MANAGEMENT AND BOARD
Meet our Team of Professionals
Board of Directors
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.
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.
Aidan Lanigan was born in Ireland and graduated from University College Dublin with a Bachelor of Business and Legal Studies and a Masters in Financial Services. Mr. Lanigan has worked in the Financial Services industry since 1999. Mr. Lanigan moved to New York in 2001 with Allied Irish Banks, plc and worked in their Energy and Real Estate Groups. Mr. Lanigan moved to Santander Bank, N.A, in August 2011, where he has held various roles in their Commercial Banking Energy Group, Work-Out Department, and he is currently responsible for their Structured Finance Risk Management within Santander’s Corporate & Investment Banking division, which includes credit risk management responsibility for Santander’s North America Renewables business (wind and solar development). Mr. Lanigan is married and has lived in the East River Housing Co-ops in the Lower East Side since 2006.
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.
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.
(718) 647-2800 ext. 114
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 Van Ingen
(718) 647-2800 ext. 116
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.
Director of Human
(718) 647-2800 ext. 100
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.
Assistant Division Director of Elementary Programs
(718) 647-2800 x107
Shalina Akoko is the Assistant Division Director of Elementary Programs. Shalina joined the agency in 2015 as the Assistant Community Learning Center Director and transitioned into the role of Director in 2017, overseeing 2 middle school programs and our Middles School Success Center. Shalina has a Bachelor's Degree from Hofstra University and has had a long career commitment to the youth development field. Shalina's work in serving the children of the Cypress Hills Community continues with her dedication to creating strong programs and partnerships with the Elementary School Leadership Teams and Parents to better serve our youngest community members.
Director of College
Courtney initially joined the agency in 2012 as the Assistant Director of the Student Success Center on the Franklin K. Lane campus. Since then, Courtney has continued to deepen her expertise in college access, and returned to CHLDC as the Director of College Success Programs in 2018. She supervises all of the college related programming for the agency, including our Student Success Centers, college persistence work at the College STEPS office, Community Schools on the Franklin K. Lane campus, and our youth organizing program, Future of Tomorrow. She has a bachelor's degree in psychology from Bloomsburg University, and a Master's of Education in School Counseling from St. John's University.
Lowell J. Herschberger
Director of Career and Education Programs
(718) 676-1544 ext. 102
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's of Social Work from Ohio State University.
Division Director, Youth and Family Services
(718) 647-2800 ext. 105
Erica Oquendo joined CHLDC in 1999 and has extensive experience in our Youth and Family Services Division as the ExpandEd After School Program Director at PS 89. She was Promoted to Assistant Division Director in 2015, and Division Director in 2019. She has a BS in Psychology from Hunter College and a Master's Degree in Education. Erica also attended our after school and Beacon programming while growing up in Cypress Hills.
Basil Reyes, Jr.
Director of Evaluation and Research
(718) 647-2800 ext. 120
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.
Director of Fund Development & Strategic Initiatives
(718) 647-2800 ext. 117
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.
Assistant Director of Career and Education Programs
Nicole joined CHLDC in 2014. She has served as the Director of Curriculum and Instruction for YouthLEAD, Director of Potencia NOW (ESL program) and most recently the CHAMPION Network where she has served our community's young adults as they chart a new career pathway. Nicole is a firm believer in empowerment through education. She has a BA in Psychology from Rutgers University-Camden’s Honors College and Master’s degree in Education from Mercy College.
Assistant Division Director of Middle School Programs
Youth and Family Services
(718) 647-2800 ext. 104
Yasmin is in her fifth year working for Cypress Hills LDC as the Director of Middle School Programs. She oversees the middle school SONYC programs. In her role, she leads a team of directors to deliver programming focused on leadership, SEL, STEAM, Literacy, and more. She is a camp kid for life and believes in the impact of caring adults on the lives of young people. In the past few years, she has participated in Restorative Justice and Talent Management initiatives. Born in Israel, raised in NJ, she now lives in Crown Heights. She received her Master’s in Education at Lesley University and earned her BA in Women and Gender studies at Rutgers University.
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.
Chief Financial Officer
Gaudi joined CHLDC in September 2019. She is a Certified Public Accountant with extensive nonprofit, affordable housing finance and property management accounting experience.
President of our housing subsidiaries