Juan Tejada

College Access Specialist

Juan has a BA in Communication from the College of Mount Saint Vincent and is the Academic Advisor and College Access Specialist for Red Hook Initiative. In his 12 years of devotion to youth development, he has helped young people on their educational journeys and develop a strong sense of self through encouragement, socio-emotional workshops, impactful seminars on seuxality and gender and expression through the arts. Juan advocates for the advancement and rights of black, brown, and queer youth by empowering them to be active in their citizenship by providing safe, innovative spaces that allow young people to create, explore, and flourish. Juan is proud of the work he brings to the community of Red Hook because he believes that there is power in community and change in numbers.

Marissa Cappel

Clinical Case Worker

Marissa Cappel

Clinical 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.

Nellis Dorlisme

Employment and Education Associate

Nellis Dorlisme

Employment and Education Associate

Nellis (he/him) is the Employment & Education Associate 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 7 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.

Justine González-Belay

Employment Specialist

Justine González-Belay

Employment Specialist

Justine (she/her) is the Young Adult Employment Specialist at Red Hook Initiative. She is a personable, creative problem-solver who leads the employment initiatives and partnerships for the RHI Young Adult Internship Program.

Justine was born and raised in New York City and has over a decade of experience in youth development, criminal justice reform, and project management. She is passionate about using media as an educational tool for social impact particularly in advancing racial and gender equity, justice reform, and positive youth development.

Kiyana Slade

Lead Youth Organizer

Kiyana Slade

Lead Youth Organizer

Kiyana currently holds an Associate of Urban Studies from Guttman Community College. As a Lead Youth Organizer at RHI, Kiyana is 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 was born and raised in Red Hook, Brooklyn and is proud to be a true leader.

Kaleshia Sostre

Parent Organizing Fellow

Daleathia Alexander

Community Building Fellow

Michel’le Thomas

Community Relations Associate

Tevina Willis

Lead Organizer

Tevina Willis

Lead Organizer

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 Lead Community Organizer, Tevina works with her Community Building Team to advocate and organize around public housing issues in Red Hook.

Nefratia Coleman

Wolcott Street Farm Manager

Nefratia Coleman

Wolcott Street Farm Manager

Nefratia Coleman started her agriculture journey in 2015 while serving a 11-month AmeriCorps term with Green City Force on the Urban Farm Corps team. There she assisted with the management and operations of the NYCHA Red Hook Farm – the first farm ever constructed on NYC public housing land. Nefratia then completed a 6-month internship at Added Value (now Red Hook Farms), preparing and teaching science-based lessons for K-8 student groups as well as assisting with the CSA and compost programs. She later managed the Pink Houses NYCHA farm for 2 seasons through East New York Farms. Nefratia was born and raised in Brooklyn and is a passionate farmer and educator.

Brendan Parker

Columbia Street Farm Manager

Brendan Parker

Columbia Street Farm Manager

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.

Souhair Kenas

Farm Education Manager

Souhair Kenas

Farm Education Manager

Souhair joined the farm team in the spring of 2017 with a background in youth education and community gardening. Souhair holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in International Business with a minor in Philosophy. She has worked with the Youth Farmers program for 2 years and has been leading the program since Fall of 2018.

In the past she has worked in juvenile detention centers and group homes building classroom and outdoor gardens – which led to a collaborative project where youth were able to grow and create the foundation for the award-winning Bronx Hot Sauce. Passionate about herbal medicine, she continues to learn and teach about the healing power of plants for both the body and the community.

Will Suarez

Development & Volunteer Coordinator

Will Suarez

Development & Volunteer Coordinator

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.

Madeline Jenkins

Development Associate

Madeline Jenkins

Development Associate

Madeline (she/her) is the Development Associate with Red Hook Initiative. Currently, Madeline is focused on building a strong digital content strategy plan for RHI’s social media platforms. She is a hard working, detail-oriented, creative professional invested in creating change within her community through her strong communication and digital media skills.

Prior to Madeline’s involvement on the development team, she’s expressed her passion for video production 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.

Rae Gomes

Red Hook Community Heath Network Manager

Tyrone Sprinkle Jr.

Operations Fellow

Simone Mack

Census Captain, Complete Count Fund

Simone Mack

Census Captain, Complete Count Fund

Simone Mack is the Census Captain working with RHI’s Complete Count Fund Initiative to get this community to self-respond for the 2020 Census.

Simone believes that outreach to people in the community to get them to self-respond will bring the proper funding to this community for schools, fire stations and youth programs where it’s needed.
Simone has previous experience with the Census Bureau since 2010 and has helped thousands of people with completing surveys and explaining the importance of the Census.

Simone is certified and trained as a Security Guard and in CPR. She has been awarded Certificates for volunteering and helping out with the youth throughout her community from different organizations. One of her goals is to further her mission to helping out with her community with the youth and elderly.

Vanessa Mcknight

Census Organizer, Complete Count Fund

Vanessa Mcknight

Census Organizer, Complete Count Fund

Vanessa Mcknight Census Organizer, works with RHI’s Complete Count Fund Initiative which is spearheading a count for Red Hook residents by distributing Census commitment cards that they promise to be counted in the 2020 Census.

Vanessa believes that in order for a community to thrive everyone should be included in the growth of the community and have a voice to reach the common goals for the community at large.

Vanessa first started engaging with RHI in 2018 on a volunteer basis tackling several issues that have had a negative effect on the Red Hook community such as gas outages, mold, and rezoning, as well as other issues. Vanessa began working for RHI in March as a Census Organizer.

Vanessa is currently a Core Member of P.S. 676 redesign team, an RHI Academy Organizer graduate, Red Hook Justice Center Peacemaker Alumni, Certified CPR/AED First Aid for adults and adolescents. She loves to cook, read, travel, and go to the beach.

Xiaochun Sun

Census Organizer, Complete Count Fund

Xiaochun Sun

Census Organizer, Complete Count Fund

Xiaochun Sun is a Census Organizer who works with RHI’s Complete Count Fund Initiative to support residents in self-response to the 2020 Census.

Xiaochun believes the Census and RHI help the Red Hook community have a better future. Xiaochun knows the work needs more patience, professionalism, time and teamwork to complete.

Xiaochun has experience volunteering with NYC Senator Gordon. In three months, forty people worked together going to the subway station, making phone calls, knocking on doors, visiting senior centers, schools, and parks; everywhere in the community.

Xiaochun is a cheerful and motivated person who speaks Mandarin.

Chane Wright

Census Organizer, Complete Count Fund

Chane Wright

Census Organizer, Complete Count Fund

Chane Wright is a Census Organizer who works with RHI’sComplete Count Fund Initiative to ensure that everyone, especially residents within the Red Hook community are counted and that they will receive fundings for their neighborhood.

Chane believes that working as a Census Organizer, she is able to connect with the residents of Red Hook, and help them to have a voice. She also believes that she would become a role model for the generations after her by making sure to emphasize the importance of health and making a change.
Chane has worked at Red Hook Farms on Wolcott Street since 2015, where she supports empowering other youth with her knowledge of Food Justice’ and the farming environment. She also helps residents in the Red Hook community with access to healthy produce. Chane joined the Census team to continue to help benefit the community where they will be able to express their concerns for the neighborhood, and possibly for themselves as well.

Chane is focusing on acquiring her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology while she also focuses on bettering her neighborhood in various and substantial ways. She loves to make new friends, take care of her loved ones, do makeup, and focus on her continuing development of helping to make the world a better place.

Miranda Li Young

Census Organizer, Complete Count Fund

Eduarda Rocha Waid

Census Organizer, Complete Count Fund

Eduarda Rocha Waid

Census Organizer, Complete Count Fund

Eduarda Rocha Waid is a Census Organizer for RHI’s Complete Count Fund Initiative to support Red Hook residents in self-response to the 2020 Census. She has been working for RHI since March 2020.

As a Red Hook resident, Eduarda is determined to make a difference for her community. She‘s aware of how important it is participating in the Census in order to bring more funding and resources to the community such as public schools, health care facilities, etc.

Eduarda was born and raised in Brazil, where she went to college and graduated with a major in Urban Anthropology. She worked for several years with children living in the streets of Sao Paulo in projects to reinsert those marginalized kids in society. She has always been passionate about social justice.

In New York, Eduarda works as a medical interpreter and translator for many years. She is mother to a lovely little girl and lives in Red Hook with her daughter and husband.

Maria Mercado

Census Organizer, Complete Count Fund

Maria Mercado

Census Organizer, Complete Count Fund

Maria Mercado is a Census Organizer who works with RHI’s Complete Count Fund Initiative to assist Red Hook residents with the 2020 Census. Maria knows the Census can bring federal funding to various institutions in the community, making a positive impact.

Maria believes it is every resident’s duty to know about their government and take part through self educating, voting or filling out the Census every 10 years. Taking part in the government gives residents the opportunity to exercise democracy, and voice their very personal needs to different branches of government. Minorities have fought a long and hard battle to exercise the rights we have in the present.

Maria also works for Job Path, New York City, offering supportive employment services to adults with developmental disabilities. Maria has been involved with Red Hook Initiative for almost 10 years and has taken part in various if not all youth development programs offered: Peer Health Educators, Digital Stewards, College Ambassador, Teen Chef amongst others. With the education and support of all the programs, Maria was able to secure a position immediately after college in social services. Maria thrives working with individuals and developing unique plans of resolutions for their challenges. Maria has developed an outstanding ability as personal coaching and is looking to transfer this skill to engage people with their governments.

Maria studied 4 years of Human Development and Social Relations at Earlham College in Indiana. Currently, Maria is studying Graphic Design and Computer Programming at the New York City College of Technology. Maria aims to merge social services practice with computer technology to reach and unify communities towards a common cause.

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’s stringed-instrument collection to less than home-engulfing proportions.

Janice McGuire, Vice President

Nonprofit Consultant

Janice McGuire, Vice President

Nonprofit Consultant

Janice McGuire, Vice President, 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.

Maria Mottola, Secretary

Executive Director, New York Foundation

Maria Mottola, Secretary

Executive Director, New York Foundation

Maria Mottola, Secretary, has been the Executive Director of the New York Foundation since 2003 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

Chief Executive Officer, Skinder-Strauss LLC

Andrew Strauss, Treasurer

Chief Executive Officer, Skinder-Strauss LLC

Andrew Strauss, Treasurer, has served as Chief Executive Officer of Skinder-Strauss since 2011. 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

Commissioner, NYC Department of Small Business Services

Gregg Bishop

Commissioner, NYC Department of Small Business Services

Gregg Bishop is the Commissioner of the NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS). Gregg is 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. Since his appointment in November 2015, he has overseen 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.

Donovan Hamlet

Sales Strategy & Operations, LinkedIn Marketing Solutions

Donovan Hamlet

Sales Strategy & Operations, LinkedIn Marketing Solutions

Donovan Hamlet is a recent MBA graduate from Columbia Business School, majoring in Economics, Entrepreneurship and Strategy. Prior to business school, Donovan worked at BNY Mellon in various strategy roles within their Investment Management and Investment Services businesses. Donovan’s financial services career began at the Williams Capital Group, L.P. where he was a Municipal Finance Associate. Donovan is currently with Sales Strategy & Operations of LinkedIn Marketing Solutions. Donovan is a graduate of the Tobin School of Business at St. John’s University where he received a B.S. in Finance.

Brandon Holley

Chief Executive Officer, Everywear

Brandon Holley

Chief Executive Officer, Everywear

Brandon Holley is the CEO of Everywear, an e-commerce platform that she started in 2013. She lives in Red Hook. From 2010 through 2012 she was Editor-in-Chief of Lucky, the award-winning magazine about shopping and style. Before that Brandon was the Editor in Chief and business lead of Yahoo! Shine, one of the largest online destinations for women, which she launched in 2007. Previous to that she was Editor in Chief of Jane from 2005 until 2007. In 2001 she launched ELLEgirl and previous to that post was a senior features editor at GQ from 1998 to 2000. She started her magazine career as a writer for Paper magazine and worked as a fact checker for Rolling Stone. In 2002, Brandon was named one of Advertising Age’s Women to Watch. Ms. Holley graduated from Barnard College.

Rebecca Kirszner Katz

Founder, New Deal Strategies

Rebecca Kirszner Katz

Founder, New Deal Strategies

Rebecca Kirszner Katz is a Partner at Hilltop Public Solutions, and most recently served as Special Advisor to Mayor Bill de Blasio. In this position, she played a senior role in guiding the overall communications strategy for the Mayor and First Lady, while also helping manage long-term media planning and outreach.

Rebecca has nearly 20 years of local, state, and national communications experience. She has worked in government – at the local and federal level — and on political campaigns, and in issue-advocacy efforts on behalf of non-profit groups. In addition to her work for Mayor de Blasio, Rebecca’s career includes time spent running Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid’s War Room, assisting with the planning and execution of the White House’s communications strategy for Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation, and helping Planned Parenthood fight back against the unprecedented assault on women’s health after Republicans assumed control of Congress in 2010.

John Kline

John Kline

John Kline is a veteran of the magazine industry and most recently served as Managing Editor of Us Weekly for the better part of a decade. He previously worked as the Managing Editor of MBA Jungle and JD Jungle magazines and as Assistant Managing Editor at New York Magazine, following previous stints at other publications including the Chicago Reader.
For several years he has assisted Phillips Academy, a needs-blind residential secondary school in Andover, Massachusetts, currently serving on its Annual Giving Board, Development Board, and Alumni Council as well as overseeing alumni fund-raising for his graduating class.
John also sits on the Board of Directors for the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy, co-chairing its Development Committee. The BBPC is a not-for-profit dedicated to providing free and low-cost educational, cultural and recreational events and activities in the park. Its mission is to ensure adequate funding, proper maintenance, public support and citizen enjoyment of the park through partnership with government, programming development, and active promotion of the needs of the park and its constituents.

Originally hailing from Fargo, North Dakota, John received his BA from Northwestern University. He has lived in Brooklyn since 1998.

Michael Lee

Managing Director, Corporate Development, New York Institute of Finance

Michael Lee

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.

David Xi Bing Ma

Global Risk and Specialties, Marsh

David Xi Bing Ma

Global Risk and Specialties, Marsh

David Ma works in the Global Risk and Specialties group at Marsh, an insurance brokerage. He previously worked in Marketing and Business Development at Openfolio. Prior to Openfolio, David worked in the Corporate Strategy group at the New York Stock Exchange, a subsidiary of Intercontinental Exchange. In this role he was responsible for the strategic analysis and implementation of new initiatives across the NYSE family of businesses, covering transatlantic securities and derivatives exchanges.

David studied Operations Research at Columbia University. He joined the board of the Red Hook Initiative in August 2012 with an interest in mentoring, youth development, and how RHI supports the community through self-empowerment.

Nanda Prabhakar

SVP Program Operations, New York City Mission Society

Nanda Prabhakar

SVP Program Operations, New York City Mission Society

Nanda Prabhakar serves as 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 has 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 oversees 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 is responsible for the programmatic success of NYC Mission Society, ensuring seamless team management and development, program delivery, quality control, and evaluation. Prior to her current 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.

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.