From the Lower East Side to the Executive Suite: Sylvia Montero Tells Her Story

An almost countless number of people raised on the Lower East Side have gone on to do great things. Some of them remain connected to the old neighborhood, while others have lost touch with their local roots. One person who has renewed her bond with the community is Sylvia Montero.

Montero spent nearly 30 years with Pfizer before retiring, ending up as senior vice president of human resources. She serves on the board of one of the Lower East Side’s oldest organizations, Grand Street Settlement, and was board president until last year. In 2011, Montero wrote a book, Make It Your Business: Dare to Climb the Ladder of Leadership, in which she told her LES story and recounted her path to success in the corporate world.

A couple of months ago, we met Montero in Hamilton Fish Park, where she shared her inspiring story. Click on the video above to learn more about her journey from a, “plantation shack in Puerto Rico and the projects of the Lower East Side” to Pfizer, where she became the highest ranking Latina in the history of the company.

New Security Cameras Installed at Grand Street Settlement

squadron/grand street settlement

On Friday, State Sen. Daniel Squadron went to Grand Street Settlement to help the 100-year-old social service agency celebrate the installation of a new security system.

He allocated $40,000 in state funding for 25 cameras, an upgraded monitoring system and new lighting. The installation was handled by the New York City Housing Authority, which oversees the settlement house’s building at 80 Pitt St.

Grand Street Settlement just kicked off a capital campaign, which will support a full renovation of its Lower East Side headquarters.

Grand Street Settlement Celebrates Centennial With Gala at Capitale

Former board member John Furth, center left, with Executive Director Robert Cordero and other Grand Street board members.

Former board member John Furth, center, with Executive Director Robert Cordero and other Grand Street board members.

On Nov. 16, Grand Street Settlement celebrated its 100th anniversary with a gala at Capitale, the event space on the Bowery.

The Lower East Side social services organization honored former board member John Furth, executives of Delancey Street Associates (the developers building Essex Crossing), Goldman Sachs and Sylvia Montero, immediate past president of Grand Street’s board of directors. Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen and State Assembly member Yuh-Line Niou also attended.

The organization will be opening up a new 10,500 square foot senior center and a social enterprise cafe in a building at Delancey and Clinton streets. Delancey Street Associates is contributing about $2 million for the build-out of both facilities. Ron Moelis of L+M Development Partners, Brandon Baron from BFC Partners and Charles Bendit of Taconic Investment Partners were all on hand for the festivities at Capitale.

Last year, we reported that Grand Street Settlement would soon begin a $10 million capital campaign to renovate its headquarters at 80 Pitt St. The gala marked the kickoff of that campaign.

Grand Street Executive Director Robert Cordero said the organization is committed to “deepening its impact” in the “shape-shifting Lower East Side,” while continuing to expand its services in Brooklyn. “We rise up together as we begin our next century of service,” said Cordero.

Grand Street Settlement Planning Think Cafe + Senior Center at Essex Crossing

Grand Street Settlement Counts Down to 100th Anniversary

Great Oaks Charter School, Grand Street Settlement Receive AmeriCorps Funding

An AmericaCorps tutor works with students at Great Oaks Charter School on the Lower East Side.

An AmericaCorps tutor works with students at Great Oaks Charter School on the Lower East Side.

Governor Cuomo announced today that New York state has been awarded $5.4 million from the federal government through the AmeriCorps Program. The money will go to organizations that assist at-risk children, homebound seniors, low-income families, and struggling veterans across the state.

On the Lower East Side, one school and one not-for-profit social service provider are recipients. The Great Oaks Foundation was awarded $717,162 to “improve academic achievement” at Great Oaks Charter School, located at 38 Delancey St. The school has an existing AmeriCorps program to tutor students. Also, Grand Street Settlement received $231,133 to “improve academic achievement and economic opportunities” on the Lower East Side and in Brooklyn. Grand Street has been a longtime recipient of AmeriCorps funding.

The grants were awarded through a competitive application process. Each AmeriCorps member receives a scholarship at the conclusion of his/her service.

 

Robert Cordero Named New Executive Director of Grand St. Settlement

robert cordero

Grand St. Settlement is set to announce this morning the appointment of Robert Cordero as its new executive director. He comes to the large social service organization from BOOM!Health, a Bronx-based non-profit that provides health services in low-income communities.

“Robert is a true community leader whose vision and expertise have roots in the settlement house movement, said Grand St. Board President Sylvia Montero. “His vast experience in both city-wide and community-based collaboration will help Grand St. Settlement expand our impact and propel our mission to empower individuals, support families and advocate for communities.”

In February, Margarita Rosa decided to step down after leading the settlement house for 20 years. She stayed on while a search took place for her replacement.

Cordero will be responsible for all of the organization’s programs on the Lower East Side, as well as throughout the city. Grand St. has 270 employees, a $15 million annual budget and offers early childhood, adult and senior programs to 10,000 New Yorkers every year. A press release noted that Cordero will also oversee the organization’s involvement in Essex Crossing. Grand St. is the lead community partner in the large development project coming to the former Seward Park urban renewal area.

BOOM!Health was created through the merger of two other organizations, CityWide Harm Reduction and Bronx AIDS Services. Cordero was responsible for managing the transition. “I am thankful to the BOOM!Health community and now humbled by the honor of joining Grand St. Settlement,” Cordero said. “I grew up in Chicago’s Erie House day care program and will now lead Grand St. Settlement’s amazing array of impactful early childhood, youth and aging adult programs in the 21st century. It is a dream come true!”

Cordero will be on the job by June 22.

Margarita Rosa Steps Down as Head of Grand Street Settlement

Pre-K Concerns? Not on the Lower East Side

Raphael Ward to Be Memorialized Tomorrow Night With Basketball Tournament & Performance Showcase

Photos of Raphael Ward are part of a memorial on Columbia Street, near where the teen was shot and killed.

We received the following email from Judith Sam, director of youth services at Grand Street Settlement. The social services agency is located just a few steps away from the location in which Raphael Ward was shot and killed:

Classmates and family of Raphael Sadonte Ward, a 16-year-old fatally shot last Friday, will join together to honor the teenager with a basketball tournament and tribute performance showcase, organized by his high school peers and supported by local community organizations and politicians.  Immediately after the 6pm showcase and ball tournament to honor a teenager who loved sports, on Friday, January 11, Lower East Side youth will lead the adults – parents, teachers, neighbors, and community – in a memorial procession from the indoor ball court to the makeshift vigil, now crowded with hundreds of lit candles and handmade cards, marking where the tragic incident took place.  Details remain unclear surrounding the series of events that led to the fatal shooting of Raphael Sadonte Ward on Friday, January 4, in a convenience store on Columbia Street, across from the housing development where Ward lived with his family.  Inez Tucker, a family member of Ward, described the shooting as “senseless” and asked, simply, “when is it going to stop?”  In the wake of several high-profile incidents involving gun violence, Tucker and others are left wondering how to prevent further loss of life.  Many in the Lower East Side and beyond are calling on elected officials to strengthen gun control laws and to find community-driven solutions to end the cycle of violence.  “It’s too easy to get guns on the streets,” noted one parent, who was far from alone in her outrage and joined by an entire community in remembering a young life cut too short.

The event will take place at Grand Street Settlement, 80 Pitt Street, from 6-9 p.m.  Click through to see the event flyer.

Grand Street Settlement to Host Sandy Relief Benefit Concert

Comedienne Wendy Liebman via Grand Street Settlement

Our friends at the Grand Street Settlement are hosting an evening of comedy and music in support of ongoing Sandy recovery efforts here on the Lower East Side this Thursday, Nov. 15th at 7:30pm.  Comedienne Wendy Liebman and the University Glee Club of New York City were originally scheduled to team up for a “Fun Night Out” to raise money for the Settlement, but, Grand Street notes: “…over the past two weeks the event has become so much more: a relief concert for our neighbors whose lives were devastated by Hurricane Sandy.”

The event will be held at P.S. 6 – The Lillie Devereaux Blake School, 45 East 81st St. Suggested ticket price is $50. For more on this event and to purchase tickets, visit their website here.

Grand Street Settlement LIVE! This Thursday

David Rogue

The Grand Street Settlement is holding their “fall rock fundraiser” on Thursday evening at Think Coffee. This is their second year hosting the event and they have added musicians David Rogue and Jimmy McDonald to the bill.  One hundred percent of the proceeds go towards Grand Street Settlment’s various community programs. Go here for tickets. Tickets start at $20 // 8pm // 248 Mercer Street (btw 3rd & 4th Streets).

Grand Street Settlement Seeks AmeriCorps Candidates

The Grand Street Settlement is looking for a few good men and women for its AmeriCorps Program:

The AmeriCorps program at Grand Street Settlement is entering its thirteenth year and currently seeking summer volunteers from June through August, to participate in one of the most fulfilling paid internships of a lifetime. Available positions for the summer: Group Leader (age groups: K-5, 10-14, 14-18); Activity Specialists (arts & crafts, dance, drama, fashion, music production, cooking, and sports); Early Childhood Classroom Assistant/Program Aide; Youth Mentor (LGBT Program); and Technology & Media Center Clubhouse Assistant.

Taste of the LES: San Marzano Brick Oven Pizzeria

This afternoon we have the final installment of our series leading up to the 10th annual Taste of the Lower East Side. The benefit for the Grand Street Settlement begins this evening at 7 o’clock. We’re wrapping up with San Marzano Brick Oven Pizzeria on Clinton Street. Recently, I stopped by to talk with David Malekan, who owns the restaurant with his brothers, Kourosh and Kamran.

Dave  practiced law and he worked on Wall Street. But toiling in the corporate world did not appeal to him. These days his office is a sunny perch at the corner of Clinton and Rivington Streets. San Marzano has been open since 2008. The centerpiece of the restaurant is a wood fired stone hearth oven imported from Italy.

Taste of the LES: Il Laboratorio del Gelato

pistachio

Photo by roboppy via Flickr.

The Grand Street Settlement’s Taste of the Lower East is just a day away. For the past month, we’ve been profiling many of this year’s participants. We saved one of the most enticing entries until second last – il laboratorio del gelato, the walk-up ice cream mecca on Orchard Street.

Jon Snyder comes from ice cream royalty. His grandfather, James Ceriale, built many of the original Carvel stores, starting in 1951. After returning from Italy at age 19, Snyder decided to strike out on his own, creating the Ciao Bella Gelato Company. Before long, he was selling to the city’s most formidable restaurants, including the River Cafe and the Russian Tea Room. Snyder sold the company in 1989 but he could not stay away.