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MANAGEMENT AND BOARD

Meet Our Team of Professionals

Senior Management
Board of Directors
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Michelle Neugebauer

Executive Director

michellen@cypresshills.org
(845) 328-2636 ext. 5123

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.

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Emily Van Ingen

Deputy Director

emilyv@cypresshills.org

(845) 328-2393 ext. 5124

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.

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Shalina Akoko

Assistant Division Director of Elementary Programs

shalinaa@cypresshills.org 

(917) 451-8575  ext. 5137

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. 

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Joseph Brown

Chief Human Resources Officer/Director of Facilities Management

josephb@cypresshills.org
(718) 647-2800 ext. 100

Joseph joined CHLDC in 2013 as our first-ever Director of Human Resources. He has over 20 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.

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Jessica Bartolini

Director of Community Development

Jessica joined CHLDC in 2022 as our Director of Community Development. Jessica manages our affordable housing development/preservation, asset management, community planning, Verde and emergency response work. Jessica has years of housing experience both at the citywide level at the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development and the local level. Jessica also has a background in youth development.

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Marissa Disla

Division Director, College

Success Programs

Marissa Disla joined CHLDC in September 2023 as the Division Director of College Success Programs. In her role she oversees the Student Success Centers at Franklin K. Lane and Thomas Jefferson, the Community Schools at Franklin K Lane as well as the College STEPs program. She has a Masters in Higher Education Administration from North Carolina State University and has been working in College Access and Student Success in DOE schools since 2017.

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Elizabeth Cuebas

Deputy Director of Fund Development

elizabethc@cypresshills.org

(718) 647-2800, Ext. 119

Elizabeth Cuebas joined CHLDC in 2014 as a Development Associate and was promoted to Assistant Director of Fund Development in 2017. In her current role, she supports the agency's efforts in maintaining a large, diverse portfolio of government, foundation and corporate grants. Elizabeth has years of fund development experience, including three years of fundraising for youth development programming. She has a Bachelor's degree from Buffalo State College and a Master's degree from the Milano School of Policy at the New School.

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Lowell J. Herschberger

Division Director, Career and Education Programs

lowellh@cypresshills.org
(845) 328-2760 ext. 5109

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.

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Gaudi Mendoza

Chief Financial Officer

gaudim@cypresshills.org
718-647-2800 ext.111

Gaudi joined CHLDC in September 2019. She is a Certified Public Accountant with extensive nonprofit, affordable housing finance and property management accounting experience. 

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Erica Oquendo

Division Director, Youth and Family Services

ericao@cypresshills.org
(347) 954-0323 ext. 5135

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.

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Tania Rivera

Division Director, Fund Development & Strategic Initiatives

taniar@cypresshills.org

(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.

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Shawn McCauley

Cypress Hills East New York Community Center Site Director

Shawn joined CHLDC in September 2022. Shawn has built his career in a variety of roles managing youth and adult employment programs as well as family shelters. He has experience in providing employment training, housing, and counseling  services within the community. He has also emphasized staff development to assist in creating new leaders within the nonprofit sector.

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Nicole Sanchez

Assistant Director of Career and Education Programs

nicoles@cypresshills.org

(845) 328-2569 ext. 5107

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.

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Basil Reyes, Jr.

Division Director, Evaluation and Research

basilr@cypresshills.org
(845) 328-2630 ext. 5125

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.

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Tanya Walker

Assistant Division Director of Middle School Programs

Youth and Family Services

Tanya Walker joined CHLDC in May 2021 as the Community Learning Center Director and where she led the Middle School After school programs and the Middle School Student Success Center (MSSSC). Since joining the organization, Tanya has supported re-engaging the community and students in in-person programming and the expansion of the MSSSC program services. In January 2023, Tanya joined the leadership team of the Youth and Family Services Division in the role of Assistant Division Director, overseeing all Middle School Programs. Tanya received her MSW from Hunter College Silberman School of Social Work with a concentration in Health and Mental Health and her B.A. in Sociology from LeMoyne College.

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Rene Arlain

Division Director, Housing Counseling

renea@cypresshills.org
(718) 647-8100

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.

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Michael Lawes

President

With a deep connection to the community, Michael's journey with Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation (CHLDC) began in 1994 when he became a youth program participant. From there, he became a staff member and later in 2007, a board member. Since then, he has dedicated over 15 years to serving as a valued board member, contributing his expertise and commitment to CHLDC's mission of community development. Currently, as a Project Director at Equus Workforce Solutions, Michael has been driving successful initiatives and delivering impactful results for some of the city’s most vulnerable residents.

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Harold Green

Chair Emeritus

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.

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Marisol Quiñones

Secretary

Marisol is a Cypress Hills resident and a special education teacher at PS 202. She joined the board in 2004 and serves as the Vice President.

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Dr. Sylvia Stovall

President of Our Housing Subsidiaries

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.

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Florence Charles

Treasurer

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.

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Melodye Harvey

Assistant Treasurer

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.

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R.D. Gentzler

Member

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.

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Aidan Lanigan

Member

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.

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Shanely Marmolejos

Member

Shanely Marmolejos is a Dominican-American therapist who grew up in the Cypress Hills community. She earned her Master's degree in Social Work at CUNY York College in 2020. Since then she has worked for several middle schools providing counseling services for students of color. Previous to earning her MSW, she was a CHLDC employee in several capacities. She began working as a community organizer in 2017, supporting small business owners through a merchant association, as well as supporting youth with SYEP and counseling services at local high schools. Shanely now lives in East New York, with her fiance and daughter. She continues to passionately serve communities of color as a bilingual perinatal therapist and doula. 

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Mirian Rodriguez

Member

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.

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Nicholas Russo

Member

Nick Russo is a long-time real estate finance professional who works in J.P. Morgan’s Corporate Client Banking and Specialized Industries Real Estate Group. Nick is a 15 year resident of New York City who joined the board in 2018.

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Alexis Sanchez

Member

Alexis is a former Cypress Hills resident. She is an Assistant Vice President for Member Services at Healthfirst. She joined the board in 2011.

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Amory Sanchez

Member

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.

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George Torres

Member

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.

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