The 2020 Responsible 100 (continued)

City & State recognizes the New York’s 100 most outstanding corporate citizens.
City & State recognizes the New York’s 100 most outstanding corporate citizens.
f11photo/Shutterstock
City & State recognizes the New York’s 100 most outstanding corporate citizens.
Influentials

The 2020 Responsible 100 (continued)

100 individuals fighting the good fight.

Jessica Johnson-Cope

President, Johnson Security Bureau, Inc.

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Juan Ordonez

Tell us about your work.

My job entails working with key New York City institutions to develop strategies for safety and security while creating jobs to empower those often overlooked.

What does social responsibility mean to you?

Social responsibility is the legacy we live and subsequently leave. My work allows me to connect people with opportunities that allow them to improve their social stature.

What’s the best advice you ever received? 

Be a lady and a scholar.

Damyn Kelly

President and CEO, Lutheran Social Services of NY

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Tell us about your work.

I serve as the leader and chief strategist of Lutheran Social Services of NY. 

What does social responsibility mean to you?

It means that we all must use our gifts, influence and knowledge to ensure that we destroy the impact of systemic and structural racism. We must look at the work that we do through a racial and social justice lens, and understand that disparities in education, opportunity, employment, housing and health care, among others, prevent a whole segment of society from reaching their fullest potential. 

What’s the best advice you ever received? 

Everyone, no matter their age, social status, educational level, etc., has some knowledge that can benefit you.

Nick Kenner

Founder and CEO, Just Salad

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Tell us about your work.

I work closely with an amazing leadership team to deliver on our mission: To make everyday health and sustainability possible. I have three children and want to leave a habitable world for them. 

What does social responsibility mean to you?

It’s doing the right thing for the common good and holding people accountable for their actions. Our company has integrated sustainability into every facet of our business in order to maximize our efforts to save the planet. We hope to inspire other companies to take sustainability more seriously. 

What’s the best advice you ever received? 

Focus on what you can control.

Andrew Kimball

CEO, Industry City

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Tell us about your work.

Over the last 15 years, I’ve had the opportunity to lead the revitalization of two massive but underutilized industrial complexes, first at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and now at Industry City.

What does social responsibility mean to you?

Social responsibility in my work is focused on opportunity and collaboration: for small businesses and entrepreneurs to grow and collaborate with like-minded makers and innovators; for local residents, through collaboration with local workforce development entities, to access jobs near to where they live that pay well and provide career pathways in sectors relevant to today and the future; for students, in collaboration with local high schools and colleges, to interface with businesses through internships and experiential learning opportunities.

What’s the best advice you ever received?

Vacant, abandoned buildings from another era are an opportunity, not a burden.

Matthew Kirkpatrick

Vice President of Business Development for Nonprofits, Paymerang

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Tell us about your work.

I help out nonprofits with our unique accounts payable solution, lightening their load and making their lives easier so they can focus on their mission. Nonprofits do so much good, it’s nice to be able to give back to them and help.

What does social responsibility mean to you?

Being a productive part of your community as well as being a citizen of the world. I like to educate organizations about our solution and see if I can help them with full transparency.

What’s the best advice you ever received? 

You can’t always control the result or your performance – but you can always control your effort and attitude.

Jessica Lappin

President, Alliance for Downtown New York

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Tell us about your work.

I’m so proud to lead an organization of dedicated professionals who provide innovative service, advocacy, research and information – all in order to advance Lower Manhattan as a model of a 21st century Central Business District. What’s not to love?!

What does social responsibility mean to you?

To be animated by a sense of service and always be mindful of the impacts our work has beyond each individual program or decision. Understanding how the work fits into larger issues and to conduct ourselves in a way that comports with ethical considerations. Being able to execute with excellence demands an awareness of the moral and social dimensions of the work we do.

Maury Litwack

Executive Director, Teach Coalition

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Tell us about your work.

I fight on behalf of New York’s 400,000 nonpublic school students – a number that is larger than the public school population in a dozen states.

What does social responsibility mean to you?

It means taking an honest look around – at yourself, at your family, and at your community. It means refusing to accept other people’s pain and troubles as unavoidable or just “the way things are.” It means using all your G-d-given abilities, strengths, and resources to do your part and make it better. 

What’s the best advice you ever received? 

Someone once told me that you have to know your why. Why are you doing what you’re doing?

Craig Longley

Executive Director, Catholic Guardian Services

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Ryan Brenizer

Tell us about your work.

I lead Catholic Guardian Services, a venerable multiservice human service organization with over 130 years of serving some of the most underserved and oppressed populations and communities in New York City. My goal is to help build stronger families and healthier communities.

What does social responsibility mean to you?

Social responsibility means listening to the people and communities we serve, understanding the systemic obstacles they face, empowering them to identify the solutions that will help them to break through those barriers and achieve their goals, and helping to create the avenues for successful outcomes.

Paul P. Mak

President and CEO, Brooklyn Chinese-American Association

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Tell us about your work.

Overseeing 400 staff members in implementing a wide array of human services such as day care, youth and adult education, senior citizen services, social services, entitlement applications, crime prevention and victim’s compensation, community development services and so on. Serving as a liaison between the Asian communities and the government and private sectors.

Best advice you ever received?

Life is a gift; it offers the opportunity to learn, to experience, to contribute and to make a difference for the betterment of our society, and that all worthy achievements are always accomplished with hard work, persistence, sacrifice, flexibility and dedication.

David Mansur

Partner, Culver Place Strategies

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Tell us about your work.

Culver Place Strategies is proud to bring fundraising successes to progressive candidates and issue-based campaigns and organizations. We have dedicated significant pro bono resources to LGBTQ PACs, including TransPAC’s work to pass GENDA in Albany and bring nondiscrimination protections to trans New Yorkers. 

What does social responsibility mean to you?

Using one’s influence to improve the lives of marginalized people and forward issues that uplift and empower. As an LGBTQ-owned business, social responsibility is uniquely embedded into our firm’s values, tactics and the clients we work with.

What’s the best advice you ever received? 

That if you want to make a difference, you need to get off the bench and take the field with pride.

Carmelyn P. Malalis

Chair and Commissioner, New York City Commission on Human Rights

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Tell us about your work.

I run the agency responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination and anti-harassment protections across New York City. I am privileged to work with a staff passionate about human rights and to work with a diversity of communities and neighborhoods that make New York City such a vibrant, welcoming city for all.

What does social responsibility mean to you?

At both the individual level and organizational level, we are accountable to each other and responsible for making our communities -- however we define them -- places where everyone can live with dignity and respect. 

What's the best advice you ever received? 

Be yourself. Be comfortable being yourself.

Harriet McDonald

Executive Vice President, The Doe Fund

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Tell us about your work.

I co-founded The Doe Fund’s Ready, Willing & Able program, which for 30 years has provided paid work, continuing education, career development training, social services and housing to homeless and formerly incarcerated men.

What does social responsibility mean to you?

It means providing solutions to the systemic crises our nation faces: poverty, recidivism, and racial and economic injustice. It also means providing a continuum of care. That’s why we’ve pivoted key programs in response to COVID-19, from our street cleaning crews performing enhanced disinfecting services, to emergency stipends for graduates facing eviction or unemployment, to vocational training for a workforce that has gone remote.

What’s the best advice you ever received?

Show others empathy and love.

Brandee McHale

Head of Community Investing and Development at Citi, President of the Citi Foundation

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Best advice you ever received?

My career really accelerated when I realized that what mattered was not managing up, but managing sideways: connecting with peers, being a dependable colleague, and recognizing that outstanding long-term results are powered by great teams, not individual contributors. One of the best pieces of advice I was ever given was that “slowing down is fundamental to great decision-making.” In our fast-paced environment where instant decisions are often expected, this may seem counter-intuitive. But sleeping on a decision can often help you see things you didn't consider at first, and help uncover your unconscious bias.

Eddie McWilliams

Organizing Director, New York City District Council of Carpenters

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Tell us about your work.

I am privileged to help union carpenters, union contractors and developers succeed in a very challenging industry. 

What does social responsibility mean to you?

The New York City construction industry requires respect for every person involved in the process. It’s simply not a genuine commitment to the NYC Construction Industry not to provide employer-sponsored training in safety and skill, health care, retirement security and good wages. The New York City District Council of Carpenters does that collectively, in partnership with the very best contractors in New York City.

What’s the best advice you ever received? 

Listen, listen, listen – and ask questions.

Julie Miner 

Managing Partner and CEO, J Strategies

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Tell us about your work.

I manage client relationships, strategic planning, a staff across three offices, and our charitable and volunteer efforts within J Strategies. 

What does social responsibility mean to you?

It means having “make the world better for real people” on my To Do List every day. It’s why I mentor youth and young professionals. 

What’s the best advice you ever received? 

I had a teacher, Al Pola, who always pushed me to tackle something harder than what I had mastered and to make volunteering a part of my plan. Those two things combined have shaped who I am. 

Jaime M. Venditti

Managing Partner and President, J Strategies

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Tell us about your work.

My position entails general oversight of J Strategies along with Julie Miner (my business partner), strategic input on the direction of the firm, and oversight of our largest client, who often focuses on alliance development and community relations work. 

What does social responsibility mean to you?

Community engagement and active support of diversity is at the heart of social responsibility. It’s critical to not just build awareness within the communities we work in and within our J Strategies family, but to support diversity as well.

What’s the best advice you ever received? 

“A fulfilling life is one serving others. But the highest form of respect is to not do for others what they can do for themselves.” 

Carlos P. Naudon

President and CEO, PDL Community Bancorp and Ponce Bank

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Tell us about your work.

My job is to listen to our stakeholders – bankers, community, shareholders and customers – and lead our organization to create value for each of them. 

What does social responsibility mean to you?

There are many parallels to draw upon between the times of today and the times of the 1960s – I believe it would not be in keeping with the missions of Ponce Bank and PDL Community Bancorp to ignore and turn a blind eye to the events of today.

What’s the best advice you ever received? 

When in doubt, abstain. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. If your gut tells you to be careful, you should be.

Lois and Richard Nicotra

Owners, The Nicotra Group

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Tell us about your work.

We are Staten Island’s largest private real estate developers.

What does social responsibility mean to you?

It’s a daily opportunity to make a difference in our community. We are focused on celebrating history, looking at where we are now, and identifying where our community is headed – and we look for ways to build communities of tenants, guests and our employees. 

What’s the best advice you ever received?

A man named Vito was doing work in one of our buildings – he was perched atop a ladder and working hard. We asked him if he had help – if he had a partner. He looked down at us and said, quite simply, “partners are for dancing.” 

Anne Kauffman Nolon

CEO, Sun River Health

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Tell us about your work.

For over 40 years, I have served Sun River Health as CEO. 

What does social responsibility mean to you?

It is ensuring inclusion and health equity for everyone in our communities, so that they receive the care they need and the respect they deserve. At Sun River Health, we break down barriers to health care access for many different underserved and vulnerable populations.

What’s the best advice you ever received? 

“Show kindness, consideration, and respect for all people. In decision-making, go slowly when faced with options. It will allow for diverse points of view to enter the picture.” – my grandfather

Maureen E. O'Brien

President and CEO , New York State Industries for the Disabled

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Tell us about your work.

We represent 135 disability service providers contracting with state and local governments to employ individuals with disabilities.

What does social responsibility mean to you?

Socially responsible people don’t separate their work and personal lives. The same ethical framework that an individual exhibits personally they also exhibit professionally. We all have an obligation to work together to benefit society at large. Exceptional leaders have succeeded in managing profitable companies while being socially responsible.

What’s the best advice you ever received?

The day I started my first real job at 22 out of college, my father said to me, “Act like a lady, think like a man.”

Charlotte Ostman

Chief Executive Officer, The Mental Health Association of Westchester

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Tell us about your work.

I am responsible for the overall leadership and management of the organization, corporate development, business operations and strategy. 

What does social responsibility mean to you?

It means living and working in a way that recognizes, respects and cares for all members of our society. There are so many people with unmet needs; social responsibility compels us to do better in meeting them.

What’s the best advice you ever received? 

Early in my career, a supervisor told me “feel the fear – and do it anyway.” I later learned it’s a quote from Susan Jeffers, Ph.D. I don’t deny my feelings, but I don’t allow them to keep me from facing challenges and setting out to accomplish my goals.

Yuridia Peña

Founder, Alta Consulting

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Izabela Egner Photography

Tell us about your work.

My work as a communicator has been centered around social justice for immigrants and communities of color. I have worked with advocates, unions, city agencies, elected officials, the private sector and nonprofit organizations to highlight proposed legislation, amplify citywide and statewide initiatives, and develop multilingual marketing campaigns to reach the most vulnerable New Yorkers.

What does social responsibility mean to you?

Social responsibility is about giving a platform to those who have often felt voiceless or marginalized. 

Best advice you ever received?

A mantra among womxn of color across industries and sectors is – if the opportunity does not exist, create it yourself.

Rafael Pérez

Chief Human Resources Officer, Consumer Reports

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What does social responsibility mean to you?

In my work, social responsibility takes the form of observing the workforce ecosystem and continually exploring different actions to help employees do their best work for consumers. This is a lifelong journey – efforts will sometimes yield imperfect results, or take a long time to bear fruit. But the key is to always drive – in oneself and in others – the accountability to make a difference, with selflessness and optimism.

Best advice you ever received?

Maya Angelou: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” This has been priceless advice on how to approach so much of my work and life. 

Thamara Ramirez-Walker

Global Senior Director of Purpose and Brand Experience, SAP

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Tell us about your work.

I deliver differentiated content and experiences that inspire and engage SAP’s employees, customers and partners.

What does social responsibility mean to you?

Activating purpose at scale requires a shared purpose network that takes responsible business leadership seriously. 

What’s the best advice you ever received?

Everything is interconnected – hence, leading with purpose and staying true to my values will be the catalyst to making lasting impact.

Yvonne Riley-Tepie

Vice President and Senior Regional Giving Manager of the Office of Charitable and Community Giving , TD Charitable Foundation

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Tell us about your work.

I oversee the philanthropic giving in New York, Northern New Jersey, and Fairfield County, Connecticut. Additionally, I am responsible for partnering with organizations whose mission aligns with TD’s Corporate Citizenship Strategy. 

What does social responsibility mean to you?

I was raised to understand that “to whom much is given much is required.” (Luke 12:48). In my line of work and on a personal basis, I recognize that my actions impact not only me, but those around me as well. 

What’s the best advice you ever received?

To always remain humble. Humility allows individuals to be a supportive voice and an advocate for themselves and others. 

Andres Rivera

Executive Director, Somos, Inc.

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Tell us about your work.

The primary purpose of my job is to raise funds to provide scholarships, internships and apprenticeships to Hispanic students in New York state, in hopes of encouraging them to become leaders in government. I enjoy the job because I love to empower and watch the students receive opportunities, which were never provided to me.

What does social responsibility mean to you?

It means fulfilling my obligation to the community at large while working with other people to fulfill the common goal of empowering the Hispanic youth.

What’s the best advice you ever received?

What God blesses, no man can curse. 

What God delivers, no man can bind.

And what God saves, no man can condemn.

Tyquana Henderson-Rivers

President, Connective Strategies

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T.L. Holmes

Tell us about your work.

Bringing people together from all corners of business, clergy, community and the political landscapes.

What does social responsibility mean to you?

Social responsibility means giving back to the communities that have invested in you, whether it is giving time, being civically involved, helping local community groups get resources or hiring local talent. Community service is imperative to who I am.

Best advice you ever received? 

From my mentor, former (New York City) Council Member Tom White: “To change the system, you must learn the system from the inside so you can tear it down.”

Shawn S.W. Roseburgh

Area Manager, United States Department of Commerce

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Tell us about your work. 

As the area manager of the U.S. Department of Commerce-Bureau of Census, I oversee operations of a portion of New York. I enjoy the social responsibility of the position and understand the influence of the task at hand. I also understand the impact of the census, which affords the opportunity for federal funds to be distributed to the communities of great need (and impacts) federal representation, community development, and health care for future generations.

What does social responsibility mean to you?

Social responsibility is paramount, especially during these days and times. It drives systematic change in our community. 

Best advice you ever received? Be sure to always set short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals throughout your career.

Eric Rosenbaum

President and CEO, Project Renewal

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Tell us about your work.

A big part of my job is managing external organizational challenges so our staff can focus on empowering our clients to renew their lives through health, homes and jobs.

What does social responsibility mean to you?

Rooting out unconscious bias is always top of mind. We want to support people in their careers, pay people fairly and advocate for our funders to do the same while challenging ourselves to improve how we work so that our clients can succeed in spite of their difficult circumstances.

What’s the best advice you ever received? 

To not be afraid to bring my full self to work, including not only my strengths but the challenges I still work to overcome. 

Sue Veres Royal

Executive Director, ACE Mentor Program of Greater NY

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Tell us about your work.

We are an after-school program that introduces high school students to careers in the design and construction industry. While anyone can participate in our program, we concentrate on working with underserved areas. It is a thrill and an honor to get to work with over a thousand students as they begin to realize their full potential and begin plotting out their goals, along with literally hundreds of volunteers who want to make a positive impact in the lives of NYC students. 

Best advice you ever received?

Make sure that whatever actions you take, you will still be able to look at yourself in the mirror and respect the person you see.

Osei Rubie

President and Founder, National Standard Abstract

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Tell us about your work.

Every day is an opportunity for me to cultivate relationships into partnerships that will build and

strengthen communities. I engage faith leaders in exploring how we can work collaboratively with real estate professionals to repurpose underutilized spaces for the common good – to be the bridge that connects people to resources that will effectively change how and where we live.

What’s the best advice you ever received? 

Do not allow others to define who you are or can become. Know your history and celebrate your cultural identity. Take control of your life and legacy, and then help uplift others in your community to do the same.

Emily Zyko Rukobo

Executive Director for Global Academic Programs, New York Institute of Technology

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Tell us about your work.

I oversee global academic programs at a university with a global footprint. 

What does social responsibility mean to you?

It’s a balance between progress and the welfare of the environment and society. I achieve social responsibility in my work by actively seeking out partners, new hires, and students that are interested in the greater good over their own benefit.

What’s the best advice you ever received? 

The greatest impediment to creativity is our impatience. This advice from Robert Greene’s “Mastery” regularly encourages me to try things in multiple ways through a variety of lenses. While your first idea might rule supreme, you’ll never know until you’ve exhausted all other options.

Meaghan Schmidt

Managing Director, Investigations, Disputes and Risk, AlixPartners

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Tell us about your work.

I handle global investigations and provide litigation support on complex cases. I have worked on high-profile corporate accounting, financial reporting and anti-corruption matters for clients across the world.

What does social responsibility mean to you?

It means thinking about the greater good – in the world, in my larger community, and also within my smaller community. At AlixPartners, I established the Working Parents Employee Resource Group and an internship program with the National Down Syndrome Society. 

What’s the best advice you ever received? 

I have a plaque that says: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” This is a mantra I try to live by daily.

Susan Gross Sholinsky

Member of the Firm, Epstein Becker Green

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Susan Gross Sholinsky
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Susan Gross Sholinsky
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Epstein Becker Green

Tell us about your work. 

I am able to help clients comply with employment laws by preparing and reviewing policies and procedures, providing anti-harassment and (diversity, equity and inclusion) training, and conducting workplace investigations, among other services. In 2020, this has included navigating employers through COVID-19 – maintaining safe workplaces, keeping employees healthy, and properly accommodating employees' needs. 

Best advice you ever received?

The best advice I’ve received is that even if something seems to be working, we should not become complacent. Things that have worked in the past are generally comfortable, perhaps easier, and likely worked because of the social constructs that existed when they were put in place (or perhaps they helped to create those constructs). Rather, we should try to look for better ways. Sometimes this means rethinking whether the “status quo” remains relevant.

Chao Cheng-Shorland

Co-Founder and CEO, ShelterZoom and DocuWalk

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Chao Cheng-Shorland
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Chao Cheng-Shorland
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ShelterZoom

Tell us about your work.

Being CEO for a startup requires me to be someone who is a thinker and a doer. I have to be able to have skills in almost every department – strategy, business development, sales, marketing, product development, operations and fundraising. 

What does social responsibility mean to you?

With remote and virtual operations becoming the new normal, digital responsibility is an increasingly important fabric of social responsibility. 

What’s the best advice you ever received? 

It’s a quote I heard many years ago: “The first half of my life, I thought I should be successful. The second half of my life, I discovered why I should be significant.” Being successful is a personal end. Being significant is transcending and carries weight in social responsibility.

Elizabeth W. Smith

President and CEO, Central Park Conservancy 

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Elizabeth W. Smith
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Elizabeth W. Smith
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Central Park Conservancy

Tell us about your work.

My role comprises setting the strategic direction for the Central Park Conservancy and overseeing our major initiatives in fundraising, park operations, capital projects, public programming and communications. 

What does social responsibility mean to you?

It means committing to doing everything I can to ensure that Central Park remains a profoundly democratic space and green respite for New York City and all its people. 

What’s the best advice you ever received? 

To remain curious always. This manifests itself in respecting the views of other people, in learning new things all the time, and in being open to pursuing new ways of addressing unexpected problems.

Joan Steinberg

Managing Director, Global Head of Philanthropy, Morgan Stanley; President, Morgan Stanley Foundation 

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Joan Steinberg
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Morgan Stanely

Tell us about your work.

I currently oversee Morgan Stanley’s global philanthropic programs, including strategic planning and execution, employee engagement, and corporate and foundation grantmaking totaling more than $100 million annually. 

What does social responsibility mean to you?

It means being an integral part of our communities. Not only “do no harm” but invest in doing good for society, bringing your strengths to bear to help others. For me, that means unlocking the limitless talent and energy of the employees of Morgan Stanley. They make sure our efforts are authentic, local and constant.

What’s the best advice you ever received? 

Don’t let the stress of the unknown overwhelm you or dissuade you from trying to make change.

Michelle M. Stoddart

Vice President of Community Development, Resorts World Casino New York City

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Tell us about your work.

I source and build relationships with nonprofit and civic organizations in Queens and throughout the city, to support their efforts in economic development, cultural collaboration, health and wellness, and environmental responsibility. 

What does social responsibility mean to you?

It means committing to the betterment of your community and country. In my job, I am responsible for building bridges with organizations that allow me to give back in areas that are important to me such as health and wellness, and cultural diversity.

What’s the best advice you ever received? 

To say “Yes” first. It allows you to put forth your intention and shows you are up to taking risks.

Jessica E. Stram

Director of Advocacy, Northeast Region, Target 

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Target Corp

Tell us about your work.

I serve on Target’s Legal Affairs Diversity Action Committee. Every workplace is made stronger by recruiting and retaining diverse team members, and I am grateful that my company makes this a priority. Inclusivity must become instinctive behavior for leaders at all levels.

What’s the best advice you ever received? 

Pay three genuine compliments a day. So often, we silently admire others when giving verbal affirmation costs us nothing. And when acknowledging a job well done to a peer or recognizing a total stranger for something you notice – whatever it may be – say it out loud. You may be lifting that person up just when they need it most.

Julie Tighe

President, New York League of Conservation Voters

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Tell us about your work.

We educate, engage and empower New Yorkers to be effective environmental advocates. We are the only nonpartisan, statewide environmental organization in New York that fights for clean water, healthy air, renewable energy, open space and a livable climate through political action.

Best advice you ever received?

I have been lucky enough to have many mentors throughout my career. I have received tremendous advice from each of them about effective advocacy. One overarching theme I have heard from them all: to be successful, you must be able to explain the positive societal impact of the issue you are fighting for to New York state residents. I keep that in mind for every issue that I work on.

Gautam Tooley

Senior Vice President and Public Sector Lead, UCI

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Tell us about your work.

I am an engagement executive with more than 26 years of experience with significant system integration and consulting experience, including 21 years at UCI, where I lead our public sector practice. I have spent the majority of my career serving federal, state and local government clients, with an emphasis on New York City public clients, most recently the city’s Office of Emergency Management. 

What does social responsibility mean to you?

It means giving yourself both personally and as a corporation to make a positive impact on others, and helping our local communities in the most difficult times.

What’s the best advice you ever received?

Be a team player: collaborate, honor relationships with your colleagues, your clients and yourself.

Anderson Torres

CFO, R.A.I.N. Total Care, Inc.

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Anderson Torres
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Anderson Torres
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Tell us about your work.

I oversee a 56-year-old organization that provides services to the most vulnerable in our society through a continuum of services not limited to home care, case management, housing, advocacy and education. 

What does social responsibility mean to you?

R.A.I.N. allows me to achieve my social responsibility to a community that is oftentimes disregarded by a society that is not older-friendly or supportive to the disabled of any age.

What’s the best advice you ever received? 

My mother’s advice: Slow and steady wins the race. It is important to persevere and maintain your strong faith in God.

Maria Noel Vaeza Baque

Regional Director for the Americas and the Caribbean, UN Women 

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Tell us about your work.

I promote gender equality, women’s rights and women’s empowerment in the Americas and the Caribbean through multistakeholder partnerships, innovative financing and scalable programs to end discrimination and violence against women, reaching the women most in need.

What does social responsibility mean to you?

As a UN staff member, it means always putting the needs and human rights of the people we serve first – in my case, especially women and girls – and driving everything I do and we do as an organization towards the full realization of their rights and their empowerment.

What’s the best advice you ever received? 

Change is the only permanent thing!

Lorelei Atalie Vargas

Executive Director, Trinity Commons

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Tell us about your work.

I currently serve as the inaugural executive director of Trinity Commons, an expansive community center of Trinity Church Wall Street. My job is to both develop and implement universal and targeted programs for all New Yorkers.

What does social responsibility mean to you?

It’s about centering the voice of the community and doing everything you can to provide the support that people are asking for. There is no better expert on a topic than the person who is having the experience, and honoring their earned experience by listening helps to inform what we can do to support them.

What’s the best advice you ever received? 

To lead with my values, focus on the issue, and maintain my integrity.

Edgardo Velez

Program Coordinator, HeartShare Human Services of NY

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Tell us about your work.

I cultivate growth for the men and women with intellectual and developmental disabilities that the agency serves. Empowering the individuals to make person-centered decisions through autonomy will help them be successful in their own lives. 

What does social responsibility mean to you?

I achieve social responsibility through advocacy at the local and governmental levels, ensuring that I engage others within the field but also outside the field to do the same. 

What’s the best advice you ever received? 

It has come from modeling the behavior of leaders throughout my profession. Being able to mentor others and spread the knowledge that I have gained will ensure social responsibility and help them be more knowledgeable.

Jed Walentas

CEO, Two Trees

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Jed Walentas
Photo Courtesy Two Trees Management Co.

Tell us about your work.

At our core, we primarily build housing – along with parks and schools and neighborhood retail – and we try really hard to make the communities we work in better off than before we started to invest there. 

What does social responsibility mean to you?

It means taking into account all of the public costs and benefits of an action and having it weigh appropriately on your decision making. 

What’s the best advice you ever received?

Mike Bloomberg used to say, “If you ask someone for something in a meeting and they say ‘yes,’ stop talking. Stop selling. Say thank you, shake hands and leave.” That always resonated with me.

James Whelan

President, The Real Estate Board of New York

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REBNY President James Whelan
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Tell us about your work.

I oversee all REBNY activities, which include supporting the association’s 17,000 members with technical resources and educational opportunities, and connecting industry leaders with other business and community leaders to foster constructive civic partnerships and impactful results. 

What does social responsibility mean to you?

It means doing things for the greater good. At REBNY, we do that by building trust among our community stakeholders, acting ethically and responsibly in our advocacy efforts, and promoting forward-thinking policies and leaders that support the continuous improvement of New York City.

What’s the best advice you ever received?

First, there is a big difference between hearing and listening. Second, surround yourself with people who are smarter than you. 

Lloyd Williams

President, The Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce

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Tell us about your work.

I serve as president of The Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce, celebrating its 126th year of continued service to the business and professional communities in upper Manhattan in particular, New York City in general, and the tri-state region. 

What does social responsibility mean to you?

It’s tied hand in hand with economic liberation as well as educational and cultural development.

What’s the best advice you ever received? 

Having been honored to have had Malcolm X as my godfather, Percy Sutton as my mentor, Langston Hughes as my tutor when I was a child, but most importantly, to have had the wisdom imparted to me by my grandmother, Grace Sergent, it is hard to, in a short amount of time and space, share their best words of wisdom.

George D. Yancopoulos

President and Chief Scientific Officer, Regeneron

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Regeneron

Tell us about your work.

I take an unusually hands-on approach for a biotech leader, serving as lead inventor and drug developer. 

What does social responsibility mean to you?

I am deeply committed to supporting the next generation of great young scientists. I lead Regeneron’s numerous STEM education and mentorship programs.

What’s the best advice you ever received? 

At the age of 15, my father told me to try to grow up and be like Dr. Roy Vagelos (Regeneron’s Chairman of the Board and the former Chairman and CEO of Merck). Now, remarkably, I’ve had a chance to work with Roy for over 20 years – and I’m still trying to live up to Roy as a role model.

Ebony Young

President of the Nonprofit Division, The Lonely Entrepreneur

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Ebony Young
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Tell us about your work.

The Lonely Entrepreneur has created a tech-based, easy-access platform that allows aspiring and tenured entrepreneurs to scale. The Black Entrepreneur Initiative platforms the knowledge, tools, access, and support black entrepreneurs need to increase business capacity. 

What does social responsibility mean to you?

It’s a pathway to providing the resources, access, and opportunities people need and deserve in order to grow, learn, and thrive. Economics is king and in many ways is the way to achievement in our society. 

What’s the best advice you ever received? 

Live the truth, respect God, run your race! 

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City & State
20210119