Thursday, October 8, 2020
5:00 to 7:00 pm 

It has been widely acknowledged that underserved and immigrant communities have been disproportionally affected by the pandemic. As the effects of the virus unfold, community leaders and organizations are assessing the damage, confronting unprecedented challenges, and building capacity to plan and implement recovery efforts. This panel discussion brings together community leaders from different community-based organizations to discuss the impact that Covid-19 has had on neighborhoods across the city, discuss community responses to new challenges, and share visions for how community-based organizations can support neighborhoods in recovering from the current crisis. This event is open to students, faculty, and the general public.



Valerie White
Executive Director, LISC NYC
Annetta Seecharran
Executive Director, Chhaya Community Development Corporation
Jennifer Sun
Co-Executive Director, Asian Americans for Equality
Ian Gray-Stack
Director of Organizing, Banana Kelly Community Improvement Association, Inc.
Scott Short
Chief Executive Officer, RiseBoro Community Partnership


Gabriela Rendón
Assistant Professor of Urban Planning and Community Development


This panel has been organized by the Housing Justice Lab, the Local Initiatives Support Corporation and Parsons Graduate Urban Programs.



Valerie White is Executive Director of LISC NYC. Valerie is responsible for building on $3.1 billion in LISC NYC investments to spur affordable housing, business development, health and jobs in economically vulnerable neighborhoods through New York City. In this role, Valerie leads the team in developing a vision and advancing strategic policies and programs that foster economic equity and inclusion in impacted communities. Before joining LISC NYC in April 2020, Valerie was executive vice president at Empire State Development (ESD), as well as executive director of the agency’s Division of Minority and Women’s Business Development. Previously, she was vice president at Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation and managing director at Standard & Poor’s Global Ratings (S&P). In addition to her extensive professional experience, she also serves on the advisory board for the Fordham Urban Law Center; is a director on the Fordham Law Alumni Association; and is a board member for BRIC Media Arts in Brooklyn. She holds both a bachelor’s degree in communications and a law degree from Fordham University, as well as a master’s degree and certificate in organization development from The New School

Annetta Seecharran is the Executive Director of Chhaya Community Development Corporation. Chhaya is a 20-year-old organization, with the mission to build the power, housing stability, and economic well-being of South Asian and Indo-Caribbean communities. Chhaya's housing justice programs range from tenant counseling and organizing, to first time home buyer education and foreclosure prevention. Its economic justice programs include credit building, financial counseling, and small business education and outreach. For two decades, Annetta has championed positive change locally and internationally. Her leadership roles include Director for Policy and Advocacy at United Neighborhood Houses and Executive Director of South Asian Youth Action (SAYA!). A Guyanese immigrant to New York City, Annetta holds an M.A. in International Political Economy and Development from Fordham University, a B.A. in Political Science from Manhattanville College, and executive management certificates from Columbia Business School and Harvard Business School. She serves on the board of the New York Immigration Coalition.

Jennifer Sun is the Co-Executive Director of Asian Americans for Equality. From 2002 to 2004, she managed the Rebuild Chinatown Initiative at AAFE, organizing local stakeholders to advocate for post-September 11th public investments in Chinatown’s economy and infrastructure, through a community-based planning process. The experience helped launch her career in the public sector, leading planning and economic development initiatives in underserved neighborhoods. From 2004 to 2008, Jennifer served in the Mayor’s Office as policy advisor to former Deputy Mayor of Economic Development Daniel Doctoroff, guiding public investment in affordable housing, commercial development, and nonprofit cultural institutions in Upper Manhattan and the South Bronx. From 2008 to 2014, Jennifer served as Senior Vice President at the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC), spearheading planning and development projects in East Harlem, Northwest Bronx, and the Hunts Point Food Distribution Center. In 2015, she was appointed Executive Director of Sunset Park at the Economic Development Corporation, overseeing the development of 6 million square feet of industrial property along the Brooklyn waterfront. At the New York City Parks Department, Jennifer led the implementation of the city’s Community Parks Initiative, which invested more than $300 million in underserved neighborhoods. In 2016, Jennifer founded a consulting practice to assist nonprofit organizations and social enterprises with strategic planning and capacity building in Kansas City. Jennifer holds dual bachelor’s degrees in Economics and East Asian Studies from UCLA and a master’s degree in Urban Planning from Columbia University.

Ian Gray-Stack recently became the director of Banana Kelly’s community organizing department, which organizes tenant associations and community garden committees for the agency’s 65 South Bronx buildings, as well as other nearby residents facing landlord abuse and threats of displacement. Prior to that, Ian worked with Jacob A. Riis Neighborhood Settlement where he developed the Western Queens Community Action Group, a multilingual association of residents that combined art and food with community organizing tactics to win repairs in public housing, increase access to healthy food in Queensbridge, and prevent local deportation attempts by ICE. Before that, Ian worked with the Industrial Areas Foundation organizing South Bronx residents through a range of successful campaigns, including over $28 million in additional special education services, $5 million for a new neighborhood park, and the Baez v NYCHA consent decree leading to mold remediation for public housing residents across the city. Ian holds a master’s degree in Urban Policy and Leadership from Hunter College and a bachelor’s from Purchase College where he studied political science and cultural studies.

Scott Short is CEO of RiseBoro Community Partnership, where he leads the organization's work to realize its mission and theory of change, setting strategy and supervising leadership to maximize impact and support the program portfolio with effective operations and sound financial management. He is responsible for anticipating and adapting to changes in the organization's operational ecosystem and promoting a culture of commitment to and engagement with partners and communities served. Prior to becoming CEO, Scott was COO of RiseBoro and oversaw the organization's operating divisions in the areas of housing, health, seniors, education, and empowerment. During his tenure in RiseBoro's Housing Division, the organization developed over 1,400 units of affordable housing with total development costs of over $300M, including the first two multifamily passive houses in New York State.  Under his leadership, RiseBoros's budget has more than doubled to become one of the largest NYC providers of holistic community-based services. Scott received his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Brown University. While in Providence, he also studied photography at the Rhode Island School of Design. More recently, he completed coursework in nonprofit management at Harvard Business School.  He is active in many charitable and community development initiatives throughout NYC, including serving on the board of JOE NYC, the Enterprise Community Advisory Board, the Association for Neighborhood & Housing Development Board, the LISC Policy Council, and the Executive Committee of the Bushwick Community Plan.