Melanie F. Hart, Esq., Interim Chief Executive Officer, joined LIFT in February 2010 as the Chief Program Officer, and became Interim CEO in January 2013. Prior to joining LIFT, Ms. Hart served as the Chief Operating Officer at Ifetayo Cultural Arts Academy, Inc. Before that she was the Director of New Initiatives at KIPP NYC. Ms. Hart has also served as a Program Officer at the Victoria Foundation, a Policy Analyst/Project Manager at the New York State Urban Development Corporation, and an adjunct professor at Rutgers University. Ms. Hart also practiced law as a transactional attorney at Streich Lang, PA, and Steptoe & Johnson, LLP, and served as in-house counsel at Avnet, Inc. She received her B.S. from Cornell University, her M.S. from the Milano Graduate School of Management and Urban Policy, New School for Social Research, and her J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law.
Angel L. Agesta, Program Associate, joined LIFT in February 2009 as a volunteer and became a part-time employee in August 2009. Prior to joining LIFT, Mr. Agesta was a Formatter for an IT staffing agency, where he reviewed client contracts. Before that he was a Recreation Assistant in the dementia ward of an Assisted Living Facility. Mr. Agesta received his B.A., cum laude, in Philosophy from the City College of New York and J.D. from New York Law School.
Sandra Cabrera, Program Associate, joined LIFT in August 2009. Prior to joining LIFT, Ms. Cabrera was a Case Manager at Inwood House Teen Family Services in the Bronx, where she provided a comprehensive array of services to pregnant and parenting teens. Ms. Cabrera received her B.A. in Deviant Behavior and Social Control and M.A. in Criminal Justice from John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
Graig Craver, Esq., Senior Site Coordinator – Brooklyn Family Court, joined LIFT in June 2008 as a volunteer and became a full-time employee in August 2009. Prior to joining LIFT, Mr. Craver was a Court Assistant in Orange County (NY) Family Court, where he assisted litigants filing paperwork in person and over the phone, as well as reviewed and gave court dates to petitions, motions and Order’s to Show Cause. Mr. Craver received his B.A., cum laude, from SUNY New Paltz and his J.D. from New York Law School.
Ferdous Dualeh, Program Associate, joined LIFT in September 2008. Prior to joining LIFT, Ms. Dualeh was a counselor and employment coordinator for the Mental Health Association of New York City where she provided counseling, advocacy, and job placements to a diverse population with various psychiatric disabilities. Ms. Dualeh received a B.A. in Forensic Psychology from John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
Joy Fasanya, Esq., Site Coordinator – Manhattan Family Court, joined LIFT in August 2010. Prior to joining LIFT, Ms. Fasanya was an Associate at a small civil litigation firm and served as a Volunteer Attorney with the Urban Justice Center’s Domestic Violence Project. She interned with the New York State Division of Human Rights and was a member of New York Law School’s Urban Law Clinic. Ms. Fasanya also worked as a Paralegal with New York City’s Administration for Children’s Services. She received her B.A. from Lehigh University and her J.D. from New York Law School.
Jameelah J. Hayes, Esq., Legal Director, joined LIFT in February 2011. Prior to joining LIFT, Ms. Hayes served as the Court Attorney to the Honorable Jeanette Ruiz, New York City Family Court – Bronx County. Before that, Ms. Hayes was an attorney for children with the Legal Aid Society – Juvenile Rights Practice in Brooklyn, NY. Ms. Hayes also served as an Equal Justice Fellow and Charles H. Revson Public Interest Fellow with the Legal Aid Society and Children’s Rights. Ms. Hayes received her B.S. from Spelman College, J.D. from Touro Law Center, and M.S. from New York University – Heyman Center.
Kyle H. Marquis Ishmael, Esq., Hotline Coordinator, joined LIFT in October 2011. Prior to joining LIFT, Mr. Ishmael served as the Judicial Law Clerk to Administrative Law Judge Ziedah F. Giovanni, New York State Department of State, where he developed policies to increase access to justice for a diverse and under-represented population. Mr. Ishmael received his B.S. from St. John's University and his J.D. from Thomas Jefferson School of Law.
Liv Johanson, Director of Operations, joined LIFT in April 2008. She has served LIFT through a variety of development, communications, and operations positions over the years before becoming the Director of Operations in January 2013. Prior to joining LIFT, Ms. Johanson worked as a paralegal and office manager in the boutique law firm of Abraham, Fruchter & Twersky. Before that, she worked as an English teacher for university students in Shandong, China. Ms. Johanson received her B.A. in Government from Skidmore College.
Fawziyyah Madyun, Esq., Site Coordinator – Queens Family Court, joined LIFT in August 2012. Prior to joining LIFT, Ms. Madyun served as a legal intern at Brooklyn Supreme Court, matrimonial division. Prior to that, she was employed as a law clerk at Kule-Korgood, Roff & Associates, a law firm specializing in special education law. Ms. Madyun also served as a student attorney at the Hofstra University School of Law Child Advocacy Clinic, representing children in family court and immigration matters. Prior to law school, she worked as a paralegal at the Queens County District Attorney’s Office in the Intake and the Gang Violence and Hate Crimes Bureaus. Ms. Madyun received a dual B.A. in English Literature and Comparative Literature from City College of New York, and received her J.D. from Hofstra University School of Law.
Michelle Rodriguez, Office Manager, joined LIFT in September 2009. Prior to joining LIFT, Ms. Rodriguez interned at Dewitt Head Start as a Class Aid. Prior to that, she interned at Fort Washington Houses and University Settlement. Ms. Rodriquez received her Associate’s degree in Human Services and her B.P.S in Human Services in Education from Metropolitan College of New York.
Richard Salatiello, Grant Writer, joined LIFT in April 2011. Prior to joining LIFT, Mr. Salatiello was the Director of Institutional Giving at the Innocence Project, where he secured major private support for the organization’s work to exonerate wrongfully convicted prisoners through DNA testing. Before that, he organized professional development programs for two associations in Washington, DC. At CASE: Council for Advancement and Support of Education, Mr. Salatiello managed conferences and online seminars for fundraising professionals. At the Council on Foundations, he coordinated conferences for grant makers. Mr. Salatiello was also a grant writer at the Vantage Consulting Group. He earned his B.A. and M.B.A. from Rutgers University.
Cynthia A. Siessel, Esq., Site Coordinator – Staten Island Family Court, joined LIFT in October 2012. Prior to joining LIFT, Ms. Siessel was an associate at a small employment litigation practice. Ms. Siessel was a legal intern with the New York City Human Resources Administration and the Brooklyn Legal Aid Society’s Criminal Defense Division. She also served as a student attorney with the Brooklyn Law School Safe Harbor Immigration law clinic representing asylum applicants and with the Holland & Knight Pro Bono Project, working on capital defense cases and to improve prison conditions. Prior to law school, Ms. Siessel was a social worker with the New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency, focusing on permanency planning and adoption. She received her B.A. from the University of Maryland and her J.D. from Brooklyn Law School.
Shamika Vargas, LMSW, Family Resource Coordinator, joined LIFT in October 2011. Prior to joining LIFT, Ms. Vargas was a Social Work Supervisor at the Jewish Childcare Association within the organization’s Family Foster Care Unit. She has also provided in-home clinical counseling and case management services as an Aftercare Social Worker. Ms. Vargas has worked with children, adolescents, adults, and families through jobs and internships with the Center for Court Innovation (Youth Justice Board), the Bronx Defenders (Criminal Defense Division), Poughkeepsie Middle School, and Dutchess County Healthy Families. Ms. Vargas received her B.S.W. from Marist College and her M.S.W from Columbia University.