Tyletha Samuels has been involved with Community Voices Heard for over twenty years - as a member, leader, activist, former staff person, and now on the board of directors. She first joined CVH's fight to end the Work Experience Program (WEP) in the 90s. Passionate about social justice, she advocates for low-income people and their issues with public assistance, housing, and economic injustice. She has served on the board of directors at Hunger Action Network of New York State for over ten years, and worked at Picture the Homeless (PTH) organizing against homelessness.
Peter retired from a long career as a trusted advisor to pension and healthcare programs sponsored by unions in many industries and now focuses on social justice activism. In addition to his active role with Community Voices Heard, Peter is the founder of the Wichana Foundation, a nonprofit organization that works with community-led programs in rural Ecuador, is on the Board of The Working Theatre, an innovative organization that creates theater for, about, and with working people in all five NYC boroughs and is a founding member of the Irvington Activists.
Giancarlo Fernandez is a designer, artist and activist who believes in the power of creativity and storytelling to drive social change. As an unapologetic Puerto Rican gender nonconforming queer individual who grew up in El Barrio, Giancarlo is passionate about creating a more inclusive and equitable society for all New Yorkers and building power in communities of color. After becoming involved in CVH's NYCHA campaign in 2016, Giancarlo joined the CVH board in 2018 and was elected to serve as Board Chair in June 2020.
Miriam D Lacroix, Esq.
Miriam Lacroix is an immigration attorney and Founder of Lacroix Law, P.C. Miriam’s practice focuses primarily on family-based and employment-based immigration cases. In addition to practicing law, Miriam is an adjunct professor of law at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law. In 2020, she created the Black Legal Wellness Forum after realizing that Black Lives Matter was a segway into a broader discussion about racism and how systemic racism affects many other parts of our lives. She often brings together black professionals to discuss topics like: law, politics, voting, and healthcare. Miriam is passionate about using her legal expertise to improve underrepresented communities and teach them how to use their voice.
Karen Mejia has over 25 years of professional experience working with public/private partnerships including the non-profit sector, community development and governmental policy. She has designed, managed and implemented local venture capital and voluntary sector finance initiatives in Africa and Latin America aimed at developing linkages between small and medium enterprises. She has also organized several conferences and symposia on issues ranging from local hiring and career paths to housing rights and economic development. A former council member in the City of Newburgh, she worked with her colleagues to address the foreclosure and rental crisis in her community. Karen is currently an assistant director at the 1199SEIU Training and Employment Funds and is a founding member of Local Progress NY and serves on other local boards in her community. Karen was born in El Salvador and migrated to the United States at the age of eight. She has a master’s degree from New York University and a bachelor’s degree from Brown University. Karen and her partner live in the City of Newburgh, where they are raising their daughter and their Siberian husky.
Joseph Mpa is the founder of Time To Rise Services And Programs, a consultancy with a focus on community needs and staff development. Previously, Joseph was the Executive Director at United Bronx Parents, and has over 35 years experience running youth development programs, including serving as Director of Programs at Directions For Our Youth. He joined CVH in 2012, working on the Workforce campaign, before joining the board in 2013. Joseph also serves on the board of People’s Action and on the regional advisory committee of the Working Families Party.
Charlene Smart has been a resident of City of Poughkeepsie all her life and has listened to the concerns of people living in the community. As a fervent single mother raising three young men and five grandchildren in the Poughkeepsie, she has witnessed firsthand the need for the programs to assist single parents with raising their families. She aims to be a part of the process of pushing forward needed programs that will enable low-income people to have life skills to meet their-long term goals, such as maintaining a home, having financial stability, and basic living resources.
Currently, she serves as Board of Director for Dutchess County Community Action and TWINKS Social and Civic Club, Inc. She has dedicated her time serving as an active member of the Domestic Violence Services of Dutchess County for battered women. She has also worked closely and provided services for HIV/AIDS infected and affected individuals and families alongside the Catharine Street Community Center. While working within Poughkeepsie City School district, she helped with the execution of many youth and after school enrichment programs, including “A Rose is a Rose” and Queen Esther’s & Elisha’s Troop Mentorship Program. In both Poughkeepsie Middle and High, she has worked as a member of PBIS (Positive Behavior Intervention Services) School. She also helped spearhead the implementation of the annual “Leaders and Legends” Gospel Concert to honor the achievement of youth.
Sheila was raised in a family-owned business in NYC and South Carolina. She graduated from New York University in 1999. Beginning her career as an Administrative Assistant/Software Technician to the Assistant Dean of the Stern School of Business, she was later promoted to a Computer Operator and finally to a Lab Coordinator. An Ossining resident since 2015, Sheila is an enthusiastic member of the community. She joined the Ossining Public Library in 2018. She likes exercising, singing, and helping others in the community. She was a member of Ossining's Comprehensive Plan Committee. Today, she co-chairs Ossining's Landlords Tenants Relations Council.