Brooklyn Community Services employs over 500 people in over 25 locations throughout Brooklyn. We are proud of our professionalism, commitment to excellence and caring service to our clients in the Brooklyn community.
Marla Simpson joined Brooklyn Community Services as Executive Director in 2012, bringing over 35 years of experience in public policy, business management and community service. At BCS, Marla is leading a number of transformative initiatives, including efforts to deepen our services in Brownsville and Coney Island, expand our after-school educational programs and redevelop our Downtown Brooklyn headquarters. Marla also serves on the Board of Directors of the Human Services Council of New York City.
From 2003-2012, Marla served as New York City’s Chief Procurement Officer and Director of the Mayor’s Office of Contract Services, with policy, compliance and oversight responsibility for a $15 billion annual portfolio covering such areas as public construction, technology and human services programs. From 1990-2003, Marla served as an investigations chief in the NY State Attorney General’s Charities Bureau, as Director of Government and Community Relations at Brooklyn College, and as General Counsel, Operations Director and Land Use/Community Planning Director for the Manhattan Borough President. Earlier in her career Marla practiced law, both in the private sector and at public interest organizations, in such areas as securities, commercial and intellectual property law, community development, environmental law, civil rights, food and nutrition programs and public benefits law.
Marla holds a law degree from the University of Michigan and B.A. from Michigan State. She and her husband, an urban planner, have been proud residents of Brooklyn for more than 35 years.
Chief Operating Officer
Janelle Farris began working for BCS as the Chief Operating Officer in the fall of 2013. In this position Ms. Farris is responsible for management of BCS programs, Human Resources and operations related to office and program relocation.
Janelle has extensive non-profit management experience. She worked as the Associate Director responsible for Operations at the Pratt Center for Community Development for nine years, and in January 2013, received a Post Master’s Certificate in Organization Development from The New School for Social Engagement. Prior to joining Pratt Center in 2004, Janelle worked for Common Ground, where she was Director of the largest single-occupancy supportive housing facility in the country, The Times Square. She has also worked at The Times Square Business Improvement District and New York City’s 1989 Charter Revision Commission.
Janelle holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Spelman College and a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Harvard University.
Chief Officer for External Relations and Advancement
Sonya Shields joined Brooklyn Community Services in 2012. As Chief Officer for External Relations and Advancement, Sonya brings over 20 years of experience working as a fundraising, marketing and communications executive with nonprofit organizations.
Sonya has held the position of Director of Development for organizations like: National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Astraea Foundation, New York City LGBT Anti-Violence Project, Keep a Child Alive and the National Advocates for Pregnant Women. Sonya has provided fundraising, marketing and special event consulting services for more than a dozen nonprofits including: Freedom to Marry, Citizens Committee of New York City, Afropop Worldwide, Harlem Natural Food Co-op, Unity Youth Network and the National Black Justice Coalition.
Sonya also worked as an Account Executive at Prime Access, a marketing agency and managed the accounts for Merck Pharmaceutical, HBO, and Time Magazine. Throughout her career, Sonya has produced over 100 charity events throughout the country and created nationally recognized marketing campaigns for charities. She has served on the Board of Directors of Third Wave Foundation, Astraea Foundation, Mautner Project for Women’s Health & Wellness, Dance Institute of Washington, HIV Services Committee for the DC Mayor’s Office of Washington, DC, National Black Leadership Forum.
Sonya is one of the founders and former Board members of the National Black Justice Coalition. She is currently on the board of directors of Community of Unity.
Sonya holds a Bachelor of Arts from Howard University.
Neil Pierson Flynn,
Chief Financial Officer
Neil Pierson Flynn has been named Chief Financial Officer for BCS. Neil brings over 30 years of experience in the finance industry, with a particular expertise in business management strategies for nonprofits. Prior to joining BCS, he was vice president of operations and finance/chief financial officer for Boys & Girls Harbor, the Harlem-based multi-faceted education organization. He is also a former vice president of finance at Harlem United. Prior to that, he was the director of finance and administration and chief financial officer of Services for the Underserved. He has also been a director at KMPG. Neil holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting with a minor in computer science from Siena College.
Jodi Querbach, Deputy Operating Officer Chief for Programs
Jodi Querbach joined Brooklyn Community Services in 2004 and worked as the Director of Family Services, overseeing the Bedford Stuyvesant and East New York Family Centers. After many years of hard work and commitment to the families we serve, Jodi currently works as BCS’s Deputy Operating Officer Chief for Programs. She has over twenty years experience working with children and families in Brooklyn, and is a graduate of Yeshiva University’s Wurzweiler School for Social Work.
Maryclare Scerbo, Deputy Chief Operating Officer
Maryclare joined Brooklyn Community Services in 1997. As the Deputy Chief Operating Officer of Administration since 2013, Maryclare is responsible for all human resources strategic, operational, and administrative goals including overseeing employee relations, staffing, benefits, training and staff development. From 2006-2013 Maryclare held other human resources positions including Director of Human Resources. Before transitioning to Human Resources, from 2001-2004 Maryclare directed BCS’s 9/11 Community Response Center which was launched after 9/11 to provide comprehensive services to mainly low-income displaced workers throughout New York City. Earlier in her career Maryclare initiated and led BCS’s volunteer program.
Prior to joining BCS, Maryclare worked at AIDS Resource Foundation for Children in Newark, NJ as Director of Program Services. Maryclare holds a Master of Social Work degree from Rutgers University. She also holds the Senior Professional Human Resources (SPHR) certification.
Jennifer Swayne, General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer
Jennifer Swayne, Esq., is an attorney who is passionate about empowering communities. She has served at nonprofit organizations in various capacities that include providing legal services, policy advocacy, and project management consulting. Through roles with organizations such as the Education Delivery Institute and New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, she brings a wealth of knowledge in healthcare access and education to BCS. Prior to her transition into the nonprofit arena, Jennifer was a Litigation Associate at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher, and Flom LLP. Additionally, she has served on various boards, including as Board Chair for La Cima Elementary School (Brooklyn) and as a member of an advisory children’s subcommittee to the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Jennifer, originally from Oakland, CA, has a J.D. from the New York University School of Law and a B.A. from the University of Michigan.
Adil Elkari, IT Director
Adil Elkari is a highly accomplished information technology director with a proven track record of meeting BCS’s needs and delivering positive outcomes. Adil has a Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering from City College of New York. Adil has also been certified as a system engineer by Microsoft, Cisco and Novell. During the last twenty years, Adil has been leading BCS’ IT team through critical organizational initiatives and projects.
Themba Chirambo, Director of Facilities & Central Services
Themba Chirambo joined BCS in 2014 and works as the Director of Facilities & Central Services. Themba has nearly 10 years experience working in Facilities Management and oversees over 20 sites for BCS. Originally from Zambia, Themba has a Bachelors in Civil Engineering from Peoples Friendship University of Russia and a MS in Facilities Management from Pratt Institute, Brooklyn NY.
External Relations and Advancement
Volunteer and Public Education
Kristina Reintamm, Director of Community Education & Engagement
Kristina Reintamm has over eight years of experience working in non-profit marketing, development and volunteer management. At BCS, she has launched large-scale volunteer initiatives and public education events and serves as the liaison for the New York Times Neediest Cases Campaign. Kristina holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Binghamton University and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Baruch College.
Fern Gillespie, Public Relations Manager
Fern Gillespie has specialized in public relations, journalism, broadcasting and marketing for over 25 years. She is a former Assistant Director of Public Relations for the national NAACP and Public Relations Director/Consultant for The Studio Museum in Harlem. At UniWorld Group ad agency, she directed PR campaigns for Con Edison, Kraft Foods, United Negro College Fund, U.S. Marine Corps, Ford Motor Company, Home Depot, African Burial Ground and many others. She’s an award-winning journalist and radio news/talk producer, who holds a BA in print/broadcast journalism from Howard University.
Jelani Thomas, Community Organizer
Jelani Thomas joined Brooklyn Community Services in 2014 as the Community Organizer in the External Relations and Advancement Department. Jelani oversees the volunteer program and leads outreach to the greater Brooklyn community. He graduated from Brooklyn College and majored in Business.
Special Events and Marketing
Katharine Lucic, Special Events and Marketing Manager
Katharine joined BCS in 2016 bringing with her eight years of marketing experience from both New York City based nonprofit and corporate sectors as well as event management in fashion and tech startup industries. She has been an active volunteer with local non profits such as ViBe Theater Experience, Exhale to Inhale, and Edible Schoolyard NYC since her move to Brooklyn in 2008. Katharine has a background in physical health advocacy, entrepreneurship, and performance art. She holds a B.F.A. from University of North Carolina School of the Arts.
Early Childhood Programs
Emily Rios, Division Director of Early Childhood Programs
Emily Rios, LMSW, MS.Ed, is a graduate of Columbia University School of Social Work and Bank Street College of Education. Emily is the Division Director of Early Childhood Programs which includes BCS Family Day Care Network, Duffield Children’s Center and the Atlantic Avenue Early Learning Center. Prior to this position, Emily was the Clinical Supervisor at the BCS East New York Family Center for Structural Family Therapy. As an advocate for families and children, Emily has dedicated her career around supporting vulnerable families and children. Prior to joining BCS, Emily has worked at JBFCS, Child Development Center, Albert Einstein College Child Development and Kingsbridge Heights Community Center Early Head Start.
Mary Silver, Division Director Afterschool Education
Mary Silver has extensive experience as a visual artist and art educator. She has over 11 years experience in the fashion industry as a textile designer and has spent the past 12 plus years as an art educator working with preschool age to high school students. Mary holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Graphic Design/Illustration from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn.
Jennifer Murayama, Division Director of Family Services
Jennifer Murayama is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and family therapist. A graduate of Columbia University’s Social Work program and post-graduate clinical externships at both The Minuchin Center for the Family and The Ackerman Institute for the Family, Jennifer has spent her career working with children and families in community-based settings. After starting as a Social Worker at BCS’s Bedford-Stuyvesant Family Center eleven years ago, Jennifer is currently the Division Director of Family Services. In addition to overseeing and managing BCS’s Family Centers, Jennifer is also leading the agency’s efforts to develop a new practice model for Structural Family Therapy in child welfare, in collaboration with The Minuchin Center for the Family and NYU’s McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research.
Angela Chiappara, Division Director of Youth Services
Angela is a New York state licensed LMSW who completed her graduate MSW at NYU. She has worked both in the US and overseas as a social worker mainly in the areas of youth development, chemical dependency, homelessness and disaster recovery. She currently works as the Division Director of Youth Services for BCS and lives in the Brooklyn Community.
Damion Samuels, Director of Workforce Development Division
Damion Samuels, Director of Workforce Development Division at Brooklyn Community Services, has extensive experience helping people overcome significant barriers to education and employment. He is a skilled facilitator and trainer whose previous positions include: Director of Community Prep High School, a school for adolescents who have been involved in the justice system; Director of Workforce Development Programs at Fedcap and the Wildcat Service Corporation; Director of Community Prep High School and Director of College and Career Readiness at ROADS Charter High School Network. A graduate of the University of Virginia, he has served on the Transitional Board of the Connecticut Assets Network and Advisory Board of Brooklyn’s Do Something for The Kids. He was profiled in Newsweek columnist Ellis Cose’s book The Envy of the World: On Being a Black Man in America.
Board of Directors – Executive Committee
Mr. David O’Connell – Chairman – Associate
Patterson, Belknap, Webb & Tyler LLP
Mr. Shawn V. Austin – Vice Chair –
Strategic Marketing Officer
Liberty International Underwriters, LIU A&H
Mr. Edward F. Gentner Jr.- Vice Chair –
Senior Partner, Cullen and Dykman Bleakley Platt LLP
Mr. Andrew L. Hamm – Treasurer –
Investment Banking (formerly w/RBC Capital Markets)
Ms. Sally R. Brody
Ms. Russatta Buford
Vice President, Operations
Global Health Corps
Mr. Robert Lisi
Retired banker (Formerly w/Banca Nazionale del Lavoro S.p.A.)
Ms. Stefanie Lynn Straker
Early Childhood Education Specialist
Mr. Michael Andolina
Senior Consultant, Deloitte Consulting
Mr. Eric Ceresnie
Managing Partner, Arch Street Management
Mildred Clarke M.D.
Mr. Louis J. Colombo
Managing Director / Information Services
Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation
Ms. Michaela angela Davis
Image Activist, Writer, Conversationalist, CNN Contributor
Mr. Christian B. Hylton
Borah, Goldsein, Altshuler Nahins & Goidel, P.C.
Mr. Mike Kelly
Executive Vice President, PVH Corporation
Mr. AJ Lawrence
Data Focused Revenue Growth Executive
Ms. Joanne Legair
Accountant, Coffee America
Ms. Juliet Lewis
Manager, Brooklyn Public Affairs, Con Edison
Ms. Wendy Scarlett – Secretary –
Vice President, Commercial Banking Business Development
Popular Community Bank
Ms. Susan E. Skerritt
Head of Global Transaction Banking Americas
Deutsche Bank Trust Company Americas
Mr. Steve Victore
Advisory Director, Lodestar Advisory Partners
Mr. Stephen Z. Williamson
Law Office of Steve Williamson, PLLC