Watch this video to learn more about the Center
Affordable homeownership is about equality.
We’re in this together.
Neighborhoods are the heart of New York.
Working collaboratively is working strategically.
Christie was named Executive Director of the Center in February 2012. Under her leadership, the Center has become a leading local and national voice for affordable homeownership, while greatly expanding its portfolio of services for homeowners. Christie has been instrumental in organizing foreclosure prevention services statewide with the New York Attorney General’s Office, raising millions of dollars for homeowners recovering from Hurricane Sandy, and launching a $7.5 million resiliency program for coastal communities. Christie also oversaw the expansion of the New York State Mortgage Assistance Program with an $80 million loan fund and the establishment of one of the nation’s largest annual affordable homeownership conferences. Before joining the Center, she worked in affordable housing preservation for the New York State Housing Finance Agency, and for affordable housing developers in Washington Heights and Bushwick. She also spent several years in healthcare advocacy for Gay Men’s Health Crisis, the Medicare Rights Center and the Women’s Prison Association. Christie has a B.A. from Harvard College and a Master’s of Social Work in Community Organizing and Planning from Hunter College.
Natasha joined the Center in October of 2014 and manages the internal operations teams including Fiscal, Human Resources & Administration, IT and Facilities. Natasha has an extensive background in structured finance, capital markets and economic development, having worked in non-recourse commercial lending and institutional bond sales at Deutsche Bank, and corporate finance at Prudential. She also managed a $1.5 billion portfolio of major development projects at Empire State Development. Prior to joining the Center, Natasha was the Chief Financial Officer at Harlem RBI. Natasha holds a B.S. in Business Administration from Washington University in St. Louis, and an M.B.A. from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
Howard has over 35 years of senior management of lending and investment experience for CDFIs, community development corporations and mortgage banks. He has provided consulting services to Ford Foundation; the US Department of Energy, Energy Programs Consortium and Enterprise Community Partners among others. He has been based in New York City, Oakland, Philadelphia and Washington DC. Mr. Banker has served on the boards of several nonprofits including credit unions, financial intermediaries and locally based and national advocacy organizations. He is currently the Treasurer of Grand Concourse Academy Charter School in the Bronx New York. He has a B.S from Fordham University in Medieval Studies and an M.S. from Pratt Institute in Urban and Regional Planning. He has been licensed as a mortgage banker, secondary market and mortgage broker.
Lisa joined the Center in May 2015 from Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, where she practiced law for over 15 years in the commercial real estate area focusing on complex transactions involving financing, joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions and leasing. Prior to entering the law, Lisa was an environmental engineer working for Tenneco Gas in Texas and Louisiana. Lisa has a B.S. in Civil Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines and a JD-MBA from Harvard Law School and Harvard Business School.
Lucy joined the Center in December 2009 and oversees supportive programs for homeownership services through a network of non-profit service providers. Lucy began working at the Center after developing affordable housing projects in Scotland. She previously worked in City government, at both the Department of Housing Preservation and Development and the Department of Homeless Services, as well as a consultant at K. Backus & Associates. Lucy has a B.A. from Brown University and a Master of Urban Planning from NYU’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.
Jessica came to the Center with more than 20 years of experience in fundraising, management, and external relations, and leads the fundraising, communication, and policy departments. She has secured millions of dollars in new and increased funding for effective organizations in social justice, housing, poverty, and the environment, including at Barnard College, Theatre Development Fund, the National Audubon Society, Girls Write Now, and The Opportunity Agenda. Jessica serves as a founding board member for the Octavia Project; Young, Black, & Giving Back; and POYS (Proud Out Youth Scholarships). She is also on the Advisory Board of EarthShare New York.
Lusheena joined the Center in 2018 as Chief of Staff. In this role, she works closely with the CEO/Executive Director and Executive Team to execute priority initiatives and policies across the organization. She is also a champion of equity in the workplace and deeply committed to nurturing a people-centric culture where staff can thrive. Previously, she was the inaugural Managing Director at Dancewave, where she was charged with creating infrastructure to support the growth of an emerging arts organization. Lusheena also served as the Deputy Chief of Staff at the New York City Economic Development Corporation where she engaged local communities in economic development projects, such as the creation of a memorial for a former African Burial Ground in East Harlem, construction of the East River Waterfront Esplanade in Lower Manhattan, and a plan to revitalize the City's public markets. Prior to joining NYCEDC, Lusheena worked at Hunter College as the Director of External Affairs. Lusheena holds a B.A. from Hunter College and a M.S. from the Baruch College School of Public Affairs.
Joseph joined the Center in 2013 and currently serves as General Counsel and Vice President. He previously oversaw homeowner services, where he helped mobilize coastal resiliency programs that provide services to thousands of NYC homeowners, manages rapid state-wide services provided by the Homeowner Hub, and oversees the Center's HUD-certified Housing Mobility Program. Joseph came to the Center after working as a Senior Attorney at Legal Services NYC, where he brought affirmative impact litigation to combat predatory mortgage lending and enforce consumer protections for low- and moderate-income homeowners. Joseph earned his B.A. at the University of Washington and his J.D. at Georgetown University.
Cristian joined the Center in April 2016 and oversees all communications, including media relations and public awareness campaigns. He previously spent over a decade in daily journalism. He worked as a crime reporter in Paterson, N.J., as a news editor for amNewYork and as a general assignment reporter for The Associated Press in New York City. His stories have appeared in The Washington Post, The Daily Beast and several other outlets. He has an M.S. from Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism and a B.A. in Political Science from Metropolitan State University of Colorado.
Zar joined the Center in 2018 as the Deputy Director of Lending for the New York State Mortgage Assistance program. Prior to joining the Center, Zar was a project manager and senior consultant with The Oakleaf Group and Treliant Risk Advisors focusing on loan review projects for compliance, due diligence, and litigation. Over the last 15 years, Zar has held various positions with regional banks and mortgage lending institutions. Zar earned her B.S. in Finance and Management Information Sciences at the University of Maryland, College Park.
Braden joined the Center in October 2012 and is the Deputy Director of the Network Programs team, which manages programs through the Center’s network of housing and legal service providers, including foreclosure prevention, the Senior Initiative, and homeowner outreach. Previously, Braden worked for a non-profit organization in Chicago where he led campaigns to establish court-sponsored mediation in foreclosure cases and a vacant property ordinance to address abandoned foreclosed buildings. Braden holds a Master’s Degree in Public Policy and Administration from Northwestern University.
Since joining the Center as a call center representative in 2014, Nicole has grown into her role of Deputy Director of the Center’s Homeowner Hub. As Deputy of the Hub, she leads the team that provides rapid services and support to homeowners statewide. Crucial to the delivery of the Center’s programs, the Hub handles disaster recovery, coastal resiliency, mortgage assistance, foreclosure prevention, and more. Nicole came to the Hub after serving two years with AmeriCorps for the Champlain Housing Trust, the largest community land trust in the United States. While working in CHT’s Shared Equity Program, she developed her passion for affordable housing and innovative models of program delivery. Nicole earned her B.A. in Global Studies Business/Economics from Providence College and Project Management 360 Certificate from Cornell.
Karen joined the Center in March 2020 as the Deputy Director of Human Resources. She has extensive experience working in Human Resources at several nonprofits. At Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Miami, Karen worked with homeless women and children in their transitional housing program. She most recently served as the HR Manager at the Upright Citizens Brigade.
Karen earned her B.A. from Baruch College and her M.S. in HR Management from Nova Southeastern University. She is an active member of the Society for HR Management (SHRM) and other HR-related groups.
Julian St. Patrick Clayton
Joining the Center in 2020, Julian has over a decade of experience with policy analysis, design, research, and advocacy across multiple sectors and policy disciplines. In his work, he spearheaded engagement with elected officials, nonprofits, and community stakeholders around policy campaigns, legislative action, and social service program implementation.
Prior to his time with the Center, he held positions at JPMorgan Chase, NYS Senate, NYS Assembly and the New York City Council. Along the way, he earned international recognition as a recipient of the Robert Bosch Foundation, New Urban Progress and Atlantik Initiative fellowships. Julian holds a BA and an MS in Urban and Regional Planning from Florida State University.
- Christie Peale
- Lusheena Warner
- Karen Anglade
- Sarah Brown
- Acacia Edmondson
- Natasha Pallan
- Maya Sambolah
- Caitlin Valley
- Patricia Vera
- Yunerys Liriano
- Miranda Springer
- Viviana Chan
- Rabyaah Althaibani
- Jessica Castro
- Collin Clarke
- Jovan Ellis
- Salima Etoka
- Dakarai Griffin
- Sophie Haas
- Joanie Imlay
- Eddie Lau
- Jennifer Leisure
- Sara Melomedov
- Marc Morales
- William Norten
- Lauribel Pantaleon
- Randy Reed
- Alexandra Rickert
- Aaron Sturm
- Rosibel Tavares
- Rudy Ulin
- Clair Weatherby
- Sydney Wells
- Kevin Wolfe
- Nicole Zajdman
- Anna Messer
- Christopher Zimmerman
- Genesis Sanchez
- Matthias Howley
- Lisa Lofdahl
- Joseph Sant
- Janel Alfred
- Thomas Baker
- Howard Banker
- Carolyn Canahuate
- Hilman Guillory
- Heeyeon Jung
- Felix Okema
- Melissa Rosario-Tavarez
- Zar Tun
- Ellen Park
Policy and Communications
- John Baker
- Rachel Elmkies
- Caren Johnson
- Juan Carlos Patrón
- Ivy Perez
- Cristian Salazar
- Jessica Wells-Hasan
- Laura Cheung
- Julian St. Patrick Clayton
- Christopher Whitehead
- Chery Falcon
- Sophia Abbasi
The Center for NYC Neighborhoods’ Board of Directors represents a diverse range of the City’s government agencies, elected officials, non-profits, foundations, and corporations.
Louise Carroll is the Commissioner of the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), the nation's largest municipal housing agency. As Commissioner, Louise leads the charge to implement Mayor Bill de Blasio's five-borough, ten year Housing New York plan, which was accelerated and expanded through Housing New York 2.0 to create and preserve 300,000 affordable homes by 2026. She will also continue to strengthen the agency’s robust enforcement and anti-harassment efforts, working on multiple fronts to protect tenants and prevent displacement.
Eric Enderlin joined the New York City Housing Development Corporation (HDC) as its President in October 2016, following a formal nomination by Mayor Bill de Blasio. As President of HDC, Mr. Enderlin is tasked with leading the nation’s largest municipal Housing Finance Agency towards furthering the Administration’s goals under the Housing New York plan.
Mr. Grannum has served as President of the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation since March 2001. Restoration, the nation’s first community development corporation, was founded by community leaders and U.S. Senators Robert Kennedy and Jacob Javits in 1967 and partners with local residents and business to improve economic stability and quality of life in Central Brooklyn. Before embarking on his career in community development, Colvin practiced law for over 17 years in the public and private sectors. Mr. Grannum earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center.
Frederick S. Harris has been a leader in the real estate and housing finance industries for more than 30 years. He is the Managing Director of Mission Title Agency and a member of the board of the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy. Mr. Harris has served as: the Director of Real Estate for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the Executive Vice President of Real Estate Development at the New York City Housing Authority, and a Project Attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council. He received a JD and MS from New York University. He is the recipient of HUD’s John J. Gunther Award for Blue Ribbon Practices in Housing and Community Development, the Community Builder Award from Phipps Houses, and the Spirit of the City Award from the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.
Ms. Mahon is President/CEO of Inclusiv, which works to bridge the credit union movement to the community development field, promoting financial inclusion and identifying and connecting credit unions to unserved and untapped markets and communities. Previously, Ms. Mahon served as Deputy Commissioner for Financial Empowerment with the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs and as the Policy and Program Director for the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions
Mr. Marks is CEO of FJC – A Foundation of Philanthropic Funds, a boutique public charity that offers a diverse menu of philanthropic services to a range of stakeholders, including donor advised funds and fiscal sponsorships. Sam comes to FJC from his role as executive director of the New York City office of Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC NYC) which supports local champions to advance equitable development of historically underinvested neighborhoods. Before joining LISC NYC, he was Vice President at the Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation, and director of housing development at WHEDCo. Earlier in his career he founded Breakthrough New York, a youth development program.
Ms. Menschel is Chairman of Phipps Houses and previously served as its President and CEO. She is also a current trustee of its affiliate, Phipps Neighborhoods. Ms. Menschel was Deputy Mayor, and subsequently Executive Administrator, of New York City from 1978 to 1982. She served on the Board of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority from 1979 to 1990. From 1998 to 2004, she served as a director of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Ms. Menschel currently serves on several not-for-profit boards including Weill Cornell Medical College and the Museum of the City of New York.
Mr. Mintz is Founding President and Chief Executive Officer of the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund, a national non-profit organization that supports municipal efforts to help low-income families and individuals achieve long-term financial stability. He also founded and co-chaired the Cities for Financial Empowerment Coalition, which brings together pioneering municipal governments from across the country to advance innovative financial empowerment initiatives on the municipal, state, and national level. From 2006-2013, Mr. Mintz served as the Commissioner of the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs, having been appointed to the role by former New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.
Council Member Richards was elected to the 31st District to represent southeast Queens and the Rockaways in February 2013. In response to Superstorm Sandy, he sponsored legislation to track monies designated to rebuilding. Seeing Sandy as an opportunity for the city to adapt to a rapidly changing climate, he sought chairmanship of the Council’s Environmental Protection Committee. As Chairman, he introduced legislation to revamp the city’s decades old air code, addressed systemic flooding in Southeast Queens and created the City Council's first citywide Environmental Initiative. Currently, Richards is chair of the Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises, where he worked to negotiate a stronger Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program.
Gwen Robinson is the Director of Community Investment Data and Strategy at KeyBank. In this role she will serve as KeyBank’s Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) Officer and develops strategies to support Key’s companywide commitment to maintain its “Outstanding” CRA rating. Gwen has over 25 years of cross-sector community development experience. Before joining KeyBank, Gwen led a market research and strategic consulting practice for financial technology companies and impact investment funds. She has served as an executive in the New York State Department of Financial Services and as the CRA Officer for GE Capital Retail Bank, Goldman Sachs Bank, and Santander Bank. At Santander she led the turnaround of the bank’s community development programs and the creation of the bank’s $11 billion Inclusive Communities Plan
Prior to entering banking, Gwen was a program officer at the Annie E. Casey Foundation, where she managed a philanthropic portfolio supporting economic and financial inclusion. She began her career as a community organizer with the Industrial Areas Foundation, the nation's largest and longest-standing network of local faith and community-based organizations
Gwen holds a BA in political economy from Harvard College and a MS in economics from the Georgia Institute of Technology. She is currently enrolled in the business analytics program offered jointly by Harvard Business School and the Paulson School of Engineering at Harvard and serves on the New York Advisory Board for Enterprise Community Partners.
Merilyn Rovira returned to CDT in 2012 as a Senior Vice President responsible for Capital/Strategic Initiatives. She focuses primarily on developing new sources of long-term debt and equity capital and has led four capital raises that attracted more than $200 million in equity. She manages the company’s investor relations, government affairs, and impact evaluation and reporting activities. She had previously worked with CDT and its predecessor organization, the Local Initiatives Managed Assets Corporation (LIMAC) for 11 years. She was one of CDT’s founding officers and raised $32 million from 18 investors in its initial stock offering. With both LIMAC and CDT, she coordinated strategic planning efforts, initiated mortgage securitization programs, and marketed the firms’ loan purchase program to various affordable housing and community development lenders.
Merilyn has 35 years of experience in affordable housing development and finance. Between stints at CDT, she held various positions for Fannie Mae, where she headed the company’s multi-family and community development division in the mid-Atlantic region. She was the national account manager for two lenders and generated nearly $500 million annually in small multi-family loan purchases. As Fannie Mae’s senior deputy director for New Jersey, she implemented an $18 billion investment plan that involved single-family, 2-4 unit, multi-family, and community development loans and loan purchases. Earlier in her career, she spent three years as a mortgage officer for the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development, where she underwrote, closed, and managed loans totaling more than $100 million. Ms. Rovira has a BA in Economics, Magna Cum Laude the University of Colorado, Boulder and a Masters in City and Regional Planning from the University of California, Berkeley.
Gregory Schiefelbein joined Citi in March of 2013 and currently leads Citi Community Investing and Development in Citi’s global headquarters market as New York Tri-State Director. Greg is
also a member of the leadership team. In this role, Greg leads municipal and community
relationships across New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Puerto Rico, managing Community Reinvestment Act investments and stakeholder engagement to fulfill regulatory obligations and protect and promote the firm’s reputation with community leaders, advocates, policymakers, and bank regulators. He serves on several boards and committees in New York City, and speaks regularly on catalyzing social and economic progress. Greg works closely with internal Citi partners, and is currently co-chair of Citi’s NY/NJ/CT State Leadership Council.
Alexa joined Settlement Housing Fund as its President in January, 2014. She has 20 years of affordable housing and community development experience. Prior to joining SHF, Alexa served as the Senior Vice President of Corporate Strategy and External Affairs at The Community Preservation Corporation, an affordable housing lender. From 2006-2012, Ms. Sewell worked at the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) in various capacities, including as Assistant Commissioner of Federal Affairs, and most recently as Chief of Staff and Deputy Commissioner of Policy and External Affairs. Alexa served as Chief of Staff under three Commissioners and two Deputy Mayors. During Ms. Sewell’s tenure with HPD, the Agency designed and implemented Mayor Bloomberg’s ambitious New Housing Marketplace Plan, which created and preserved 165,000 units of affordable housing.
Hakim Thompson is an Executive Director at JPMorgan Chase & Co., in the consumer home lending division. In this role, Hakim is focused on transforming the customer’s end to end experience when getting a mortgage with Chase. Hakim is a part of an innovation team who provides the strategy, design & execution of new home lending products that Chase customers experience via both mobile app, chase.com, and in-branch. Prior to working at Chase, Hakim co-founded a mortgage startup focused on first time homebuyers, and before that, spent 9 years at Goldman Sachs, working as a Vice President covering institutional clients investing & trading mortgage products. Hakim graduated from Princeton University undergrad in 2006, and received his MBA from MIT Sloan in 2010. Though he originally hails from Washington, DC, Hakim currently resides in Montclair, New Jersey with his wife Lauren, German Shepherd Bello, and baby girl due July 2019.
Mr. Wambua joined The Richman Group of Companies as President of RHR Funding LLC in October of 2013. RHR Funding LLC is part of The Richman Group’s recently-established mortgage lending business, which includes RICHMAC Funding LLC. Mr. Wambua is charged with growing and expanding the firm’s mortgage lending platform both nationally and within the New York market. In March 2011, Mr. Wambua was appointed Commissioner of the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development. During his tenure, Mr. Wambua oversaw the financing of approximately 47,000 housing units, representing a $6 billion investment.
Mr. Weisbord is the Director of Credit and Housing Access at Fannie Mae. He is responsible for developing corporate-wide, strategic business initiatives to increase access to mortgage credit and affordable housing. He works with senior management, customers, regulators and a wide range of industry stakeholders to understand emerging market needs and to develop responses aligned with Fannie Mae’s historic mission, regulatory mandates and business objectives. Mr. Weisbord also led efforts to prevent foreclosures and reduce credit losses through partnerships with lenders, housing and credit counseling organizations, and government in distressed markets across the country. He joined Fannie Mae in 2005 to lead the company’s homelessness initiative, which invested in creation of over 7,800 units of supportive and affordable housing for homeless and at-risk individuals and families. Mr. Weisbord has over 30 years of experience in affordable housing finance, development and policy.
As Executive Director of LISC NYC, Valerie is responsible for advancing a platform of racial and economic equity by building on $3.1 billion in LISC NYC investments to spur affordable housing, economic development, health equity, and workforce development in underserved neighborhoods. In this role, Valerie leads the team in developing a vision, and advancing strategic policies and programs that foster equity and inclusion in disinvested communities. Before joining LISC NYC in April 2020, Valerie was Executive Vice President at Empire State Development (ESD), as well as Executive Director of the New York State Division of Minority and Women’s Business Development. Previously, she was Vice President at the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation and Managing Director at Standard & Poor’s Global Ratings (S&P). In addition to her extensive professional experience, Valerie also serves as an advisory board member for the Fordham Urban Law Center, director on the Fordham Law Alumni Association, and board member for BRIC Arts Media in Brooklyn. Valerie holds both a Bachelor’s degree in Communications and a J.D. from Fordham University, as well as a Master’s degree in Management and a Certificate in Organization Development from The New School.
Ken Zimmerman is a Distinguished Fellow at the NYU Furman Center, one of the nation’s preeminent research centers on housing, neighborhoods, and urban policy. At the NYU Furman Center, Zimmerman’s research examines new forms of social advocacy and policy development in the urban environment, with a special focus on evolving mechanisms for civic engagement and innovative approaches to address growing inequality. Zimmerman, a noted policy maker, fair housing expert, and civil rights attorney, has devoted his career to justice and equality issues. He previously served as the Director of U.S. Programs for the Open Society Foundations, where he oversaw the annual dissemination of over $100 million in grants to organizations focused on equality, fairness, and justice. Before joining Open Society Foundations, he served as part of the Obama Administration’s presidential transition team for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and served as senior advisor to HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan.
Our Escalations program works directly with housing counselors statewide to resolve complex cases for homeowners seeking to avoid foreclosure. We leverage our extensive relationships with staff at banks and mortgage servicers to escalate cases and get results. The Escalations program is a component of the Attorney General’s Homeowner Protection Program (HOPP).
Our Housing Mobility Program coordinates long-term, affordable solutions for New Yorkers leaving homes they can no longer afford. The program helps transitioning homeowners explore their housing and financial options and offers tailored plans that include referrals and resources to help identify alternative affordable housing and access financial empowerment services.
New York State Mortgage Assistance Program
Go to nysmap.org to learn more.
New Yorkers across the state applied for the New York State Mortgage Assistance Program. NYS-MAP provided a 0% interest mortgage loan up to $40,000 to eligible New York homeowners at risk of foreclosure. Homeowners must have experienced a financial hardship and demonstrated an ability to afford their housing payments after receiving assistance.
FloodHelpNY.org Home Resiliency Audit
Learn more at FloodHelpNY.org/homeowners
Homeowners who are eligible for a free Home Resiliency Audit have an engineer visit their house and meet one-on-one with a housing counselor to discuss their vulnerability to future flooding. The result is a report and elevation certificate that allows homeowners to determine their future flood insurance rates and what mitigation options might fit their needs.
Senior Homeowner Initiative
The Senior Homeowner Initiative is a coordinated effort led by Center for NYC Neighborhoods and seven community based legal services and housing counseling organizations dedicated to serving and educating elderly homeowners. With the New York City Council as a principal supporter, this initiative focuses on integrating cross-sector services by coordinating with government partners, elected officials, and mortgage lenders to collectively reach out to community-based organizations and older homeowners, advance policies protecting seniors and homeowners, and provide services to address foreclosure, estate, and financial issues.