Meet the Manny Cantor Center Leadership Team
As the Director of the Co-op Village NORC, Christine Dey brings over 15 years of experience in the field of social work serving diverse communities in need. Prior to working at the Manny Cantor Center, Christine was the Director of Social Services at Hudson Guild, a multi-service organization located in Chelsea. Originally from Toronto, Canada, Christine holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the Silberman School of Social Work and a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts from York University, Toronto. In her spare time, you’ll find Christine engaged in some form of creating art.
As Director, Strategic Service & Civic Engagement for Educational Alliance’s Manny Cantor Center Deb Scher leads MCC Changemakers, a certified Service Enterprise Initiative, which aims to engage volunteers in strategic, mission-aligned opportunities while building a stronger, more connected, and engaged community. She was selected for the 2017-2018 Ruskay Jewish Leadership Fellowship, which recognizes rising leaders in the New York Jewish nonprofit sector. Prior to joining the MCC team, Deb was Director of Volunteer & Corporate Partnerships at Sports & Arts in Schools Foundation (SASF). Deb earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Communication and Culture from Indiana University and currently resides in Astoria, Queens.
Howard Greenstein is the Associate Director of Operations and Business Strategy at MCC, leading strategic operations and overseeing infrastructure to support our programmatic mission. He’s previously worked at organizations as diverse as Microsoft, New York University, multiple startups, and his consulting firm, the Harbrooke Group. At the Twin Towers Fund, he managed the distribution of $168MM in funds to families of rescue workers who perished on 9/11 and helped manage successor organization America’s Camp. He holds a B.S. from Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, and an M.P.S. from the NYU Tisch School’s world-renowned Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP).
Jacqueline Marks has been a passionate and dedicated early childhood educator for over fifteen years. Jacqueline began her journey as the Director of Educational Alliance Preschool in 2014, expanding its capacity for children ages 0-5, and creating a warm and nurturing environment nestled within a downtown community center. For ten years, Jacqueline was central to the growth and development of children and family programming at the Jewish Community Center (JCC) in Manhattan where she was a classroom teacher and then served as the Director of the Center for Family Life. She holds an MS from Bank Street College in Early Childhood General and Special Education, a BA in Art History from Columbia University, and a BA in modern Jewish Studies from the Jewish Theological Seminary.
With a Master’s Degree in English from the University of Maryland and a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Hunter College, Jasmine Palmer is a clinical social worker who has worked in the field of child and family development for more than 15 years.
Jasmine’s past experience includes providing clinical support for mothers of babies born in the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility; designing a comprehensive family wrap-around support program for the Cambridge, MA Public Health Department; implementing community arts education and wellness programming for the Smithsonian Institution and the Kennedy Center; and most recently directing the Early Childhood Mental Health and Social Work program at MCC.
Currently, Jasmine serves as the Senior Director of the Community Wellness and Social Work Program at MCC. In this capacity, she oversees the site’s Family Resource Center and helps to lead the agency’s community education and wellbeing initiatives.
Rabbi Joanna Samuels, the founding executive director of the Manny Cantor Center, is a nationally respected spiritual leader and social activist. In her role as the founding executive director of the Manny Cantor Center, Joanna is redefining the Jewish Community Center and the Settlement House for a new era. Prior to joining the Educational Alliance in 2012, Joanna served as the Rabbi of Congregation Habonim in New York City. She also worked as an advocate, strategist, and mentor for women’s advancement and gender equity in the Jewish community at Advancing Women Professionals. Rabbi Samuels graduated magna cum laude from Barnard College and received Rabbinic Ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary, where she was a Wexner Graduate Fellow.
Louis Hamlyn-Harris undertook his teacher training in Brisbane, Australia, and has taught in Reggio Emilia-inspired settings in Australia, Vietnam, and the USA. In 2014 he moved to New York City to help open Explore and Discover, an infant toddler center and preschool in Kipps Bay, where he was a founding Head Teacher and Curriculum Coordinator. For his work at E&D, Louis was recognized as New Professional Leader of 2016 by the NYSAEYC. In 2016 he joined Educational Alliance as Associate Director of the Preschool at Manny Cantor Center. In 2018, he launched UPK at Manny Cantor Center, an integrated, blended-funding program for 4-year olds serving families across the economic spectrum on the Lower East Side.
Mike Gordon has been involved with the non-profit sports and wellness world for almost two decades. His experience is informed by his time at the 92Y May Center for Health, Fitness, and Sport, along with time spent as the Athletics Director at the JCC on the Palisades and as the program director at JCC Association of North America for the JCC Maccabi Games. Mike has truly enjoyed his time here at MCC getting to know all of our members and staff and working to revitalize the fitness center. Mike lives in West Orange, New Jersey with his wife, son, and daughter.
Susie Walter, Director of the Educational Alliance Art School at Manny Cantor Center, has extensive experience directing education programs and building capacity in non-profit organizations. She has led innovative education initiatives in partnership with public schools, arts and cultural organizations, non-profit agencies, and universities for over two decades. She holds an MA in Education from New York University and is an alumna of the New York Leadership program at the Coro Leadership Center.
Xiomara (SEE-oh-MAH-RAH) Maldonado is best known for her unabated love of her native Lower East Side, her penchant for poetry, and her energetic presence, which is often revealed by her recognizable laugh. During her free time, she loves to read books, eat delicious food, and play board games with her husband and two children. The daughter of Nuyorican parents, Xiomara graduated from Barnard College-Columbia University and has dedicated her life to pursuing social justice through a career in nonprofits. As a child, Xiomara practiced martial arts and created ceramics at Educational Alliance and, many years later, gladly enrolled her youngest child in its early childhood program. Inspired by the dedication and compassion of the agency’s employees, she accepted a position at the Weinberg Center for Balanced Living in 2013 and then transitioned to the Sirovich Center for Balanced Living, where she has enthusiastically led its innovative programming and important advocacy efforts for the past six years. “I am so excited to return to the Manny Cantor Center as the Senior Director of Older Adult Programs,” she says. “In spite of the challenges wrought by the pandemic, I believe that we can move into the future with joy, creativity, and hope. I look forward to connecting with you!”