Michelle was the first full-time employee of CHLDC, beginning in 1984, and she has guided the organization’s growth from a budget of $35,000 with one program to its current status. Michelle serves on the Board of Directors of the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development and of United Neighborhood Houses. Michelle earned a BA in Urban Studies from Barnard College and MS degrees in Social Work and Urban Planning from Columbia University.
Emily joined the organization in 1994 as the Director of Youth and Family Services, and she held that position for six years. In 2003, after supervising youth programs at Good Shepherd Services, she rejoined CHLDC as the Director of Development. She became the Director of Programs in 2004. She supervises five Division Directors, including the Directors of College Success Programs, Career and Education Programs, Community Organizing, Housing Counseling, and Youth and Family Services. She has an MSW from Columbia University School of Social Work and a BS degree in Human Services from Springfield College.
Rob joined CHLDC in 2004, after leading youth programs at Good Shepherd Services for ten years. He oversees all after school and summer programs and our school-based community centers. Rob has a BA from Swarthmore College and an MSW from the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College.
Stephanie Becker joined CHLDC in 2017. She leads CHLDC’s work in affordable housing development and preservation, environmental sustainability, asset management and fresh food access. Stephanie has extensive experience in affordable housing and community development, including nine years as a Senior Program Officer at Enterprise Community Partners. She has a BA from Wesleyan University and a Masters of Science in Urban Planning from Columbia University.
Joseph joined CHLDC in 2013 as our first-ever Director of Human Resources. He has 15 years of human resources management experience at large and small nonprofit agencies and for-profit businesses. Joseph has a Bachelor’s degree in Human Resources Management from Baruch College.
Ismael joined CHLDC in 2010. He has more than 25 years experience in finance management with nonprofit human services organizations. He has a BS in Accounting and a Master’s degree in International Business Management, both from Johnson and Wales University.
Michelle Fontanez joined CHLDC in 2016 as the Director of our Beacon Community Center, and was promoted in 2017 to Assistant Division Director for Community Centers, where she oversees the operations of two school-based Beacon Centers. Michelle has comprehensive experience directing community-focused programs with educational and recreational components. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts from Lehman College and a Master’s degree in Organizational Leadership from Mercy College and is earning her Doctorate in Organizational Leadership from Grand Canyon University.
Lowell joined CHLDC in 2003. He oversees all employment training, placement and retention services and adult education programs. He has a B.A. in Social Work from Cedarville University and a Master of Social Work from Ohio State University.
Lawrence joined CHLDC in 2012 as the first-ever Director of College Persistence and after two promotions, assumed his current role in 2016. He now oversees all of our College Access and Persistence Programming. He has a BA from Vassar College and an MA in Education from Tufts University.
Erica Oquendo joined CHLDC in 1999 and has extensive experience in our Youth and Family Services Division, most recently as the ExpandEd After School Program Director at PS 89. She was promoted into her current role in 2015 and oversees all of our afterschool and summer programming at the elementary school level. She has a BS in Psychology from Hunter College. Erica also attended our afterschool and Beacon programming while growing up in Cypress Hills.
Basil joined CHLDC in 2014. He is responsible for researching and evaluating data on CHLDC’s programs and outcomes. He has a BA from the University of Texas at Austin and an MPH from the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University.
Tania Rivera joined CHLDC in 2017. She oversees all of CHLDC’s fundraising efforts and agency communications. She has a Master’s degree in Nonprofit Management from Columbia University and spent nine years working at Columbia University Medical Center in fundraising and development. Tania grew up in Cypress Hills, attended local public schools and worked in CHLDC’s Inter-generational Services program through SYEP.
Julia came to CHLDC in 2005 as a social work graduate student intern and joined the staff as an Education Organizer in 2006. She was promoted to her current role in 2008. She oversees youth organizing to improve local public schools, tenant counseling and organizing to improve housing conditions, and access to public benefits. She also coordinates advocacy and organizing efforts internally across the agency. Julia has a BA from Williams College and an MSW from Hunter College.
Director of Housing Counseling
Rene joined CHLDC in 1992 as a Job Matching Program Coordinator, and he was promoted to his current position in 2002. He oversees our programs in first-time homebuyers counseling and education, mortgage foreclosure prevention counseling and financial literacy counseling.
Board of Directors
President: Harold Green
Harold is a longtime resident of Cypress Hills. He is retired from a career in education and social services, and his most recent position was as a special education teacher for the NYC Department of Education. He has a bachelor’s degree from Queens College and a master’s degree from New York University. Harold joined the board in 1999.
Secretary: Dr. Sylvia Stovall
Sylvia is a longtime Cypress Hills resident, and she joined the board in 1995. She is retired from a career in education, most recently as a District Administrator for the New York City Department of Education.
Treasurer: Gladys DeSantiago
Gladys DeSantiago is a Cypress Hills resident and CHLDC veteran, serving on the staff for 26 years. She was one of the founding members of the CHENY Beacon Center and developed its programming in leadership roles over 20 years, and has also worked on our Economic Development and Foreclosure Prevention Services. After retiring from CHLDC in 2015, she joined our Board in 2016.
R.D. is an architect with his own firm, Framework Architecture. He has experience in the design and construction of small and large-scale building projects and has taught architectural studio at Columbia University. He joined the Board in 2014.
Melodye is a Cypress Hills resident. She is an audit and compliance coordinator at City University of New York, and she joined the board in 2012.
Michael is a long-time Cypress Hills resident and former CHLDC youth programs participant. He is a Job and Career Facilitator at Fedcap Rehabilitation Services. He joined the board in 2007.
Jermaine grew up in East New York and still lives in Brooklyn, where he is a school psychologist working with local young people. He joined the Board in 2017.
Mark is an affordable housing professional with nearly a decade of experience in asset management, lending and equity investments. His experience spans the nonprofit, government and private sectors. In his current role as Vice President in Capital One’s Community Finance group, Mark originates loans and equity investments in affordable housing developments in New York City and throughout the country. A long-time Brooklyn resident, Mark joined the Board in 2016.
Mirian was an investment banker at JPMorgan Chase for several years, and she became Vice President of Credit Risk Management. She is now a full time stay-at-home mom. A long-time Cypress Hills resident, she joined the board in 2010.
Amory is a former long-time resident of Cypress Hills, whose parents and daughter still live in the neighborhood. He is a National Director at Select Express and Logistics, and, along with his wife, Alexis, he joined the board in 2011.
George Torres is an award-winning bilingual social media strategist and consultant whose portfolio includes Sofrito Media Group, Radio Capicu, and Capicu Poetry and Cultural Showcase. Most recently, he is part of the co-founding team for Capicu School of Poetic Arts which brings low-cost arts education to underserved communities. He lives in Brooklyn and joined the CHLDC Board in 2016.
Jason T. Villodas
Jason is a lifelong resident of Cypress Hills. He is a licensed professional counselor in private practice. He joined the Board in 2014.
Florence grew up in East New York, and she joined the CHLDC board in 2011. She is a senior tax accountant at Mitchell & Titus, LLP, where she works on multi-billion dollar hedge funds in ensuring compliance with Federal Law, tax planning, and researching tax consequences for possible investments around the world.