LIFT STAFF

Sharon A. Myrie, Chief Executive Officer, joined LIFT in September 2013. Ms. Myrie brings to this position broad experience in nonprofit management, citywide programs administration, and policy implementation. Prior to joining LIFT, she was the Executive Vice President for Community Programs and Development for the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), where she oversaw a wide spectrum of departments that enrich the lives and livelihood of public housing residents throughout all five boroughs. Formerly the Vice President of Education and Library Services at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Ms. Myrie, an attorney, has also served as General Counsel and Deputy Director of the Office on Homelessness and SRO Housing under former Mayor David N. Dinkins.  She was the Associate Executive Director at Lenox Hill Neighborhood House, one of the oldest settlement houses in New York City and has served in leadership positions at a number of not-for-profit boards. Ms. Myrie holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Ithaca College, and a Law Degree from The George Washington University National Law Center.

Robin Axelman, Site Coordinator – Manhattan Family Court, joined LIFT in April 2014. Prior to joining LIFT, Ms. Axelman was a certified law clerk at the Children's Law Center of California in Los Angeles. While in law school, she interned with the Legal Aid Society-Juvenile Rights Practice and Lawyers For Children in Manhattan. She also interned with the Children's Law Center (CLCNY) and Justice for Families in Brooklyn, NY. Ms. Axelman was a clinical student in the Safe Passage Project at New York Law School, acting as a "friend of the court" on behalf of juveniles involved in immigration proceedings. Ms. Axelman received her B.A., magna cum laude, from the University of California, Los Angeles and her J.D. from New York Law School.

Cialinett Colon, Esq., Site Coordinator – Bronx Family Court, joined LIFT in August of 2013.  Prior to joining LIFT, Ms. Colon was an immigration attorney at the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem.  Before that she was a legal fellow at the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society.  She was a student intern with the Immigration Justice Clinic at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.  She was also a legal fellow at Legal Services of New Jersey.  She received her B.A. from Fordham University and her J.D. from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. 

Graig Craver, Esq., Hotline Program Coordinator, 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. 

Joy Fasanya, Esq., Family Legal Center Specialist, 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.

Andrea GingoldDirector of Development and External Affairs, joined LIFT in February 2014. Ms. Gingold comes to LIFT with an extensive career in sales and marketing in the media industry combined with fundraising, event planning, and communications experience for non-profit organizations. Ms. Gingold was most recently, Director of Marketing for VeriFone Media and prior to that held similar roles at USA Today, Screenvision and Nickelodeon. She is a trustee on the board of Temple Israel of the City of New York and president of their Women’s Leadership Council. In addition, Ms. Gingold has been a development volunteer for NYC public schools, American Cancer Society, Susan G. Komen and Tribeca Film Institute. Ms. Gingold received a B.S. from State University of  New York at Albany and her M.B.A. from CUNY Baruch College. She is currently a certificate candidate at NYU’s Heyman Center for Philanthropy.

Jameelah J. Hayes, Esq., Director of Programs, 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. 

Lisa M. Howell, Esq., Senior Site Programs Coordinator, joined LIFT in June 2013.  Prior to joining LIFT, Ms. Howell was a Pro-Bono Fellow with the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, where she worked in the Domestic Violence Bureau.  Ms. Howell also interned at the National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW) and at the Greater Pittsburgh Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).  Ms. Howell received her B.A., cum laude, from Hunter College and her J.D. from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. 

Liv Johanson, Director of Operations, joined LIFT in April 2008. Before taking on the role of directing organization-wide operations in January 2013, she managed LIFT's development and communications department for five years. 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 was an English teacher for university students in Shandong, China. Ms. Johanson holds a certificate in Essentials of HR Management from the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) and is a member of the SHRM and the Human Resources Association of New York. She received her B.A., magna cum laude, from Skidmore College.

Michael A. Lopez, Site Coordinator – Queens Family Court, joined LIFT in August 2013. Prior to joining LIFT, Mr. Lopez was a summer legal associate at Harlem RBI, a youth development organization. Prior to that, Mr. Lopez was a legal intern with the Kings County District Attorney’s Office. Prior to law school, Mr. Lopez was a social studies teacher at John F. Kennedy High School in Paterson, N.J. He received his B.A. from the University of Michigan and his J.D. from St. John’s University School of Law.

Adeola O. Oyelola, Hotline Program Associate, joined LIFT as a legal intern in June 2012 and became a full time employee in August 2013.  Prior to joining LIFT, Ms. Oyelola worked as a legal clerk for the Tennessee Department of health.  Before that Ms. Oyelola worked as a legal intern for the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice.   She received her B.A. from Cornell University and her J.D. from Vanderbilt University Law School.

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.

Carla Taveras, Hotline Program Associate, joined LIFT in November 2013. Prior to joining LIFT, Ms. Taveras was a St. John’s University School of Law Public Interest Fellow and worked with the Bread & Life Immigration Clinic. While in law school, Ms. Taveras was a legal intern at various public interest organizations including Legal Services NYC-Bronx, Brooklyn Defender Services, and LatinoJustice PRLDEF. She received her B.A., cum laude, from New York University and her J.D. from St. John’s University School of Law.

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.

Deborah Wollenberg, Site Coordinator - Brooklyn Family Court, joined the staff of LIFT in October 2013 after interning with the organization at the Queens Family Court Site as a law student. Prior to joining LIFT, she assisted with litigation with NYC's Administration for Children's Services and volunteered with a matrimonial and family law private practitioner. Additionally, she was a Research Assistant for the Director of the Applied Skills Program at New York Law School, focusing on Domestic Relations Law. During law school, she was the program coordinator of the Uncontested Divorce Project, assisting victims of domestic violence to obtaining divorces from abusive spouses. Ms. Wollenberg holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Lehigh University, a Masters in Education from Lehigh University, and a J.D. from New York Law School.

 

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LIFT operates innovative, award-winning programs in the Family Courts and in the community, all of which share the goal of promoting positive outcomes for families and children.