Our members are your neighbors – people who live, work or have some other significant interest in East Harlem. Below is a listing of the current members of CB11. Click on their names and get to know them better:
Nilsa Orama, Board Chair
Xavier Santiago, Vice-Chair
Alex Kohen, Secretary
Judith Febbraro, Assistant Secretary
Marissa Mack, Treasurer
Candy Vives-Vasquez, Assistant Treasurer
Jose Altamirano was first appointed to CB11 in January 2010. While currently resides in Morris Park section of the Bronx he has previously lived in East Harlem on both 111th Street between Second and Third Avenue and 116th Street between Second and Third Avenue.
Jose is the owner-operator of El Barrio’s Car Service located at 220 east 116th Street and has been serving East Harlem for over 30 years. Jose is a proud member of the East Harlem 360 program and the Livery Base Owners, where he serves as President. In his free time, Jose enjoys snowboarding, motorcycles, swimming and traveling.
“Having been raised and a part of this neighborhood for 30 years, I understand that changes will come but it is my goal that our neighborhood keeps its soul and culture intact”.
Adem Brija was first appointed to CB11 in 2014. East Harlem-born, Adem has lived in the neighborhood for over half his life. He is the owner of Patsy’s Pizzeria an East Harlem staple since 1933.
Adem is a voting member of the Arturo Schomburg Democratic Club in East Harlem.
His hobbies include playing sports, especially football and golf, as well as writing music and poetry. He is also a very interested and seasoned real estate investor.
“My knowledge of real estate qualifies me for the land use committee. Which I currently serve on. My knowledge of running a restaurant qualifies me for the Licenses and Permits committee which I currently chair.”
Reverend Yolanda D. Brown, a Minister of Economic Development, and the Senior Pastor of a Christian Fellowship, Center of Destiny, was appointed to CB11 by Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer in 2016. A native New Yorker, and an East Harlem resident of 15 years, Rev. Brown serves on both the Youth & Education and Public Safety & Transportation committees. A Prophetic Voice of Justice, Rev Brown has affiliation with FPWA as a Faith and Justice Fellow, Faith in New York as an Organization Affiliate, an IEDC standing member of 12 years, and the Chair of CTD, a FB Workforce Development Initiative. Rev. Brown’s call and mandate as a faith leader it to seek the welfare of the city, and that translates into seeking the well-being of its people, especially the most vulnerable, for this reason she is equipped to serve the community. And to balance it all out, Rev. Brown enjoys spending time with family and friends, cooking, dancing, traveling, and encourage others to live life from a higher place of greater possibilities.
Diane Collier is a lifelong resident of East Harlem and operates a family-owned small business in the neighborhood. She has been a member of Community Board 11 Manhattan since 2007, served as its Board Chair Board, Board Vice Chair, and Chair of the Economic Development, Public Safety and Marketing committees respectively. Known for her results-driven advocacy for local hiring, local MWBE participation and affordable housing, Diane is very proud of her southern heritage which shaped her passion and activism for social and economic justice.
Elsie Encarnacion has been a board member since 2016. For the past 5 years, Elsie has been the Family and Community Engagement Coordinator at the Renaissance Charter High School for Innovation. Her goals are to strengthen family connections to school personnel and to community resources. A native of East Harlem she takes great pride in representing her community and working towards its empowerment. She has been on the Board of Women of El Barrio, a group that helps empowers and celebrate Puerto Rican Women in East Harlem. She participated in the East Harlem Rezoning Steering Committee as the Chair of the Youth and Schools Sub-Committee. During her years as the Director of Youth Services for Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito she was the lead on such things as the Youth Violence Taskforce, the Anti-Displacement Taskforce and the District 8 Youth Council. Elsie loves to travel and spend time with her family and friends.
Melanee Farrah is a strategic consultant, coach, and HR professional focused on education, government, and social service. She has over 15 years of experience in municipal & federal government, sustaining intergovernmental partnerships, managing grants and monitoring early childhood education programs. As a consultant, she provides small business and public sector clients with results‐oriented strategies.
She holds an MPP from George Washington University, is a Coro Leadership New York alumna, and a current Broad Resident. Her mission is to explore how partnerships amplify and strengthen New York’s diverse communities.
Judith Febbraro has been a member of CB11 since 2005 and has resides in East Harlem since 2002. Though retired Judith keep active as a member of the Community Council of the 25th Precinct and the Community Advisory Board of the Henry J. Carter Specialty Hospital as Chair of Patient Care. Her interests include quality of life, public safety, growing the economy. Judith has lifelong passion for dogs, enjoys architecture and design, especially Art Deco. Skills: it varies to what I’m doing at the time, I acclimate to whatever needs to be done. During her working career she was a paralegal at a law firm and in earlier days worked in merchandising in the Garment Center. Judith’s priority issue is making the community better community for all and supports the idea of establishing a Business Improvement District n East Harlem. She believes in spending money within the community instead of elsewhere and having the services and entertainment that would bring people to our community. “I would love to see a diverse restaurant row as they have on the West Side. Basically to have a community that people want to come to and have a reason to come to. I live in this community and I want to see it grow, not stagnate”.
Henry was first appointed to CB 11 in June of 2017. He has been a lifelong resident of East Harlem since the age of three years old after his family emigrated from the Dominican Republic. This will be his thirty-sixth year as a resident of El Barrio. “I have chosen to come back and raise my family in El Barrio”. Henry works Time Warner, Inc., as its Global Real Estate Manager. He is a part of the Leadership Council and Sponsor Recruitment Board of Student Sponsor Partners, a non-profit which since 1986 has had the mission of taking inner-city students from underperforming public schools and placing them in a parochial school where they have a much higher chance of success; students are paired with a sponsor who both pays for their education and mentors them. He is a 1997 graduate of the program and is currently sponsoring and mentoring his fifth student from his alma mater, All Hallows High School. In his off-time, Henry loves cooking and fine dining with family and friends. “My wife and I also love travel and being parents to our two-year-old daughter”.
“I was the former Director of Real Estate and Business Attraction for the City of Newark under then-Mayor Cory Booker. During my time in this role, I worked on bringing a Whole Foods to Newark and revitalizing the city by attracting retailers and other businesses. I have a strong background in real estate finance, real estate development and economic development understanding the synergies obtained through private/public partnerships”.
Lilybelle Gonzalez has been a member of Manhattan Community Board 11 for three years, is the current chair of the Humans Services Committee, and is a member of the Youth and Education Committee. A lifelong New Yorker, she is a graduate of The College of Mount Saint Vincent and has a Master’s degree in Human Services Administration from Bellevue University. She has more than 10 years of experience working in children’s services. Lilybelle’s current project involves working with the Silberman School of Social Work as a Leadership Professional Development Facilitator, working closely with the New York City Administration for Children’s Services. In her spare time she is the proud owner of her dog Oreo, and has been a volunteer at Animal Care Centers on 110th Street for the past four years. She is an avid salsa dancer and, most importantly, bleeds Yankee blue, and is looking forward to the Yankees winning the world series this year.
John became a community board member in 2013 and has lived in East Harlem since 1983. He retired from NYC Children’s Services in 2015 after 37 years of service. In the past, he served on the board of his resident association for four years and as a budget delegate for former City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. His hobbies are music, sports and old movies. “My ability to work with others and my desire to help others are my qualifications to serve on the community board.”
Alex Kohen has been a member of CB11 since 2015 and has lived in New York City his whole life, including East Harlem since 2013. He works as an attorney at Deutsche Bank. Alex is a graduate of Hunter College High School and Hunter College, where he studied Political Science, Urban Affairs, and Latin American & Caribbean Studies. He is currently a Trustee of the Hunter College Foundation and a member of the Hunter College Pre-Law Advisory Board. In his free time, enjoys spending time with his family and friends, attending local concerts and is a fan of the New York Yankees.
Adriane Mack is a Southern California native who has called Harlem home for over 15 years. Ms. Mack has over 10 years of experience in human services and is a strong voice in the upper Manhattan community as Director of External Relations at STRIVE International.
Adriane is a James Beard Chairman’s Circle member and serves on their Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council. She also serves as an advisory board member with the Salvation Army Manhattan Citadel Community; the YMCA Housing Advisory Board; the East Harlem Community Alliance Hire East Harlem Committee and Promote East Harlem Committee; NAACP Mid-Manhattan Chapter; the New York Urban League Young Professionals; and has served on the 126th Street Bus Depot Taskforce and WeACT Northern Manhattan Steering Committee.
A mother to her daughter Anastasia who shares her passion for the fine arts and cooking. They both love sports and being competitive.
Marissa Y. Mack has been a resident of East Harlem since 2010 by way of West Harlem where she was born and raised. A member of Community Board 11 since 2013, she currently serves as Treasurer, where she reviews the financial needs of the board office and works with board staff to appropriately allocate funds annually. Marissa works as a Not for Profit Portfolio Manager at Sterling National Bank, where she supports the mission, vision and goals of community organizations through financing. Her passion lies in connecting communities to resources in order to become more sustainable and strengthening existing partnerships for marginalized sectors.
In addition to contributing to the economic growth of CB11, Marissa also serves on her building’s Co-op Advisory Board, offering recommendations for capital projects, investments, and various forms of community engagement. Marissa holds a master’s degree in Public Administration (MPA) from NYU and a bachelor’s degree from Temple University. Marissa’s life guidance quote is “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”.
Frances Mastrota, Ph.D. was appointed to CB11 by then-Councilmember Phil Reed in 1997. She has lived in East Harlem since 1959 raising her children in what she calls ” The Pleasant Village Neighborhood” (111th to 120th Street, Pleasant to First Avenue).
Born in the Yorkville (83rd Street and East End Avenue) neighborhood, she developed a love of learning and completed her Undergraduate studies in Canada (1958), Masters (1960), NYS & Ph.D. (NYC) that has served her well.
As a retired Research Scientist, she currently thinks of herself as an Environment and Public Garden/Park advocate. Certified in Street Tree Care (Trees NY), Certified Feral Cat (TNR) Team Member (ASPCA), Certified Master Gardener (Cornell Ext.), Certified Rosarian (Brooklyn Botanical Garden). NYC Beekeeper (Dadant).
Frances is busy reporting to the Sierra Club, Adirondack Division, and other environmental advocates. All of the natural world enchants her, as her knitting, crochet, embroidery projects show. A confirmed bibliophile, with a significant interest in the history of Manhattan Island, East Harlem, Randall & Ward’s Island. She is most fortunate to have been along with Rose Gardella, and eight others in 1976 a founding member of the Pleasant Village Community Garden (118th to 119th Street on Pleasant Avenue).
Jeffrey Monteiro is a designer and small business owner residing in East Harlem who has lived in New York City since 2000. Jeffrey particularly loves the neighborhood’s proximity to the verdant landscapes of Central Park and the East and Harlem Rivers. He serves on CB11’s Environment, Open Spaces & Parks and Public Safety & Transportation Committees. Jeffrey has a keen interest in the need for and preservation of safe and accessible public spaces, local businesses that cater to the immediate and broader community, and the development of local economies.
Nilsa Orama is the Director of the East Harlem Multi-Service Center.
She is the current Chair of Manhattan Community Board 11. As a board member, she has chaired the 2015 Nominating Committee, is the former Vice Chair of the Housing, Bylaws and Youth and Education Committees and has served on the Parks Committee as well as the East Harlem Rezoning Taskforce.
As a lifelong resident of East Harlem, Nilsa is very invested in her community. She has served as a parent volunteer in various schools in the district as well as in the Ice Hockey in Harlem Program. She has participated in Community Emergency Response Training (CERT) provided by the NYC Office of Emergency Management.
In April 2016, Nilsa was selected by the East and Central Harlem District Public Health office as a panelist for the East Harlem Healthy Neighborhoods Initiative. The panel awarded 9 awards to community-based projects that enhance neighborhood health as outlined in goals stated in the East Harlem Neighborhood Plan.
In May 2016, as a board member of the East Harlem/El Barrio Land Trust, Nilsa was elected to the position of Board Secretary. She is very excited to be part of an initiative that will ensure affordable housing and a land resource for residents for the years to come.
Before being promoted to Director, Nilsa was the Assistant Director for the Multi-Service Center. She has also worked as a job developer for the East Harlem Council for Community Improvement, Inc. adult training programs and held the position of Director of Youth Services where she worked with citywide youth in various youth programs including the Summer Youth Employment Program, In School Youth Employment Program and PAVE and Escalera Programs.
Nilsa currently holds a Master of Business Administration degree and is a licensed notary public. She is a member of Prospanica (formerly known as the National Society of Hispanic MBA’s).
She is the proud wife of Tomas and the mother of two boys, Chris and Matt.
Robert Perkins has been a member of CB11 since 2016 and has lived in East Harlem for 25 years. Mr. Perkins is a retired New York City Department of Education Teacher. He is president of the Harlem Neighborhood Block Association (HNBA).
Mr. Perkins spends most of his free time with his grandson, and enjoys bike riding and chess.
Mahfuzur Rahman is the first and youngest Bangladeshi member to ever be appointed to CB11 at 16 years old and has been a member since 2015. He is born and raised in East Harlem and is now continuing his education at The City College of New York. Having worked with CAAAV, the Bronx Defenders, CitiBike, as well Assembly Member Robert Rodriguez’s office, Mahfuzur brings a grassroots perspective in marketing and advocating the needs of his community on policy. Mahfuzur serves as the Chair of the Health, Human Services, Immigration & Seniors Committee. He also serves on the Youth & Education Committee. He is a proponent of criminal and civil justice reform as well as equity in social services. In his free time, he is biking in Central Park, experiencing all that New York offers and spending time with friends and family and his cat, Bellu.
Hello, my name is Celia Ramirez and I have been living in East Harlem most of my life. I grew up in El Barrio and have been part of the community all my life. I’ve been an entrepreneur, developer and business administrator. Among many things, I like a volunteering to help my community in almost anything that I am able to.
Have been on CB11M for many years, helping our community obtain and maintain affordable housing and trying to help direct those around me where I can to help others learn to better themselves.
Presently, I am the President of East River North Renewal HDFC and an active member of this community to help keep Unity in Community helping economically where I can and keep cultivating our cultural resources when and where possible. The creator and sole sponsor of East Harlem Multi-Cultural Festival which created and directed “Salsa Saturday” for over 10 years at La Placita de La Marqueta creating fame for our area in our community.
We as a community must agree to disagree and stay good neighbors to keep our community growing strong.
Pa’lante todos unidos. Humbly here to support El Barrio.
With roots extending five generations back and spanning between East Harlem and the South Bronx, Xavier A Santiago is a dedicated Community Board 11 resident. A staunch supporter of the local economy, his film production company has hired and filmed within the district and surrounding NYC areas. Previous leadership roles include: Treasurer, Chair of the Housing Committee and Economic Development Committee. He currently serves as the Vice-Chair of Community Board 11 and Chairs the Statement of District Needs & Budget Committee
Ryan Sheffield has been a member of CB11 since 2017 and has lived in East Harlem since 2016. He currently works at financial services firm Cantor Fitzgerald and formerly served as a Captain in the U.S. Army with tours in Iraq (2011) and Afghanistan (2012-2013). Ryan is the Vice Chair of the Environment, Open Space & Parks Committee and a member of the Licenses & Permits Committee. Ryan is also a staunch advocate for LGBTQ rights and equality. In his free time, Ryan enjoys walking the East River Esplanade, traveling, and spending time with his family and friends.
Shantal Sparks has been a member of CB11 since 2016 and has lived in East Harlem for nearly 15 years. Shantal is a Trial Attorney with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and currently serves as Chair of the Office Oversight Committee of CB11. She is an active member of several bar associations, including the Dominican Bar Association (DBA) and the Metropolitan Black Bar Association (MBBA) where she serves on the Board of Directors. In addition to her various roles, Shantal also mentors high school students with Legal Outreach, Inc. and mentors law students through Practicing Attorneys for Law Students, Inc. (PALS). In her free time, Shantal enjoys traveling, reading, and spending time with her family and friends.
Jesse Yang has been a member of CB11 since 2015 and has lived in East Harlem since 2011, where he started Think Tank Real Estate, a solutions-based property and asset management company. Jesse earned his master’s degree in Real Estate from the NYU Schack Institute of Real Estate. He hopes his background can help the board make well-informed decisions about housing and economic development in the neighborhood. He currently sits on both the Economic Development, Culture, and Tourism and the Licenses & Permits committees. Jesse is a graduate of Harvard University, where he studied Engineering. Prior to CB11, he also served as a junior board member for Mark Degarmo and Dancers, a non-profit organization that created dance and arts education programs in NY public schools. In his free time, Jesse enjoys taking his dog on long walks and spending time with his friends and family.