To ensure that the programming of the Social Change Leadership Network is informed and relevant to the dynamic needs of the communities we work with, the Social Change Leadership Network has launched a Leadership Advisory Circle.
Members are distinguished leaders from New York nonprofits recognized nationally for their exemplary work.
By inviting social change leaders to reflect about the main needs their organizations face regarding training, leadership development, networking and building capacity, this group connects SCLN to grassroots communities.
The Leadership Advisory Circle assists the Network in keeping its "ear to the ground"; helps shape our programming by providing essential guidance and feedback; and contributes to the innovation of our programming.
Leadership Advisory Circle members include:
Michelle de la Uz
Executive Director, Fifth Avenue Committee
Founder and Director, Green Worker Cooperatives
Lead Organizer, New York City AIDS Housing Network/VOCAL
Cidra M. Sebastien
Associate Director, The Brotherhood/Sister Sol
Joanne Ninive Smith
Founder and Executive Director, Girls for Gender Equity
Ana María Archila is the co-executive director of Make the Road New York.
A native of Colombia, Ana María immigrated to the US at the age of 17. She has emerged as an important immigrant advocate for civil rights, health care access and education reform in New York City.
Since 2003, Ana María worked to build grassroots power in immigrant communities as the executive director of the Latin American Integration Center, and now as co-executive director of Make the Road New York.
Today, Make the Road New York is the largest membership-led immigrant organization in New York City, with over 8,000 dues-paying members, who are primarily low-income Latino/a immigrants, and offices in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island.
Far from City Hall, on the hardscrabble streets of Bushwick, and in the immigrant bustle of Jackson Heights and Port Richmond, Make the Road New York is successfully putting into practice a new model for winning economic and political opportunity, and shaping New York City's civic agenda through a combination of education, leadership development, civic participation, and base-building community organizing with strategic public policy work on a broad range of issues, from environmental justice to workplace rights and civil rights.
Michelle de la Uz became executive director of Fifth Avenue Committee (FAC) in January 2004, after serving as co-chair on FAC's Board of Directors. She has over twenty years experience in public and community service.
Michelle oversees the organization's mission and comprehensive programs serving more than 5,000 low and moderate income people; a budget of more than $6 million and several affiliate corporations, assets over $100 million and a housing development pipeline of more than 1,000 units, or nearly $400 million.
Prior to FAC, she was program director for the Center for Urban Community Services in Washington Heights and Harlem and oversaw social services in supportive housing for 400 low-income tenants with special needs.
From 1995-99, Michelle was Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez's first director of Constituent Services and directed her South Brooklyn District Office. She was active in advancing transportation, environmental justice, immigration reform and employment policy initiatives.
Michelle is the first in her working-class immigrant family to graduate from college, is a product of bilingual education, a former trustee of Connecticut College, and recipient of the Ford Foundation's Leadership for a Changing World award.
She is a Board member of the following city-wide organizations: Association for Neighborhood Housing Development, Inc. (President); New Partners for Community Revitalization, Inc. and Community Partnership Development Corporation, Inc. Michelle received her BA from Connecticut College, master's degrees in Public Administration and Social Work from Columbia University and recently completed the Achieving Excellence in Community Development Executive Education program at the Kennedy School at Harvard.
Omar Freilla was raised in the South Bronx, where he continues to live. He is passionate about creating a green and democratic economy.
He has gained national prominence as the founder and director of Green Worker Cooperatives, an organization dedicated to incubating green and worker-owned businesses in the South Bronx. Omar brings to his work years of experience challenging environmental injustices; promoting collaborative efforts nationally among worker cooperatives; and organizing anti-sexism workshops for men.
His writings have appeared in numerous books, blogs, and articles. He has been featured in a variety of documentaries, including Leonardo DiCaprio's environmental documentary "The 11th Hour" and has received numerous awards for his work, including the Rockefeller Foundation's Jane Jacobs Medal for New Ideas and Activism.
He holds a master's degree in Environmental Science from Miami University of Ohio and a BS from Morehouse College, where he founded the organization Black Men for the Eradication of Sexism.
Jeremy Saunders was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky. Informed by his experience living in the south, Jeremy has been organizing for justice in NYC for nearly ten years, since 2001. He has held positions at ACORN, Community Voices Heard and Northwest Bronx Community & Clergy Coalition, where he has worked on a range of issues in all five boroughs of NYC, Yonkers, Newburgh and Poughkeepsie.
For the last three years he has work at the NYC AIDS Housing Network (NYCAHN) and its affiliate Voices Of Community Activists & Leaders (VOCAL), where he is the lead organizer on issues impacting low-income people living with HIV/AIDS, drug users and the formerly incarcerated. In his current work he is following in the footsteps of his older brother, Dudley Saunders, who was a leader in ACT-UP's Treatment Action Group (TAG).
Jeremy graduated from Hunter CUNY with a BA in Political Science and lives in Brooklyn.
Cidra M. Sebastien graduated from Hampton University with her BA in English Arts and is currently completing her master's work at NYU's Gallatin School, focusing on the connections between education, social justice and the arts.
Cidra is the associate director at The Brotherhood/Sister Sol (BHSS), a nonprofit organization providing holistic and comprehensive programs for Black and Latina/o youth, ages 6-22. A staff member since 2001, she is a chapter leader of the Rites of Passage program for young women; co-facilitates the Liberation Program for youth activists; manages The Friends of The Brotherhood/Sister Sol, a group of young professional committed to supporting our work; and co-facilitated two International Study Programs (Ghana, 2001; South Africa, 2005).
In 2005, Cidra was a co-awardee of the Ford Foundation's Leadership for a Changing World Award. She then participated in an 18-month cooperative inquiry documented in a report called, "Taking Back the Work: A Cooperative Inquiry into the Work of Leaders of Color in Movement-Building Organizations." This resulted in her participation in the 2009 World Social Forum in Brazil, presenting the report and discussing leadership and race in the US. Cidra lives with her family in Brooklyn.
Joanne Ninive Smith, founder and executive director of Girls for Gender Equality, is a Haitian American social worker born in New York City.
Awarded a community fellowship by Open Society Institute, George Soros Foundation, Joanne established Girls for Gender Equity (GGE) in 2001.
Ms. Smith is a graduate of Bowie State University with a bachelor's degree in Psychology and earned a master's degree in Social Work from Hunter College. She completed postgraduate training at the Ackerman Institute for the Family, providing therapy to families, supporting the family/school collaborative and linking families to community resources. In 2007, she completed the Institute for Nonprofit Management, Executive Level Program at Columbia Business School.
In 2006, Ms. Smith was awarded the Union Square Award, recognizing exceptional efforts to address critical social issues facing New Yorkers that have otherwise been overlooked, neglected or inadequately addressed.
Ms. Smith most recently was inducted in the New York City Hall of Fame representing the "Charitable Contributions" category honored as a remarkable New Yorker who has contributed to the betterment of our City and a role model for our youngsters.
Ms. Smith is the recipient of the 28th Susan B. Anthony Awards presented by National Organization for Women (NOW). Ms. Smith is the 2008 recipient of the "Rising Star Award" from Educational Equity Center at AED. In 2006, in honor of Women's History Month, Brooklyn District Attorney Charles J. Hynes recognized her with the Extraordinary Woman Award for accomplishments and service to Brooklyn in March 2009. She was also honored by the YWCA of Brooklyn for "supporting another generation of courageous young women" and RightRides for Women's Safety with the Distinguished Defender Award. In 2010, she has been honored with the Stonewall Women's Award from the Stonewall Democratic Club in recognition of her leadership and dedication to women's and LGBTQ rights.
Ms. Smith is co-author of her first book entitled Hey Shorty: A Guide to Combating Sexual Harassment and Violence in Public Schools and on the Streets, which chronicles GGE's years of youth organizing. The release date is January 2011. Joanne resides in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
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