Before assuming the role of Executive Director in August 2013, Christopher Hanway oversaw Riis Settlement’s fund development and marketing strategy and implementation. He began his career at Riis as a grants manager and assumed the role of development director in 2010. He has more than 11 years of fundraising experience, most notably at New York Weill Cornell Medical Center/New York-Presbyterian Hospital. Mr. Hanway holds a bachelor’s degree from CUNY Hunter College, and a master’s degree in public administration from Baruch College’s Executive MPA program.
Associate Executive Director
Robert Madison assumed the position of associate executive director in July 2017. He oversees strategy, external and governmental relations, and key operations within the agency. Prior to that, he served as the director of Older Adult Services, helping to establish an innovative vision for Riis’s senior center by establishing a multicultural inclusive program, our Jazz At Riis series, and a community garden. Before joining Riis Settlement, he served as a senior manager for Harlem Children’s Zone, and as the executive director for Project Reach Youth, Inc. Robert holds a master’s degree in public health from Hunter College.
Director of Human Resources
Camille is an SHRM-certified HR professional with a wealth of experience in HR, operations, and youth development at institutions such as Queens College, Queensborough Community College, The Catholic Youth Organization (CYO), and Dancing Dreams. She holds a bachelor’s in sports management from SUNY Farmingdale, a master’s in the same field from SUNY Cortland, and an MBA from Georgia Southwestern State University.
Director of Development and Communications
Amanda joined Riis Settlement as the development and communications associate in 2014 and assumed the role of director in 2015. In that role, she oversees the agency’s fundraising activities, 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 bachelor’s degree in ethnicity and race studies with concentrations in Latino studies and comparative ethnic studies from Columbia University as well as a master’s degree in public administration from the Austin W. Marxe School of Public and International Affairs at Baruch College.
Jean Danielo Gabriel
IT Network Administrator
Jean Gabriel joined Riis Settlement as the computer network administrator in 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.
Ievgeniia joined Riis Settlement as a volunteer coordinator in March 2022. Before joining Riis, she worked as an ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) instructor teaching English to adult learners at various agencies and higher education establishments across the tri-state area. She holds a master’s degree in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) from Duquesne University, where she also volunteered as an English and Ukrainian language teacher and conversation partner.
Executive and Special Projects Associate
Luka joined Riis in May 2022 when he began working as the executive assistant to the Executive Director. He currently holds the position of executive and special projects associate. Luka holds a bachelor's degree in sociology from the City College of New York (CCNY) and is pursuing a Master's in International Affairs at Baruch College. Luka is bilingual, speaking Georgian and English fluently.
Director of Youth Services
Desiree L. Lewis is the director of the Youth Services. She has a master's degree in nonprofit leadership from Fordham University and has served in the field of youth development for over ten years. Desiree joined Riis Settlement in 2016 as the program director for Riis Academy - PS 111Q. Before joining Riis, she rose through the ranks at the Police Athletic League of Greater New York (PAL), from volunteer, to group leader, to resource coordinator, to assistant director. During her tenure with PAL, she was honored as a “Woman of Inspiration” by AIG for the work that she and the Youth Council did to support Hurricane Sandy relief. More recently, in March 2022, she was honored with a prestigious PASEsetter award from the Partnership for Afterschool Education. Ms. Lewis believes that all children can learn and succeed, and aims to give young people the confidence and resources to better themselves and become strong leaders.
Director of Queensbridge Youth Programs
Veronica Franklin started her career at Riis Settlement as a tutor in 1997, and has since climbed the career ladder to a leadership role overseeing all youth programming at our Riis Academy-Queensbridge campus. This includes elementary, middle, and teen after-school programs, as well SYEP (summer youth employment program), summer camp and holiday/weekend programming. In her tenure at Riis Academy, Ms. Franklin has helped improve 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 is the recipient of a PASEsetter Award, an NAACP Martin Luther King Jr. Service Award, a Bank of America Local Hero Award, and Queensbridge Residents Association Unsung Hero Award.
Riis Academy Program Director – Information Technology High School
Michael joined Riis Settlement as program director of the Riis Academy program at Information Technology High School in 2016. He brings to the role over 20 years of postgraduate experience in youth development and education. Highlights include being a member of the very first NYC Teaching Fellows cohort, serving as director of the Queens Justice Corps, and working as a cognitive behavioral therapist/advisor in an alternative high school serving court-involved youth. He also served as an educational specialist in the NYC foster care system. Michael believes in the youth he serves and believes in their future success and is happy to have joined Riis Settlement in continuing to make a positive difference in the lives of youth. Michael holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from SUNY Albany and a master’s degree in applied psychology from New York University.
Ravenswood Cornerstone Program Director
Denise has been a part of the Riis Settlement community for over 12 years, serving as a volunteer, group leader, assistant director, and now program director for our Ravenswood Cornerstone program. Throughout her years working with children, she has received the DYCD Community Mom Award three times. She recently graduated from the University of Global Campus with an associate’s degree in early childhood education. She enjoys working with children of all ages, and will be attending college again this fall to further her education and continue sharing her knowledge with young people.
Youth Services Program Manager
Alina joined Riis in 2017 as a Riis Academy group leader. Since then, she has assumed various roles within our Youth Services department, including job developer, program director, and program manager. In her current role, Ms. Jimenez oversees program compliance and supports the director of youth services with program and partnership development. Ms. Jimenez holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Queen’s College.
Riis Academy Program Director – P.S. 171
Jonathan Vera joined Riis Settlement in 2015 as the assistant program coordinator of our Riis Academy – P.S. 171 after school program. He was promoted to the position of program director in 2018. Jonathan has several years of experience working and volunteering in various positions with youth-based programs. Jonathan has a passion for providing educational programming and serving others. He graduated from Queens College with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and sociology.
Riis Academy Program Director – P.S. 76
Sara Ortiz joined Riis Settlement in 2021. Sara’s passion for working with youth began in 2010, when she interned as an outreach program administrator and Sunday school teacher for The St. Louis Dream Center while earning her bachelor’s degree from Pillsbury College and Seminary. Sara Ortiz is dedicated to making a positive impact in the community, especially with youth, for generations to come. Sara is bilingual in English/Spanish and is also a NHA certified clinical medical assistant and an experienced camera operator.
Riis Academy Program Director - P.S. 166
Sadia joined Riis in 2017 as an SYEP participant in our Riis Academy program, and from there, she assumed several roles in Youth Services, including group leader, education specialist, assistant director, and now program director. Sadia holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from CUNY Queens College.
Riis Academy Program Director – C.S. 111
Jimmie-Lee LaFleur serves as the program director of our elementary after-school program at Riis Academy-CS111. He brings 15 years of experience in education and youth development. He holds a bachelor's degree in liberal arts from the College of New Rochelle and is pursuing an MFA in media design from Full Sail University.
Director of Immigrant Services
Sophie joined the Immigrant Services department in 2016 as a paralegal and a program assistant for our English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes, working with program staff to connect the immigrant community to support services. In 2017, Sophie assumed the position of program director. Before joining Riis, Sophie worked as a legal assistant at a small immigration law office delivering direct legal services to immigrants with diverse backgrounds and legal needs. Sophie holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Hunter College-Macaulay Honors College in New York City. While completing her bachelor’s at Hunter, she had the opportunity to work as a site director for Let’s Get Ready, as a civics coach with Generation Citizen, and as an intern in the Office of the New York City Public Advocate. In 2015, she also participated in a trip to Panama to provide legal aid and legal rights resources to community members in rural communities.
ESOL Program Coordinator
Ashley joined Riis Settlement in 2022. She holds a master's degree in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) from Biola University. Prior to joining Riis, Ashley was an ESL teacher and advisor in Los Angeles, California. Ashley has worked exclusively with adult students for nearly a decade, and loves the diversity and challenges that adult students bring. She is passionate about helping her students to increase English proficiency in order to reach their personal and professional goals. Currently, Ashley is working towards fluency in Spanish to better serve her community. She is excited to explore NYC and all of the opportunities the city offers.
Immigrant Services Case Manager
Mialka joined Riis Settlement in 2023 as our case manager. She has a bachelor’s degree in human services from SUNY Empire State College. Mialka is bilingual in English/Spanish and comes to Riis with 10 years of experience as an Eligibility Specialist with the NYC Department of Social Services, assisting diverse clients and assessing their eligibility for benefits. She also worked for NYC 311, the City’s government services and information line. Mialka is passionate about helping people improve their quality of life and leading them to self sufficiency.
Jordi joined Riis Settlement as an NYC Care case manager for our Immigrant Services program in 2021, and now works as a counselor for our ESOL students. Prior to joining Riis, Jordi was an immigration paralegal for a boutique immigration firm, aiding a diverse selection of high-end clients. Jordi holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and Latino and Latin American studies from Fordham University. Jordi is passionate about helping members of the immigrant community get access to resources that improve their quality of life.
Sabrina joined Riis Settlement as the immigration paralegal in 2018. She received partial accreditation from the Department of Justice in February 2022, and is now assisting with filing immigration applications. Sabrina received her master’s degree in international migration studies from The CUNY Graduate Center in 2021. Prior to joining Riis Settlement, she spent a year at the Children's Defense Fund conducting immigration policy analysis, and worked with the New York Immigration Coalition on their DACA outreach program. Sabrina is dedicated to working with immigrant communities and wants to ensure that everyone has access to services regardless of their background
NYC Care Navigator / Immigrant Outreach Coordinator
Kevin joined our Immigrant Services department in 2023. Previously, Kevin worked as a legal intern and Spanish interpreter at Talisman & DeLorenz P.C. Kevin graduated from Manhattan College and holds a bachelor's degree in political science. During his undergraduate career, Kevin served as student body president, organizing empowered students to tackle community issues such as food insecurity and mental health access
Older Adult Services
Director of Older Adult Center
Gwendolyn joined Riis as a kitchen volunteer in 2013. In 2014, she became the administrative assistant in the Older Adult Services department. In 2018, she assumed the position of engagement coordinator for the MAP (Mayor’s Action Plan) program, where she advocated for the residents of Queensbridge Houses and worked closely with city agencies and community based organizations. The program focused on safety in the community and best practices that residents could take to change their environment. In 2021, Gwendolyn returned to the Older Adult Services department as the director. Gwendolyn holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Baruch College.
Ms. Walden joined Riis Settlement in 2021 as the NNORC (Neighborhood Naturally Occurring Retirement Community) program director. Prior to joining Riis, Edna was a social worker with Steinway Child and Family Services, a non-profit agency serving children and families in the Astoria, Long Island City, Woodside and Elmhurst communities, for more than 15 years. Ms. Walden holds a bachelor’s degree in human services and a master’s degree in social work from Hunter College-Silberman School of Social Work. Ms. Walden loves being a part of the Riis Settlement community and working with the older adults at Queensbridge.
Robbin Davis has been with Riis Settlement for nearly 25 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.
Map Engagement Coordinator
Eliana joined Riis Settlement as our NNORC Case manager in 2020, and became our Mayor’s Action Plan for Neighborhood Safety (MAP) Engagement Coordinator in 2022. Eliana is dedicated to making a positive impact in the Queensbridge community. She is bilingual in English/Spanish and has her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Monroe College. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in social work.
Pregnancy and New Parent Program Coordinator
Before joining Riis in 2023, Maria assisted in rebuilding and strengthening parent-child relationships through parent coaching. Fluent in English and Spanish, Maria holds a bachelor’s degree in behavioral sciences from Mercy College.