Juanita O. Lewis
Juanita O. Lewis brings almost two decades of community and electoral organizing experience. She joined the staff of Community Voices Heard as the Yonkers Organizer in 2009, then Lead Westchester Organizer. In 2016, she was elevated to Hudson Valley Organizer Director and became Executive Director in 2021.
She 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 with her Masters of Advocacy and Political Leadership Degree from the University of Minnesota. Juanita began her work as a community organizer with the Minnesota chapter of ACORN. Since 2004, she has worked on numerous electoral campaigns at the city, state and federal level in different staffing capacities.
Juanita is a national trainer with VoteRunLead, a non-partisan organization that trains women to run for office from across the country. She has trained hundreds of women to run for local, state and federal office.
She is also a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc and board member for African Communities Together.
Cynthia Travieso joins the Community Voices Heard team with over 15 years of experience working with workers across the nation to elevate their voices for power. A daughter of immigrants, Cynthia was raised by a community of activists in Los Angeles, California where a principle of life: you cannot be well when your community is not well, was ingrained into every aspect of she moves in this world. She previously worked as the National Field Director for Committee of Interns and Residents/SEIU, where she led the national strategy for member and political growth. She also spent time consulting various political campaigns and community organizations in Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York City with strategies for winning campaigns and positively growing their impact in their community. Cynthia also shares her experience as a labor organizer and labor educator where she facilitated space for learning and action.
Cynthia received a Bachelor's in History from St. John's University, a Master's in International Relations from Columbia University, and a Master’s in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University.
Special Projects Director
Michelle Perez joined Community Voices Heard in May 2002 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. Michelle was also a member of the Fall 2015 cohort of the NY Community Trust Leadership Fellows program.
Director of Policy and Strategy
Alison joined CVH after nearly two decades working in non-profit organizations, where she learned that the key to transformative change is building collective power with those most impacted by inequality and systemic oppression.
Prior to joining CVH, Alison was the Director of Public Policy at the Institute for Justice and Opportunity at John Jay College. In that role, she built and coordinated the Fair Chance for Housing campaign and managed the CUNY Justice Learning Collaborative, a university-wide effort to change CUNY systems that limit educational opportunity for people with convictions.
Alison started her career as a public defender at the Legal Aid Society, then joined Youth Represent. There, she played an integral role in growing a start-up non-profit into a thriving legal services and policy organization for youth impacted by the criminal legal system. With a spectrum of partners, she launched the Raise the Age NY campaign to end the practice of prosecuting children as adults, and worked on a range of other criminal legal system reforms.
Alison holds a Juris Doctor degree from Columbia Law School.
Follow Black Women Campaign Director
Francis comes to CVH with 12 years of electoral and grassroots organizing experience. She has been mobilizing voters for municipal, state, and presidential elections since the 2012 presidential election and organizing community leaders around grassroots issues for just as long.
As an Afro-latina woman who was born in Queens and whose immigrant family all settled in NYC, Francis has a vested interest in seeing improvements in the quality of life for New Yorkers. Her 12 years of organizing experience have brought about wins in education equity in Connecticut and wins related to immigrant justice, housing, and decarceration in NJ, where she currently resides. When she isn’t building power with and for Black and Brown communities, she enjoys directing and facilitating creative projects and spending time with her family and daughter.
Alex Tindal Wiesendanger
A native of Harlem and the Bronx, Alex brings nearly two decades of organizing, training and advocacy experience in community, faith-based, and labor settings. His experience includes serving as Director of Organizing for the Community Renewal Society, the National Organizing Director for Jobs to Move America, Campaign Manager for the Responsible Budget Coalition, Lead International Organizer for the American Federation of Musicians, Campaign Coordinator for SEIU 32BJ and the Coalition for Affordable Hospitals, and Associate Director of Tennessee Coalition to Abolish State Killing. He received his Bachelor's Degree from SUNY Binghamton and a Master's degree in Social Justice and Community Development from Loyola University, Chicago. He is the author of "Seeds of Justice: OrganizingYour Church to Transform the World," published by Orbis Books and is a frequent trainer and coach for justice organizations across the country. He serves on the board of the New York State Council of Churches and is a Manager for Harlem Little League. But the job he is most proud of is being the husband of his wife, Sharaya, and the father to his two children Akina and William (who love coming to actions!)
Director of Development
Alexis Contreras joined CVH after nearly 8 years of fundraising and nonprofit management across industries. In these roles, Alexis collaborated with team members to build sustainable development strategies and donor relations for optimal impact.
As a Latina raised in the suburbs of Long Island with family immigrant roots from Ecuador and Guatemala, Alexis was exposed to the extreme segregation that exists in Long Island, NY. This exposure birthed a curiosity about the why’s and a passion for creating equal opportunities for people of color in New York and beyond.
Alexis chose to continue her academic journey in her backyard by getting her BA in Public Administration and Political Science from St. John’s University. As graduation approached, she knew she wanted to do something in the intersection of nonprofit and politics which led her to continuing her Public Administration education. She got her Masters in Public Administration with a concentration in Nonprofit Management & Leadership from New York University and worked for numerous nonprofits across the big city as a graduate consultant in nonprofit management and impact assessment.
Newburgh Anti-Displacement Organizer
Sharee, a Harlem native, joined Community Voices Heard shortly after graduating from Mount Saint Mary College. Her passion for promoting change started with her time at the Mount, where she realized that more could be done to improve the lives of the students. This motivation became applicable to her work in Newburgh as the Anti-Displacement Organizer, where she works with the community to develop a more equitable environment for the residents of Newburgh. Sharee was drawn to CVH because of the familial atmosphere shared between staff and members as well as its rich history of change for underrepresented communities.
To Sharee, social justice – the basis for all of our work at CVH – means that we are fighting for a place that allows EVERYONE to live and thrive and that basic human rights are afforded to everyone despite the different backgrounds we may share.
Hudson Valley Lead Organizer
Eli joined Community Voices Heard in July 2019 as the Base-Building Organizer for Dutchess County. Their many years of direct service work with youth, families and formerly incarcerated people taught them the power of relationships in making change, while working alongside and within Black-led organizations more recently informs their commitment to building power through transformational organizing. Before coming to Community Voices Heard, Eli worked as Advocacy Director with the Staley B. Keith Center’s Community Justice Advocacy Program in Hudson, NY. They then served as Programs and Community Engagement Coordinator at the Center for Law and Justice in Albany. Eli continues to organize with Showing Up for Racial Justice, a national network dedicated to engaging more white people in ending white supremacy.
Kim is an Afro Latina mother of 4 from the Bronx. She is a co-founder of an activist group called NYC Shut It Down, a group committed to ending racist policing in our neighborhoods. Kim has been organizing for 9 years in both a labor and a community setting. Kim is passionate about community control, giving power back to the people, advocating for Black and Brown children, and tearing down systemic oppression. Her organizing around anti-police brutality work has been featured in Netflix (Copwatchers) and BET (Copwatch America).
NYC Base Building Organizer
Edward Adonis Iciano
Edward Adonis Iciano, or just Adonis, is a Bronx native. He started his organizing journey in 2020 when inadequate security, loiterers, and bad sanitation plagued his building, creating poor living standards for the tenants. Volunteering for North West Bronx Community Clergy Coalition (NBWCCC) was where Adonis first got his organizing experience. He would become the tenant leader of his apartment complex, help organize meetings, facilitate conversations with the loaners to his complex, and much more. He would then join the Social Change Fellowship at City College of New York, being the first cohort in which he would learn more about organizing, story of self's, 1:1's, and campaign building - this fellowship aligned Adonis with CVH during the summer of 2022 in which he did his internship, at the end of the summer, Adonis would eventually become a full-time NYC Base-Building Organizer at CVH!
Adonis graduated from City College of New York with a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology.
Cheryl Watts came to Community Voices Heard from Speaker Adrienne Adams' office, where she worked as a Constituent Liaison. She has been a member of Community Voices Heard since 2017 when her Bishop invited her to a meeting. She started working on the housing campaign to fully fund NYCHA, and from there joined the political process of endorsing candidates. She has been one of the leaders of the Follow Black Women campaign since its inception. She was also a previous Board Member of CVH Power for almost 2 years before making the decision to become Political Organizer at CVH.
Zoë joined Community Voices Heard in June 2022. She previously worked as Manager of Digital Media at the Coalition for the Homeless and Policy Coordinator at the John Jay College Institute for Justice and Opportunity. She believes in building collective power in Black, brown, and low-income communities and centering the voices of people with lived experiences.
Zoë holds a Bachelor of Arts in French with a minor in Media, Culture, and Communication from NYU, and is currently pursuing her Master of Public Administration at Baruch College.
In her spare time, she volunteers with the NYC Plover Project and fosters cats for Brooklyn Bridge Animal Welfare Coalition.
Shreya joined Community Voices Heard in June 2023 after previously working on the Policy & Political Affairs team of the Human Rights Campaign in Washington, D.C. She holds a Bachelor's Degree concentrated in Systemic Racism, Sustainable Urbanism, and Public Policy from New York University.
Shreya is a proud Maryland native who became passionate about the intersection of urban planning and racial justice due to the transit and housing inequity that affects Black and Brown communities in Baltimore City. She enjoys working with digital platforms to harness the power of collective civic engagement to fight for equitable urban development and gain back control of public land.