Nonprofit organizations by definition aren’t in the business of making money, but many of them deliver an outstanding return on investment. Nonprofits carry out critical activities that are either outsourced or ignored by government: providing shelter to homeless people, feeding people, caring for marginalized youths and older adults, supporting formerly incarcerated people. Plus, they give a voice to the least powerful among us and advocate for their interests with influential policymakers and those who control the purse strings.
The Nonprofit Power 100, a joint product of City & State New York and NYN Media, recognizes the most notable nonprofit leaders who are strengthening the safety net and serving the most vulnerable individuals in New York. The list puts a spotlight on the leaders of social services providers, legal aid organizations, advocacy organizations and foundations. The list omits many other types of nonprofits, including hospitals and institutions of higher education, while recognizing – but not ranking – a number of government officials and an array of advisers and consultants who play a key role in the nonprofit sector. We’re pleased to present the Nonprofit Power 100.
Michelle Jackson has a clear message for New York government leaders: Invest more in the nonprofit social services providers or there will be dire consequences. The executive director of the Human Services Council led this spring’s “day without human services,” during which over 100 nonprofits stopped parts of their services to show what would happen if funding wasn’t boosted for salaries and employees left. The push for funding increases in New York City comes after this year’s state budget included a 4% cost-of-living raise for human service workers paid through state contracts.
Under Twyla Carter’s leadership, The Legal Aid Society is taking on battles both inside and outside of the courtroom. The organization partnered with the American Civil Liberties Union and state Attorney General Letitia James on the policing of protests, a move that was later canceled when the PBA declined to approve the deal. The organization has been outspoken on such issues as protecting the city’s right-to-shelter law, the need for federal receivership over Rikers Island and the number of eviction cases an attorney in the city’s right to counsel program can effectively take on in Housing Court.
In June, the Coalition for the Homeless issued a blistering report blaming New York City’s spiraling homelessness crisis on Gov. Kathy Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams. Dave Giffen defended its conclusions that the Adams administration did not expand its shelter capacity as the homeless population rose 18% and recommended the mayor reverse his involuntary hospitalization policy and finance more affordable housing. As thousands of asylum-seekers flooded city shelters, Giffen fought to keep New York’s right to shelter policy intact and chided the mayor’s rhetoric that migrants will “destroy” the city.
Former New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn is showing that she’s just as effective from a perch in the nonprofit world as she was in city government. The president and CEO of Win, formerly known as Women in Need, Quinn played a key role in getting the City Council to pass legislation to expand the city’s housing voucher program – over Mayor Eric Adams’ veto. Quinn is now calling on the Adams administration to do more for asylum-seekers. She is also opening a new Win shelter in Staten Island.
Last year, New York City Mayor Eric Adams and Gov. Kathy Hochul appointed Richard Buery Jr. to lead a panel of experts in rethinking the city’s ailling commercial districts. The Robin Hood CEO’s December report proposed 40 initiatives that would transform Midtown and other areas into 24-hour live-work neighborhoods. Buery, best known for creating the city’s successful universal pre-K program, currently leads New York’s largest anti-poverty organization. In May, Robin Hood hauled in $61.4 million at its annual benefit.
UJA-Federation provided around $180 million in grants last year – including emergency funding of $26 million to support Ukrainians in need around the world – and $3.6 million for Ukrainian refugees in New York. The organization's one-stop social service Hub, launched in Queens in 2021, became a lifeline during the coronavirus pandemic, helping more than 14,000 people with job training, emotional support, food and other services. CEO Eric Goldstein is overseeing the construction and launch of another Hub in Brooklyn, which is set to open in early 2024.
When asylum-seekers began to arrive in New York City last summer, Kevin Sullivan found that immigration authorities listed the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York address by mistake. Sullivan ensured that migrants received food, clothes and financial assistance from the charity while informing the New York City Council that some slept in parks because shelters turned them away. This year, he helped open Catholic Charities’ Day Laborer Center in Yonkers to help newcomers find work and celebrated the maiden voyage of the Dorothy Day ferry.
For nearly four decades, David Jones has advocated for low-income New Yorkers by pushing more insurers and hospitals to accept Obamacare coverage and leading voter registration drives. Jones used his seat on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board to push for expanded half-price fares for those below the poverty line. Last year, the Community Service Society sued to stop a state law barring convicted felons from serving on juries. This summer, Jones joined The Legal Aid Society to call on the New York City Housing Authority to reverse its $1.5 billion plan to demolish the Chelsea-Elliot Houses.
Editor’s note: David Jones is a member of City & State’s advisory board.
Jocelynne Rainey arrived at the Brooklyn Community Foundation in December 2021 with the mission of advancing racial justice by supporting the borough’s nonprofits. She transformed the foundation into a participatory grantmaking organization, brought in a new chief operating officer and prioritized immigrants, women of color in STEM and LGBTQ+ groups. This year, the foundation distributed $100,000 grants to five nonprofits for its Spark Prize, another $1.48 million to organizations supporting seniors and then no-strings-attached $20,000 awards to five women changemakers for its new Just Brooklyn Prize.
Named after a Catholic saint, Mother Cabrini Health Foundation is a charitable foundation aiming to strengthen New York state’s health care outcomes for vulnerable communities. Led by Monsignor Gregory Mustaciuolo, the organization has made recent strides to address maternal mortality rates and the health equity gap impacting New York’s Black population. The foundation recently awarded $165 million in grants to support nonprofit organizations addressing these gaps in health care for underserved communities.
After 34 years of leading the Fortune Society and being one of New York City’s top advocates for criminal justice reform and prisoner reentry, JoAnne Page has announced her retirement, effective at the end of 2023. Page’s record of accomplishment at The Fortune Society includes increasing the nonprofit’s staff from 20 to over 500 and its budget from $700,000 to $50 million. Page and Deputy CEO Stanley Richards – who was named as Page's successor in September – have worked this year to open three residences for those recently released from prison, created a boroughwide supervised release program in the Bronx with a food pantry and community center, announced a new affordable housing program and received a $10 million contribution from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott.
Wayne Ho has led the nation's largest Asian American social services organization since 2017, supporting over 280,000 individuals across their 35 locations citywide. The Chinese-American Planning Council provides social, economic and family empowerment services for Chinese American and immigrant populations, and it has taken a strong stance against anti-Asian hate crimes amid rising occurrences in the city. Recently, Gov. Kathy Hochul appointed Ho to the Contracting Advisory Committee, where he consults on matters of nonprofit fund management and human services contract procedures.
Editor’s note: Wayne Ho is a member of NYN Media’s advisory board.
David Greenfield has elevated the Met Council since taking the reins in 2018. As a tireless advocate for food security, the former New York City Council member has championed the inclusion of kosher and halal food provisions, a move recognized by the White House in its anti-antisemitism strategies. His leadership has extended to his appointment on the recently created New York City Jewish Community Council. Under Greenfield's stewardship, the Met Council has expanded its services throughout the city and widened its scope to address issues on a national scale.
Editor’s note: David Greenfield is a member of NYN Media’s advisory board.
Once New York City Mayor Eric Adams and City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams shook hands on a $107 billion budget agreement in June, Jennifer Jones Austin decided to take a closer look. A month later, the FPWA issued a report tracking cuts in social services and staffing that Jones Austin said would worsen wage inequities for public sector jobs while also harming vulnerable New Yorkers. The anti-poverty leader was instrumental in creating the racial justice ballot questions that voters passed last year.
The New York Immigration Coalition’s Murad Awawdeh has stood strong in the face of New York’s growing migrant crisis. In addition to pushing for increased state funding to aid the incoming immigrants, Awawdeh has been an outspoken advocate for immigrant rights and critic of New York City’s handling of the crisis. NYIC is a coalition of over 200 member organizations serving a wide range of communities, many of which have banded together in response to the migrant crisis, providing material support while advocating for federal changes to work certification and housing support.
Matching children with loving foster homes remains a challenge with about 7,000 children in New York City’s foster care system. Jeremy Kohomban’s work helping thousands of children and families navigate foster care prompted former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to appoint him to the city’s commission to close Rikers Island. Kohomban argued the Adams administration should stick to its schedule to shutter the jail and follow the commission’s recommendations. In the meantime, The Children’s Village received a grant to work with the Fair Futures coaching program to help youth in detention with career development, employment and academic support.
The COVID-19 pandemic exposed health care inequities, but Lisa David is fighting to ensure that the social safety net doesn’t entirely disappear. David sought to keep her health clinics running even as post-pandemic budgets tightened and even opened a new Neighborhood WIC center in the Bronx last year to help women, infants and children receive nutrition. This summer, she celebrated the FDA’s approval of an over-the-counter birth control pill, which her centers will likely distribute, and she honored longtime friend, Dr. Anthony Fauci, at Public Health Solutions’ annual gala in June.
Beginning her journey with Breaking Ground in 1999, Brenda Rosen has worked diligently to increase access to supportive housing across New York City. Breaking Ground now operates about 4,000 units of such housing, including the newly established 90 Sands supportive housing in Downtown Brooklyn. Through its Street to Home program and transitional housing units, Breaking Ground aims to alleviate New York’s homelessness crisis. Rosen has also partnered with businesses to develop privately funded outreach to people experiencing homelessness and teamed up with the Partnership for New York City to launch the Homeless Assistance Fund.
After succeeding Safe Horizon’s longtime CEO Ariel Zwang in 2021, Liz Roberts helped the nation’s largest victim services organization lobby for the passage of the Adult Survivors Act. One year later, lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul passed the law giving survivors the ability to sue sex abusers that occurred after the victims were 18 years old. Last November, Roberts launched a campaign to inform the public about the one-year window for filing lawsuits, with E. Jean Carroll’s lawsuit against former President Donald Trump among its highest-profile cases.
The New York Community Trust and its affiliated organizations know how to get stuff done for communities and groups across the region. Amy Freitag, the president of The New York Community Trust, recently announced a new partnership with community foundations from around the country to create the Community Foundation Climate Collaborative to develop local solutions to the climate crisis. Laura Rossi, executive director of the affiliated Westchester Community Foundation, oversaw its recent grant awards, which include funding to the Council on American-Islamic Relations for a civic engagement and legal services program, an education and prisoner reentry program for Westchester County youth through 914United and funding for Riverkeeper to coordinate a countywide sewer consolidation campaign. Long Island Community Foundation Executive Director David Okorn led recent grantmaking to Housing Help to create an affordable housing coalition on Long Island, the Long Island Pine Barrens Society for land preservation and the Eleanor Whitmore Early Childhood Center to combat food insecurity in East Hampton.
Kimberly Hardy Watson still gets emotional when she recalls being separated from her siblings and put in a foster home in the 1970s. Watson’s experience has shaped how she has led Graham Windham, where she became the first Black woman to lead the 217-year-old organization two years ago. Graham Windham worked to help foster families cover the rising costs of baby formula last year. They have also continued to provide after-school programs, mental and behavioral health services, and career coaching to help children succeed.
Editor’s note: Kimberly Hardy Watson is a member of NYN Media’s advisory board.
Sharon Greenberger leads the YMCA of Greater New York, a nonprofit organization that reaches over 500,000 individuals through its 24 branches across New York City. The health and community organization offers programs to individuals of all ages and recently raised $1.35 million for its Rowe Scholars program, a college readiness and career development program for high school students in New York City. Greenberger has also announced a yearlong, free lifeguard certification program to address a lifeguard shortage at city pools.
Sam Marks has established himself as a leader in the world of donor-advised funds, a key part of the nonprofit sector that is not as widely discussed as foundations directly. Marks has led FJC in a number of areas recently, including a new program with The Fortune Society to create an innovative donor fund source for the prison reentry nonprofit. FJC leads NYC Boss Up, a nonprofit that has awarded grants to New York City Housing Authority residents to become entrepreneurs.
Ana Oliveira is the president and CEO of the New York Women’s Foundation, a philanthropy pursuing a mission of gender, race and economic justice. For the past 17 years, Oliveira has led the organization, increasing its grantmaking capacity to a $100 million milestone in 2021 while expanding philanthropic partnerships. In response to recent shifts limiting abortion access in many states, the organization has doubled down on its advocacy and investments in the movement for comprehensive reproductive rights.
Nonprofit New York leader Meg Barnette has a long track record of leadership in the nonprofit sector. Prior to her appointment to the role in 2020, she spent nine years working for Planned Parenthood of Greater New York and spent time at the Brennan Center for Justice as well. Today, Barnette leads Nonprofit New York, offering support and advocacy to nonprofit organizations across the state, engaging with over 4,000 organizations within the last year.
Kwame Owusu-Kesse officially took over Harlem Children’s Zone five months into the COVID-19 pandemic, but the promotion didn’t stress him out. He immediately started working with schools to reduce their COVID-19 risks during their September 2020 reopenings, then plotted an expansion of Harlem Children’s Zone’s model to six different cities. Last year, Owusu-Kesse secured a $100 million grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies to close the achievement gap, and Harlem Children’s Zone co-sponsored an education summit with the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Jennifer March welcomed the expanded federal child tax credit which would help 3.5 million New York children. But additional funding for children has been harder to come by. Her Citizens’ Committee for Children calculated that child care costs take up half the median income of families with young children even as pandemic dollars dried up and New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ budget proposals slashed funding for universal prekindergarten. March also demanded the city to eliminate the 90-day eligibility rule for receiving housing vouchers.
With over 10 years at the organization, Nathaniel M. Fields leads Urban Resource Institute, a nonprofit seeking to end cycles of domestic violence, trauma and poverty. Fields’ leadership has been integral in URI’s establishment of its People and Animals Living Safely - which celebrates its 10th anniversary - and Economic Empowerment Programs, addressing the complexities of domestic and economic abuse, and supporting survivors with a trauma-informed client approach. URI has also made strides in support for youth experiencing trauma and homelessness, through its Relationship Abuse Prevention Program.
Grace Bonilla leads United Way of New York City, a city-based nonprofit organization supporting low-income communities through collective impact. Working alongside government and private sector actors, Bonilla supports the mission of increasing economic mobility for all New Yorkers. As the organization’s first Latina president, Bonilla brings her lived experience as an immigrant to the table, motivating her pursuit of equitable solutions to long-lasting systemic inequalities. The group recently sponsored a report highlighting the “true cost of living” doubling citywide since 2000, straining many households.
Since 2006, Jilly Stephens has led New York City’s largest food rescue organization, City Harvest. City Harvest has collected and distributed over 1 billion pounds of food to individuals suffering from food insecurity in the past 40 years and has reported a 70% increase in demand at local food pantries since the onset of COVID-19. Recently opening new headquarters and warehouse space in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, City Harvest has set a goal to distribute 75 million pounds of food by the end of this year.
Meisha Porter wasn’t going to stay on as New York City schools chancellor when Eric Adams took over as mayor, but the veteran educator found a nice fit when she took on the role to lead the new Bronx Community Foundation in 2022. The Bronx native helped launch a Bronx Cannabis Hub to assist dispensaries with their licenses, partnered with the New York City Council to help asylum-seekers settle into the city and helped fund the Small Business Security Initiative to protect the borough’s bodegas. Now, she’s leading the foundation’s first strategic planning process.
Susan Stamler leads the United Neighborhood Houses’ collection of 38 community centers and housing units across New York state. The Queens native has accumulated over 16 years of collective experience at UNH, a century-old organization providing programs for New Yorkers reaching from childhood to senior-focused support. In her current role, Stamler oversees strategy, fundraising and advocacy, including recent efforts to advocate for the “Our City, Our Vote” legislation, or Local Law 11, allowing green card holders, permanent residents and noncitizens with work permits to vote in city elections.
A former New York City deputy mayor, Melanie Hartzog has led The New York Foundling since leaving City Hall last year. The child welfare organization has been touting a number of successes, including a 40% decrease in mental health crises in the city’s public schools for students participating in a Foundling program and that 95% of students transitioning out of foster care have moved into permanent housing due to a Foundling program. The Foundling’s Bronx-based charter school for foster care students has shown a positive impact on graduation and academic success.
Originally established as a Queens community center, Samaritan Daytop Village is a 60-year-old human services organization with programs ranging from mental health care, substance abuse treatment, employment and housing support services. Mitchell Netburn leads the organization as president and CEO and brings over 30 years of experience working within human services and governmental sectors. Previously, as the head of Project Renewal, Netburn oversaw a $80 million budget, serving 15,000 clients suffering from housing insecurity.
Phoebe Boyer has spent almost a decade as the president and CEO of Children’s Aid, where she has worked diligently to strengthen the organization’s programming for children facing poverty in high-risk neighborhoods across New York City. In addition to bolstering the organization’s various academic, health and community programming, Boyer has remained an outspoken advocate for the importance of nonprofits and the 2022 Nonprofit Sector Strength and Partnership Act, which would allow nonprofits to have more of an impact on policy creation within their expertise areas.
Named executive director in 2019, Michelle Yanche has spent 30 years working her way up the ladder at the youth and family development organization Good Shepherd Services. At one of the largest nonprofits serving youth and families in New York City, Yanche oversees the expansion and implementation of their 90 programs, directly impacting over 30,000 individuals and families. In August, GSS hosted its third annual book bag giveaway, aiming to ease costs for 100 children this school year amid concerns about inflation.
Editor’s note: Michelle Yanche is a member of NYN Media’s advisory board.
William Goodloe is the president and CEO of Sponsors for Educational Opportunity, an organization offering programming and mentorship to students and young professionals who are historically underserved and underrepresented in higher education. SEO supports over 7,000 students nationally, and its recent shift to a fully virtual program model has led to the expansions of its eight-year tuition-free SEO Scholars program and the establishment of the SEO Tech Institute and Leadership Institute.
Kevin Carey took the reins of YAI – formerly the Young Adult Institute – in June following seven years as a top executive at the organization. YAI board Chair Jeff Mordos praised Carey as a “stellar executive” to lead YAI, which supports people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. YAI has been conducting increased outreach with elected officials, inviting state legislators to tour its programs in Brooklyn, the Bronx and Westchester County. YAI staged a successful Central Park Challenge in June to highlight neurodivergent people and people with disabilities. Carey succeeded George Contos, initially as interim CEO.
When SCO Family of Services needed a new leader this year, they didn’t need to look far. Suzette Gordon joined the Long Island human services organization four years ago as its first legal counsel and has since served in different capacities running its marketing, human resources and press departments. She also developed policies for its COVID-19 task force. In 2022, SCO Family of Services held its inaugural career readiness fair for foster care youths in Briarwood and reopened its Genovese Family Life Center in Jamaica for families dealing with trauma.
In order to tackle New York City’s rapidly growing housing and homelessness crisis, Joanne Oplustil has sought to provide transitional and affordable housing developments. Construction has been underway at Camba’s $39 million state-financed supportive housing building with a new primary care center in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, and its 323-unit rent-stabilized project in Bedford Park, Bronx, with priorities for formerly homeless families in shelters. In July, Camba announced plans for a 200-unit Crown Heights, Brooklyn, high-rise for seniors with a community teaching kitchen and a food pantry.
Andre Mitchell’s influence does not stop at the door of Man Up Inc. – it goes all the way to Gracie Mansion. Mitchell has served since June 2022 as New York City’s first gun violence prevention czar. Mitchell has outlined a plan to address many of the root causes of violence and gang participation, noting that his goal is to show that gun violence is not an answer. Mitchell has also implemented an action plan to address management issues at Man Up following a city Department of Investigation report.
For the past eight years, Shakeema North has been dedicated to youth and community development at Covenant House, an organization aiming to end youth homelessness. Recently named executive director of the organization’s New York wing, North has created and bolstered youth development programming, which has proven to be crucial amid reports of increasing rates of youth homelessness in the city. As executive director, North continues to bring awareness to the cause – even organizing an event where high-profile actors slept on the streets among individuals affected by housing insecurity.
The Berkshire Farm Center works with children and families in need in 55 counties across New York. The center oversees 550 foster homes and in 2022 worked with more than 8,000 children. Among the services the center provides are programs to keep families together, reunite foster children with their families and unite children in shelter care with family members or sponsors across the country, as well as education programming for children in detention. Center President and CEO Brian Parchesky has pressed Gov. Kathy Hochul to make child welfare a top priority.
Jennifer Mitchell has the herculean task of managing The Doe Fund’s hallmark prisoner reentry program and supporting housing portfolio at a time when street homelessness is rising, as well as replacing the organization’s indefatigable founder, George McDonald, who died in 2021. Mitchell, who started her career at The Doe Fund, returned in January as the organization secured a $53 million construction loan for a 200-bed transitional residence in Brooklyn. Mitchell has since strengthened its certificate training program for construction jobs and broken ground on a $71 million 151-unit supportive housing development in the Bronx.
A lawyer by trade, Ronald Richter spent the majority of his career working as a juvenile rights lawyer, family court judge and commissioner at the New York City Administration for Children’s Services. Since 2015, Richter has led the child welfare association, JCCA, overseeing a $120 million annual budget and supporting about 17,000 individuals annually with foster, mental health and juvenile justice support. Despite years of positive impact on New York’s youth, local officials have raised concerns about dangerous conditions in JCCA’s Westchester facility for youth with behavioral issues.
For nearly a decade, Richard Nightingale has led Westhab’s expansion in the region while helping more than 9,000 unhoused families find permanent housing and more than 8,000 people find job opportunities. In 2019, he inked a deal for a new Port Morris, Bronx, office consolidating its city-based workforce. Then, Nightingale secured about $35 million in financing for a 63-unit affordable housing project and community center in Yonkers, which opened in 2021. This year, Westhab opened a shelter in Queens to meet the needs of the city’s growing adult homeless population.
With years of experience in litigation, policy development and social advocacy, Ken Zimmerman became an advocate for mental health reform following the death of his son in 2016 due to serious mental illness. In 2020, Zimmerman founded the Mental Health Strategic Impact Initiative, a “think and do tank” aiming to transform existing mental health support systems. Last year, Zimmerman was named CEO of Fountain House, a national nonprofit providing mental health support, direct services and policy advocacy. Fountain House was previously led by Dr. Ashwin Vasan, who’s now New York City’s health commissioner.
Patrick McGovern was recently named CEO of the LGBTQ+ health care, research and advocacy hub Callen-Lorde. McGovern’s history of support for LGBTQ+ issues spans back to his work as CEO at Harlem United Community AIDS Center, where he supported the expansion of HIV testing in New York. McGovern takes the helm of Callen-Lorde after departing from a health care leadership role at Amida Care. Helping over 17,814 patients annually in 2021, Callen-Lorde remains a leader in gender-affirming and judgment-free care for New York’s LGBTQ+ community.
The leaders of four of New York City’s government-affiliated nonprofit organizations focus on supporting city government, including programs related to city schools, public health and public housing.
The Fund for Public Schools cultivates public-private partnerships to develop programs for New York City’s public schools. Stephen Cockrell took over its top post last year after two years as chief strategy officer and has focused on raising over $15 million to support key school programs.
Since 2002, the Fund for Public Health in New York City has raised over $500 million to support 440 public health projects. CEO Sara Gardner has been with the organization since 2008 and has overseen such recent accomplishments as securing philanthropic funding for the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s chief medical officer’s first strategic plan. She has also teamed up with the city’s new Public Health Corps to focus on neighborhoods hardest hit by COVID-19.
Marcella Tillett became executive director of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City in 2022, joining a nonprofit that works across city government after a stint as a vice president of programs and partnerships with the Brooklyn Community Foundation. Among its recent initiatives are a scholarship program to increase diversity in local journalism, raising funds to help asylum-seekers and co-sponsoring a citywide youth soccer initiative.
Alex Zablocki last year joined the Public Housing Community Fund from the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy, where he was executive director. Among the housing group’s recent focuses is a Clean Energy Academy, which prepares New York City Housing Authority residents for jobs in the clean energy sector, and efforts to make NYCHA buildings more environmentally-friendly.
When a wave of migrant children arrived in 2018, Damyn Kelly’s agency made sure they received immunizations and physicals but warned about the mental health effects of parental separation. Lutheran Social Services of New York continued to aid migrants and just received $9.48 million from the New York City Department of Homeless Services to host migrants in Queens. At the same time, Kelly led a “sleep out” demonstration demanding a cost-of-living increase for human services workers similar to those unionized workers received.
David Garza is not afraid to speak out in order to improve the lives of those in need, including on the dearth of affordable housing on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Garza, the leader of Henry Street Settlement for over a decade, is guiding the social services provider and its $54 million budget through a number of key projects, including the renovation of the group’s Abrons Art Center and a new grant from Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg supporting gun violence prevention.
The Center for Court Innovation rebranded itself as the Center for Justice Innovation this year to reflect the center’s broader focus on both justice system programs and community-based programs focused on justice reform. This summer, the center released a report on youth gun culture in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. The report showed that neighborhood youth primarily carry guns out of fear of violence from the police or rival gang members and those involved in street crime. Courtney Bryan has run the $90 million nonprofit since 2020.
Arva Rice knows how to get stuff done. During the pandemic she organized online conferences addressing racial disparities in health care and issued a report showing the challenges Black New Yorkers faced. The Urban League opened a digital learning lab in Harlem this year to close the digital divide. As the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board interim chair, Rice worked with reluctant police leaders over recommended penalties for officers and grappled with funding shortages. This year, Rice issued a report that found the NYPD used excessive force on demonstrators after George Floyd’s murder.
Almost three decades ago, Khary Lazarre-White co-founded a Harlem youth development organization in order to help Black and Latino youth understand their roots and train the next generation of social activists. Last spring, The Brotherhood Sister Sol opened a seven-story 22,000-square-foot campus on 143rd Street with workspaces, a cafeteria, a dance studio and a basketball court. Lazarre-White has since hosted fashion designer Dapper Dan’s memoir talk and held BroSis’ annual gala in May.
Perry Perlmutter oversees Services for the UnderServed’s $273 million annual budget supporting over 37,000 individuals across the city and Long Island. With over three decades of experience in finance and risk management, Perlmutter oversees the finances and strategizing of the group’s expansive housing, behavioral health and disability services portfolio. This summer, S:US opened a 71-unit housing community, providing supportive housing for housing-insecure individuals and affordable units for low-income residents. Perlmutter took over as interim president and CEO in April 2023 following the retirement of Donna Colonna.
In celebration of Greenwich House’s 120th anniversary last fall, Darren Bloch tapped his deep Rolodex to help the multigenerational nonprofit raise $325,000 to fund its senior services and arts programs and repair its Greenwich Village properties. Bloch has steadied the settlement house through the pandemic by bringing back its on-site senior lunch program, art exhibits and supporting free movement classes. Greenwich House recently launched a new center offering digital literacy and other resources to get seniors into the workforce.
As head of the state’s largest association representing intellectual and developmental disability service provider organizations, Michael Seereiter has advocated for more state funding to boost wages to address direct-care service staffing shortage and job opportunities for those with special needs. Last year, Gov. Kathy Hochul revived the state Office of the Advocate for People with Disabilities, announced a $10 million partnership to expand credentialing in the developmental disabilities field and approved one-time bonuses for the direct care workforce, a move advocates have long called for.
What started as an orphanage nearly 200 years ago today encompasses an array of child welfare, juvenile justice and early childhood programs at three dozen sites in New York City and Westchester, but Rising Ground isn’t resting on its laurels. Alan Mucatel led the merger of Yonkers and Brooklyn child welfare agencies in 2018 and completed the $52.6 million sale of Rising Ground’s 28-acre Yonkers and Bronx campus last December. Five months later, Rising Ground had a new home in the Garment District after signing a 30-year lease for the entire eighth floor.
From combating food insecurity to providing a retirement spot for a beloved Bronxite, Rigaud Noel is getting stuff done at New Settlement. Noel has been promoting New Settlement’s various food programs, including a rooftop community garden and a youth-staffed farmers market, along with working to inform city and state leaders of Bronx food security issues. New Settlement is working to train new lifeguards to address New York City’s lifeguard shortage. This year, New Settlement created a permanent home for Bronxie the Turtle, the good luck mascot of the New York Yankees.
Last year, Kathleen Brady-Stepien led the Council of Family and Child Caring Agencies in asking Gov. Kathy Hochul to boost the state’s investment in its child welfare workforce and urging the state Legislature to pass the Children and Families Reinvestment Act. This year, Brady-Stepien called for an 8.5% cost-of-living adjustment and for foster rates to be fully funded by the end of June. She even led her council in filing a lawsuit to stop the state from setting aside its rate-setting system. Also, the council produced a report showing that turnover rates among caseworkers rose in the past two years due to low wages.
Since David Ludwigson joined God’s Love We Deliver as chief development officer in 2007, the meal delivery charity’s fundraising has more than tripled from $6 million to $22 million. Ludwigson, who was named CEO in January, managed the $38 million capital campaign that funded its Michael Kors-endowed SoHo headquarters, cultivated relationships with the fashion industry at its Hamptons cocktail parties and launched several new events. In April, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough visited and helped prepare medically tailored meals for individuals with chronic illnesses.
FeedMore WNY was created in 2020 via the merger of the Food Bank of WNY and Meals on Wheels for Western New York. Serving four Western New York counties, the nonprofit is led by Tara Ellis. It is planning a $99 million new facility in the Buffalo suburb of Hamburg, with $24 million in state funding from Gov. Kathy Hochul, a former Hamburg town board member and state lawmakers. In 2022, FeedMore served almost 200,000 people, but did not have enough storage space for food donations.
Since 2016, Katy Gaul-Stigge has sat at the helm of Goodwill Industries of New York and Northern New Jersey, one of the nation’s largest nonprofit organizations supporting individuals with disabilities and other obstacles through employment opportunities. Utilizing the funds gained across their retail stores, it supported 4,139 people with disabilities with training and employment, and provided job support training and retention services for 9,129 individuals in 2022. Gaul-Stigge also serves as co-chair of New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ Future of Workers Task Force.
In one of the more shocking reports of the year, Lisette Nieves’ Fund for the City of New York found that New Yorkers are worse off than they were during the COVID-19 pandemic, and more than half cannot meet their basic needs even if they had a college degree. The fund estimated that in order to afford the true cost of living in New York City, a family of four in the city needed to earn more than $100,000.
Taking a stand against further bail reform rollbacks was a lonely position in state politics this year, but Lisa Schreibersdorf did what she felt was right. The public defender leader also clamored for more funding in the state budget for staff and new attorneys to handle the COVID-19 backlog of cases after Gov. Kathy Hochul proposed $52 million for district attorneys. In the meantime, Schreibersdorf brought on two law firms to partner with Brooklyn Defender Services in June and provide pro bono services on child welfare cases.
When Leslie Gordon took over the Food Bank for New York City at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic three years ago, she helped double its output from 70 million pounds to 150 million pounds in less than 18 months. With pandemic-era SNAP benefits ending, Gordon has sought a multifaceted approach to provide food by partnering with other nonprofits and companies. The Food Bank received $450,000 from the Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation to launch its “Food as Medicine” program and started supplying the “Purple Apron” pantry at Hunter College for its food insecure undergraduates.
Since 2018, Janelle Farris has led Brooklyn Community Services, a nonprofit organization supporting Brooklyn neighborhoods disproportionately impacted by systemic poverty. With more than 20 years of nonprofit leadership experience at the intersection of social justice and human services, Farris oversees Brooklyn Community Services’ over 50 programs and 28 locations supporting 20,000 individuals of all ages. As the first Black president of the 150-year-old organization, Farris has paved the way for expanded offerings, including a youth suicide prevention program.
After a spate of anti-Asian hate crimes terrorized New York during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic and after, Jo-Ann Yoo became enraged and demanded answers. Last March, the Asian American Federation head called on New York City Mayor Eric Adams and the police to take a more aggressive approach combating and classifying hate crimes. This year, Yoo declared that fear of violence and discrimination led her community to experience a mental health crisis, and her organization created a mental health directory with a list of in-language professionals serving 18,000 people.
Blondel Pinnock has been spearheading a project with the potential to revitalize multiple neighborhoods. Thanks to her work, the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corp. is getting an 84,000-square-foot David Adjaye-designed campus that will double its footprint with two new office towers and expand both its cultural center and The Billie Holiday Theatre. Pinnock went to the White House in April to receive a National Medal of Arts award on the theater’s behalf. More projects are in the works including an 85-unit affordable housing site called Dekalb Commons, that Pinnock broke ground on earlier this month.
For the past two years, Jody Rudin has led the Institute for Community Living, a nonprofit providing key housing and health care services to New Yorkers. In this role, Rudin builds upon her 20 years of social services experience, leading ICL through its goal of becoming a national model of integrated care for people living with behavioral health challenges. This year, ICL celebrated the one-year anniversary of the $72 million reopening of Nevins Street Apartments, which includes 129 affordable housing units.
The Parker Jewish Institute for Health Care and Rehabilitation is one of the largest skilled nursing facilities for older adults on Long Island and the broader region. Michael N. Rosenblut has been working since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 to implement safety protocols at Parker Jewish Institute for Health Care and Rehabilitation, many of which remain in place. These have included digital turnstiles to scan people’s temperatures as they enter, a safety patrol and a family call center. Among the long-term care facility’s programs is an Indian Cultural Unit to better serve Indian patients in Queens and Long Island.
Cal Hedigan is addressing some of the toughest challenges in New York City, including housing and mental health. Hedigan, the CEO of Community Access, has announced that the social services nonprofit plans to double the size of its housing portfolio in order to house 8,000 people. At the same time, she is doubling down advocacy efforts with city leaders. Community Access has also launched a program to distribute laptops and mobile hot spots to those with mental health challenges in order to address the digital divide.
Fred Shack helped start the #JustPay campaign in 2021 to pressure city and state leaders to raise wages for front-line human services workers. Even though the state provided a one-time 5.4% pay hike, the Urban Pathways head said his staff struggled with even higher cost of living increases and 15% were even on public assistance. Now that the homeless population has ballooned to 100,000 people in New York City, Shack slammed Mayor Eric Adams for asking nonprofits to cut their budgets.
Lisa Rivera is the new head of the New York Legal Assistance Group, a civil legal services organization known for its advocacy work combating racial and socioeconomic injustice. Rivera herself brings two decades of experience as a public interest attorney and advocate for trauma-informed and client-centered services to the role, and she is the first Latina to be named president and CEO of NYLAG. Utilizing a community-focused approach, Rivera and her team of 350 caseworkers have recently established partnerships with DoorDash and Mount Sinai, expanding community access to legal services.
Debra-Ellen Glickstein had a vision of providing a pathway to college for New York City’s public school children, so she launched NYC Kids RISE’s Save for College Program in 2017. Her nonprofit worked with parent groups and tenant leaders to raise money for kids, and in January, all public school kindergarteners received $100 in a city-sponsored savings account. As of July, about 3,300 sixth graders have collectively accumulated $1.26 million for college thanks to Glickstein’s efforts. To celebrate the program’s expansion, Glickstein and a group of Long Island City sixth graders rang the bell at the New York Stock Exchange.
In the decade, she has served as head of Sanctuary for Families, Judy Harris Kluger doubled the nonprofit’s annual budget from $15 million to $32 million and launched new programs to help Orthodox Jewish and college-age sexual assault survivors. She argued for more funding for legal services in the state budget and called for significant reforms on how courts handle domestic violence cases, especially after prosecutors struggled to fill openings which led to delays.
Editor’s note: Judy Harris Kluger is a member of NYN Media’s advisory board.
William T. “Bill” Gettman Jr. has helped Northern Rivers Family of Services grow by adding a third affiliate, Unlimited Potential, to its family, and upgrading its existing site with an integrated behavioral health facility for young people with complex needs. Boosting wages for workers has been a bigger challenge. To that end, Gettman called on Gov. Kathy Hochul to boost investment in the human services workforce with an 8.5% cost-of-living adjustment in the state budget earlier this year to reduce turnover.
Noelle Withers leads Volunteers of America-Greater New York’s programming to support vulnerable communities with housing, health and veteran services, targeting the effects of generational poverty, with 60 programs serving 11,000 adults and children annually. In response to the influx of migrants in the area, the nonprofit has opened sanctuary shelters for families seeking asylum. Withers has a background in serving the homeless population, including leading housing programs for the nonprofit prior to her current role. The organization has yet to name a permanent replacement for Myung Lee, who departed as president and CEO last year.
After helping Westchester Jewish Community Services raise funds and work with government agencies for more than a dozen years, Jan Fisher was ready for a new challenge. She took the reins of Nonprofit Westchester in 2019 and soon partnered with Westchester County on a $10 million funding initiative to help nonprofits during the COVID-19 pandemic. She has turned her attention to raising the wages of nonprofit workers and welcoming asylum-seekers to Westchester. Last year, she was honored as a “Woman of Distinction” by the United Way of Westchester and Putnam.
Lymaris Albors took over last year as chief executive officer of Acacia Network, a large social services organization focused on trauma-informed care and has focused recently on serving the needs of asylum-seekers. Acacia is in charge of New York City’s first welcome and intake center for asylum-seekers, along with running housing programs. The nonprofit’s health care centers were also providing health care and assistance in Medicaid enrollment as well as providing English language classes and children’s programming.
Eric Rosenbaum and Project Renewal are working to address the homeless crisis. Project Renewal opened Bedford Green House in the Bronx with 116 apartments, secured $66 million to convert the former Greenpoint Hospital into 557 affordable homes and filed plans for a 21-story shelter with permanent housing on Manhattan’s East Side. Not every project has gone smoothly. Upper West Siders protested a plan to convert The Lucerne Hotel into a temporary shelter, which closed in 2021, and objected to another proposal this year for a 200-bed women’s shelter.
In his two decades at RiseBoro Community Partnership, Scott Short has helped expand RiseBoro’s mission from providing programming and meals to Bushwick’s seniors and young people to building affordable housing to help seniors and their families from being displaced. Last year, RiseBoro won a settlement with Blackstone to take majority ownership of three affordable housing properties. In May, Short closed on a deal with Slate Property Group to convert a hotel into 300 units of housing, the first under the state’s conversion program.
When Doug Sauer retired in 2021 after serving 41 years as the head of the New York Council of Nonprofits, board members needed to find someone adept at fundraising and managing the charitable community’s complex needs. They turned to Megan Allen, who raised $105 million while she was at the Boards of Cooperative Educational Services and served as Capital District Women’s Employment & Resource Center board chair. Last fall, Allen led a listening tour and has sought to help members with their fundraising and recruitment.
The COVID-19 pandemic dampened volunteerism in much of the country, but leaders like Jeanette Gisbert were able to harness New Yorkers’ willingness to help others. Gisbert, who came aboard Volunteer New York three months into the pandemic, organized a virtual gala to celebrate its 70th anniversary and galvanized events around GivingTuesday. She has led parks cleanups in New Rochelle, helped Cuban immigrants and honored seven Westchester volunteers at the nonprofit’s annual Volunteer Spirit Awards.
Tom Gabriel’s desire to work in the nonprofit sector sprung from receiving support and scholarship funds from charitable organizations when he was growing up in poverty. After joining United Way of Westchester and Putnam four years ago, Gabriel has pulled in $2.4 million in state funding to operate its 211 Helpline, distributed $6.2 million in essential goods and 790,000 pounds of groceries in 2021. This year, United Way gave a $1.5 million grant to an Ossining bilingual program and another $150,000 in grants to 29 nonprofits.
Over the course of her 30-year career leading United Way of Long Island, Theresa Regnante has sought to improve the lives of Long Islanders through community partnerships. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she launched a community baby shower initiative and distributed more than $2 million in funding in emergency help for families and first responders. Thanks to Regnante, United Way is currently overseeing a free MetroCard program in Nassau County and recently won a $249,000 state grant for its renewable energy training program.
The Binghamton-based Conrad and Virginia Klee Foundation has awarded approximately $31 million in grants in the greater Binghamton area since its founding in 1957. Businessperson Conrad Klee, his wife, Virginia, and local philanthropists built up the foundation, whose growth was fueled in part by Klee’s early investments in a local company – IBM. Amanda McIntyre, the foundation’s chief executive since 2019, has worked on the foundation's responsive and collaborative grantmaking with a focus on improving health and economic vitality in Broome County. Last year the Klee Foundation partnered with an upstate energy company to award microgrants to health and human services providers to address rising gas prices. The foundation awarded $850,000 in grants last year, including for the Mothers & Babies Perinatal Network in Johnson City, the Binghamton Philharmonic, the Triple Cities Makerspace and Eastern Broome Emergency Services.
Aubrey Fox grew so frustrated with New York’s never-ending debate on bail reform that he decided to look into how the state could better help recidivists responsible for the city’s rise in crime. Fox, who has led the New York City Criminal Justice Agency for nearly seven years, found that several thousand repeat offenders were arrested primarily for nonviolent offenses and suggested that better social services would help them. This year Fox published a book, “Gradual: The Case for Incremental Change in a Radical Age,” which argued that small changes can add up to big results in criminal justice reform.
Ben Thomases is one of the most influential nonprofit leaders in Queens. He presides over the Queens Community House, a nonprofit organization that offers a wide range of services from early childhood to senior citizens. Thomases is also co-chair of Queens Power, a group of nonprofit and church groups in Queens that is calling for the former Creedmoor Psychiatric Center in Queens to be turned into affordable housing, saying that 3,000 units could be built on the site.
Since Kathryn Haslanger was appointed to lead JASA in 2012, the number of New Yorkers ages 65 and up rose more than 30%. With a $120 million annual budget and a staff of 2,000 people, Haslanger has sought to provide meals, arts programming, home care, affordable housing and meals for over 40,000 seniors. She has fought for pay raises for home care workers in both the state and city budgets, while warning that meager funding for the industry makes future hiring nearly impossible.
Jerelyn Rodriguez has been on a mission to expand the number of youth from underserved communities in the technology sector. Rodriguez has led The Knowledge House to provide a number of technology and coding classes for Bronx youths with the aim of preparing them for careers in the sector. Last year, New Profit, a venture philanthropy group, invested $1 million in The Knowledge House, along with four years of capacity-building support in order to position the organization for long-term growth.
Alison Overseth has thought a lot about how to help young people recover academically and socially from the pandemic’s isolating circumstances. In January, the Partnership for Afterschool Education leader held a symposium focused on learning losses New York City students have experienced and how to reverse them. Overseth also has a key role in shaping higher education as Smith College’s board chair and helped choose Swarthmore College provost Sarah Willie-LeBreton as Smith’s president in 2022.
Last year, Liz Glazer founded Vital City, a public safety policy journal, after she grew discouraged with debates surrounding policing, criminal justice reform and Rikers Island. The former Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice director recruited author Greg Berman to co-edit the publication and added longtime Daily News editorial page editor Josh Greenman to the team in December. Vital City has since examined how gun violence could be tackled, new solutions to civic disorder, the significance of the public square and the rising dangers of climate change.
Since their joint appointment to lead CACF six years ago, Anita Gundanna and Vanessa Leung have sought to achieve educational equity for AAPI students and reduce violence toward Asian Americans. They formed a coalition of 150 AAPI groups and led a statewide budget campaign advocating for $30 million for AAPI organizations. Gundanna got state agencies to track census data for individual Asian and Pacific Islander ethnic groups and worked with Sesame Workshop to combat bullying. Leung helped launch a pilot AAPI curriculum in city schools and pushed for expansion of extreme weather alerts in multiple languages.
Anthony Buissereth and Ramik Williams want you and all of Brooklyn to know that violence is a public health issue. The co-executive directors of Kings Against Violence Initiative have been endeavoring to educate New Yorkers that violence, particularly in Central Brooklyn’s communities of color, needs to be addressed from a public health perspective to end its root causes. The group’s work has been focused on this approach, including providing hospital-based care, school-based programs and community workshops.
The legal services organization Communities Resist partners with tenants rights and community groups to protect low-income New Yorkers from gentrification. The organization is led by Lina Lee, a veteran of Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A and the Minkwon Center for Community Action and one of few Asian American women to lead such a nonprofit. “She has done a phenomenal job leading and expanding an organization dedicated to housing, immigrant, and racial justice in Brooklyn and Queens,” New York City Council Member Shekar Krishnan, a Communities Resist co-founder, told City & State.
Tracey Edwards capped an impressive second career in public service when she was elected to the NAACP’s national board in August. The civil rights organization’s Long Island chapter leader has sought to reverse racial inequities by hosting pop-up COVID-19 vaccination sites in predominantly Black and Latino communities, holding Suffolk County police accountable for consent-only searches that disproportionately target Black motorists, and demanding Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Long Beach officials resolve their dispute to build bulkheads in North Park to guard against flooding. Edwards has also focused on improving voter turnout, civic engagement and educational outcomes for Long Island’s young people.
Steven A. Tsavaris has been integral to the success of Ponce Bank, joining the Bronx-based financial institution’s board over three decades ago and serving in a variety of roles, including CEO from 2011 to 2018 and now as executive chair. He has shared the fruits of his success as a philanthropist, serving on the board of the bank’s affiliated Ponce De Leon Foundation, among other groups serving the local community. The bank also provides services for a wide range of nonprofit organizations.
The former New York City Department of Veterans’ Services deputy commissioner and Marine Corps veteran joined City Year last year with a mission to reverse educational inequities and train the next generation of educational leaders. Quamid Francis, who oversees over 200 AmeriCorps volunteers in 17 city schools, helped secure a three-year $2.5 million commitment from Santander to support City Year’s tutoring, coaching and after-school activities.
For a quarter century, Thelma Dye has dedicated her career to improving children’s health and well-being at Northside Center for Child Development and served as the go-to expert on the lasting effects of societal segregation and the mental health issues underpinning top athletes. Under Dye’s leadership, Northside received a Project Hope grant to provide health and wellness services during the COVID-19 pandemic, and in partnership with CVS Health, expanded the reach of Northside’s mental health clinics in Harlem and the Bronx.
Documented has emerged as a key source of information about issues impacting the immigrant community in New York. The nonprofit news site has been documenting the current situation with regard to asylum-seekers in the state. The site has also created a wage theft monitoring page and conducted in-depth research on the Chinese and Caribbean communities, including issues impacting these communities and local insights. Co-Executive Directors Mazin Sidahmed and Max Siegelbaum preside over the site, which has been praised by nonprofit media leaders.
Correction - A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the size of the Henry Street Settlement's budget.
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