Below is a speech that Jonathan delivered during the ribbon-cutting ceremony of the Cohen Family Wellness Center You can listen t >>
Adam Schwartz is a Senior Managing Director at First Manhattan Company. He joined the firm in 2001 as a research analyst and in 2006 began managing client accounts. With over 15 years of investment experience, Adam is leading an effort to build First Manhattan’s research and money management capabilities in China and travels frequently to the mainland and Hong Kong. Prior to joining First Manhattan, he spent two years working in London for a telecommunications firm. Adam began his career at Morgan Stanley as an investment-banking analyst. And holds an MBA from Columbia Business School and a BA in Economics and International Relations from Brown University. He currently resides on the Upper West Side of Manhattan with his wife, two sons, and daughter.
Richard Jay joined the board of The Child Center in 1998 and became president in 2008. He is the Chairman and principal of Port City Air in Portsmouth, N.H. He is the former president and chairman of Display Technologies LLC (located in College Point, Queens), which he sold to IMI plc (a global engineering group). Prior to this, Dick served as a senior marketing executive for many major companies. He received his bachelor’s from Cornell University and his MBA in Marketing and Finance from the University of Chicago. He lives in Manhattan and Connecticut with his wife and is a proud father of two daughters and grandfather of four.
Samuel Freed is a retired attorney with the law firm of Farrell Fritz who focuses on business law and commercial and residential real estate transactions. He formerly ran his own practice for 40 years. He and his wife live in Bronxville and are the parents of four children and grandparents of six. Sam has been a board member since 1988 and currently serves as executive vice president of the board.
Cynthia Mann Haiken is a reference and readers advisory librarian in Connecticut. Each of her maternal grandparents, mother, and aunt taught in the NYC public school, and she credits them for her a strong belief in education and youth support and development. Cynthia received a BA in history from Yale University in 1987 and a JD from Harvard Law School in 1990. Cynthia received her MLIS degree from Rutgers University in 2016. Prior to becoming a librarian, she practiced tax law in New York City for 27 years. She and her husband Matthew have two daughters.
Garrett D’Alessandro is CEO of City National Rochdale, which currently manages more than $54.2 billion in assets and is a wholly owned subsidiary of City National Bank. With $95.3 billion in assets, City National Bank provides banking, investment, and trust services through 67 branches, including 22 full-service regional centers in Southern California, the San Francisco Bay Area, Nevada, New York City, Nashville, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., and Miami. Prior to joining Rochdale in 1986, Garrett was a certified public accountant at KPMG Peat Marwick. He received his MBA from the Stern School of Business at New York University. He holds a Chartered Financial Analyst designation and is a member of the New York Society of Security Analysts and the CFA Institute.
Kristen J. Lonergan is a shareholder in the Real Estate Practice of Greenberg Traurig’s New York office. She provides counsel to REITs, investment funds, developers, lenders and other clients on the acquisition, development, financing and disposition of multi-family, office, hotel and other types of properties throughout New York and the rest of the country.
Kristen was recently recognized as one of Crain’s New York “Notable Women in Law.” In addition, she has been recognized in The Legal 500 United States, Super Lawyers magazine, and Chambers USA among others. She is a member of several industry organizations including the Real Estate Board of New York, Association of Real Estate Women, and the Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) Network. Kristen received her J.D. from New York University School of Law and her A.B. from Brown University. Kristen lives in Forest Hills with her husband and two children and spends time volunteering at their school, P.S. 101.
Julie Amadeo is a native New Yorker who was raised in Forest Hills, Queens, where she spent her formative years learning Spanish from her Cuban grandparents after school.
A mid-level associate at Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz PC, Julie specializes in trademark clearance, prosecution, and enforcement. Prior to Frankfurt Kurnit, she was associated with Steptoe & Johnson LLP and Hughes, Hubbard and Reed LLP, where she specialized in complex commercial litigation and international arbitration. She graduated from New York University School of Law in 2016 and holds an M.A. and B.A. in English from St. John’s University. She also sings with the NYC Bar Chorus.
Volunteering and community outreach have always been a part of Julie’s life, from the time she was in high school and volunteered at the Forest Hills Branch of Queens Library to her current pro bono work and mentorship of future lawyers and college students. She is grateful for the opportunity to contribute her professional skills, deep understanding of the issues facing New York families, and unique experience to the Board of Directors in furtherance of The Child Center’s mission.
Kris Amato is an SVP and Senior Relationship Manager to the New York Mid-Market Commercial Banking Team at City National Bank, an RBC Company. She is a relationship-driven commercial lending specialist with more than 25 years of experience. Her deep understanding of business ownership and efficiency processes makes Kris a trusted advisor to business owners and top-level executives seeking holistic financial guidance. Kris’s knowledge of treasury management, FX, and trade and supply chain lending options enables her to design solutions that empower businesses to thrive and succeed in a dynamic market. She combines her financial expertise and passion for helping others as a board member of The Child Center of NY.
Kris is inspired by her young daughter and son and her supportive husband. She is actively involved in her children’s school events and coaching youth athletics.
Paul Avvento is the Chief Financial Officer of Gabrielli Truck Sales and has held this position since 1990. Previously, he worked as a vice president for lending for several banks for eight years and he worked for seven years as a senior credit analyst for Dun and Bradstreet. He earned his associate degree in business from Kingsborough Community College. Paul is married and has two children.
Benjamin Bahr is an investment analyst at First Eagle Investment Management. Previously, he was a member of the investment team for Alliance Bernstein’s value funds and an investment banker at Deutsche Bank. He earned a BBA in Finance from the University of Notre Dame and an MBA from Columbia University. Benj lives in Manhattan with his wife Anne, two sons, and their dog. He is a founding member of the Junior Outreach Committee (now Associate Board) of The Child Center of NY and with his wife Anne, created and organized dodgeball benefits which attracted teams from firms throughout Manhattan.
Katie Brennan, a New York City native, graduated from Dartmouth College and went on to work in publishing and then serve as a volunteer tutor in an afterschool program for disadvantaged children. Her experience as a tutor inspired her to pursue a master’s degree in Education at Boston University. Katie worked as a classroom teacher and admissions associate for three years before leaving the workforce to start a family with her husband.
Dr. Barbara Deli grew up in Pittsburgh and moved to NYC after medical school. In medical school, she was involved in health outreach in the struggling neighborhoods of West Philadelphia and then did her residency in New York at Beth Israel. Now Barbara works at Mount Sinai St Luke’s and West Hospitals, mainly with the under-served, Medicaid (and uninsured) population that visits the hospital and its clinics. In the clinics, she works most closely with high-risk obstetrics patients and patients desiring contraception. She has two young children with her husband.
Rosie Gonzalez is currently Vice President for New York Community Bancorp/Commercial Lending Dept., where she specializes in community outreach and marketing. She has served in several capacities within the Bancorp’s subsidiaries for the past 29 years, starting as a teller at the Queens County Savings Bank. Throughout her career, Rosie has developed strong ties to the community at the grass roots level and was instrumental in establishing long-term relationships with the borough’s colleges, offering the bank’s various products to students and faculty. Rosie is a member of both the Queens and Hispanic Chambers of Commerce and APEC “Ally Pond Environmental Center,” she spends much of her time giving back to the community by volunteering with many charitable organizations. She resides in Queens.
Allison Charles Greene was born in Trinidad and immigrated to the United States with her family at the age of 9. She grew up in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, and attended public schools in the area.
Having begun her career in banking while attending college, Allison has more than 30 years of finance experience and now serves as a cash management senior sales officer-vice president of Flushing Bank. She is also a founding member of My Sister’s Keepers, a mentoring group for young girls, in Brownsville, Brooklyn. As a Child Center board member, she brings a wealth of finance experience and community service passion. She enjoys being an advocate for the people The Child Center serves while helping to identify new opportunities to leverage The Child Center in additional communities.
Allison holds an MBA from Mercy College and is the mother of two young adult sons.
Anne Marie Macari, a poet and essayist, is the author of five books, including Heaven Beneath (Persea, 2020) and Red Deer (Persea, 2015). Her first book, Ivory Cradle, won the prestigious American Poetry Review Honickman First Book Prize in 2000. Her work has been featured in numerous magazines and has been widely anthologized.
A teacher of writing at the graduate level, Anne Marie founded the Drew University MFA Program in Poetry & Poetry in Translation. She has read her work all over the country, as well as in England, Austria, and the Czech Republic, where she taught at the Prague Summer Seminar several times. A book of her selected poems translated into Bengali was published in 2019.
Anne Marie serves as president of the board of Alice James Books, a small, thriving press started in 1973 as a cooperative press dedicated to publishing women and other marginalized poets.
Kara Manners is a Queens resident, raised in Forest Hills and currently living in Rego Park. Kara went to Forest Hills High School, followed by Hunter College for undergrad, and graduated from LIU with a Master’s in Urban Education. She has been in banking for about 15 years. Kara began her career at Astoria Federal Savings and came full circle when she left TD Bank in 2013 to rejoin Astoria under the leadership of James Griffin, which was later acquired by Sterling National Bank. Kara currently sits on the Board of NHS of Northern Queens and volunteers at various organizations including BUILD NYC and Junior Achievement. Kara has been in her current role as Regional CRA Officer since June of 2018.
Jennifer Milacci is a Managing Director and Head of Client Service at Renaissance Institutional Management. She joined Renaissance in August 2005, and prior, worked at Banc of America Securities, Morgan Stanley Investment Management, and Putnam Investments in Boston. Jen received her BS from Carnegie Mellon University and her MBA from NYU Stern School of Business. She is a CFA Charterholder, Board member of The Child Center of NY since 2007, a member of the CFA Institute, New York Society of Security Analysts (NYSSA), and Financial Women’s Association of New York, and a Sustaining Angel of 100 Women in Finance. Jen resides in Manhattan with her husband and two children.
Barbara Mulvee is a seasoned financial services executive, strategic advisor, and angel investor. Most recently, she served as a Managing Director and Global COO of Securities Research at Credit Suisse. During her 12 years at the bank, she held multiple roles, primarily leading business strategy for the Global Markets division. Prior to joining Credit Suisse, she spent five years at Deloitte Consulting. In 2020, Barbara was appointed as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum, where she is currently serving a five-year term. Barbara holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Maryland and has been a member of the Child Center of NY Board since 2018. She resides in New York City with her husband, Conner.
Joanne Persad hails from Trinidad, where she spent afternoons and weekends assisting in the family grocery store. She experienced firsthand the level of commitment and hard work it takes for a business owner to be successful. Today she serves as the Chief of Operations at the Queens Chamber of Commerce, where her focus is ensuring that the Chamber provides every resource available to small business owners in the borough, so they can work toward and enjoy the success her family did. Prior to joining the Queens Chamber of Commerce, Joanne served in project management, government affairs, and public relations at the corporate office of Waste Management, the leading national waste management solutions company.
Joanne immigrated to the United States at the age of 27 so that her children would have every opportunity to reach their full potential. She brings this commitment to children to her work on the Board of Directors at The Child Center, and she lends a valuable perspective to conversations, as she can look at issues analytically, but also through the lens of someone on the receiving end of policies and changes.
Maalika Rastogi is currently a Director and Senior Group Manager at Citigroup, in a Global Program Management Office responsible for overseeing a $250mm portfolio of regulatory commitments. Prior to that she served as a Senior Vice President in Franchise Risk & Strategy – Plan Implementation, also at Citigroup. Her previous experience includes internal strategy roles with UBS and Pfizer, as well as management consulting with Booz & Company and Katzenbach Partners. Maalika earned both a bachelor’s degree in Economics and an MBA from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. She is fluent in Hindi, and conversant in Spanish and French. Ms. Rastogi was raised in Forest Hills, Queens and now resides in Manhattan. She has been involved with The Child Center of NY since 2001, having served as the Chairperson of the Asian Outreach Committee from 2009 to 2017, and as an advisor and mentor to the Child Center’s Associate Board since 2017.
Craig Ratigan has more than 17 years of experience in commercial banking and currently serves as Vice President/Senior Relationship Manager at TD Bank. He was previously a Vice President/Relationship Manager at Investors Bank. Craig earned his bachelor’s degree from St. John’s University in 2007 and received his MBA in 2014. He lives in Wantagh, NY, with his wife.
Ilene Siscovick is a professional services business leader and Partner Emeritus at Mercer, a business of Marsh & McLennan, with extensive experience in the design and implementation of innovative workforce programs. She spent more than 20 years in Seattle leading business development and operations for the Pacific Northwest talent business. In 2014 she relocated to New York, where she developed a marque talent solution, Career Frameworks, and led a global team of consultants.
Ilene was inspired to join the Child Center Board by the work of her late mother, Beatrice Jacobs Callan, a New York City schoolteacher. Ms. Callan developed a groundbreaking work-study program for immigrant children that was recognized and mainstreamed by the NYC Board of Education.
Ilene is married to Dr. David Siscovick, Professor Emeritus, University of Washington School of Medicine and School of Public Health, Senior Research Scientist at the New York Academy of Medicine, and an expert on the determinants of health equity. They have three children and 11 grandchildren, all living in the NY Metro area. The Siscovicks reside in New York City and have an apartment in Jerusalem. Ilene holds a B.A. degree from Goucher College and an MBA from the University of Washington.
Kylie Springs, a double alumna of St. John’s University, is a first-year real estate associate with Farrell Fritz, P.C. in the firm’s Uniondale, New York, office. In this role, Kylie works with landlords, tenants, buyers, and sellers of commercial, retail, and industrial properties, and with investors and stakeholders in both simple and complex property transactions, such as development transactions, leasing transactions, purchase and sale transactions, and financings on both lender and borrower sides.
Throughout Kylie’s college and law school experience, she maintained a focus on raising awareness and creating dialogue on social issues and on giving back. During law school, she served on the Journal of Civil Rights and Economic Development (JCRED) as a staff member and associate managing editor. During her years at St. John’s, she also volunteered at the Briarwood Family Residence, a temporary housing shelter. Working with children there gave her a firsthand look at how even the smallest of efforts can turn a child’s life around. As a Child Center board member, she is honored to contribute to efforts that help change the trajectory for thousands of young people every year.
In addition to her work as an attorney, Kylie also teaches indoor cycling part-time and is the head instructor at Cyclebar. Her passions include health and fitness and traveling.
Gelvina Rodriguez Stevenson is the General Counsel, Corporate Secretary, and Vice President of Government Relations at the Wistar Institute, a national cancer center. Previously, Gelvina was an Associate General Counsel at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), where she advised the hospital on the legal aspects of medical research and scientific innovation. Gelvina also provides legal support to health care providers in a number of areas including privacy, HIPAA, billing, controlled substances, and obtaining valid informed consent from minors. Prior to working at CHOP, Gelvina was an Associate University Counsel at Weill Cornell Medical College, a Legislative Attorney for the New York City Council, an associate at Chadbourne & Parke LLP, and a law clerk to The Honorable Audrey B. Collins, U.S. District Court, Central District of California. Gelvina also currently works as an Adjunct Professor at the Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia, where she teaches a course on pharmaceutical law.
Gelvina holds a J.D. from New York University School of Law and a master’s degree from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University. She has served as the Vice President of the Law Alumni of Color Association of NYU Law, Co-chair of the HNBA Health and Life Sciences Committee, NY Regional President of the Hispanic National Bar Association ,and a Board Member of the American Health Law Association. Gelvina presents regularly at national conferences on various health law and health equity matters and is deeply committed to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion within the legal professions generally and the health law bar in particular.
Gelvina was raised in the Bronx and recently relocated to Philadelphia. She is the mom to 11-year-old twins.
Kairus Tarapore is a retired business executive whose corporate career spans more than three decades. He has spent the last 15 years as a Chief Human Resources Officer at three multi-industry companies focused on technology, manufacturing, defense, and service/finance—most recently Xylem, a leading global water technology company developing innovative technology solutions to the world’s water and critical infrastructure challenges.
Mr. Tarapore earned a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting/business from Sydenham College at the University of Bombay in India, a master’s degree in personnel management and industrial relations from the XLRI School of Business and Human Resources in Jamshedpur, India, and attended the University of Michigan, Anne Arbor, where he completed its Advanced HR Executive Program.
He currently travels between New York City and Minnesota with his wife, Ziya.
Sunila Tejpaul is the Founder and the Head of the Forest Hills Montessori School, whose mission is to provide both creative and stimulating intellectual, artistic and developmental experiences for children ages 3 – 12.
Dr. Claire Wang is a physician epidemiologist with a career that spans academia, federal and state governments, and the nonprofit sector. She currently serves as the Associate Deputy Director in the State of Delaware’s Department of Health and Social Services, Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health. She oversees the agency’s data, evaluation, and informatics portfolio.
Dr. Wang has more than 20 years of research and practical expertise in decision sciences, chronic disease prevention, and public health policy. Before moving to Delaware in 2020, she was Vice President for Research, Evaluation and Policy at the New York Academy of Medicine. She also has been a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Fellow, serving in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services during the Obama administration. Dr. Wang has published more than 85 peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters, and reports and was selected by the National Academy of Medicine as an Emerging Leader in Health and Medicine. Dr. Wang obtained her medical degree from National Taiwan University, as well as a doctorate in Health Policy from Harvard Chan School of Public Health. She and her husband live in Wilmington, Delaware.
Darrell “DJ” Williams has served as Chief Business Development Officer of Boxed since May 2021. He joined Boxed in October 2014 as one of its initial hires. Prior to becoming the Chief Business Development Officer, he was Executive Vice President of Software and Services and the company’s B2B customer base; Executive Vice President of Strategic Partnerships and Customer Service; and Vice President of Strategic Partnerships and Marketing. Since joining the team, DJ has worked across a range of strategy and business operations functions including strategic partnerships, B2B, customer service, marketing, and software and services. Before joining Boxed, DJ worked at American Express managing the global Costco relationship.
DJ graduated from Brown University, earning a B.S. in political science with a focus on economics.
Originally from Miami, Anna graduated from the University of Florida with bachelor’s degrees in journalism and history and a minor in business administration. She is currently the VP of Editorial Operations at Distractify. Before moving to NYC to pursue an editorial career, Anna worked at a top law firm in South Florida in the marketing department, coordinating fundraisers for district judges and political candidates and spearheading the firm’s scholarship program. Anna has been involved with The Child Center of NY since 2016 and is currently serving as the associate board’s chair.
Jennifer Cabana is a bicultural journalist born in the U.S. to Colombian immigrant parents. After graduating from high school in Lowell, Massachusetts, she emigrated to Barranquilla, Colombia, where she studied mass communications and journalism and immersed herself in learning Spanish, as well as the culture of her ancestors.
After receiving her title from Universidad del Norte, she began working as a journalist for El Heraldo, the region’s most-read newspaper, and also worked as press manager and communications coordinator for renowned cultural events, such as Carnival of Barranquilla, Barranquijazz (International Jazz Festival) and Cine a la Calle (International Shorts Festival). In May 2022, a year after returning to the U.S., Jennifer joined the team at NY1 Noticias as a multimedia journalist—and occasional anchor—serving the Latin American and Spanish-speaking communities of New York City through character-driven stories and general news.
Jennifer believes it is important to be a part of the Associate Board of The Child Center of NY because she believes that children need allies, schools need allies, and it is necessary to address issues that so deeply affect the American society at the root. She wishes to advocate against bullying and to create movements and campaigns of mental health and self-love, hoping to impact kids and offer them the tools necessary to build adult lives they are proud of.
In addition to having a deep interest in story-telling, Jennifer is also passionate about dance, especially Colombian cumbia, folkloric genres, and salsa.
Since his adolescent years, Stanley has always maintained a compassion for helping others. Growing up in Queens and being a first-generation American and college student, he often heard stories about the struggles and difficulties his families faced. From an early age, he began to view common essentials like housing, food, water, and basic freedom as blessings rather than givens.
As Stanley embarked on several leadership conferences that surveyed the culture and situational outlook of cities such as Washington, D.C., Boston, Berlin, Prague, and Vienna, he witnessed firsthand encounters affecting access to basic resources and necessities. This experience fueled his drive to make an impact both locally and globally. He decided he wanted to have a direct impact on underprivileged children and communities, and he has supported numerous local, national, and global nonprofits over the years. Fortunately, he happened upon The Child Center of NY. Finding that The Child Center does more than meets the eye, he was intrigued by our mission and our ability to engage with more than 55,000 children and families facing significant challenges, such as immigration, accessibility of services, and trauma. After listening in on our virtual benefit, he was profoundly moved by how direct of an impact this organization was able to have on families, as well as its forward-looking trajectory and endeavors
Though Stanley attends medical school in Maine, he knew he wanted to maintain ties with The Child Center in efforts to remain loyal to the New York City community and an organization that continuously assesses what it can do for others. As an associate board member, he is thrilled to offer perspective and guide input from other contributing members. Ultimately, he sees serving others as not just a passion, but his purpose in life, and he believes The Child Center is the organization that best aligns with his values and aspirations.
Idara Otu is founder and board chair of the nonprofit Let Girls Read, Run, Grow (LGRRG), driving its vision and programmatic objectives. LGRRG works to support the development and unlock the potential of African girls through education, athletics, and entrepreneurship. An All-American at Stanford University, Idara draws upon her student-athlete experience as a focal point to many of her later life successes. A 2012 Olympian for the Track & Field Team of Nigeria—the country of her heritage—Idara considers it her duty to uplift girls who lack the access her own upbringing afforded her.
Highlighting her entrepreneurial pursuits, Idara is also the founder and president of the premium vegan hot cocoa brand Nōk Choc. A portion of all Nōk Choc sales support girls’ education in Nigeria.
By providing these girls—the next generation—with resources necessary for success through programming in education, sport, and entrepreneurship, Idara hopes to help produce the world’s next group of leaders. She is bringing that same spirit and commitment to her role as associate board member of The Child Center of NY, working with passion and innovation to unlock the potential of New York children and families who live in under-resourced neighborhoods where families face dramatic obstacles, compounded and brought on by the living legacy of racial injustice. She is dedicated to ensuring they have the resources to achieve their vision of success and sustain lives they are proud of.
Idara holds Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees from Stanford University. Idara currently works at Credit Suisse as an Executive Director in Securities Research. She resides in New York City.
Alexandra Schmidt is a multifaceted procurement professional, ambitious freelancer, and tea connoisseur. Originally from Binghamton, New York, she has the privilege to live and work across three continents. Alexandra holds a dual bachelor’s degree in supply chain and strategic management from Syracuse University, as well as an MBA from West Texas A&M University.
Determined to forge an untraditional path, Alexandra accepted her first professional endeavor as a program and project advisor for a local global health organization in Uganda. This experience deepened her passion for learning about other cultures, working directly with those she was serving, and of course traveling. After more than two years in Africa, she returned to New York, where she put her degrees to work as a procurement agent. Her experience has included roles in various industries, including health care, education, consumer goods, beauty, and, most recently, a multinational chemicals company. Driven by curiosity, in her spare time she works as a freelancer with an events application programming interface (API) company.
For nearly a decade, Alexandra has demonstrated an enthusiasm for serving others from all walks of life. Despite her focus on international service, coming full circle and offering a hand up to those in her own community has always been one of her core values. After her experience with underprivileged populations, poor education, and inadequate health systems specifically in developing countries, she has made a commitment to serving others of all ages and needs. She strongly believes that where large-scale services can offer a strong foundation, there is no substitute for the support and customized approach a one-on-one relationship can offer. The work of The Child Center of NY embodies everything she believes in, and she is keen on supporting the Child Center mission as a member of the Associate Board.
In her free time, Alexandra loves drinking tea, traveling, painting, cake decorating, and listening to podcasts about entrepreneurship.
Georgiana Reese Benatti
Russell L. Carson
Trudy Elbaum Gottesman
Shashi Patel, M.D.