The UNH Blog

Fall 2017 EMM Scholars

Thursday, August 03, 2017
Congratulations to the 39 settlement house staff members who have been awarded the UNH Emily Menlo Marks Scholarship! These staff members work hard to support their communities and further their educations, and we are proud to support them. This scholarship is named for UNH's former Executive Director in honor of the contributions she made to social justice and community building. Learn more about the EMM scholarship here. To support the scholarship so we can continue to offer this opportunity, please click here!

Fall 2017 Winners:

Name Settlement House Title
Corina Pintor Bronx House Chief Operating Officer
Yiesel Familia BronxWorks Grants & Contracts Accountant
Chenel Luten CAMBA Case Planner
Finola Burton Cypress Hills LDC Program Director
Jessenia Chapin Cypress Hills LDC Family & Community Partnership Manager
Jahania Pizzini East Side House Settlement Student Advisor
Maxwell Griffith East Side House Settlement Program Director
Melissa Perez East Side House Settlement Case Manager
Adetola Oloruntoba Educational Alliance Youth Advocate
Isabel Tejada-Salazar Educational Alliance/14th Street Y Preschool Assistant Teacher
Keithie Lawrence Educational Alliance Behavioral Supervisor
Yessica Breton Green Goddard Riverside Assistant Teacher
Monica Martinez Grand Street Settlement Assistant Teacher
Sonia Lugo Grand Street Settlement Program Assistant
Sophia Candice Brown Grand Street Settlement Human Resources Assistant
Laura Marceca Greenwich House Admin. Coordinator of Senior Centers
Tasha Atkins Hamilton-Madison House Lead Teacher
LaGene Wright Henry Street Settlement Admin. Asst. Supervisor
Zhiming Liang Henry Street Settlement Program Associate
Billy Rivera Hudson Guild Assistant Teacher
Cara Aloisio Hudson Guild Connections to Care (C2C) Manager
Arely Hernandez Jacob A. Riis Neighborhood Settlement Senior Group Leader
Iftikhar Mahmud Jacob A. Riis Neighborhood Settlement Program Director
Alyssa Lenihan Kingsbridge Heights Community Center Teen Education Coordinator
Jennifer Bartlett Lenox Hill Neighborhood House Supportive Housing Coordinator
Judy Sanchez Lenox Hill Neighborhood House Science and Math Coordinator
Samantha Chau Lenox Hill Neighborhood House Assistant Teacher
Cecilia Morello Mosholu Montefiore Parent Family Community Engagement Coordinator
Avril Guzman New Settlement Apartments College Advisor
Christina Medina New Settlement Apartments Supervisor
Tasheema Lucas New Settlement Apartments Asst. Coordinator-Program for Girls & Young Women
Jessica Liriano Southeast Bronx Neighborhood Centers Administrative Assistant
Katherine Kehs Shorefront Y Head Counselor Special Needs Program
Adriana Jadan Sunnyside Community Services Budget Analyst/Payroll Specialist
Victor Dominguez Sunnyside Community Services Case Manager
Vivian Karol Morales Sunnyside Community Services Caregiver Support Specialist
Gladys Stambakis University Settlement Family Worker
Lauren Nye University Settlement Grants Coordinator
Shamek Johnson University Settlement Supervisor of Training and Internships

Bronx House Joins UNH

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

United Neighborhood Houses (UNH), the membership organization of settlement houses in New York City, is thrilled to welcome Bronx House as a new member. At their June meeting, the UNH Board of Directors voted to welcome Bronx House as an Associate Member, making them the 38th settlement house in the nearly century-old organization.

Settlement houses serve more than a 750,000 New Yorkers annually by offering services directly related to the needs in their communities. They provide early childhood education, after-school programs, college readiness, job skills training, English classes, housing and immigration legal support, homeless shelters, drug rehabilitation facilities, home health care, meals-on-wheels, senior centers, arts and fitness programs, and much more.

Bronx House was founded in 1911 and serves an average of 20,000 area residents each year in programs ranging from after-school, summer camp, music classes, senior programming, fitness classes, and more. They exemplify the settlement house model with innovative and unique programming, including a movement class for people with Parkinson’s Disease and resources for children with special needs.

Membership in UNH will connect Bronx House with the 37 other settlement houses in New York City. They will have access to peer workgroups to share best practices, capacity building programs that focus on program development, scholarships and trainings for staff members, and will join the unified voice of settlement house advocacy. Associate Members enjoy the benefits of membership without voting privileges and have two years to apply for full membership.

“Bronx House is a clear example of an organization rooted in the settlement house model and we are so glad to welcome them to the UNH family. We are looking forward to supporting their organization and community as well as bringing their expertise to our other members,” said Susan Stamler, Executive Director of United Neighborhood Houses.

“Bronx House is proud to join the exemplary settlement houses and community centers in New York City that are part of UNH. We are thrilled to be working with one of the finest membership organizations in New York City and look forward too many years of collaborative efforts on behalf of all of New York City's great communities.,” said Howard Martin, Chief Executive Officer at Bronx House.

By supporting Bronx House, UNH is supporting the community they serve. We are proud to have them as a new associate member.

Ocean Bay CDC Joins UNH

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Ocean Bay Community Development Corporation Joins

United Neighborhood Houses as Associate Member




United Neighborhood Houses (UNH), the membership organization of settlement houses in New York City, is now stronger by one member. At their March meeting, the UNH Board of Directors voted to welcome Ocean Bay Community Development Corporation in Far Rockaway, Queens, as an Associate Member, making them the 38th settlement house in the nearly century-old organization.


Settlement houses serve more than a half million New Yorkers annually by offering services directly related to the needs in their communities. They provide early childhood education, after-school programs, college readiness, job skills training, English classes, housing and immigration legal support, homeless shelters, drug rehabilitation facilities, home health care, meals-on-wheels, senior centers, and much more.


Ocean Bay is deeply rooted in their Far Rockaway community. They are best known for their workforce development program which trains unemployed or underemployed youth and adults in academic and vocational skills. They offer community engagement initiatives, community service opportunities, and identify job opportunities for the formerly incarcerated – an important program to reduce recidivism. Ocean Bay is helping the Far Rockaway community become a healthier, more vibrant neighborhood.


Membership in UNH will help Ocean Bay connect their geographically isolated community to the broader settlement house community in New York City. They will have access to workgroups to share best practices, capacity building programs that help with program development, scholarships and trainings for staff members, and will join the unified voice of settlement house advocacy.


“We are thrilled to welcome Ocean Bay into the UNH family. We are looking forward to supporting Ocean Bay as they expand their services and begin serving more community members, including older adults. In addition, we are learning from them how to best develop newer settlement houses,” said Susan Stamler, Executive Director of United Neighborhood Houses.


The development of Ocean Bay into a settlement house is made possible by a grant to UNH from Citi Foundation, which aims to support the Rockaway community in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Through this grant, UNH has been working with Ocean Bay to strengthen their organizational structure and programming to help them fit into the settlement house model.


“Working with UNH has been a wonderful way to meet our goals of providing more support in our community. We are looking forward to working with UNH and other settlement houses as we develop our programs and expand the number of people we serve,” said Pat Simon, Executive Director at Ocean Bay CDC.


By supporting Ocean Bay, UNH is supporting the community they serve. We are proud to have them as a new associate member and look forward to learning from them and supporting their goals.




UNH, founded in 1919, is the membership organization of 38 New York City settlement houses and community centers. UNH member agencies comprise of one of the largest human service systems in New York City and provide high quality services at more than 600 sites to more than a half million New Yorkers each year.

Spring 2017 Emerging Leaders Program

Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Congratulations to the 25 settlement house staff members accepted into the Spring 2017 UNH Emerging Leaders program! Run in partnership with Baruch College, this program provides leadership training for the next generation of settlement house executives. The Spring class includes:

Settlement House


Job Title


LaShonne Greene

Program Director

Center for Family Life

Jennifer Wittlin

Foster Care Coordinator/Preventive Services Supervisor

Chinese American Planning Council

Steve Mei

Interim Director, Brooklyn Community Services

Cypress Hills Local Development Corp.

Barbara Moronta

Community School Program Director of Multicultural HS and Cypress Hills Collegiate Prep HS

East Side House Settlement

Aris Johnson

Director of Facilities

Educational Alliance

Jonah Schwartz

Clinical Supervisor

Grand Street Settlement

Marcia Jordan

HR Generalist

Greenwich House

Robert Bledsoe

Accounting Manager

Hamilton-Madison House

Fan Jiang

Director of PROS

Henry Street Settlement

Rachel Hughes

Program Director, Senior Companion Program

Hudson Guild

Christine Dey

Director of Social Services

Jacob Riis Neighborhood Settlement

Iftikhar Mahmud

Program Director

Kingsbridge Heights Community Ctr

Noris De Jesus-Petrone


Lenox Hill Neighborhood House

Monique Ford

Director of Visual and Performing Arts

Northern Manhattan Improvement Corp.

Ivelisse Urena

Academic Counselor


Warren McDowell


Southeast Bronx Neighborhood Ctr.

Raye McCollum

Quality Improvement Director

Stanley Isaacs Neighborhood Ctr.

Kwame Mensah

Manager of Sector Training & Development

Sunnyside Community Services

Jennifer Silverman

Manager of Institutional Giving

United Neighborhood Houses

Nora Moran

Policy Analyst

Union Settlement

Melinda Barr

Educational Center Director

University Settlement

Christine Rivera

Deputy Director of Middle School

University Settlement

Marilus Castellanos

Director, Healthy Families & Family Enrichment Program


Elizabeth Ghunney

Project Coordinator, Citywide Homes Inspections


Jamie Yellen

Program Director

Reflecting on Youth Action Day 2017

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

On January 25, 2017, United Neighborhood Houses brought staff, allies, and nearly 300 youth to Albany for the 17th annual Youth Action Day, where youth spoke (sometimes sang, sometimes laid down verse) about the importance of the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) in their lives. Then, youth and chaperones went from office to office, meeting with more than 160 legislative offices and explained how summer jobs helped their family make ends meet, how summer jobs showed them new career possibilities, how summer jobs showed them whole new ways of interacting with their communities.

SYEP is a statewide program that funds summer jobs for youth between the ages of 14 and 20. In New York City, state funds supplement City, federal, and private funds for a program that is open for 14- to 24-year-olds. The jobs are wide-ranging: youth work in summer camps, offices of elected officials, chain stores, parks, the fashion industry, cultural institutions, health care, and more.


Organizing Youth Action Day is a lot of work. Before the main event I was joined by colleagues as we trained hundreds of teens so they could be prepared to tell their personal stories, speak with elected officials, and explain the program. Hundreds of meetings were scheduled for the teens with elected officials as schedules were balanced and organized. Then, on Youth Action Day, it all came together. Youth explained to legislators that their jobs taught them how to handle adult responsibility. They talked about using their SYEP money to pay for school supplies. Teens elaborated about how they discovered passions for education, healthcare, and community service in general.

Statewide and citywide, demand for the program is higher than the supply of jobs. The State funded 18,746 SYEP jobs last year. New York City used its funding for 10,777 jobs, which combined with other funding sources to create 60,113 jobs in the summer of 2016. Approximately 6,000 youth outside of the City, however, were turned away from the program in the summer of 2015 (the year for which the most recently available statewide statistics are available). In 2016, while a record number of NYC youth took part in the program, 79,506 youth applied but didn’t get to take part. The program is not funded to allow every youth who wants a job to get one.


UNH has been successfully advocating for increases in SYEP funding for 17 years. Until the beginning of this century, the federal government funded the majority of summer jobs. That funding ended in 1999, giving birth to UNH’s tradition of Youth Action Day—nothing builds support for a program quite like hundreds of youth descending upon the State capital and making impassioned arguments directly to their lawmakers that the government support their desire to be productive in the summer.

With the support of thousands of youth through nearly two decades, UNH and allies have created reliable funding for SYEP from State and City funding sources. In 2012, the program was funded to provide 29,416 jobs to NYC’s youth. This summer, the City is projecting enough funding for 65,000 jobs.  


Each year I find Youth Action Day inspiring. It is one of many signs that, with some organizing and trust in the ability of young people to do serious advocacy work, we can make serious social change.


UNH Statement on Executive Orders

Friday, January 27, 2017

As our nation’s new President begins to translate his vision into policy via the use of Executive Orders and the bully pulpit, United Neighborhood Houses stands with New Yorkers in rejecting attacks on our shared values of diversity, inclusion, and acceptance. In particular, the President’s Executive Orders on immigration and his anticipated actions regarding refugees are an affront to the contributions millions of immigrants have made and continue to make each day to strengthen this nation. We support the promise made by Mayor de Blasio and the City Council to keep New York City a sanctuary for our families, friends, and neighbors. Scapegoating any group of people for the challenges our nation faces is unacceptable and dangerous. Separating families and refusing refugees will not make us safer. Our nation is at its best, and its strongest, when we use our diverse talents, experiences, and ideas to build a future that works for all. New York City’s settlement houses do this by welcoming and strengthening people and families of every background, nation, and religion. We are honored to represent these organizations which have been doing this work for more than a century, and together we will be here for all New Yorkers throughout the next.

Continuing our Committment to Immigrants and Refugees

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

The end of the year is a time many people go on vacation, see family, and celebrate the holidays. It’s frequently when we look back upon the year behind us and make resolutions for the year ahead.

To take a break from the buzz of New York City and enjoy some sun in the midst of a northeast winter, my wife and I recently took a trip to Key West. It was on this vacation that I was reminded of the important work waiting for me back home.

At the end of our trip our catamaran came across a migrant, bundled up in a sleeping bag, paddling a tiny inflatable mattress with a broomstick. Just three miles from the shore of the United States, our captain radioed the Coast Guard who came and picked him up. The closest land was the island nation of Cuba 90 miles away, but who knows from where he ventured, how many days he fought ocean currents, thirst, and hunger in the hopes of reaching our shores.

From what life he was escaping I don't know, but my heart broke twice as this drama unfolded before us. Once for this man, who undoubtedly will be brought to a detention center before being sent back to his home country, and a second time for the lack of humanity in my fellow travelers. For the most part they seemed indifferent to his suffering, happy to simply snap pictures without reflecting on the broader implications they were witnessing as a fellow human being with nothing but an air mattress and a broom floated near a boat carrying vacationing Americans.

I know countless tragedies like this play out daily across the world, but there is something about seeing it in play out in front of your eyes that is truly humbling. With this experience I approach 2017 with a renewed commitment to fight for all New Yorkers, and particularly our immigrant and refugee neighbors.

by Kevin Douglas, UNH Co-Director of Policy and Advocacy.
Contact Kevin at

Emily Menlo Marks winners announced

Friday, December 16, 2016
This week, UNH announced the winners of the Emily Menlo Marks Scholarship for the Spring 2017 semester. This program supports settlement house staff working toward achieving their higher education goals. It's named after a former UNH Executive Director with a passion for social justice and community-building. For more information, click here.

The winners of the scholarship for Spring 2017 are:

First Name

Last Name

Settlement House






Chinese-American Planning Council



Chinese-American Planning Council



Chinese-American Planning Council

Xiu Ying(Susan)


Chinese-American Planning Council



Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation



Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation



Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation



Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation



East Side House


Sky Scott

Educational Alliance



Educational Alliance



Goddard Riverside Community Center



Goddard Riverside Community Center


Wright (Shirley)

Goddard Riverside Community Center



Grand St. Settlement



Grand St. Settlement



Hamilton Madison House



Henry Street Settlement

 Isidro Fortuna Henry Street Settlement



Henry Street Settlement



Kingsbridge Heights Community Center



Lenox Hill Neighborhood House



Lenox Hill Neighborhood House



Lenox Hill Neighborhood House



Lincoln Square Neighborhood Center



Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation



Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation



Queens Community House






Southeast Bronx Neighborhood Centers



St. Nick's Alliance



Sunnyside Community Services



Sunnyside Community Services



Sunnyside Community Services



Union Settlement



Union Settlement



United Community Centers


Yuan Yuan

University Settlement



University Settlement



University Settlement

Congratulations to the winners!
To support this scholarship to help us develop the next generation of settlement house leaders, click here.

In addition, UNH recently hosted a reception for prior winners of the scholarship for a networking opportunity. For photos, click here!

Settlement Houses Respond to Political Climate

Monday, December 12, 2016
Settlement houses are forces of positive action. They respond to adverse social and political conditions. Since the late 19th century, immigrants and others have come to settlement houses to build better lives for themselves and their families even when facing discrimination and hate. Now, with increasing rhetorical and physical threats upon so many communities, including immigrants, Muslims, people of color, and LGBTQ people, settlement houses are working on multiple levels to provide safe environments and concrete protections for New Yorkers.

Signals of safety: New York City’s settlement houses are stating clearly that the houses are safe places that will protect peoples’ rights. Here are some examples from several UNH members.

Educational Alliance has put a sign at the entrance of its facilities letting participants know they will be treated with respect and dignity. The sign is in English, Spanish, French, Hebrew, Arabic, and Chinese.

Organization-wide, University Settlement has released a compilation of thoughts, resources, and reflections to staff, which includes a summary of concerns expressed by staff and participants. This is important: it is a sign that the organization is hearing its staff and program participants. Furthermore, University Settlement is crafting a statement, to be translated into several languages and shared with participants, emphasizing the organization’s commitment to creating safe spaces, protecting the social safety net, denouncing hate speech and other forms of intolerance, and encouraging constructive dialogue.

The Door, part of University Settlement’s family of organizations, is collecting and distributing know-your-rights materials and resources, directed toward immigrants and advocates.

Grand Street Settlement is creating a 10-point advocacy platform which includes opposition to mass deportations and calls for a reduction in the number of youth caught in the criminal justice system. This platform will be built upon and edited by staff and community members and finalized at the start of the new year.

Henry Street Settlement put together a flyer (pictured) that says “Worried about the future? Henry Street is here for you.”

Systems for safety: These signs are backed up by action.

Educational Alliance is developing a system to provide people who feel unsafe in the subway system with buddies. The organization is also hosting conversations among staff and participants about safety and the current atmosphere to give people a voice. There are preparations for workshops on civic engagement and education for members who want to learn more and connect with other neighbors, as well as provision of in-house expert advice on immigration and health care-related questions.

Grand Street Settlement’s platform is one step to achieving their broader goal of mobilizing staff and community members to engage in policy change and advocate continuously for the platform’s points.  

Henry Street Settlement has gone far beyond posting a flyer. The Program Director of Henry Street’s Neighborhood Resource Center (NRC) spoke with behavioral health staff to clarify that, in regards to entitlements, immigration status, and other areas of client concern, nothing is changing at the moment. This is an important point: the mere fact of the election has not yet changed the way these programs function. Program participants with entitlement concerns have been invited to see NRC staff. Henry Street’s School-Based Mental Health team is continuing to support teachers and children in Henry Street’s schools where it has mental health clinics. On November 11, Henry Street Settlement held a gathering at the Abrons Gallery for community reflection on the election. Henry Street’s youth program and the organization Volunteers of Legal Service, which provides pro bono legal support, held a meeting December 5 to update youth and parents about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) process. At Henry Street’s Mental Health Shelter, the program director held meetings with clients and staff who were concerned about the future. Henry Street’s Education and Employment Division has, for several months, been running staff-facilitated Healing Groups to discuss racism and the ever-present examples of racism in America.

Southeast Bronx Neighborhood Centers (SEBNC) is going to talk about post-election implications for entitlements, immigration, and affordable housing through a community forum and SEBNC Radio.

University Settlement held an information session December 6 to provide information on immigrants’ rights. Across the organization, programs are encouraged to hold meetings among staff and community members to speak to positive action and concerns, spread the message that University Settlement will continue to support its communities, and set the stage for future advocacy and activism. On December 13, from 12 to 1:30pm, at 184 Eldridge Street, in the 2nd Floor Library (with lunch provided), the organization will hold an advocacy training, as part of a larger effort to encourage members of the University Settlement community to undertake deeper civic engagement and receive accurate information about forthcoming news events. University is also spreading information about self-care, encouraging people to undertake self-care, and encouraging staff and program participants to watch for signs of depression, anxiety, loss of sobriety, trauma, and other psychological effects following from the nationwide and local feelings of fear and intimidation.  

The Door has been offering drop-in consultations for young immigrants who are distressed and need advice and reassurance. It has also been sending attorneys to schools and community partners to speak to young people, educators, and youth development staff about the changing landscape. The Door encourages people who work with immigrant youth (ages 12-24) to contact Marlene Berrora ( at the Door’s Legal Services Center to request a training on legal resources for that community. The Legal Services Center is also offering webinars on working with immigrant youth in the post-election climate, and will offer a webinar for those who request it.

More to come. Settlement houses are mobilizing as they always have: providing space for community members to share their concerns and providing multi-faceted, concrete solutions to meet community needs.  We are proud to be the member organization of all our 37 NYC settlement houses. To find one near you, visit


A Post-Election Message

Thursday, November 10, 2016
Over the past year, thousands of people have engaged and enraged this election season and knocked on doors, made phone calls, and attended rallies. Traditional and social media stoked a frenzied firestorm of stories about the candidates, their personal lives, and their habits. And millions of dollars paid for consultants and advertising to craft and direct a massive messaging campaign to people who wanted to hear that their candidates would protect their interests.

Yesterday we learned that the popular vote again diverged from the electoral college tally and exhausted Americans both worry and celebrate what will happen next.

We continue to have a responsibility to understand the pain and anger of our neighbors throughout the country who believe that the status quo has left them behind as well as those who believe our country is indeed on the right path. Regardless of sides, the team we are on believes in the extraordinary and life-changing work of settlement houses which have responded to the changing needs of New York City’s communities for more than a hundred years. How lucky are we that we have signed on to be part of the work that believes in strengthening our communities, supporting our neighbors and building a human infrastructure that leads to healthier lives.

Today is the day after yesterday and we have a great deal of work to do. Thank you for your continued commitment to UNH and to the work we do together.

Susan Stamler
UNH Executive Director