Board of Directors

Officers

Chair John Restrepo is the director of the Division of Housing and Community Development at Jersey-City-based Garden State Episcopal Community Development Corporation (GSECDC). He has been involved with the planning, development, and management of over 500 scattered site housing units and 35,000 square feet of commercial space to increase the affordable housing stock in high cost markets. In the early stages of his career, Mr. Restrepo was once a community scholar and in 2016, served as the co-chair of the inaugural year of the Housing Scholars program. He returns to the Board of Directors after previously serving as Board President in 2015.

Vice Chair Leslie Stivale  is the President/CEO of Triple C Housing, Inc. (Triple C), a non-profit community housing development organization (CHDO) and supportive services provider. As a vision driven, results oriented leader, she has expanded Triple C’s supportive housing program, leveraging multiple funding sources to develop high quality housing and grow opportunities to enhance supportive services for individuals, families and veterans who have been formerly homeless and disabled. Ms. Stivale possesses twenty eight years of experience in behavioral health, human services and the supportive housing industry having worked within the private and non-profit sectors in senior and executive management. In 2010, Ms. Stivale was appointed to the NJ Interagency Council for Preventing and Reducing Homelessness. In 2017, Triple C was awarded the Governor’s Excellence Award in Supportive Housing, and in the same year, Leslie was presented with the prestigious Mort Gati award by the NJ Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association. She has served on the Network’s Board of Directors since 2014.

Treasurer Dan Antonellis has served as President of Region Nine Housing Corporation (RNHC) since 2012, developing high-quality affordable housing and providing services to families, seniors and disabled individuals. Prior to becoming RNHC President, he served as a Staff Representative for the Communications Workers of America, Local 1038 and spent nearly 25 years at the New Jersey Department of Labor prior to that. He is a former Vice President and Board President of the ARC Mercer and a founding member of the Board of Orphan Sponsorship International (OSI). Mr. Antonellis joined the Network Board of Directors in 2018.

At Large Members

Edward Bethea serves as the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Gateway Community Action Partnership. He oversees all financial, managerial and revenue-generating departments and activities within the agency. He is the chief negotiator of all contracts and leases and serves as chief developer on all construction projects. He is responsible for the Operations, Finance and Human Resources Departments as well as, Head Start, Health Services, Economic Development, Social Services, Information Technology, Weatherization, Property Management and Facility Maintenance. He brings years of experience in tax consulting, financial planning, cash flow projection and asset management to Gateway, and maintains approval authority on all agency spending. He is also directly responsible for the interactions between Gateway and financial institutions and governmental entities. Mr. Bethea current serves as President of the Bridgeton City Municipal Council.  

Robert F. Guarasci is Founder and Chief Executive Officer of New Jersey Community Development Corporation (NJCDC) in Paterson. Prior to starting NJCDC, he served for four years as Executive Assistant to New Jersey’s Commissioner of Human Services. Governor Chris Christie has appointed Mr. Guarasci to serve on the Board of Trustees of William Paterson University and the New Jersey Interagency Council on Homelessness. He has also been appointed by US Secretary of the Interior to serve on the Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park’s Federal Advisory Commission, which he currently chairs and a Trustee of the Paterson Alliance, a consortium of non-profit agencies serving Paterson residents. Mr. Guarasci joined the Network's Board of Directors in 2015.

Victoria Hernandez, a native Newarker, joined Ironbound Community Corporation (ICC) as its Executive Director in December, 2019. She is the first woman, first Latina, and first multi-lingual Executive Director at ICC. She has led the organization’s response to the Coronavirus and its impact on Ironbound community members. This has included mobilizing all of ICC’s resources and programs to address the most basic and pressing needs, which are impacting our community members including access to food, money and housing. Prior to joining ICC, Ms. Hernandez most recently served as Chief Program Officer at New Jersey Community Development Corporation in Paterson, where she led implementation of a Strategic Plan and the Great Falls Promise Neighborhood Initiative to ensure that children reach adulthood career and college ready.

Michael G. Johnson serves as Regional Director of Community Life for New York/New Jersey for The Community Builders, Inc. in New York City, a position he has held since January 2020. He leads strategic priorities for Community Life in New York City, the Capital District, Westchester County and New Jersey, working closely with TCB’s real estate development, property management and fund development teams. Previously, he served as Vice President in Global Philanthropy at JPMorgan Chase & Co., where he was responsible for the firm’s Affordable Housing and Community Development portfolio for the New York Tri-State area and a national portfolio involving affordable housing seed capital and data driven solutions for neighborhood revitalization through Partnership for Raising Opportunities (PRO) Neighborhoods.

Raymond Ocasio is the Executive Director of La Casa de Don Pedro, a Newark community based social services and development organization. In addition to serving on the Network Board, he is a board member of the Newark Community Development Network as well as a member of Newark's Master Plan Working Group. He also serves on the other Newark, state and national groups governing or advisory boards. Before joining La Casa, Mr. Ocasio's career spanned 30 years of service in housing and community development groups both domestically and internationally, with the non-for profit and different government sectors. He previously served on the Network's Board of Directors, and was the Chair of the Board for two years. 


B
ridget Phifer has served as Executive Director of Parkside Business and Community in Partnership (PBICP) since 1999. Since joining PBICP, she has grown the organization’s budget tenfold. Staff has increased from one (Ms. Phifer) to half a dozen as the housing effort has expanded, and homeownership education, marketing and neighborhood planning programs have been created. Strategic partnerships with foundations, other community development organizations, corporations and government agencies have been critical to this success.  


Laura Rodgers, LCSW is Chief Program & External Relations Officer for JFS in Atlantic & Cape May Counties, New Jersey. She has over 25 years of experience providing and developing programming in the areas of counseling, mental health outreach, homelessness, older adult services, justice involved services, and supportive housing. Laura is the co-founder of the Garden State Leaders; a leadership and advocacy training program for individuals with lived experiences of poverty. Additional areas of Laura’s professional focus include grief counseling and anti-poverty grass roots organizing. Laura has a BS in Public Health and a Master’s Degree in Social Work

Jaymie Santiago has been working for the progress of New Brunswick’s residents since 2004. He began his work with the Rutgers Cooperative Extension and was instrumental in creating a citywide network of Food Hubs consisting of farmers markets and community gardens. In 2009, he served on the initial planning committee that developed the New Brunswick Community Food Alliance. And in 2011, he was the Co-Director of Rutgers Against Hunger, a university-wide initiative offering temporary relief to families faced with hunger across New Jersey. Mr. Santiago joined New Brunswick Tomorrow as Director of Operations in 2012, becoming President in 2016. He managed the Healthier New Brunswick initiative; designed to improve the overall health of city residents.


Edward Truscelli is the Executive Director of Princeton Community Housing (PCH), a Princeton-based non-profit community development organization. Prior to joining PCH, Mr. Truscelli was the former vice president of Planning & Development for Springpoint Senior Living in West Windsor and an architect with Clarke Caton Hintz in Trenton where he shared responsibility for the adaptive reuse of one of the former Roebling Wire Works buildings for senior affordable housing.  PCH has been an active member of the Mercer County Development Team.

Blair Schleicher Wilson is the Chief Executive Officer of Morris Habitat for Humanity located in Randolph, NJ. She is a founding member, past chair and current vice chair of the Housing Alliance for Morris County, a coalition of organizations committed to increasing the supply of affordable housing in Morris County. She serves on the Advisory Board for the Housing Partnership for Morris County and their Foreclosure Task Force. Ms. Schleicher Wilson is a former four-term councilwoman in Mountain Lakes, serving two terms both as Mayor and Deputy Mayor as well as liaison to all Borough Committees in her tenure. She has joined the Board of Directors in 2014.

Associate Members

Kafi Lindsay, Esq., serves as Regional Community Development Manager at TD Bank, covering Pennsylvania and New Jersey. As a Regional CDM, Ms. Lindsay is responsible for coordinating Community Reinvestment Act initiatives to ensure compliance with OCC guidelines. Leveraging her deep knowledge of this region's communities, she works to identify and recommend community development loans and investments to fulfill TD Bank's CRA goals. She establishes and maintains critical relationships with community development corporations, housing authorities, consumer advocacy groups as well as government agencies and local officials. Prior to joining TD Bank, she served as Market Manager for Community Development Banking at PNC in Philadelphia, where she oversaw the creation and implementation of high-impact programs, loans and investments for nonprofits serving low- and moderate-income communities throughout the tri-state area. She also once served as Senior Counsel for the Philadelphia Housing Authority, Special Assistant to the Mayor of the City of Philadelphia, and a commercial real estate broker.
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DeAnna Minus-Vincent serves as Senior Vice President, Chief Social Integration & Health Equity Strategist, RWJBarnabas Health. She is responsible for coordinating the system’s community development initiatives; identifying ways to use data/technology to track progress and enhance health outcomes across SICI practice; and oversees the system’s efforts to incorporate a universal SDOH screening process. Her career has crossed sectors and spanned a broad range of issue areas. She served as the Chief Engagement Officer at Benefits Data Trust, a national social change organization. She served as the Assistant Commissioner for the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, as well as the Director of Planning and Operations at the Central Jersey Family Health Consortium. Ms. Minus-Vincent joined the Network's Board of Directors in 2020.

Alle Ries is the Regional Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) Officer for M&T Bank. In this role, she serves as a liason between the bank and community-based organizations throughout NJ to develop and administer creative initiatives that meet the needs of low- to moderate-income individuals and their families. Prior to joining the bank, she served as the Director of Community & Economic Development and Director of Program and Fund Development at La Casa de Don Pedro. She joined the Network's Board of Directors in 2018.

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Craig Sawyer is the Principal and Managing Partner of ESR Advisors, formerly Equitable Development Consultants, L.L.P., a community economic development consultancy firm. Established in 2002, the firm has consulted and assisted numerous organizations and businesses in a wide range of community-based economic development projects, especially commercial district revitalization, real estate development, job creation/entrepreneurship development, and social enterprise development initiatives. A former member of the Network staff who has consulted with many of our members, Craig has more than 20 years of experience helping organizations implement economic development plans and development strategies to bring visions of vibrant and healthy communities and businesses to life.

Board Member Emeritus

Joseph Della Fave, is the former Executive Director of the Ironbound Community Corporation, retiring from the position in 2019. During his tenure the multi-service nonprofit agency was recognized by local, state and national organizations for the impactful and innovative work they were doing in the Ironbound community. The Network is very appreciative that although retired Mr. Della Fave continues to be an active and valued member of our Board.


Martha Lewin
is the former Executive Director of WomenRising, Inc., and Secretary of Fairmount Housing Corporation, the non-profit development subsidiary created by WomenRising in 1986. Martha Lewin retired from the Network Executive Board in 2006 and now serves as an Ex Officio member.


Alan Mallach is a senior fellow at the Center for Community Progress, a non-resident senior fellow at the Metropolitan Policy Program of The Brookings Institution in Washington DC, and a visiting scholar at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. A widely known speaker and writer on housing policy and urban change, he has been engaged in planning, community development and urban policy as a public and private sector practitioner, advocate and scholar for over forty years. Alan Mallach retired from the Network Executive Board in 2011 and now serves as an Ex Officio member.


Helen Steblecki is the Senior Vice President, State Director of Community Development for Citi in NJ; and Community Development Officer for Manhattan and Staten Island. As the State Director of Community Development, she is responsible for developing, implementing and funding innovative solutions to address urban community issues, including programs focused on financial inclusion, asset building, college access, affordable housing and small business development for low- to moderate-income individuals and communities. Ms. Steblecki moved to Emeritus status in January 2020.