The human services workforce is 81% women. On March 13th, we honor some of the women providing critical services across New York. We must invest in women like these to ensure nonprofits can recruit and retain quality staff, and so our communities do not lose leaders like these. Strong Nonprofits supports key investments in this years budget: $23 million to fund the minimum wage for nonprofits that contract with the State, and $65 million for salary adjustments for human services workers left out of last year's direct care increase. You can learn more about our budget asks here.
Sarah Crawford Banda, LMSW
Domestic Violence Project Director-Northern Manhattan Improvement Corp.
Who Is Sarah: Sarah Crawford Banda, LMSW has spent her twenty-year career as a social worker in roles that allow her to ally herself with immigrant women and their families. As the Director of NMIC's Domestic Violence Project she has worked closely with survivors, service providers, communities and their constituencies to empower survivors and help prevent intimate partner violence. Ms. Crawford Banda helped found the Washington Heights & Inwood Coalition Against Domestic Violence and has sat on various advisory boards and taskforces. She is a graduate of the University of Virginia and Columbia University School of Social Work.
How She Makes Her Community Strong: “Since 1998, Sara has been services hundreds of survivors of domestic violence a year. She has developed one of the most comprehensive, non-residential, community based and survivor centered programs... As a social worker, she mentors students and shares best practices not only with her team but with the rest of NMIC's staff... She's creative in how she looks to increase resources for the program and is not afraid to take a risk...She is a fierce advocate and friend.”
Ivy Gamble Cobb
Executive Director-The Family Center
Who Is Ivy: Ivy Gamble Cobb, LMSW, is the Executive Director of The Family Center. The mission of The Family Center is to strengthen families affected by illness, crisis, or loss to create a more secure present and future for their children. Ms. Gamble Cobb received her Bachelor's Degree from New York University, her Masters degree in Social Work from Hunter College School of Social Work and has completed all coursework towards a PhD in Social Welfare.
How She Makes Her Community Strong: “Ivy founded The Family Center in 1994 and has dedicated her life and career to helping disadvantaged New Yorkers, especially those in Central Brooklyn.” The Family Center works to keep families stronger, longer. The Family Center is a $5 million-dollar agency comprised of 50 staff serving over 1,500 children and their families each year. Ms. Gamble Cobb was part of a team of four women who established The Family Center in 1994.
Director - National H.I.R.E. Network
Who Is Roberta: Roberta Meyers is the director of the National H.I.R.E. Network, a project of the Legal Action Center that works to improve employment and other opportunities for people with criminal records. She has decades of experience training workforce development practitioners and corrections staff on employment strategies that best serve job seekers with criminal histories; authored dozens of guidebooks and policy briefs on criminal record policies that impact employment, housing, and education opportunities; and testified before and served as an advisor to Congress, government agencies, and state legislators about effective reentry policies and practices that reduce recidivism. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Business, Management, and Economics from the State University of New York/Empire State College and a Master of Science degree in Public Safety with specialization in Criminal Justice and Public Administration from Capella University.
How She Makes Her Community Strong: “Ms. Roberta Meyers truly knows everything about everything related to overcoming the barriers related to having a criminal record, generously shares her knowledge and efforts, spreads faith and positivity wherever she goes, yet never backs down from the truth of the racial inequities tangled in the roots of our social service and legal systems. She is a true change agent who is in it for the change, not the fame.”
Executive Director - Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation
Who Is Michelle: Michelle Neugebauer started her career at CHLDC as the first full-time employee in October 1984 when the organization had a budget of $35,000 and one program. Today, it has a $15 million+ budget, a staff of 500 and 19 service sites. Michelle attended Barnard College, and holds M.S. degrees in Social Work and Urban Planning from Columbia University. She is a member of the Boards of Directors of the United Neighborhood Houses and the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development. Michelle grew up in Bushwick, Brooklyn in the 1970s and credits those experiences of neighborhood struggle with her life-long passion for community development and service.
How She Makes Her Community Strong: “Michelle has led her dedicated team in planning and carrying out all the organization’s major program initiatives, including CHLDC’s work in public education reform, building affordable housing, community organizing, and supporting young people and their families. Cypress Hills prides itself on a grassroots and holistic community development approach that has resulted in new public schools, hundreds of units of affordable housing, a revitalized commercial corridor, a continuum of youth development supports from early childhood education to college graduation and a legion of very empowered community leaders.”
President and Founder - Children of Promise
Who Is Sharon: Sharon Content is the Founder and President of Children of Promise, NYC (CPNYC), a community-based, non-profit organization in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. CPNYC’s mission is to embrace the children of incarcerated parents and empower them to break the cycle of intergenerational involvement in the criminal justice system. Learning that there existed little to no support for children of prisoners, Sharon successfully developed an innovative program model, the only one of its kind in New York City, which co-locates a mental health clinic and a comprehensive after school and summer day camp in the same program site. The agency currently serves 350 children and families each year and is proud to report that no young person, in the 10-year history of the organization, has been involved with the juvenile or criminal justice systems. Ms. Content is a native New Yorker and respected alumna of Howard University.
How She Makes Her Community Strong: “Ms. Content has established an entire organization dedicated to children who struggle with the loss of their parent due to incarceration. Many of us are single mother's who need emotional, financial, and concrete support as we raise our children without their fathers who are presently incarcerated. Ms. Content has created an agency where we can have our children find strength in identification without the fear of being shamed or experiencing stigma from their community or society about the fact that their parent is in prison. She has devoted her time to our families having a safe and beautiful place to come 6 days a week where our children receive after school services, tutoring, mentoring, art therapy, individual therapy, group therapy, recreational activities, dance classes, music classes, free summer camp, so they get to experience being a child while processing therapeutically the loss of their parent to incarceration. No other place celebrates our children's accomplishments the way Ms. Content and her staff do at Children of Promise NYC…”
Manager of Mission and Learning - Good Shepherd Services
Who Is Celia: For 16 years, Celia Ceballos has been at the forefront of learning at Good Shepherd Services regardless of the titles she has held during her tenure. During that time, she has been promoted four times and in each role, she has impacted a broad range of staff, participants and mission partners with her deep love and enthusiasm for the agency’s work. If you spend any amount of time with Celia, her deep personal curiosity and thirst for knowledge are immediately evident as well as the joy she experiences as a facilitator in helping people learn new skills and expose them to new knowledge. She has also been nominated to be a part of Good Shepherd Services’ L.E.A.D. Council, which focuses on equity and diversity challenges within the organization. Celia is excited about the emerging work in the field particularly related to systems theory, models of shared governance, and participatory practices. After eight years of sacrifice, to position herself for senior leadership opportunities, Celia has earned her B.S. in Human Services with a concentration in Nonprofit Management. She has also been promoted to Manager of Mission and Learning and is a certified Microsoft Office Trainer. She plans to pursue a Masters in Non-Profit Management soon.
How She Makes Her Community Strong: “Celia is the heart and soul of the workforce here at Good Shepherd Services. She infuses our mission of love and service into everything we do. Her optimism compassion for both the families in our care and the staff who extend themselves is unwavering. She is genuine, patient, strong, and passionate. Celia is true reflection of why women are at the forefront of services that love and empower our families and our communities.”
Executive Director - WNY Women’s Foundation
Who Is Sheri: Sheri Scavone is the Executive Director of the WNY Women’s Foundation. In her role, Ms. Scavone uses Foundation research data to educate, convene, advocate and forge collaborations with key community stakeholders about gender bias and other issues preventing girls and women from achieving economic self-sufficiency. She leads the Foundation to empower young girls, single mothers and aspiring female leaders through strategic initiatives and investments. Ms. Scavone is a tireless advocate for girls and women. Sheri has over 35 years of experience leading and growing public and nonprofit organizations to achieve strategic goals through collaboration, team empowerment, data and evaluation, and ‘doing the right thing’. She strives to break through resistance and ignorance and to educate and drive change towards greater acceptance and tolerance in her advocacy against discrimination - particularly for women, those living with mental illness and LGBTQ and marginalized youth. As a women’s college graduate and mother of twins, Ms. Scavone is passionate about harnessing the incredible resources of women to strengthen our community!
How She Makes Her Community Strong: “Sheri Scavone has been a fearless leader in support of programs for women and girls in the Western New York community. She has been innovative in bringing in different programming and supporting local organizations that stand behind women and girls. She has supported educational programs, job training, and social initiatives for women in this community. I believe that she is a standout champion for women and deserves this honor.” -Senator Timothy Kennedy
Executive Director - United Neighborhood Houses
Who Is Susan: Susan returned in the fall of 2015 to assume the leadership of United Neighborhood Houses, the membership organizations of 38 settlement houses and community centers. From 2001-2010, Susan was UNH's Director of Policy and Advocacy. In that role she supervised the policy staff, analyzed government policies and budgets, mobilized grassroots support and lobbied on both the State and City level to support critical services including child care, after school and youth development programs, ESOL and legal services, mental health counseling, education and literacy programs, and services to support older adults. Susan is a NYC native who grew up in Queens and has lived in Brooklyn for more than 30 years where she and her husband have raised two daughters.
How She Makes Her Community Strong: “Incredible commitment over many years.” UNH supports its members and their neighborhoods by mobilizing communities, advocating for good public policies, and promoting practices that keep the city resilient and thriving for all New Yorkers.
Executive Director - Brooklyn Community Services
Who Is Marla: Marla Simpson's deep connection to the nonprofit sector spans 40 years. Today, she serves as President/Executive Director of Brooklyn Community Services, which she joined in 2012. Founded in 1866, BCS is one of the oldest and largest nonsectarian, multi-service community-based providers in Brooklyn, serving over 20,000 people each year from its 28 locations across Brooklyn. Marla is an active member of both the Governor's Not-for-Profit Government Contracting Advisory Committee and the Mayor's Nonprofit Resiliency Committee. Marla began her career as a legal services attorney specializing in access to food programs. From 1999-2003, serving as Investigations Chief in the NY Attorney General's Charities Bureau, Marla focused on governance and financial practices. From 2003-2012, serving as NYC's Chief Procurement Officer, she brought a customer service and problem-solving orientation to the Mayor's Office of Contract Services (MOCS), with a special focus on the needs of the City's nonprofit vendor community. Now, having come full circle to lead a major NYC social services provider, Marla is dedicated to building a strong and effective partnership between the nonprofit sector and New York City/New York State government, for the benefit of all New Yorkers, particularly the people of Brooklyn, where she has lived for nearly 40 years.
How She Makes Her Community Strong: “Marla has been involved in Human Services for more than 35 years, in both the public sector and in the non-profit. She has fought for vulnerable populations in her early career as a litigator, to her current position as Executive Director of the largest and oldest non-profit in Brooklyn, where she fights against the impact of poverty on Brooklyn's most vulnerable. Marla is an excellent leader and advocate, seeking to increase diversity and equity.”
Dr. Joanne Gerenser
Executive Director - Eden II Programs
Who Is Joanne: Joanne Gerenser is the Executive Director of the Eden II Programs in Staten Island, NY. She received her Ph.D. in Speech and Hearing Sciences at the City University of New York Graduate Center. She is currently president of the Board of Directors of the Council of Autism Service Providers as well as the Interagency Council of NY on Developmental Disabilities. Joanne is a member of the Scientific Advisory Council for the Organization for Autism Research. She has authored many articles and book chapters relating to speech and language disorders, autism and behavior analysis. Joanne is an adjunct associate professor at Brooklyn College as well as the World Campus of Penn State University.
How She Makes Her Community Strong: "I believe Dr. Joanne Gerenser is exemplary in her field, and a personal friend. She has served her community dutifully, and with a passion, and that is why I am nominating her for this honor. " - Assemblymember Titone
Judy Ah-Yune, LMSW
Director, Manhattan Community Services - Chinese-American Planning Council
Who Is Judy: Judy Ah-Yune is the Director of the Chinese-American Planning Council, Inc. (CPC)’s Manhattan Community Services. Founded in 1965, CPC provides social services to Chinese American, immigrant and low-income families through early childhood education, school-age childcare, youth services, workforce development, senior services and multi-social services in the five boroughs in NYC. Judy has served as the Director of CPC’s Manhattan Community Services since 2001; overseeing services in the areas of child abuse neglect and foster care prevention, childcare, HIV/AIDS, special needs, and walk in entitlement application assistance such as SNAP (food stamps), Medicaid, Medicare, ACA, and housing. Prior to her current role, Judy supervised CPC's General Preventive Program for four years. In addition, Judy has worked with disabled adults in residential settings, as well as the domestic violence population. Judy holds a Master's Degree in Social Work from Hunter College. She is an LMSW, as well as a longtime member of NASW and the NASW-Asian American Social Work Task Force.
How She Makes Her Community Strong: “She has been exceptionally active in attending community-based events, networking with colleagues and elected officials, and fundraising on behalf of the agency. Judy is currently the co-chair of the ACS-funded Lower East Side Community Partnership Project. In this capacity for the past ten years, she has been instrumental in bringing agencies of different disciplines together to provide community support to families who are at risk. To connect with families with ease and comfort, Judy speaks English, French, Creole, Cantonese and has a working knowledge of Mandarin, which helps them feel, heard and understood. As she continues to give back to the community in different ways, Judy continues to regularly supervise and mentor MSW graduate students who would like to enter the social work field. Her dedication to the health and wellbeing of our community’s families is a reflection of her character and the quality of the services her team provides to the community.”
CCR&R Director - Family Enrichment Network
Who Is Jennifer: Jennifer Perney has been the CCR&R Director for Family Enrichment Network for over 10 years, serving Broome, Chenango, and Tioga Counties. The CCR&R program promotes quality child care in the community through training and supporting regulated child care programs and assist parents in finding quality child care. Jennifer advocates for high quality early childhood education and child care in the community. She is a member of the Binghamton Chapter of AEYC, the Building Brighter Futures for Broome Coalition, the Morrisville State College Norwich Campus Advisory Committee, and on the board of the Early Care and Learning Council. Prior to working at the CCR&R, Jennifer worked in the early childhood education field as a center director and in the classroom as an infant, toddler, and preschool teacher. Jennifer attended The Pennsylvania State University obtaining a Bachelor’s in Human Development and Family Studies with the Children, Youth and Family Services option.
How She Makes Her Community Strong: “She is a staunch advocate for quality, affordable child care. I admire her perseverance and dedication in the face of numerous challenges facing the child care industry.” -Assemblymember Donna Lupardo
Audrey LaFrenier, LCSW-R
President and Chief Operating Officer - Northern Rivers Family of Services
Who Is Audrey: Audrey LaFrenier serves as President and Chief Operating Officer for Northern Rivers Family of Services. In this role, she oversees the delivery of services to more than 11,000 children and families across thirty-seven counties in New York State each year. Prior to her current role, Ms. LaFrenier was Chief of Services at Parsons Child & Family Center when the agency affiliated under Northern Rivers. She has held various leadership roles at Parsons where she, as a professional social worker, built her career caring for children and families. She earned her master’s degree in Social Work from the University at Albany and her bachelor’s degree in Education and Early Childhood Development from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst
How She Makes Her Community Strong: “A social worker by trade and at heart, Northern Rivers Family of Services President and Chief Operating Officer Audrey LaFrenier is a leading figure in the child welfare and family services field throughout the Capital Region and beyond. Over her nearly four decades as a practitioner, program director, and executive, Audrey’s passion, vision, and determination have helped shape the way services are delivered…. Audrey LaFrenier embodies everything that is good about New York’s nonprofit sector. Her work has changed countless lives, and her impact will be felt for generations to come.”
Assistant Executive Director of Family Foster Care Programs - SCO Family of Services
Who Is Karen: Each year, SCO Family of Services helps find safe homes and caring families for children and youth who have been placed in Foster Care. Behind every safe home and caring family stands Karen Abreu-Rosano, SCO’s Assistant Executive Director of Family Foster Care programs. Karen Abreu-Rosano is responsible for over 1,000 children and their families who are served by SCO’s Family Foster Care Programs. Mrs. Rosano ensures that all children and youth in SCO’s Foster Care program have an opportunity to succeed, and have a chance for their forever home either through family reunification or adoption. Karen Abreu-Rosano’s department includes over 300 casework and clinical staff and over 400 foster homes that are responsible for the care, safety and permanency of SCO’s foster children. Providing a supportive environment and inspiring teamwork, Ms. Abreu-Rosano ensures that all staff have an opportunity for both personal and professional development goals.
How She Makes Her Community Strong: “Karen represent the very best of SCO Family of Services and embodies the true values of compassion, dedication, and excellence. Karen is a leader in her field and an endless advocate and champion for children and youth in Foster Care. Karen ensures that all children and youth in Foster Care have an opportunity to succeed, and have a chance for their forever home either through family reunification or adoption. Her dedication to the children and youth in care, is only matched by her leadership and ability to show grace under pressure. Providing a supportive environment and inspiring teamwork, Karen ensure that all staff have an opportunity for both personal and professional development goals. Karen is a valued member of the Executive leadership team and her contributions to the children and youth in Foster Care are the reason for her nomination to the Women in Human Services Hall of Fame.”
Executive Vice President, Programs and Operations - Educational Alliance
Who Is Janet: Janet Weinberg joined Educational Alliance in 2014 as a consultant and was promoted to the Executive Team in 2015. Her portfolio includes oversight of the Manny Canter Center, 14th Street Y, Human Resources, IT and Facilities as well as working in close partnership with the Finance Department. Janet has over 35 years working in healthcare/social services with 30 of those years in supervisory and upper management roles. She worked at Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) for the past decade in a variety of ways and with increasing responsibility in four 4 different positions with her final role as the Interim CEO/COO. Prior to working at GMHC, Janet served as Co-Chair of the Board of Directors at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center; when her Board term limits were completed, she became the Director of Development. She served the Center for a total of 11 years. Prior to joining the non-profit sector, Janet worked as an Occupational Therapist. She began as a line staff member and grew to running the OT unit of 1,000 therapists.
How She Makes Her Community Strong: “Janet Weinberg is a pioneer, who through her steadfast leadership and fierce advocacy has helped ensure that some of our most vulnerable and marginalized communities receive the resources, supports, services and respect necessary to live healthy, productive and dignified lives...Janet has dedicated her career to building a comprehensive, community-based framework which not only addresses the needs of individuals in crisis, but more importantly works to address underlying factors, ultimately leading to sustainable, systemic change...Janet truly exemplifies the Women in Human Services Hall of Fame because she has spent her lifetime not only working to enhance the field but also weaving the core principles that guide the field into her leadership and everyday interactions. Janet is a woman who continues to, in every interaction, create a more equitable, inclusive world for all of us.”
Director of Program Operations, Randolph Houses - West Harlem Group Assistance
Who Is Stacey: In her own words: “To work in Human Services is a spiritual, mental and physical endeavor. All three are needed because it is the kind of work that the entire being must engage in. It’s also a calling, deep rooted, and a compulsion to help others no matter what your status is in life...I have worked for only two agencies in my life, beginning with the Children’s Aid Society from 1983-1998, and then working with the West Harlem Group Assistance, Inc., from 1999- to present. With each position, moving up the ranks, I was given the opportunity to work with children and families in homeless settings and also in permanent housing. With each position, I never forget that I am called to treat people with dignity and respect, regardless of their circumstances. I have instilled those same values in my staff, as well as my five children.”
How She Makes Her Community Strong: “Stacey Cohen-Meekins is the kind of leader that exudes passion for the individuals she serve as well as the individuals she leads. Stacey is the leader that makes it her duty to learn everyone's stories, birth days, strength, challenges and she meets each person where they are. She is the leader that goes into homes, help a client or staff plan a funeral, attends every child's graduation, visits schools to speak up for the child and speak on behalf of parents. She is the person who took two children into her home when she was in her early adulthood because their parents were unable to raise them due to their (the parents) own challenges and illnesses...She is the person who sees the best in her staffs as well as the clients they serves and help to guide them into tapping into their own power and self worth. She embodies the best attributes of a Social Worker at heart and in service. She is the neighbor we all would love to be and strive to become.”
Senior Vice President of Community Services - JCCA
Who Is Keturah: Keturah Pierre began her career at JCCA in 1993 as a social worker in the foster care program. She was promoted to her first administrative position, Director of Foster Family Resources in 1997. She was subsequently promoted to Program Director of Brooklyn foster care Program in 2001, Deputy Director of Foster Care in 2004 and Vice President of Foster Care in 2014. Ms. Pierre is currently the Senior Vice President of Community Services, managing Foster Care Services, Preventive Services, the social services component of two Transfer High Schools in Brooklyn, Services in the Jewish Community and all clinical and ancillary Services in these programs. Ms. Pierre obtained a Bachelor’s Degree at Lehman College (CUNY) in 1991 and a Master’s degree at Fordham University in 1993. She has received extensive post graduate certificates in management from Hunter College (CUNY); Fordham University and NYU.
How She Makes Her Community Strong: “For over 25 years, Ms. Keturah Pierre has been an inspirational leader in the child welfare system serving thousands of families across NYC. She began her career as a direct care provider connecting with families to help maintain relationships in their communities and access much needed resources. She elevated herself into several administrative roles knowing her experience and expertise would help influence policies and opportunities for new services… As a strong woman of color, Ms. Pierre has demonstrated her commitment to social justice by developing a race consciousness scope of practice within the agency. Despite all that she juggles on her plate, she still manages to know her families and their children by name and is seen as the "mama bear" of her division.”
Associate Director - Catholic Charities Community Services’ Bronx Regional Office
Who Is Gabriela: Gabriela Rosa has been able to use her community advocacy experience and understanding of the issues affecting the lives of the residents of Northern Manhattan and the Bronx to address community needs. A committed public servant, prior to joining Catholic Charities, Gabriela represented the Northern Manhattan communities of Washington Heights, Inwood and Marble Hill in the New York State Assembly, where she became the first Dominican-American woman to serve in any of the bodies of the New York Legislature. Already familiar with the struggles of immigrant working families, she found personal satisfaction and fulfillment in public service in her work assisting constituents in the community. Her time in the Assembly led her to develop invaluable insight into the workings of New York State’s government and to acquire a deep appreciation for human service professionals and issue advocates. An immigrant, Gabriela moved from the Dominican Republic in 1994 pursuing better career and economic opportunities- the American Dream. Gabriela lives in Washington Heights with her husband and 19-year-old son.
How She Makes Her Community Strong: “In 2002 Gabriela accepted a position as Chief of Staff to the City Councilmember representing Washington Heights, Inwood and Marble Hill in the 10th Council District. In three years of service Gabriela oversaw the district office and led a staff that provided quality constituent services to the residents of the district.” -Assemblymember Sepulveda
Julie L. Shapiro
Executive Director - The Door
Who Is Julie: Julie L. Shapiro is the Executive Director of The Door – an internationally- recognized youth development agency, engaging 10,000 young people annually from all over New York City. The Door offers integrated health and mental health care, legal services, career and education programs, drop-in and crisis services for runaway and homeless youth, housing, meals, and extensive arts opportunities. Prior to coming to The Door, Ms. Shapiro was a Senior Vice President at Seedco, where she led the development, management and growth of national workforce development programs. Ms. Shapiro has also worked as an Assistant Vice President at F.E.G.S Health and Human Services System and as a Project Manager at the New York City Human Resources Administration’s Office of Policy and Program Analysis. Ms. Shapiro received her bachelor’s degree from Brown University and a Master in Public Policy degree from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.
How She Makes Her Community Strong: “Tremendous leadership, stewardship, guidance, and oversight of a large, growing, and successful organization that focuses on some of NYC's most vulnerable youth.” Since Ms. Shapiro assumed this role in 2010, The Door has nearly tripled in growth, including: the addition of two supportive housing sites; launching Broome Street Academy, New York City’s only charter high school that prioritizes foster care and homeless youth; and assuming responsibility for the Bronx Youth Center, where The Door is focusing on improving career and educational outcomes for system-involved youth.
Sherry M. Ng
Supervisor, CPC Asian Family Services - Chinese American Planning Council
Who Is Sherry: Sherry M Ng has a master’s degree in Social Work and a Field Instructor certificate in Social Work. Sherry has over 20 years of experience in the Child Welfare field in NYC to provide services to low-income immigrant families and children. She focuses on preventive services to help keep families together. Sherry was an immigrant herself, so she can relate to the struggles and challenges that the immigrant families and their children are facing. Sherry also speaks multiple Chinese dialects; thus, allowing her to provide culturally competent services to meet the children’s and their families’ needs. Sherry uses her knowledge, skills, and experiences to coach families, children, and staff to strengthen families’ well-being.
How She Makes Her Community Strong: “Sherry Ng has been the Supervisor of the Chinese-American Planning Council, Inc. (CPC)’s Asian Family Services (AFS) program for the past 15 years. During CPC’s 53rd Lunar New Year Gala, Sherry and her team were recognized as CPC Service Stars for their hard work and dedication to the families of NYC. The team is often met with challenge when going into the field but Sherry never gives up on the families and always provides her staff with the support that they need to meet and overcome challenges. Sherry is a social worker before a program supervisor. She puts her families first and her dedication to the health and wellness of our community is shown through her leadership and years of commitment.”
Program Director - Barrier Free Living
Who Is Myra: Myra Ricard is a bilingual NYS licensed Social Worker who has been an advocate in the Domestic Violence (DV) community for over 20 years in various roles. Ms. Ricard has been an employee of Barrier Free Living (BFL) since 2008. She started as the Director of Social Services at Freedom House and is now the Program Director. Ms. Ricard is an active member of the New York City DV Residential Coalition and the Best Practices Committee. In addition to her DV work, Ms. Ricard has extensive experience working with incarcerated women, substance abusers and people with disabilities.
How She Makes Her Community Strong: “Myra has been a transformational figure in our domestic violence shelter... Her leadership was instrumental in transforming Freedom House from a typical domestic violence shelter model (with many overtones of power and control) into a person-centered, trauma informed program. During her time with us, she was instrumental in developing a family intervention approach since two thirds of our residents are children. She was instrumental in creating a model that accommodated all people with disabilities including those whose primary disability was a mental health issue. When the program started, 20% of our residents would leave in the first two weeks (a pattern that was present in the entire DV shelter system). With our new model in place, very few people leave during that time period…”
Executive Director - Centro Civico of Amsterdam, Inc
Who Is Ladan: Ladan Alomar is currently Executive Director of Centro Civico of Amsterdam, Inc., a not-for-profit, community-based organization located in Amsterdam, New York. She has been an active resident of the Capital District area for the past twenty years. In 1989, she began employment with Centro Civico. At this time, she was hired to coordinate the Liberty Partnership Program (LPP), a program serving youth at-risk of dropping out of high school. Mrs. Alomar succeeded in making LPP a statewide, community-based model program with over a ninety-five percent rate. Within six months of her employment, she was promoted as Deputy Director, and three years later, became the second person to hold the title of Executive Director for the organization. Mrs. Alomar has a Master’s degree in Educational Administration from the State University of New York at Albany.
How She Makes Her Community Strong: "Under her leadership, the agency continues to provide comprehensive services to the children and families of the Capital District. It has been recognized for its use of innovative education and intervention strategies that benefit low-income and at-risk Hispanic youth. A civic-minded individual, Ladan has also served on the boards of many community agencies and organizations…. Ladan makes a difference in the lives of community of the residents of Amsterdam, NY each and every day." -Assemblymember Santabarbara
Executive Director - Center for Safety and Change
Who Is Elizabeth: Elizabeth Santiago is an activist working on social justice issues for over 20 years. Elizabeth is recognized for her expertise on issues of domestic violence, sexual assault and violence against women. Elizabeth is the Executive Director of Center for Safety & Change, the sole victim assistance provider in Rockland County, serving victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, and all other crimes, such as elder abuse and hate crimes. Elizabeth graduated from Boston College with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and has a Certificate in Non-Profit Sustainability from Cornell University. Elizabeth is an alumna of Leadership Rockland class of 2007. Elizabeth is married to Alex Santiago and she is the proud mother of three adult children Alex, Roberto and Raquel Santiago.
How She Makes Her Community Strong: “Elizabeth Santiago is an excellent candidate for the Women in Human Services Hall of Fame because she has been an activist for social justice issues for over 20 years. She currently serves on the New York State Office of Victim Services Advisory Council, the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence Fatality Review Team, the New York State Downstate Coalition, the Lower Hudson Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Rockland County Citizen Advisory Council. She is also the co-chair of the Rockland County Stop F.E.A.R. Coalition, and she previously served on the board of the New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NYSCADV) and the Legal Aid Society of Rockland County. Santiago is the co-founder of the Boston College Archbishop Oscar Romero Scholarship for students who demonstrate a balance in academics and social justice community service.” -Senator Carlucci
Director of Administration - Center for Community Alternatives
Who Is Karen: Karen Jones is the Director of Administration for the Center for Community Alternatives. She is responsible for the organization and supervision of the administrative activities that allow for the cohesive facilitation of the day to day operations of the Syracuse and Rochester offices, including assisting with uploading and submitting grant proposals and program reports across numerous departments. Ms. Jones oversees information technology in three of CCA's offices - Syracuse, Rochester, and Brooklyn. She has earned an Associate’s Degree in Secretarial Studies from the Central City Business Institute in Syracuse. In addition to her full-time duties at CCA she has earned an Associate’s Degree in Computer Information Systems from Onondaga Community College and is in the process of earning her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration at Empire State College.
How She Makes Her Community Strong: “Karen Jones has selflessly served our organization, the Center for Community Alternatives (CCA), for 26 years straight - her entire professional career. She began work here as a teenager and is now the Director of Administration...Karen is our main source of corporate knowledge and the first person we ask a tricky institutional or logistical question…. Karen also works tirelessly to help the organization improve its service to people involved in the criminal justice system, actively looking for ways to professionalize and improve our work, always on a shoe-string budget. Her devotion to the organization and her fierce loyalty has weathered many challenges and changes over almost three decades...She is the scaffolding for this organization and holds it up sometimes under great weight. Clearly in it for love and not money, Karen Jones epitomizes the nonprofit human services worker who goes above and beyond in our organization. We (and our clients) would be lost without her.”
Hilda M. Rogers
Retired Executive Director - Alpha Phi Alpha Senior Center
Who Is Hilda: During her forty-six-year career in public service and the non-profit sector, Hilda M. Rodgers was employed by the New York City Housing Authority, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Alpha Phi Alpha Senior Citizens Center, Queens New York. She used her expertise (program development, fundraising administration, intergovernmental affairs, community outreach and development) to advance the mission of each organization. She is presently affiliated with: NAACP New York State Conference, Greater Queens Chapter of The Links, Inc., Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. (Epsilon Pi Omega Chapter) and Queens Interagency Council on Aging. She is the proud mother of a son, Justin and granddaughter Maiya.
How She Makes Her Community Strong: “Although recently retired, Hilda Rogers continues to devote her time, energy and expertise to the community. She has created and implemented dozens of initiatives for our seniors and continues to provide support for them by hosting a bevy of programs and events centered around health and wellness.” -Senator Leroy Comrie
President and Founder - Long Beach Christmas Angel, Inc.
Who Is Johanna: In 2004, Johanna Sofield founded The Long Beach Christmas Angel, Inc. - a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit that assists families in financial crisis in the Long Beach school district. What started as a Christmas party in her home to collect toys for underserved children in 1998 evolved into an annual fundraiser, dispersing well over $2.3 million to Long Beach families to date. By working with school social workers, coaches, politicians, business owners and local agencies, LBCA has become a reliable resource in the Long Beach school district for families experiencing a sudden hardship. For low-income families, LBCA encourages parents to break the cycle of poverty by providing financial support necessary to advance their education and training.
How She Makes Her Community Strong: “As the President of "Long Beach Christmas Angel" Johanna has gone above and beyond in supporting her neighbors in Long Beach. Whenever someone in town finds themselves in need, they also find Johanna waiting to help - and what a blessing she is. Repairing homes destroyed by superstorm Sandy, stepping up to pay rent, mortgages, or utility and medical bills - these are just some of the many ways that Johanna has been the saving grace for her neighbors. Johanna works tirelessly and selflessly to support the people of Long Beach, and is fully deserving of recognition as a Notable Woman in Human Services.” -Senator Todd Kaminsky
President - Redhook West Resident Association
Who Is Lillie: In her own words: “I moved to Redhook Houses January 1966 and over the years I worked hard to improve the quality of life in this beautiful community. My goal was to encourage participation, self help initiatives, to create positive living for all families in the development. I worked with the presidents for a number of years and I finally took the position of president in 1999 because I saw so many things I wanted to accomplish. In 2012 I became the Chair for The Brooklyn South District of presidents. February of this year 2018 I was nominated VP for the DCOP Division which is all five boroughs of presidents. My Redhook seniors was displaced after Sandy Storm I worked to get a home for them in the community it was opened January 5th,2018. These are some of my accomplishments with the help of the community which I’m very proud to be a part of.”
How She Makes Her Community Strong: “Mrs. Marshall has been President of Red Hook West Residents Association since 2002. She is one of those most unique New Yorkers who has tirelessly worked for her neighbors in a challenged NYCHA complex, especially after so much damage from Superstorm Sandy. With all the problems at NYCHA complexes, Mrs. Marshall stands out: getting new appliances, a new senior center upgrade, a new roof, boiler repairs: all the needs individual tenants and families could never accomplish on their own. She brings the best skills of a volunteer organizer to a community in need of the powerful voice she provides.” -Assistant Speaker Felix Ortiz
Senior Program Director - Good Shepherd Services
Who Is Monique: Monique Newkirk is a Senior Program Director with Good Shepherd Services, overseeing the Boys and Girls High School YABC and Rebound Assist programs. Monique began her tenure with Good Shepherd Services in 2005 as an Administrative Assistant, and as a result of her commitment to youth development and bold leadership she has been able to navigate upward in her career, as well as impact lives the lives of countless young people in NYC. Monique has contributed to the graduation of more than one thousand young people who would have otherwise given up on completing high school. Her innovative approach provides a warm and vibrant safe haven within a school setting, which amplifies attendance, success, hope, and overall greater good. Even as obstacles arise within the work, Monique remains hopeful. Her optimistic mindset landed her a spotlight in Good Shepherd Services 2016 Annual Report.
How She Makes Her Community Strong: Monique goes above and beyond to ensure that the participants in her programs feel welcomed, appreciated and respected. In the YABC office at her site, Monique took the time to create a special student area-including a couch, table with magazines and inspirational quotes, a comfortable rug and decorations that the students get to put up based on the seasons of the year. ...Monique and her staff create a variety of opportunities for their participants to experience new things-whether it's a college or health fair, a parent/guardian appreciation event, Broadway shows, basketball games, college trips or any number of the counseling groups they offer on site…”
Senior Program Director - Roads to Success
Who Is Cristy: Cristy, born and raised in the Bronx attended after-school programs up until she was 14 years old. At 16, her math teacher enlisted her to work as a math tutor and recommended she apply to SYEP and work with kids during the summer as he believed she was a "natural teacher". Cristy has worked in the youth development field as a tutor, group leader, activity specialist, director and more recently Senior Program Director for Roads to Success where she employs her knowledge and experience in developing leadership staff to lead high-quality programming and uphold RTS mission and core values.
How She Makes Her Community Strong: “She is a master collaborator for the sake of truly benefiting and bettering the lives of the stakeholders, especially the young people, she serves in these communities.”
Sharen I. Duke
Executive Director - Alliance for Positive Change
Who Is Sharen: Sharen I. Duke has served as the Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of Alliance for Positive Change (formerly AIDS Service Center/ASCNYC) since it was founded in 1990. Under her leadership, the nonprofit has grown from a three-person agency into one of New York City’s premier multiservice community organizations. With its innovative, culturally competent services, Alliance is at the forefront of efforts to end AIDS in New York State by ensuring broad access to HIV testing, treatment and care. During her tenure, Sharen has pioneered model peer education programs and forged partnerships with the city’s top hospitals. Because of her leadership, more New Yorkers today have access to the services and support they need to make lasting positive changes toward health, housing, recovery and self-sufficiency. Sharen is a graduate of Barnard College and the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University.
How She Makes Her Community Strong: “As a visionary leader, Sharen continually pushes the Alliance to grow and evolve as new needs emerge...Sharen is a passionate, committed advocate on behalf of low-income and at-risk New Yorkers…” “Sharen I. Duke has given blood, sweat, and tears to the HIV/AIDS cause. She embodies the definition of a woman warrior that functions for a greater cause. She is a mother, wife, mentor, leader, advocate, beam of light and shining star in the world of public Health & HIV/AIDS. I believe she would be a great addition to the Human Services Hall of Fame.”
Program Director - Wellspring
Who Is Elizabeth: Elizabeth Bliss has been advocating for victims of domestic and sexual violence on a local, state and national level for the last 20 years. This experience ranges from providing direct services, mostly in a law enforcement environment; educating the community and system allies about the dynamics of domestic violence and its intersection with the legal system; supervising staff and program operations; and advocating on a state and national level for meaningful legislative change. In her current role as program director for Wellspring, she oversees the agency’s direct services that provide support to survivors of relationship and sexual abuse as well as the programs that engage our community to end relationship and sexual abuse. Before coming to Wellspring, Elizabeth worked for the Safe Horizon Domestic Violence Police Program (DVPP) in New York City.
How She Makes Her Community Strong: “While many human services workers are passionate and committed to making a difference, Elizabeth's approach to her work maximizes her impact. Her vision is to provide in-depth training to, not only staff, but to community members so that they develop the knowledge, skills and passion to be partners in our work. In fact, she's often heard stating her goal is to create a whole community of social justice warriors who join with paid advocates in working toward a community free of relationship and sexual abuse. She sees her impact as something that far exceeds her personal contributions. And imagine what would happen if all our human service agencies shared her vision of engaging every member of their community to work toward our goals. At Wellspring that goal is to end relationship and sexual abuse... and with Elizabeth on board and guiding us we're on track to making that happen!”
Sr. VP Workforce Development Services - Goodwill Industries of Greater NY and Northern NJ
Who Is Sharmaine: Sharmaine Williams is a seasoned workforce development professional who has created, ran and developed successful workforce programs putting thousands of New York City residents into meaningful employment that leads to self-sufficiency for both them and their families. After spending nearly two decades working in and leading Goodwill’s Workforce Development division, Sharmaine knows what truly drives conversions, meaningful job development, placement and job retention —and it’s not mastering the marketing flavor of the week. It’s how well you connect with the heart-beating people you’re trying to help and communicate your understanding back to them. During her tenure at Goodwill Sharmaine has successfully developed, implemented and managed workforce development programs that lead to the employment of over 17,000 job seekers in the borough of Brooklyn, 9,000 in the Bronx and 11,000 in Queens! Sharmaine currently oversees NYC funded programs, Nassau County, and privately funded programs all aimed at upskilling and returning people to work.
How She Makes Her Community Strong: “Sharmaine Williams is a New Yorker who has devoted her professional life to develop, implement, and manage successful workforce development programs to help thousands of New York City residents find meaningful employment. Her goal has been to help job-seekers secure employment that will lead to self-sufficiency and will enhance their lives and the lives of their families…Sharmaine has inspired hundreds of individuals she has supervised directly or through her team. She is well versed in working with federal, state, and city funding sources, as well as community-based organizations through collaborative agreements. She is a team leader and builder with extensive experience managing large-scale programs within tight budgetary constraints, increasing production and revenue in the process.”
Child Care Worker and Educator - Five Towns Community Center
Who Is Sasha: Sasha Young was born and raised in the beautiful mountains of West Virginia and obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology there as well. She now resides in Nassau County where she has lived for the last twenty years with her wonderful husband and three beautiful daughters. Sasha works for the Lawrence Public School System in Special Education and enjoys each of the challenges and rewards that come along with it. She also works for the Five Towns Community Center where she supervises an afterschool education and recreation program for children in the community. Sasha thinks that community involvement has greatly expanded her horizon and point of view. Living and working in such a diverse community comprised of many different cultures, languages and religions has taught her that while the community has so many things in common, that there are also many different needs and issues.
How She Makes Her Community Strong: “Sasha Young is tireless community advocate. She readily volunteers her time to attend community outreach programs, educational events and training programs that will assist residents in the community. She has 3 beautiful daughters and loves working with children. For several years, Sasha has worked as a teacher’s aide at in the Lawrence School District and volunteers many hours for the Lawrence PTA. She has also been working towards her BA in education. Sasha's character, work ethic and big heart make her a perfect candidate for this honor.” -Assemblymember Melissa Miller
Records Coordinator - AHRC
Who Is Robin: Robin Denise Brooks is a remarkable social worker who has worked at AHRC in New York City since 2001. Before she worked at AHRC she was employed by the New York City Administration for Children’s Services and the New York City Department of Housing. Prior to her current position as a Records Coordinator, she served as a Medicaid Service Coordinator at AHRC for 14 years. She earned her MSW at Fordham University. She is known for her compassion and insight regarding the needs of her clients. The married mother of two grown children hails from Harlem from a family of 10, whose youngest sister has disabilities. She has said frequently that she has been inspired by the clients she has worked with over the years and finds her work uplifting.
How She Makes Her Community Strong: “Her unwavering dedication to her clients, hard working & extremely competent regarding her profession. She has a rare compassion that was instilled by her family.”
Co -Founder - Haitian American Family of Long Island, Inc
Who Is Maryse: Born in Cap -Haitien, Ms. Emmanuel-Garcy grew up in le Borgne in the northern part of Haiti. She attended St. Francois D’ Assise High School in Port -Au- Prince prior to joining her parents in the U.S forty-eight years ago. She started her journey in the US in Brooklyn, then Queens and has been a Long Island resident for the past thirty-nine years. Ms. Emmanuel-Garcy holds an AAS degree in Laboratory Technology from Staten Island Community College, a BS in Health Administration from St. Joseph College, a Master of Social Work from Stony Brook University. She is a proud mother of many including her 3 biological children and grandmother of Izaiah and Amiyah. She is a phenomenal woman who has been a trailblazer in bringing the Haitian Community on the map on Long Island in Nassau and Suffolk Counties. Maryse is also the Co -Founder of the Haitian American Family of Long Island, Inc, HAFALI; a not for profit organization established since 1995. HAFALI provides cultural competent Family support services and fosters Community Development while serving as bridge connecting the Haitian Community and the community at large. Maryse is also a licensed Social Worker who uses her expertise to serve her community from here to Haiti. She participates in Medical, Mental Health mission trips in Haiti 3 to 4 times a year. Maryse does not believe in keeping the status quo. She uses her creativity and positive spirit to live life to the fullest and be a role model for those who are ready to grow.
How She Makes Her Community Strong: “Maryse is an advocate for the underserved Haitian population on Long Island. She leads HAFALI to higher heights by starting new programs & initiatives that support the Haitian & Haitian-American community. There is no other program on Long Island that provides such non-profit work.” - Assemblymember Solages
Residence Manager - Abbott House
Who Is Krystal: In her words: “I earned a degree in criminal justice from Monroe College. I started working with troubled youths in 1998 and became a part of Abbott House in July 2013. I started out as overnight staff at one of the homes for young girls, then worked hard to become the assistant manager and now manager. I enjoy working with youths to see them prosper and reach their goals. It gives me the warmest satisfaction to have an impact on the future of these children. Working with the young ladies is a pleasure. These youths are in placement for many different reasons and I am here to help and guide them through the obstacles they face. My job as their House Manager is to support and teach them the tools they need to succeed in life. Like seeing them make honor roll, passing all their classes and talking about going to college, getting their first job, opening a bank account. I hope to continue for many years to be a great help to the many new youths I will meet.”
How She Makes Her Community Strong: “Krystal is everything that is done well with foster care. She is incredible with working, supporting and nurturing the girls living in our group home. They look up to her. They aspire to be just like her. She is a role model of the highest caliber for our girls.”
Socio-therapist - Abbott House
Who Is Anicia: In her words: “I have been employed by Abbott House as a Socio-therapist in the Treatment Family Foster Care Department since 1999 thru the present time. As a Socio-therapist I have had the opportunity to work with children between the ages of birth through 21, who have been placed in foster care and have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder. Throughout my years of working with the foster care population I have had the privilege to educate, support and advocate for the children I have serviced. I have helped them grow to their potential and deal with the trauma they have endured prior to being placed in foster care. As a Socio-therapist at Abbott House, I have contributed to the permanency of many children who have come through our program. In doing so I have participated in over fifty adoptions, assisted in the reunification of families and youth who have aged out of care. Till this day I have continued to remain a support for many of the families and or children who have been transition out of the program and achieved permanency.”
How She Makes Her Community Strong: “Anicia is one of my best child care workers. She is incredibly committed to the children. Her vast knowledge and hands on approach makes her a strong advocate for the children. She goes to the ends of the earth to get them the support that they need. Alicia puts forth that effort with every child she works with and she is much loved, respected and looked up to by the kids, families and staff.”
Board Member - Community Board 18
Who Is Valerie: Valerie grew up in the infamous Red Hook Brooklyn public housing projects that housed over eight thousand residents. Valerie’s sheer will and determination would not allow her to give up but to survive and insure that she would not end up a statistic. Valerie’s mother made sure she had a strong connection with faith and core values, morals and ethics. There was not a Sunday that went by that Valerie was not in church. She began building her career as a Corrections Officer for the City of New York. Valerie’s success as a corrections officer at Riker’s Island allowed her to reach the coveted position of her tenure at the New York State Supreme Court as well as New York City Central Booking Unit in Brooklyn. Valerie’s family grew with the wonderful addition of her twin girls named Shameka and Shanequa and was given an additional blessing with the birth of her Autistic son Bobby. Holding onto her faith and ideals instilled by her mother, Valerie became an active member of the St. Jude Church and served as a member on her block association. In addition to her devoted community activism, Valerie participates within the Brooklyn Developmental Disabilities Council; Parents Advocate for People with Disabilities; and is a Board Member of Community Board 18; the Thomas Jefferson Democrat Club and is a key member of The Lions Club International.
How She Makes Her Community Strong: “Valerie Woodford is a cornerstone of the 59th Assembly District. I have known Valerie for close to 10 years and in this time, I witnessed firsthand Valerie’s devotion, crusade, activism and most importantly kind hearted and loving devotion to not only her family but her community. Her past experience as a Corrections Officer coupled with her devotion towards her community is an example that all should strive for…Her leadership skills are not only evident while she is advocating on behalf of a myriad of cause but can easily be seen in her maternal role. Valerie is proudly a grandmother of six and is devoted not only to community activism but to personal causes such as Brooklyn Developmental Disabilities Council and Parents Advocate for People with Disabilities. With the purest of intentions and devotion Valerie is a leader that stands out in the 59th Assembly District and I am not only proud to call her a constituent but also a true friend.” -Assemblymember Williams