Before taking the role as Executive Director in August 2013, Christopher Hanway oversaw Riis Settlement’s fund development and marketing strategy and implementation. He began his career at Riis Settlement as grants manager and has been development director since September 2010. He has more than 11 years of fundraising experience, most notably at New York Weill Cornell Medical Center/New York-Presbyterian Hospital. A graduate of Hunter College of CUNY, Mr. Hanway holds a Masters of Public Administration at Baruch College’s Executive MPA program.
Carol Nurse has nearly three decades experience in non-profit accounting, finance and fiscal management. After working for 10 years in the non-profit sector, Ms. Nurse joined Riis Settlement in 1993 to manage an organizational budget of $600,050. Today, with an organizational budget over $3 million, she provides leadership in accounting, financial reporting, budgeting, human resources and internal operations. Ms. Nurse holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Brooklyn College.
Human Resources Associate
Linda Ramirez joined Riis Settlement as Human Resources Associate in May 2013. She has worked in various capacities at numerous non-profit and human services organizations including Reading Area Community College in Pennsylvania, Justice Works Youthcare and the Council on Chemical Abuse. Linda also has a strong background in administration in the for-profit sector, including for such organizations as L’Oreal USA amd Peter E. Greenberg & Associates, where she assisted Latin American professional baseball players with their immigration applications. Fluent in Spanish, she studied Early Childhood Education at Long Island University.
Aimée Maude Simpierre
Director of Development and Communications
Aimée Maude Simpierre joined the fund development team in September of 2011. She completed non-profit management training with the Arts and Business Council, worked as a development officer for Manna House Workshops (East Harlem’s longest running cultural arts organization) and currently serves on its board. She holds a B.S. in urban affairs/political science from Barnard College and an M.S. from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. She spent nearly a decade working on the national news desk of The Associated Press before starting the independent, open-and-affirming Christian book publishing company, NuWine Press.
Development and Communications Associate
Amanda joined Riis Settlement as Development and Communications Associate in 2014. In that role, she collaborates closely with the Director of Development, Executive Director, and program staff on all areas of grant proposals, external communications and marketing. Prior to joining Riis Settlement, she worked at Koszyn and Co., a consulting firm for non-profit organizations. She has also served as a constituent services intern for former Queens Councilman Eric Gioia. Amanda is committed to doing work that has a positive impact on society and is proud to be a member of the Riis Settlement team. She holds a B.A. in ethnicity and race studies with concentrations in latino studies and comparative ethnic studies from Columbia University.
Jean Danielo Gabriel
IT Network Administrator
Jean Gabriel joined Riis Settlement as the Computer Network Administrator in May of 2010. He has a decade of experience working with network technology. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from ESIH University in Haiti and is a Microsoft Certified Engineer. He has a strong background and an extensive knowledge of the industry.
Senior Director of Youth Services
Troy Calhoun comes to Riis Settlement with over nineteen years of diverse experience in the non-profit field including experience developing programs for early childhood education, developing education programs that empower youth, working with at-risk teens in New York, and providing resources for adults in need. Prior to assuming the position at Riis Settlement, Mr. Calhoun served as Center Director of the YMCA of Greater New York in Greenpoint, Brooklyn and as Youth and Family Director at the YMCA of Norwalk, Connecticut. He also served as School Age Program Director at Union Settlement Association. Mr. Calhoun holds a Master of Science in Non-Profit Management from Walden University and a Bachelor of Science in Health Education from Southern Illinois University. Mr. Calhoun is committed to youth development and is dedicated to helping young people of all ages from all communities.
OST Elementary Program Coordinator, Queensbridge
Veronica Franklin started her career at Riis Settlement as a tutor in 1997, and has climbed the career ladder to a leadership role overseeing the elementary school program. She oversees our OST Elementary after-school, summer camp and holiday/weekend programs. Under her leadership, she has improved youth’s performance in reading and math, maintained high program retention rates and has helped create a true continuum of services so students can remain at Riis Academy from elementary through high school. Ms. Franklin was awarded the 2011 PASEsetters Award, NAACP Martin Luther King Jr. Service Award and the Bank of America Local Hero Award in 2007.
Riis Academy Program Director (P.S. 166)
Iftikhar Mahmud started as a participant at Riis Academy in the 6th grade. After graduating in 2001, he joined the Riis Settlement team as a Program Aide. Throughout the years, Iftikhar moved up through various leadership positions, including being an instrumental leader in holding down the 2013 summer program at our Ravenswood campus. Iftikhar is now directly responsible for for the oversight of our OST Elementary after-school and summer camp programs at P.S. 166. Iftikhar received his B.A. in Psychology from Queens College and hopes to pursue a Masters program next year.
Riis Academy Center Director (Ravenswood)
Lavern Maison served as program coordinator at various Riis Academy sites for over seven years. She is now responsible for the oversight of all youth, teen & community programs at Ravenswood. This includes oversight of our Cornerstone and YMI programs as well as the implementation of our Riis Academy core components such as gender-specific, STEM and College Access Programs. She has worked in the non-profit sector for nearly a decade and has experience in international relief and HIV/AIDS programming. Ms. Maison has a B.A. in economics and anthropology and an M.A. in international development.
Riis Academy Program Director (Information Technology High School)
Sheirly is responsible for the day- to- day operations of our Info-Tech high school program. She has a wide range of experience with over seven years working in non-profit and youth programs. After earning her Bachelors in Psychology from SUNY Old Westbury, Sheirly went on to receive her M.S. in Educational Counseling from Alfred University. She has worked with companies such as Harlem Children’s Zone and Goodwill Industries and is dedicated to providing guidance to at risk inner city youth. Prior to her role at Riis Settlement, Sheirly was the Director of a beacon community-based program where she was responsible for contract & budget management and oversaw all responsibilities of servicing a minimum of 150 participants.
Director of Immigrant Services
Driftnery Martinez spent several years working with immigrants from diverse cultures and backgrounds prior to taking on the role of Program Coordinator/Paralegal at Riis Settlement. She worked with the International Rescue Committee in New York, NY and Elizabeth, NJ providing direct services to refugees, asylees, parolees, and other eligible immigrants applying for immigration related benefits. Driftnery also traveled to Sierra Leone as a KidsGive intern and assisted refugees and internally displaced people by distributing school supplies and educational scholarships to children in Freetown and Mattru Jong, Sierra Leone. Ms. Martinez holds a B.A. in Government from Lawrence University.
Cooperative Developer/Community Advocate
Lucy Block joined Riis Settlement in 2015 as its first Cooperative Developer. She is working with Latino/a community members of Western Queens to develop an immigrant-run cleaning cooperative. While living in Southern California, Lucy co-founded an immigrant community-driven urban farm and garden. She is currently pursuing a Master’s in Urban Planning at Hunter College with a focus on community-based and participatory planning. She holds a B.A. in Environmental Analysis from Pomona College where she studied the social justice impacts of environmental problems.
Director of Senior Services
Robert Madison is responsible for the overall management of the senior center. Since joining the Riis Settlement team in February, 2011, he has established an innovative vision for the future of the center by introducing new projects, such as a community garden and a cultural program, Jazz At Riis, that brings live music concerts to the senior center. Before joining Riis Settlement, he served as senior manager for Harlem Children’s Zone and as the executive director for Project Reach Youth, Inc. He holds a Masters in Public Health from Hunter College.
Felicia Artis comes with to Jacob Riis with work experience from across a variety of human service fields and a broad client base. Ms. Artis will be working with seniors to provide resources that will help participants navigate through various life challenges with less difficulty. She will use her inherent compassion, empathy and prior experience working at a NORC senior center, to help Riis Settlement’s participants achieve their potential. She is looking forward to helping our older adults strengthen their social support systems, improve their quality of life and become stakeholders in their own communities. Felicia has a special interest in working with seniors as she feels they are the forgotten generation. She considers herself to be an encourager and likes to lift people up and help others to enhance their personal and professional development. Ms. Artis recently completed training at Out Reach Institute and received a Certificate to complete her requirement for certification in Substance Abuse Counseling. She holds a Masters Degree in Social Work from Hunter College and is a member of the National Association of Social Workers.
Robbin Davis has been with Riis Settlement for over 18 years, and has extensive experience providing support services to senior programs. Ms. Davis’ responsibilities include providing coordination and scheduling of program activities and critical clerical support. Ms. Davis previously worked as a school aide with the NYC Department of Education and as a clerical aide with the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development.