Sondra has been at CVH since 2000 and was named the organization’s Executive Director in March 2007; she was previously CVH’s Director of Public Policy and Research. Sondra has worked both in the United States and abroad to achieve social and economic justice through organizing. She has over 15 years experience as an organizer and activist with grassroots groups including farm workers, Native Americans, public housing residents, and low-income workers in the United States, and abroad for various populations throughout Latin America and in several African countries. She obtained a Master’s Degree in Public and International Affairs from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School in order to gain policy analysis tools to bring back to the grassroots. She also has a BA in American Studies focusing on Oppression and Revolution from Wesleyan University.
Michelle joined Community Voices Heard as Development Director in May 2002. She is very pleased to turn her efforts to economic justice projects after having worked in fundraising for arts/community development organizations for 19 years. She has previously worked for the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning, Meet The Composer, the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, and The Joffrey Ballet. Michelle has a BA degree in Economics/Political Economy from Barnard College, and has done graduate work in business administration at New York University.
Mo (as she is often called) joined CVH as the Public Housing Campaign Director in Feb 2009 then taking a break from organizing in 2012, became the Director of Individual Giving and Events. In May 2014, Mo answered the call to return to organizing and became the NYC Chapter Director of Organizing - working to advancing CVH’s NYC Chapter and well as expanding our public housing campaign work.
Mo's organizing experience started in college where she worked locally with NYPIRG on varies environmental issues. Upon graduation, Mo began working with SEIU Local 1199 where she worked for 10 years. After leaving 1199, Mo moved on to become the Lead Organizer at the Empire State Pride Agenda, where she fought for the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. At Pride Agenda, Mo worked on various statewide campaigns, including further developing their annual statewide lobby day as it grew from 400 to over 1200 participants during her tenure there. After she moved on from Pride Agenda, Mo was excited at the chance to work with CVH members on Public Housing and other issues. As a proud product of public housing, she feels that public housing must be preserved. Mo holds her BA degree from SUNY New Paltz, and her Master’s in Public Administration from Metropolitan College.
Mo's organizing work has lead her from meetings at the White House to becoming a Professional Fellow with the U.S. Department of State through their work with the Greater Lakes Consortium out of Toledo Ohio. This has allowed her to travel across Eastern Europe in both 2012 and 2014, teaching community organizing as well as learn about challenges facing various Eastern European communities.
When Mo is not trying to change the world, she is usually either traveling, at home reading a good book, or just enjoying New York City with her partner of 9 years.
Stephen Roberson joined the staff of CVH as our Organizing Director in 2013. Immediately prior to working with CVH, he was the Deputy Director of Organizing for Local 32BJ where he helped in the organizing of Security Officers, food service workers and other low wage workers throughout the east coast jurisdiction of the local which included work in Florida. Before that he worked for 24 years at the Industrial Areas Foundation as an associate organizer, a lead organizer and a member of the National Staff, where he helped in organizing and developing The Nehemiah Plan which has become a key component in providing a way for working class New Yorkers access to ownership in a system that makes it difficult for the majority to own housing in New York City. He first cut his teeth in organizing with the United Farmworkers Union where he spent 10 years as a part of the boycott of lettuce and grape boycotts. Stephen grew up in Northern New Jersey, in a community which was majority white with a small, primarily African American population that was working class and poor. He learned a lot through his church and community relationships about what it feels like to experience growing up as a minority in that kind of community in America. He learned the importance of family and how critical having relationships with people who would stand with you is when the going gets tough.
Al Harris joined CVH and CVH Power in the fall of 2014. He comes with extensive political campaign, lobbying and governmental experience having served over ten years as a partisan staff member of the New Jersey Senate and General Assembly holding such positions as Special Assistant to New Jersey Senate President, Special Assistant to the New Jersey Assembly, co-founder and Executive Director of the Legislative Black and Latino Caucus and Chief of Staff to the Assembly Minority Leader. Harris then served as Manager of State Government Relations with the New Jersey Housing Finance and Mortgage Agency, Assistant Director/Lobbyist of Governmental Relations with the New Jersey School Boards Association and Legislative Liaison/Subcontractor Ombudsman with the New Jersey Schools Development Authority. In 1990 Harris started Harris Associates, a public affairs consulting firm. The firm specialized in developing and implementing marketing, public relations, media relations, promotional and political campaigns aimed at primarily, but not exclusively, Latinos, African Americans and other blacks. Harris also served an instructor for marketing for Continuing Education at Bergen Community College and Mercer County Community College. He also served as an instructor for the New Jersey Economic Development Authority’s Entrepreneur Training Institute (ETI) program. Harris attended Ewing public schools and Lawrenceville School and was a basketball standout and All-State baseball player. Although he was scouted by every major league baseball team and was known for being able to hit a baseball a country mile, Harris decided to attend Columbia University where he majored in history and had a concentration in political science.
Juanita O. Lewis is excited to bring her experience to CVH. She began her work as a community organizer with the Minnesota chapter of ACORN. Since 2004, she has worked on 10 campaigns in various roles, ranging from field organizer, campaign manager to fundraiser. Juanita was highly involved in the Democratic-Farmer-Labor party, serving as Saint Paul Senate District 66 chair, and secretary of the African American Caucus. She has also been a board member and chair of three non-profit boards, and is currently a fundraising trainer for the White House Project. Juanita was born and raised in Saint Paul, MN. She graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities with a B.A. in History and Political Science, and recently graduated with her Masters of Advocacy and Political Leadership from the University of Minnesota-Duluth.
Jennifer Hadlock became the Welfare and Workforce Organizer for CVH in December 2009. She has over ten years of organizing experience in Hartford, Connecticut starting in neighborhood organizing of tenants and youth, and later organized around welfare and drug policy. She is proud to have worked on a campaign to win a Community Center for the neighborhood where she worked and to have helped start an organization. She also has experience organizing in the violence against women movement, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. She has a psychology degree from Washington University in Saint Louis and JD/MSW from University of Connecticut. In her spare time she goes to visit and skypes with her seven nieces and nephews.
Carmen Piñeiro has been an activist for over 16 years and an organizer for a year as CVH’s Harlem-based Sustainable Communities Organizer. Her work and passion focuses on low- and moderate-income communities. She has an Associate’s degree in Paralegal Studies from Bronx Community College and a Bachelor’s in Government with a concentration in law from John Jay College of Criminal Justice. She is currently working on her Master’s in Public Administration with a concentration in Government and the Law, also from John Jay. She has participated in programs such as the Minority Worker Environmental program where she earned 15 licenses and certificates in Environmental Remediation as well as a program through (NEW) Non-traditional Employment for Women where she learned basic construction skills. She is a domestic violence survivor who grew up in the Morrisania Air Rights Projects in the South Bronx, who also went through the shelter system and now lives in rent stabilized housing. She has had to navigate the system in various capacities which has led her to the important work she feels is necessary in our neighborhoods. She is a single mother of three children - a teenage daughter and 2 boys.
My first memory of injustice is sitting on my father’s knee and watching the kids integrating Central High in Little Rock. The White mob was attacking the bus with Black school children. I’m sure that my father explained things to me but all I could see was hate crazed adults trying to kill children. I took it personally and I still do. The ant-war movement occupied my teen years and the labor movement became my home in early adulthood. I worked for years in progressive electoral politics and have been an active member of the Working Families Party in New York since its inception. The housing bubble and the following crisis we are still in hit me hard and I was thrilled to join the Occupy movement. We held Hulme Park in Poughkeepsie for 53 days and that experience reinvigorated my commitment to transforming our world into a more caring and cooperative place.
I am proud to be able to work with low-income Dutchess County residents to stand up and fight back.
Julia Solow began at CVH in November 2013 as a Westchester County Community Organizer based out of the Yonkers office. Ms. Solow brings a background in community organizing, program development and research through her experiences as a MSW Field Intern at the Latino Leadership Institute, Member Mobilization Intern with the AFL-CIO National Campaigns Department in DC, an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer with John Carroll University’s Center for Service and Social Action in Cleveland and an organizer with the DREAM Act movement. Ms. Solow is bilingual in English and Spanish and is dedicated to building inclusive movements for social and economic justice in the home, the community and the workplace.
After working as a boost organizer in CVH’s participatory budgeting campaign in early 2014, Gabriel joined CVH’s staff as the new NYC Chapter Organizer. Gabriel first became politically active in the lead up to the wars in the Iraq when his mother brought him massive anti-war protests happening throughout the northeast. After graduating from high school in 2005 Gabriel went to New Orleans to work with the People’s Hurricane Relief Fund. His time there working under veteran Black leadership for a just rebuilding of the city would set him on his life path as an anti-racist organizer. After getting his feet wet in New Orleans Gabriel would go on to learn the basic skills of community organizing in ACORN in Massachusetts, and eventually pursue further training in at Labor Community Strategy Center’s National School for Strategic Organizing in Los Angeles. In 2008 Gabriel joined the Labor Community Strategy Center’s staff as an organizer for the Bus Riders Union where he would work for five years doing base building work and political education. In late 2013 he moved back to the east coast and looks forward to working with public housing residents to build power in their struggle for dignity and justice.
Natalie joined the CVH team in February 2014 as the NYS Transit Equity Alliance (NYSTEA) Fellow/ Public Transportation Organizer in Dutchess County, where she organized bus riders in Dutchess to build a campaign to improve bus transportation in the region and make the transportation planning processes more inclusive of ridership. After helping to successfully block a plan to eliminate city of Poughkeepsie buses, Natalie transitioned into the role of Orange County Organizer and is currently working to rebuild the chapter based in Newburgh. Natalie graduated from Vassar College with a BA in Sociology. As an undergrad, she organized with Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson, a grassroots anti-foreclosure organization in the Hudson Valley, and was active in the student/ labor solidarity organization on her campus. She is passionate about political education that addresses the intersection of race, class, and gender inequality and hopes to make this central to her work.
Cathy joined CVH’s staff as an Organizer in August 2015. Cathy was born and raised in Queens and is the daughter of two Colombian immigrants. Cathy first became politicized while reading "The Autobiography of Malcolm X" in high school. She began organizing in college with Save our SUNY and New York Students Rising. Her experiences in those organizations led her to found and preside over Students Revolutionary Coalition (SRC). SRC is an anti- capitalist group which organizes working class students of color. She graduated SUNY Albany with a bachelor's degree in Latin American, Caribbean & U.S. Latin@ studies and a minor in Africana studies and Political Science. Since graduating she has been organizing with the Jackson Heights Cop Watch team which is a part of the Cop Watch Alliance and The Justice Committee. Cathy has been training Taekwon-do since she was 7 years old and has used those skills to lead women self defense training's. She is currently a Masters student in Adolescence Social Studies Education at Hunter College. Cathy hopes to learn how to use education as a tool for liberation.
Tarik has been an activist since August 2014. Since then he has mobilized and organized with several organizations and led massive groups of activists from a myriad of different backgrounds before he started associating with Community Voices Heard in December of that year. Tarik joined the team at C.V.H. in June 2015. His passion for organizing comes from his own life experiences. Tarik was born in New York City and raised by his single mother along with his 3 brothers in, NYCHA's largest projects, Queensbridge houses. This was during one of the hardest times of the neighborhood where he faced many obstacles growing up. From an early age Tarik was inspired by Malcolm X's obstinacy in his methods, Muhammad Ali's unrepentant tenacity, and Martin Luther King Jr.'s audaciousness, as well as Nas' appetite for self-knowledge, Tupac's defiance and resistance, and Lauryn Hill's unconditional love for her people. Before activism became Tarik's hub, he worked as an advocate for individuals with intellectual disabilities at a program in Queens. He would organize lessons and events for 30 or more persons on a daily basis. He would mobilize groups of 10 or more persons and transfer them to events all around New York City as a way to reintroduce and reintegrate this marginalized group of people into society. Tarik is dedicated to preserving housing and uniting people of all backgrounds.
Daisy Gonzalez began at Community Voices Heard in 2015 as the Gail Aska Policy and Research Fellow and is now on staff as the Sustainable Communities Organizer focusing on the East Harlem Neighborhood Plan and Rezoning Process. Her family emigrated from Guatemala to South Gate, California in Los Angeles where she was raised. Daisy was first exposed to organizing in her hometown around issues of environmental justice and has since worked on various processes alongside low-income people of color connecting urban planning, civic engagement, and organizing. Her experience includes working in Orange County, California with tenants on substandard housing and affordability issues, as well as making decision making processes more inclusive. Daisy worked with the City of San Diego on the Barrio Logan Community Plan from 2008-2010 in a participatory process for updating land use and zoning regulations. She has a bachelor's degree in urban planning from the University of California, San Diego and is currently pursuing her master's degree in Urban Planning at CUNY Hunter College.
In 1990 Ignacio emigrated from Mexico to New York and he became a part of the new wave of immigration in Orange County in New York. As an undocumented immigrant he was faced with many obstacles and barriers. The unfair treatment of the Latino population fueled him to start working around his community on issues that directly impacted them. In 2015 Ignacio join the CVH family and started working in the county of Orange. His main goal is to empower the low-income families of Orange County to deal with the challenges they are facing. Ignacio will continue his work until he can create a new interracial leadership group in Middletown, NY.
Aaron joined Community Voices Heard in 2014. Prior to joining CVH, he worked in the Hampton Roads region of Virginia organizing communities of color, youth, women, and progressive individuals around social justice issues like rights restoration and Medicaid expansion. He also worked throughout Virginia and in other states to engage communities of color and low income communities in various local, state, and federal elections. Aaron spent some time working on environmental issues, including fighting for a comprehensive clean energy bill at the federal level and successfully organizing to stop Proposition 23 in California. Aaron is a “military brat” who first got introduced to this type of work when he pushed (and won) to change the rules around in-state college tuition for youth who had legal guardians in the Army. He graduated with a B.A in Political Science and an M.B.A w/ a concentration in Public Administration.