Biographies of IFS Presenters at October 2010 Settlement Summit

Mimi Abramovitz, DSW, is the Bertha Capen Reynolds Professor of Social Work and Social Policy at Hunter College School of Social Work in New York City. Professor Abramovitz’s areas of interest and expertise center around theories of the U.S. welfare state and how welfare reform policies impact low-income women. She is widely published; her most recent book is entitled Under Attack, Fighting Back: Women and Welfare in the United States NY: Monthly Review Press, (2nd rev Ed), 2009.

Tosin Akinsiku is 19 years old and her involvement started at her youth center and school. Now she is a board member of Fritidsforum, The Swedish National Association of Youth Centers, a non-governmental organization. She currently works with children of all ages including children with disabilities and children in early education.

Lena Alhusseini is the Executive Director of the Arab-American Family Support Center in New York City. With over 21 years of experience, she is an international expert on developing culturally appropriate social welfare programs, policies, training, research and evaluation, and cutting-edge initiatives to prevent and respond to domestic violence and child abuse & neglect. Her current organization is the United States’ second largest and most successful social service organization for the Arab-American community, and one of the newest members of UNH.

Antonia Beck, Executive Director of South Burnaby Neighbourhood House (SBNH), began her career as a NH Program Director before moving to South Burnaby in 1992. In 1996, she helped to form the South Burnaby Neighbourhood House Society and became a founding member. She became Executive Director in 2002. She also sits on the Burnaby Intercultural Planning table and is an active member of the Edmonds Business and Community Association and the Kingsway Imperial Neighbourhood Association.

Jennifer Blevins is currently the Director of the Brian Coyle Community Center at Pillsbury United Communities. She spent several years as the Director of Community and Systems Change at Family and Children’s Service in Minneapolis and has over 20 years of professional experience in community-based organizations. She has a Master of Social Work degree.

Susanne Burkhardt is the Director of Development and Community Engagement at Scadding Court Community Centre in Toronto. Much of her work emphasizes links between on-the-ground service provision and social change, particularly through community engagement on policy issues. Susanne holds a Bachelor of Arts from McGill University, a Bachelor of Science degree from Ryerson University,and a Masters in Public Health from Columbia University.

Catherine Campbell has been facilitating art projects with University Settlement programs since 2007 and is currently curating a project as part of that organization’s 100th Anniversary. She has been an art and drama teacher, working with all kinds of children and adult students, for fifteen years.

Humberto Carolo is the Director of Programs at the White Ribbon Campaign in Toronto, Canada.  He works collaboratively with local and international partner organizations to develop educational strategies to engage men and boys in promoting gender equality and ending violence against women.  Over the past year, Humberto worked with the Cape Verdean Institute for Gender Equality and Equity and Sri Lanka’s Women Defining Peace to increase the capacity of civil society in both countries to engage men and boys in gender equality.

Paula Carr, from Vancouver Canada, is the Executive Director of Community Development for Collingwood Neighbourhood House and has had a rich experience working in a neighborhood that encountered dramatic changes, moving from a predominantly Caucasian, English-speaking neighborhood to one where the majority of residents are a visible minority and only 27% of its residents speak English.

Mischelle Causey-Drake is the Chief Operating Officer & General Counsel of Jane Addams Hull House Association (JAHHA). In her capacity as the COO, she is responsible for an operating budget of approximately $28 million and oversees 2 community centers, thirty-seven satellite programs and over 300 employees. She has previously served as the Chair of the Women’s Advisory Council of the City of Chicago Commission on Human Relations, as a member of the Wheaton College National Advisory Council for the Center for Applied Christian Ethics, a Commissioner for the City of Chicago Commission on Human Relations, and a 2003 Fellow of Leadership Greater Chicago.

Robert Chazin, Ph.D, is a Professor at Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service in New York City. He has more than 35 years experience as a therapist, teacher, trainer, and organizational consultant. Robert has a strong interest in international social work and has coordinated projects in the Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia, Viet Nam, and the Salama Center in Tanzania, Africa. He currently serves on the International Consortium for Social Development 2010 Symposium Organizing Committee, and on the Advisory Editorial Board of the Journal of Global Social Work Practice.

David Chen is the Executive Director of the Chinese-American Planning Council, Inc.(CPC), the largest not-for-profit social service agency serving the Asian American population in the greater New York metropolitan area. As the chief administrator of CPC, Mr. Chen oversees 42 programs in childcare, home care, low-income housing, employment and training, youth, children and family services, client advocacy, translation, and senior citizen services. Mr. Chen holds a MPA in Public & Not-for-Profit Management, MA in Social Service Administration and a BA in Economics.

Merial Clark has over 20 years of professional experience in the community sector, most recently for nine years as the Executive Officer of the Association of Neighbourhood Houses and Learning Centres. Merial is currently the Regional Networker for the Network of Inner East Community Houses (NIECH) based in inner Melbourne, Australia, providing support, advice and training to 28 houses and centers. She is also a current committee member of the Australian Neighbourhood Houses and Centres Association which is actively working on behalf of more than 1000 neighborhood community organizations.

Elizabeth Coker, Ph.D. is the Director of Research & Evaluation at Lenox Hill Neighborhood House in New York City. Liz is the first individual to hold such a position as the Research & Evaluation Department was created in 2009. Prior to joining the Neighborhood House, Liz spent a decade at the American University in Cairo chairing and teaching in the community psychology department.

Maureen Fair is the Executive Director of St. Christopher House. She is an active participant in local, national and international forums and networks and is currently the President of the Board of the Canadian Association of Neighbourhood Settlements (CANS). Maureen has co-led a six-year CURA-funded project “Neighborhood Change; Building Inclusive Communities from Within,” which has resulted in significant media and political attention and the creation of the Toronto Neighbourhood Research Network.

Graham Fisher is the Chief Executive of Toynbee Hall, a position he has held since November 2008. Graham’s career combines work in both the advice and legal services sector and the cultural sector. Prior to joining Toynbee Hall, Graham was the Chief Executive of MLA London, the strategic regional development agency for museums, libraries and archives and the Director of London Libraries Development Agency, the strategic development agency for London’s public libraries. 

Alison Fleminger is the founding program curator of The Performance Project @ University Settlement.  Her vision for this comprehensive arts program arises out of 15 years of experience designing and implementing arts curricula for theaters, schools, camps, after school programs and adult literacy and staff training programs.  The Performance Project offers a cutting edge public presenting series, an artist –in-residency program and carefully crafted collaborative experiences between artists and University Settlement staff and participants.

Emmanuel Folarin Ero-Phillips Sr., MSW, and Ph.D. candidate, was previously the Executive Director of the African American Relief & Development Initiatives based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is now the Chairman of Ero-Phillips Foundation in Lagos, Nigeria as well as the current President of the Rotary Club of Jos South, Nigeria, and a member of the IFS board.

Laura Fortinsky has been working at the Salama Center as a representative for Better Future International (BFI) since June 2009. Laura spent three-months volunteering in Tanzania with Cross-Cultural Solutions (CCS) in October 2005. At this time, she worked with a primary school, a local NGO providing sexual health education in primary schools and a full-care orphanage. She met Luka Ndalima during her volunteer program and heard his dream of starting a program to help orphaned children. After returning to the U.S, Laura worked for two years with CCS in New York as a Tanzania Program Manager and during a brief visit to Tanzania in 2008, Laura reconnected with Luka. From this serendipitous connection, a partnership between BFI and KAFAO was born.

Clare Gilhooly has been the CEO of Cambridge House for 7 years and has overseen its growth and repositioning as one of the leading community anchor organizations in England. The White Paper ‘Real People, Real Power: Communities in Control’ was launched at Cambridge House. Cambridge House delivers its own direct services predominantly in the London Borough of Southwark and also supports smaller community organizations. Clare is a member of the Southwark Alliance (the Local Strategic Partnership,) a Trustee of bassac and the International Federation of Settlements, and is also an independent member of the Office of the Third Sector Advisory Body.

Juliane Gobes is the Deputy Managing Director of MITTENDRIN in Hellersdorf and has a background in employment services. She has a degree in Public Administration from the German Federation University of Applied Science Department of Labor Administration and a Master of Arts in Social Management from the University of Applied Science at Alice Salomon.

Ursula Gobes is a clinical psychologist who has spent 20 years working on behalf of individuals with disabilities. Ursula is the Founder and Managing Director of MITTENDRIN in Hellersdorf, which today employs 60 individuals. She completed her academic studies at Humbolt University of Berlin.

Marta Henzler is a social animator (similar, but not exactly the same as “community organizer”), certified community trainer, and facilitator of social process working in the community development field and is responsible for the education and development of other community trainers in Poland. She is the program director of CAL , an NGO initiating and implementing educational programs to support community activism and development of local communities.

Kelli Holsopple is a co-artistic director of Phoenix Theatre Ensemble, with 10 years of experience as an actor and teaching artist.  As a teaching artist, she has worked with CLIMB Theatre in St. Paul, MN and the Creative Arts Team in NYC.  On behalf of the Phoenix, Kelli also designed and implemented the InFlight Educational Program, a teaching artist residency program that brings theatre arts into the classrooms of K-5 students at the East Village Community School.

Rob Howarth is the Executive Director of the Toronto Neighbourhood Centres, an association of thirty–two multi-service community agencies located across the city of Toronto. For the past twenty years, through his work and his varied community research, facilitation and mobilization activities, Rob has helped to articulate the opportunities and challenges facing Toronto’s non-profit sector, and has advocated for reforms to strengthen the sector’s capacity.

Ben Hughes has led a wide range of community and voluntary organizations since the mid 1980’s spanning environmental, community arts and more recently advice and legal services. In 1999 Ben joined bassac as CEO; bassac is a membership group of over 100 organizations serving disadvantaged communities across the United Kingdom. He has been involved in a broad range of policy initiatives with government around community issues including ChangeUp, Community Work Forum, Active Communities Partnership, and has advised government ministers on the development of new third sector/ NGO funding programs and legislative developments.

David Hulchanski, Ph.D., is the Associate Director of Research of the Cities Centre at the University of Toronto. He also teaches graduate courses and supervises dissertation research on housing policy, social welfare, community development and human rights in the Faculty of Social Work. His work focuses on housing policy and related urban social and economic issues, including poverty, the relationship between health and housing, discrimination in housing markets, social housing programs, and homelessness. His current research is focused on homelessness, the housing needs of immigrants and refugees, affordable rental housing and neighborhood planning issues.

Bonnie Hunter has been with North York Community House for six years and is currently the Director of Human Resources and Administration. After working in human resources in the private sector, she earned her Masters of Social Work degree and has been in the non-profit field for 15 years, working in women's shelters and other local community organizations.

Michele B. Ivory, LMSW has been a staff member at Goddard Riverside Community Center for 10 years.  She is the director of The Bernie Wohl Center, a hub of community center programming for families and children on Manhattan's Upper West Side.  As the agency liaison for IFS, Ms. Ivory has been involved with international exchanges with Berlin, Mexico and Venezuela.

Suzanne Koepplinger, M.A., is the Executive Director of the Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center. She has a background in international project development, communications, domestic violence advocacy, and fundraising. Suzanne serves on Boards for the American Indian Community Development Corporation Board, ArtSpace, and the Greater Twin Cities United Way. Civic activities include serving on the Steering Committee of the Sheila Wellstone Institute and the FBI Civil Rights Advisory Group. Suzanne is of European and Canadian Mohawk ancestry, holds a Masters degree in the Art of Leadership from Augsburg College. She is the recipient of the Minneapolis FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award, the 2008 Sheila Wellstone Gold Watch Award from WATCH, and the 2010 Ruby Award from Soroptimist International.

Karen Larcombe, Executive Director of South Vancouver Neighbourhood House (SVNH), British Columbia, Canada, has been working in the community development field for 22 years. Karen is a member of the Association of Neighbourhood Houses of BC Senior Management Team and recently led the ANHBC toolkit project for developing and sustaining neighborhood houses. Karen has a Bachelors and Masters Degree in Social Work from the University of British Columbia.

Barbara Levy Simon, Ph. D., has taught at Columbia University’s School of Social Work since 1986. Her research interests include the history of social work, social welfare, and human service and urban professions. She applies frameworks of analysis from women and gender studies to applied professional settings and postcolonial contexts of social work practice

Elizabeth Lightfoot, Ph.D., is currently the Doctoral Program Director in the School of Social Work at the University of Minnesota. She recently spent a year at the University of Namibia as a Faculty Fulbright Scholar. In 1998 she earned a joint Ph.D. in Public Policy through the School of Public and Environmental Affairs and the Department of Political Science at Indiana University.

Luka Ndalima is co-Director of the Salama Center. He trained as an artist with his father and studied art at Bagamoyo in Dar Es Salaam, receiving an Advanced Certificate in Art in 1999. Luka also has a great deal of experience volunteering with NGOs. He taught traditional art and carving to disadvantaged youth at the Moshi YWCA, and volunteered with a local street-children’s organization, Mkombozie Center for Street Children, and joined their foster-care program in 2006. In 2006, he joined co-Director Justas Mollel to start Kilimanjaro Aid for AIDS Orphans (KAFAO). A chance meeting with American Laura Fortinsky led to collaboration with BFI and the development of the Salama Center.

Rachael Neff, LMSW, is the Assistant Executive Director at Lenox Hill Neighborhood House in New York City. Rachael, who has had leadership experiences in Settlement Houses in both Philadelphia and New York, was a part of creating the Research & Evaluation Department at the Neighborhood House – which provides services to 20,000 New Yorkers – and works in guiding the overall department in conducting research and evaluation throughout their many departments.

Lambrina Nikolaou is the Director of Community Programs at St. Christopher House. She has Bachelor of Science in Biology and Psychology. Prior to her current position, Lambrina spent twelve years in the community mental health sector. At St. Christopher House Lambrina is responsible for a range of adult services and programs including: adult literacy, high school equivalency, academic upgrading and computer literacy; youth and adult employment and skills development programs; and services and supports for homeless and under-housed adults.

Mark Parker is currently serving as bassac’s Head of Policy and has worked at bassac for over eight years. bassac is a membership group of over 100 organisations serving disadvantaged communities across the United Kingdom. Mark has been involved in capacity building with bassac members throughout that time, managing several programs including work on community impact, diversity and multi-racial partnerships, regional work and more recently on sustainable development.

Upendo Parsons began working as Case Manager at the Salama Center in February, 2010. As Case Manager, she is responsible for the majority of outreach programming, including home visits and school visits. She also leads group activities for the children in the after-school program and leads workshops for the caregivers. After completing secondary school, Upendo dove into community development work, especially related to youth and sexual health education.

Patrick Pesch, Manager of Youth and Fundraising, graduated last year as a social worker and began working for the Nachbarschaftszentrum in der UfaFabrik in Berlin. During his studies he was an elected member of the student council (University of Applied Sciences Lausitz). Part of his job in the council was to lead the department for higher education policy. Special projects at university included evaluations, international exchanges, symposiums, public relations and fundraising. He now focuses on fundraising/Social-Marketing, international exchanges, and youth work as part of UfaFabrik.

Hilde Reints, who holds a Master degree in social geography and public administration, is a management consultant specializing in public sector challenges. Hilde has worked on a variety of issues in the sector which range from welfare to care, local government to regional marketing and development and governmental organization struggles.

Irma Rodriguez is the Executive Director of Queens Community House, a traditional settlement house with 21 sites in 11 different neighborhoods in New York City’s borough of Queens. Queens Community House has developed a method for working very locally while also developing a borough-wide infrastructure with a strong staff understanding of and connection to a unified mission and practice. Irma has 30 years of experience in community organizing and is particularly interested in connecting social services and social justice work.

Donna Rooney, Ph.D. is currently a researcher/lecturer at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS). Her 2007 doctorate investigated learning in neighborhood centers, and this interest continues to shape her post-doctoral research.  Prior to joining UTS, Donna worked in various capacities in the adult community education and the community development sectors. Her last position was with a state association where she managed adult learning programs in centers across New South Wales.

Sarangadhar Samal has been the Director of NYSASDRI for more than 25 years and has successfully led numerous initiatives that have had a positive impact on 1,000 remote and inaccessible villages in 16 districts of Orissa. He has led a community development program that lobbied for the rights of displaced tribal peoples exploited by mining companies; an advocacy campaign regarding the sexual and reproductive health rights of youth; and an initiative for the legitimate rights of tribal villagers. He has written 20 books on community development. Sarang holds a Masters Degree in Social Work and a Master of Arts in History from the Utkal University. 

Herbert Scherer, Ph.D., has worked as a Lecturer at the University of Warwick, Coventry, UK, and then moved into youth work as both social worker and managing directors before beginning work with Berlin Verband fur Sozial Kulturelle Arbeit Landesgruppe, the federation for socio-cultural work (the umbrella organization of Neighborhood Centers in Berlin). He has now been Managing Director of this federation for nineteen years.

Debra Shime is Executive Director of University Settlement, (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), which is celebrating its 100th Anniversary during 2010. Prior to this post, Debra was Senior Vice President at Safe Horizon in New York City, the largest crime victim assistance organization in the United States, where she worked for a decade.

Line K. Sidenius is the Center Director for Methods, Development and Quality at Askovgarden in Copenhagen, Denmark. She received her Master in Educational Psychology at the University of Aarhus, Denmark. She is a member of the Danish Council of Crime Prevention. Some of her areas of interest include working with vulnerable youth, working with young adults with eating disorders and practicing social work in local communities.

William Sinclair, MSW, from Toronto, Canada who is the Associate Executive Director of St. Stephen’s Community House. He oversees ten community based programs at nine different locations throughout Toronto. He will be joined by Rick Eagen who is the Community Development & Special Projects Coordinator with St. Christopher House in Toronto. Rick brings expertise in the area of facilitating and supporting the organization in outreach, planning, evaluation and community development capacity.

Brian Smith has been the President and CEO of WoodGreen Community Services since 1978, a multi-service community agency with just over 500 staff, 1,000 volunteers and an annual budget of $28 million.  Brian was educated in Quebec and Ontario and holds a Masters of Business Administration Degree from the University of Western Ontario, an Honors Certificate in Voluntary Sector Management from York University, a Bachelor Degree in Sacred Theology from Trinity College in Toronto and a Bachelor of Arts from Bishop’s University in Lennoxville, Quebec. He is the Immediate Past President of IFS.

Judi Snively is the Co-coordinator of the Adult Learning Programs at St. Christopher House (Toronto). She has 10 years experience working in adult education and community development as both a volunteer and a staff person. Judi manages a range of adult services and programs including: adult literacy, high school equivalency, academic upgrading and computer literacy.  

Susan Stamler is the Director of Policy and Advocacy at United Neighborhood Houses of New York, the federation of 39 settlement houses that serve more than half million New Yorkers each year. In her position she analyzes government policies and budgets, mobilizes grassroots support and lobbies on both the State and City level to increase funding and improve the delivery of critical human services programs.  For nearly thirty years, Susan has organized grassroots support around social justice, environmental and health issues.

Sabita Swain has been involved in various activities at SEED for the last 18 years and is currently working as its Chair. She also represents the Board of the Kalinga Eye Hospital by supervising the implementation of various projects, monitoring performance, providing staff training, and operating as the liaison with funding partners, national and international agencies. Sabita holds a M.A in Social Work and a Masters in Economics from the Utkal University.

Natalie Taylor is the Neighbourhood House Liaison for Association of Neighbourhood Houses of BC (ANHBC). In combination with years of volunteer work in the community with youth and individuals living in poverty, Natalie started as an intern and has since moved into the role of Neighbourhood House Liaison working on NH development strategies and supporting the multiplicity of projects supported by ANHBC.

Carine Thesingh has been managing director in the Care and Welfare department of DOENJA Dienstverlening since 2005.  She is educated as social worker and specializes in working with multi problem families.  Prior to joining DOENJA, she worked for 7 years with young criminals where she initiated a multidisciplinary intervention neighbourhood approach. 

Annemiek van Vliet, who holds a Master degree in International Politics, has been the managing director of DOENJA Dienstverlening, a social welfare organization based in Utrecht, the Netherlands since 2007. Prior to joining DOENJA, Annemiek was a management consultant in the banking sector. This deliberate change of work-environment enabled her to adjust a more businesslike view to the day-to-day challenges facing the social sector.

Paul Vlaar started his professional career as a community worker in 1976, and now works as the Senior Project Leader for MOVISIE, the Dutch National Institute for Community Development.  Paul specializes in community development and is involved in national programs dedicated to professionalizing field workers in the areas of care and welfare.  He works together with vocational education programs to organize post-initial training for professionals and to create standards for improving professional quality. 

Renate Wilkening has been the Chief Executive of the neigborhood center Ufafabrik in Berlin since 1999. From 1988 to 1999 she operated the Family Education Center, a neighborhood center of Ufafabrik. She holds a Diploma in Social Work and Social Education from the Alice-Salomon-University in Berlin. She has also worked as a Bank Manager. For the past ten years she has served as a board member of the German Federation of Social-Cultural Work and a member of the Youth Committee of the local government of the Berlin district Tempelhof/Schöneberg. Renate is a board member of an association for education in Berlin and lecturer for experts and managers of social-work and education. She has served on the IFS Board of Directors since 2004.

Michael H. Zisser, Ph.D, Executive Director, of University Settlement Society of New York, has been in his current position since 1988, and has successfully shepherded the Settlement through a period of tremendous growth and development. He is also Chief Executive Officer of The Door, and oversees all operations of both organizations, as well as the interface between the two.

Adam Zucker is an independent filmmaker whose documentary Greensboro: Closer to the Truth screened at over 30 festivals in the U.S. and abroad, and received the Audience Award for Best Feature at the Rome International Film Festival and Best Documentary at the Dead Center Film Festival. In addition, the film has been shown at numerous universities and educational settings, including the United Nations. Adam is also an award-winning editor who has cut dozens of documentaries for PBS, HBO, NBC and other outlets.

Shelly Zuckerman has been the Executive Director of North York Community House since 1992. Before that she was involved in increasing the organizational capacity of various organizations ranging from the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto, the Regent Park Community Centre Project, and the Edmonton Social Services, Glengarry Center. She has a Masters of Social Work from the University of Toronto and a management certificate from York University.