Board Members


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
Judith Febbraro, Secretary
Mahfuzur Rahman, 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.

Jessica is a new member of Community Board 11 and lives in East Harlem with her three roommates and their cats. She is a registered architect working at Hart Howerton Partners in New York City and is a Culture of Health Leader through the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. As a first generation college graduate, Jessica is passionate about economic mobility and social justice. She is a member of the Pa’lante Community Garden and is an avid yogi.

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”.

David L. Giordano has over 38 years’ experience working in Human Service Fields concentrating on Youth Development, Mental Health and Community Service. Mr. Giordano, has been the Director of the Children’s Aid Society East Harlem Center, Boys & Girls Club since August 2005, has had a long tenure with Children’s Aid (CA) which initially began as a teen member in 1975 and then as an employee of CA since 1980. During that time, Mr. Giordano has held a variety of positions with CA such as: Group Counselor in Summer Camp & After-School programs, OASIS Prevention Case worker, Program Coordinator of the Carter Hotel, (which housed homeless families), and Academic & Athletic enrichment program to his current position as the Director of the East Harlem Club. In 1989, he did leave his full-time position with CA to work in Mental Health as Intensive Case Management with Catholic Charities, Dioceses of Brooklyn & Queens. During the following fifteen years with Catholic Charities, Mr. Giordano was employed as an Intensive Case Manager, Case Management Supervisor, Case Manager Administrator and Director for Homeless Prevention services. However, he also remained with CA during those years working part-time during the evening Adolescent Teen program.

In 1992, Mr. Giordano was a recipient of The New York City Department of Health & Hygiene, Mental Health Grant and received his Master’s Degree in Social Work from The City University of New York, Hunter School of Social Work in 1994. From 1998-2005, Mr. Giordano also served as a Board Member, Trainer and Vice-President for The New York State Case Management Coalition. As a board member, he assisted in development of community based services, projects and events for mental health consumers to improve, as well as enhance the services available to the most vulnerable of mental health populations. Additionally, Mr. Giordano served as a trainer and facilitator at the City University of New York, Hunter College School of Social Work for New York State Office of Mental Health and City Department of Health as a trainer in Assessment & Treatment Planning and Cultural Diversity for New York City Case Intensive & Supportive Case managers.

In 2005, Mr. Giordano left Catholic Charities to return again to CAS full-time in order to continue his work with youth full time. Mr. Giordano has been leading the East Harlem Center since August, 2005. He sees himself as not just a leader to his staff, but to the children, their parents and the community at large. “During my 38 years in social services, I really have enjoyed working with children, supporting and guiding them in the achievement of their goals and dreams, and seeing that twinkle in their eyes when they finally get something they have been struggling with.” Additionally, I feel very blessed to be part of the Children’s Aid community in both receiving the benefits as a youth and giving back those benefits as a professional. It’s been really a fantastic experience to be both a person that benefited as a kid and saw the value in it, and then was able to come back and give back.”

Currently Mr. Giordano serves on the following boards: Community Board Member NYC CB 11, Chair CB 11’s Youth & Education Committee and sits on CB 11’s Parks & Open Spaces Committee; NYC DOE District 4 Community Education Council (CEC) Board Member, Mt. Sinai TEEN HEED Diabetes Prevention program Board and East Harlem El Barrio Youth Task Force. Mr. Giordano has in the past has also served on Metropolitan Hospital Community Advisory Board (MET CAB), District 8 Representative NYC Participatory Budgeting City Wide Task Force. Mr. Giordano was also the recipient of Metropolitan Hospital CAB: Jose Sanchez Award for Community Leadership (2010) and the CAB’s Marjorie Matthews Award (2015), received a City Council Citation for work with Participatory Budgeting (2012).

“My Goal in these roles is to foster a greater collaboration among the community organizations and members within East Harlem community to ensure that all people, especially children and those most vulnerable (without a voice) of East Harlem are able to access and receive all needed services in order eet their needs, thrive and be successful in reaching their goals and aspirations

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.”

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).

Malik McCullough was most recently appointed to CB11 in 2018 having previously served from 2012-2014. A lifelong resident of East Harlem, Malik works as Assistant Coordinator Manager at Jacobi Hospital. He is a member of Each One Teach One and serves as the treasurer of the Arturo Schomburg Democratic Club. Malik has a passion for developing leadership and athletic skills in the youth in our community and in his free time, he likes to coach and play basketball.

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.

Jessica was appointed to CB11 in 2019. She has been an East Harlem resident since moving to New York in 2014. Prior, she resided in coastal cities and towns in Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. Jessica is a built environment professional who advocates for interdisciplinary considerations of environment, culture, and human behavior as essential in advancing the health, safety, and wellness of personal, institutional and public realms. After half a decade of independent consulting, Jessica recently joined AECOMs Buildings + Places division. She holds a Master of Architecture from the University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Rhode Island School of Design. Jessica recently Co-Chaired Sustainable Urban Environments, the Environmental Design Research Association’s 50th annual conference at NYUs Tandon School of Engineering and currently serves in a leadership capacity for the American Institute of Architects, New York Chapter Planning & Urban Design Committee, in addition to sitting on the Social Science and Architecture Committee, as well.  Jessica’s independent and collaborative research, and art works have been supported or exhibited by: AIA New York; Queens Museum with the Institute for Public Architecture; Princeton University’s IHUM; U.S. Department of Energy; The Yard in Chilmark, MA; Provincetown Art Museum; Borderland State Park in Easton, MA; Woods Gerry Gallery in Providence, RI; Forbes House Museum in Milton, MA, among others. Through her commitment to inspiring progress, advancing positive outcomes, alongside the ability to deliver innovative, integrated built environment provocations and solutions, Jessica sees appointment to CB11 as a vehicle to advocate together for the vibrancy and vitality of our East Harlem community.

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

Pastor Isaac Scott is an award winning Human Rights Activist who resides in East Harlem and was appointed to CB 11 in 2019. As the Founder and Artistic Director of The Confined Arts, he spearheads the promotion of justice reform through the transformative power of the arts. Isaac holds the esteemed title of Associate Pastor at God’s Touch Healing Ministry, located in East Harlem, where he has founded a prison ministry and is secretary of the Homeless Prevention Committee. Pastor Scott also retains the position of the Arts and Communications Coordinator at the Center for Justice, at Columbia University. His work there includes research, public speaking, and visual media production.

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 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.

Jason Villanueva was first appointed to CB11 in 2016. He works as a Project Executive at the Rolst Construction Corporation and serves on the Board of Directors of Covenant House. Though he currently resides in Ridgewood, NY, he lived in East Harlem from 2004-2009. He is dedicated to promoting workforce and job development opportunities. Among his interests, Jason is a dedicated student of Jiu-Jitsu.

Jonathan Winstone was appointed to the Board by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer in 2015. A Los Angeles native, Jonathan has been a resident of Upper Manhattan for over a decade and of East Harlem since 2010. Jonathan is a passionate believer in every child’s right to a high quality free, public education and has devoted the majority of his professional life to that goal. Jonathan is a graduate of Brandeis University where he studied politics, social justice and policy, and education. He put his studies into action when in 2009, he began his education career in a Harlem-based education reform organization and charter school and now manages operations in the Central offices of the New York City Department of Education. Jonathan is proud to live in affordable housing in East Harlem and welcomes the opportunity presented by CB11 to invest in the community and advocate for others to share these benefits.

Jason Wu has been a member of CB11 since 2018 and has lived in East Harlem since 2014. He works as a Staff Attorney at The Legal Aid Society’s Harlem Community Law Office and serves on the Executive Board of the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys-UAW 2325.

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.