Current Board

CO-CHAIRS         

Walter Lipscomb

Tyletha Samuels

CO- SECRETARIES

Laura Case

Alexa Kasdan

TREASURER

Danielette Horton

NON-OFFICER MEMBERS

Agnes Rivera

Giancarlo Alicea Fernandez

Joseph Mpa

 

Staff

 
Afua Atta-Mensah, Esq.  Executive Director   Afua Atta-Mensah joined the Community Voices Heard team in September 2016 as the Executive Director. Prior to joining as the Executive Director, Afua served on the Community Voices Heard board. From her work in Ghana, West Africa to the urban centers across America, Afua has worked to improve the quality and quantity of fair and equitable housing, defend racial and social justice initiatives, and galvanize support for programs benefiting low-income families.  She was awarded the Fulbright Fellowship in support of her work at the International Federation of Women Attorneys (FIDA) advocating on behalf of indigent women in Ghana. During her tenure at FIDA Afua represented indigent women in court and was a visiting university lecturerat Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology , where she taught a course on women's rights in the context of Ashanti-tribal law.  Afua and her husband are proud residents of Central Harlem. She is the mother of two children and holds a law degree from Fordham Univ. School of Law, and a BA in Sociology and Africana from Trinity College.  Pronouns: She/Her

Afua Atta-Mensah, Esq.
Executive Director

Afua Atta-Mensah joined the Community Voices Heard team in September 2016 as the Executive Director. Prior to joining as the Executive Director, Afua served on the Community Voices Heard board. From her work in Ghana, West Africa to the urban centers across America, Afua has worked to improve the quality and quantity of fair and equitable housing, defend racial and social justice initiatives, and galvanize support for programs benefiting low-income families.

She was awarded the Fulbright Fellowship in support of her work at the International Federation of Women Attorneys (FIDA) advocating on behalf of indigent women in Ghana. During her tenure at FIDA Afua represented indigent women in court and was a visiting university lecturerat Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology , where she taught a course on women's rights in the context of Ashanti-tribal law.

Afua and her husband are proud residents of Central Harlem. She is the mother of two children and holds a law degree from Fordham Univ. School of Law, and a BA in Sociology and Africana from Trinity College.

Pronouns: She/Her

Stephen Roberson  Director of Organizing   Stephen Roberson joined Community Voices Heard staff as Director of Organizing in June 2013. He has over 40 years of organizing experience. Previously he served as Deputy Director of Organizing with SEIU Local 32BJ. Prior to that, he worked as a Lead Organizer and National Staff in the Industrial Areas Foundation for 25 years, building several organizations in Metro New York, Chicago, and in Soweto in South Africa. He was also a Florida and National Representative with the United Farm Workers of America (Labor Union), working directly with Cesar Chavez. Stephen was also a Senior Fellow with the New Organizing Institute in 2012.  Pronouns: He/His

Stephen Roberson
Director of Organizing

Stephen Roberson joined Community Voices Heard staff as Director of Organizing in June 2013. He has over 40 years of organizing experience. Previously he served as Deputy Director of Organizing with SEIU Local 32BJ. Prior to that, he worked as a Lead Organizer and National Staff in the Industrial Areas Foundation for 25 years, building several organizations in Metro New York, Chicago, and in Soweto in South Africa. He was also a Florida and National Representative with the United Farm Workers of America (Labor Union), working directly with Cesar Chavez. Stephen was also a Senior Fellow with the New Organizing Institute in 2012.

Pronouns: He/His

Juanita Lewis  Hudson Valley Organizing Director   Juanita O. Lewis joined the staff of Community Voices Heard in 2009 as the Yonkers Organizer, then the Westchester County Lead Organizer. She was later elevated in 2016 her current role as the Hudson Valley Organizing Director. She began her work as an organizer in 2004 with the Minnesota chapter of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN). In her role as Lead Westchester, she led the organization's county wide expansion which resulted in securing funding for the Westchester Housing Needs Assessment, lobbied for Ban the Box across the county. She was born and raised in Saint Paul, Minnesota and graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Political Science, and with her Masters of Advocacy and Political Leadership Degree from the University of Minnesota-Duluth.  Pronouns: She/Her

Juanita Lewis
Hudson Valley Organizing Director

Juanita O. Lewis joined the staff of Community Voices Heard in 2009 as the Yonkers Organizer, then the Westchester County Lead Organizer. She was later elevated in 2016 her current role as the Hudson Valley Organizing Director. She began her work as an organizer in 2004 with the Minnesota chapter of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN). In her role as Lead Westchester, she led the organization's county wide expansion which resulted in securing funding for the Westchester Housing Needs Assessment, lobbied for Ban the Box across the county. She was born and raised in Saint Paul, Minnesota and graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Political Science, and with her Masters of Advocacy and Political Leadership Degree from the University of Minnesota-Duluth.

Pronouns: She/Her

Michelle Perez  Director of Development   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.  Pronouns: She/Her

Michelle Perez
Director of Development

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.

Pronouns: She/Her

 
Gabriel Strachota  NYC Lead Organizer   fter 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 war in 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. Gabriel was elevated to NYC Chapter Lead Organizer in July 2016  Pronouns: He/Him

Gabriel Strachota
NYC Lead Organizer

fter 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 war in 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. Gabriel was elevated to NYC Chapter Lead Organizer in July 2016

Pronouns: He/Him

Divya Sundaram  Policy & Civic Engagement Coordinator   Divya joined CVH in 2018 to help put Black and brown folks in the driver’s seat of creating policy that impacts them. Before joining CVH, she managed Harvey Epstein’s winning campaign for State Assembly. She also helped  launch  the campaign of Tiffany Cabán, candidate for Queens District Attorney, serving as her Deputy Campaign Manager for the Democratic Primary. Divya is a graduate of Barnard College, where she studied Political Science & Economics, and a recent graduate of  Columbia SIPA , where she studied urban and social policy. She is an organizer rethinking issues of race, civic engagement, and party politics. She’s also researched and advocated for: criminal justice reform, economic development, and labor organizing. Divya is a karaoke enthusiast and all around straightshooter.  Pronouns: she/her

Divya Sundaram
Policy & Civic Engagement Coordinator

Divya joined CVH in 2018 to help put Black and brown folks in the driver’s seat of creating policy that impacts them. Before joining CVH, she managed Harvey Epstein’s winning campaign for State Assembly. She also helped launch the campaign of Tiffany Cabán, candidate for Queens District Attorney, serving as her Deputy Campaign Manager for the Democratic Primary. Divya is a graduate of Barnard College, where she studied Political Science & Economics, and a recent graduate of Columbia SIPA, where she studied urban and social policy. She is an organizer rethinking issues of race, civic engagement, and party politics. She’s also researched and advocated for: criminal justice reform, economic development, and labor organizing. Divya is a karaoke enthusiast and all around straightshooter.

Pronouns: she/her

Valeta Brown  NYC Base-Building Organizer   Valeta Brown joined Community Voices Heard staff as a Base Building Organizer in January 2019. Valeta previously taught high school math in New Orleans, Louisiana and was frustrated by the challenging conditions many of her students were facing outside the classroom. She turned to organizing as a way to address the systemic racism that has caused these conditions and is dedicated to challenging systems, removing barriers, and building power to create a world where black and brown children and their communities can thrive. Valeta graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a bachelor's in International Business and Marketing with a minor in Spanish. She is originally from Cincinnati, Ohio and currently lives in Harlem.  Pronouns: She/Hers

Valeta Brown
NYC Base-Building Organizer

Valeta Brown joined Community Voices Heard staff as a Base Building Organizer in January 2019. Valeta previously taught high school math in New Orleans, Louisiana and was frustrated by the challenging conditions many of her students were facing outside the classroom. She turned to organizing as a way to address the systemic racism that has caused these conditions and is dedicated to challenging systems, removing barriers, and building power to create a world where black and brown children and their communities can thrive. Valeta graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a bachelor's in International Business and Marketing with a minor in Spanish. She is originally from Cincinnati, Ohio and currently lives in Harlem.

Pronouns: She/Hers

Farihah Akhtar  Westchester County Organizer   Farihah joined Community Voices Heard in 2018 as the base-building organizer in Westchester County.  Pronouns: She/Her

Farihah Akhtar
Westchester County Organizer

Farihah joined Community Voices Heard in 2018 as the base-building organizer in Westchester County.

Pronouns: She/Her

 
Shelby Ketchum  Operations Associate   After completing a semester-long internship at Community Voices Heard, Shelby joined the staff of CVH in 2019, where he is responsible for much of the behind-the-scenes work that keeps CVH running. Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, Shelby became passionate for social justice issues after witnessing the violence that erupted after the shooting of Mike Brown. That tragic event spurred him to return to school and to pursue a career in social justice. Today, he is finishing a degree in Urban Studies at the CUNY School of Urban and Labor Studies. As an avid transit nerd Shelby enjoys exploring far flung subway stations.  Pronouns: He/His

Shelby Ketchum
Operations Associate

After completing a semester-long internship at Community Voices Heard, Shelby joined the staff of CVH in 2019, where he is responsible for much of the behind-the-scenes work that keeps CVH running. Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, Shelby became passionate for social justice issues after witnessing the violence that erupted after the shooting of Mike Brown. That tragic event spurred him to return to school and to pursue a career in social justice. Today, he is finishing a degree in Urban Studies at the CUNY School of Urban and Labor Studies. As an avid transit nerd Shelby enjoys exploring far flung subway stations.

Pronouns: He/His

 
Quantel Bazemore  Newburgh Base-Building Organizer   Quantel Bazemore joined Community Voices Heard staff team as Based Builder Organizer in July 2019. He started as a member with Community Voices Heard working on building power around the development and retention of affordable housing, in Westchester County, NY. He has maintained a relationship while being an elected twice as a Village Trustee in the Village of Ossining, New York. In 2015, Quantel co-led and voted for the largest expansion of rent stabilized units in the Village of Ossining - the latest in the State of New York for the past 30 years. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience from his years of community organizing, political campaigns and elected office.  Pronouns: He/His

Quantel Bazemore
Newburgh Base-Building Organizer

Quantel Bazemore joined Community Voices Heard staff team as Based Builder Organizer in July 2019. He started as a member with Community Voices Heard working on building power around the development and retention of affordable housing, in Westchester County, NY. He has maintained a relationship while being an elected twice as a Village Trustee in the Village of Ossining, New York. In 2015, Quantel co-led and voted for the largest expansion of rent stabilized units in the Village of Ossining - the latest in the State of New York for the past 30 years. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience from his years of community organizing, political campaigns and elected office.

Pronouns: He/His

Eli Berkowitz  Poughkeepsie Base-Building Organizer   Eli joined Community Voices Heard in July 2019 as the Base Builder Organizer for Dutchess County. His many years of direct service work with youth, families and formerly incarcerated people taught him the power of relationships in making change, while working alongside and within Black-led organizations more recently informs his 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. He 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.  Pronouns: He/His

Eli Berkowitz
Poughkeepsie Base-Building Organizer

Eli joined Community Voices Heard in July 2019 as the Base Builder Organizer for Dutchess County. His many years of direct service work with youth, families and formerly incarcerated people taught him the power of relationships in making change, while working alongside and within Black-led organizations more recently informs his 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. He 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.

Pronouns: He/His

Jogene Castillo  NYC Base-Building Organizer   Jogene Castillo was born and raised in The South Bronx and has roots from the Dominican Republic. Jogene has been a New York City Community Based Organizer with CVH since July 2019. Before joining the team she was an ELA High School Educator in The South Bronx, NY, and in Brownsville, Texas where she was a 2017 TFA's Education Social Innovation finalist. She is currently an Anthropology and Education Masters student at Columbia's Teachers College.  Pronouns: She/Hers

Jogene Castillo
NYC Base-Building Organizer

Jogene Castillo was born and raised in The South Bronx and has roots from the Dominican Republic. Jogene has been a New York City Community Based Organizer with CVH since July 2019. Before joining the team she was an ELA High School Educator in The South Bronx, NY, and in Brownsville, Texas where she was a 2017 TFA's Education Social Innovation finalist. She is currently an Anthropology and Education Masters student at Columbia's Teachers College.

Pronouns: She/Hers

Rebecca Millberg  NYC Base-Building Organizer   Rebecca Millberg joined Community Voices Heard staff as an East Harlem-based organizer in August 2019. Before organizing tenants with Community Voices Heard, Rebecca worked in fundraising at a community development non-profit in Lawrence, MA. Rebecca was an Organizing Fellow as part of JOIN for Justice's 2017-2018 Jewish Organizing Fellowship cohort, and is thrilled to be back to working as an organizer full-time -- and this time in her favorite city. She graduated from Scripps College in 2017 with a B.A. in Anthropology.  Pronouns: She/Her

Rebecca Millberg
NYC Base-Building Organizer

Rebecca Millberg joined Community Voices Heard staff as an East Harlem-based organizer in August 2019. Before organizing tenants with Community Voices Heard, Rebecca worked in fundraising at a community development non-profit in Lawrence, MA. Rebecca was an Organizing Fellow as part of JOIN for Justice's 2017-2018 Jewish Organizing Fellowship cohort, and is thrilled to be back to working as an organizer full-time -- and this time in her favorite city. She graduated from Scripps College in 2017 with a B.A. in Anthropology.

Pronouns: She/Her


Greg Halzen  NYC Base Building Organizer   Greg Halzen was born and raised in New Mexico and also Maryland. Before moving to NYC in 2007, he studied economics and psychology at Elon University and worked for 2 years on school integration efforts in Bulgaria with the US Peace Corps. He moved to NYC to join language equity efforts in schools and taught in Spanish-English middle school bilingual classrooms for 7 years. He started organizing with an apprentice year through ANHD's Center for Neighborhood Leadership and his organizing at Faith in NY (PICO) focused on leadership development in their immigrant justice campaign. After 3 years with FINY, he spent a year as primary caregiver for 2 foster children, supported the launch of an anti-racism faith coalition, and worked in 3 part-time jobs. In May 2019, Greg was invited to organize with CVH’s NYCHA campaign.  Pronouns: He/Him

Greg Halzen
NYC Base Building Organizer

Greg Halzen was born and raised in New Mexico and also Maryland. Before moving to NYC in 2007, he studied economics and psychology at Elon University and worked for 2 years on school integration efforts in Bulgaria with the US Peace Corps. He moved to NYC to join language equity efforts in schools and taught in Spanish-English middle school bilingual classrooms for 7 years. He started organizing with an apprentice year through ANHD's Center for Neighborhood Leadership and his organizing at Faith in NY (PICO) focused on leadership development in their immigrant justice campaign. After 3 years with FINY, he spent a year as primary caregiver for 2 foster children, supported the launch of an anti-racism faith coalition, and worked in 3 part-time jobs. In May 2019, Greg was invited to organize with CVH’s NYCHA campaign.

Pronouns: He/Him

Omar J. Herrera  Hudson Valley Communications Organizer   After working as a political staffer and constituent services professional at the local, county and state levels, serving as a creative consultant and being Westchester county’s  youngest elected  official as of 2014, Omar joins the Community Voices Heard team as the Hudson Valley Communications Organizer. In his nearly thirty years in Westchester County, Omar Herrera has become a local fixture and a tireless advocate for Ossining & Westchester residents, families and youth. He has experienced Westchester County & the Hudson Valley from many different perspectives: as a resident, small business owner, activist, volunteer, and a member of both the Village Board of Trustees and the Police Commission. He obtained his Bachelor of Science degree from Pace University and completed the Professional Certificate Program in Government & Public Policy from the SUNY Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government Omar’s focus revolves around social equity, access and equality for all.  Pronouns: He/Him

Omar J. Herrera
Hudson Valley Communications Organizer

After working as a political staffer and constituent services professional at the local, county and state levels, serving as a creative consultant and being Westchester county’s youngest elected official as of 2014, Omar joins the Community Voices Heard team as the Hudson Valley Communications Organizer. In his nearly thirty years in Westchester County, Omar Herrera has become a local fixture and a tireless advocate for Ossining & Westchester residents, families and youth. He has experienced Westchester County & the Hudson Valley from many different perspectives: as a resident, small business owner, activist, volunteer, and a member of both the Village Board of Trustees and the Police Commission. He obtained his Bachelor of Science degree from Pace University and completed the Professional Certificate Program in Government & Public Policy from the SUNY Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government Omar’s focus revolves around social equity, access and equality for all.

Pronouns: He/Him