Meet the CEWD Staff

Meet the CEWD staff!

Babette AudantBabette Audant, Executive Director, CEWD

As Executive Director of CEWD, Babette promotes the development, implementation and sustainability of work and college readiness programs to un- and under-employed New Yorkers. Her collaboration and partnership with KCC faculty and staff, her involvement with national workforce development organizations, and her connection to local employers enables her to develop programs that serve the needs of NYers who seek educational, professional, and/or personal advancement. Increasingly her focus will also involve working with degree programs on campus, helping to prepare students for work with hard skills and industry certifications.  In addition to her work with CEWD, Babette is an assistant professor in KCC’s Culinary Arts program, encouraging students to follow their minds and their stomachs.

Christine ZagariChristine Zagari-LoPorto, Director of Operations, CEWD

Christine Zagari-LoPorto has been with the Center for Economic and Workforce Development since its inception in 2006 where she began as a Department Coordinator and was promoted to Director of Operations. Her role includes overseeing the operational aspects of the department which include marketing, outreach, fiscal oversight of the tax levy budget as well as the RF grant funded programs. Christine also provides support and coordinates needs from staff and program directors while establishing and implementing departmental goals, procedures and policies.  Most importantly, Christine seeks to improve the operational systems, processes and policies in support of the CEWD mission and to provide a fluid organizational process of the continuously expanding programs within the department.

Alissa LevineAlissa Levine, Director of Programs, CEWD

As the Director of Programs for CEWD, Alissa manages multi-year grants working with CEWD staff and faculty to ensure that students are prepared for employment and college upon successful completion of training, and that program outcomes are met. She works closely with employers, community organizations and departments throughout KCC to identify resources and opportunities for students and staff, as well as with funders for reporting and sustainability purposes.

Since 2007, Alissa has worked with CEWD to operate US Department of Labor funded grants, including Project Welcome, CUNY CareerPATH and the Northeast Resiliency Consortium, as well as programs serving young adults including the CUNY Young Adult Program and Project Rise. She has worked to identify and secure continuous funding for educational and occupational programs serving disadvantaged youth and adults. She has presented the work of CEWD at national conferences including the Conference on Volunteering and Service and the National Council for Workforce Education (NCWE), as well as at local conferences including NYC Employment and Training Coalition (NYCETC) and NY Association of Training and Employment Professionals (NYATEP).

Kirk Francis, CFA Program Director

Kirk is the newest member of the CEWD family. He serves as the Director of the CUNY Fatherhood Academy at Kingsborough Community College.  Prior to joining CEWD, Kirkserved as a Unit Manager at Community Education Center Inc. a treatment and assessment center for the NJ Department of Corrections.  He comes to us with extensive experience working in social service programs. He served as a Behavioral Therapist at the Department of Child Protection and Permanency – Youth Advocate Program providing counseling services to foster parents and children in foster care and was specially assigned to work with young boys in foster care. For over 10 years, he served in various capacities including Director of the Fatherhood Program at Unlocking Futures (formerly NY Youth at Risk). Kirkearned a BS from City College (CUNY) and an MSW from the School of Social Work at Rutgers University. Kirk is passionate about transforming the lives of young men and their families.

Jessie CinelliJessie Cinelli, Workforce Development Manager, CEWD

Jessie Cinelli has served as CEWD’s Grants  Coordinator since 2013. Within her grants capacity she works with staff members throughout the Center and the KCC community to develop proposals for programs that both sustain existing and develop new grant-funded initiatives. These programs further the Center’s mission of providing relevant and cutting-edge workforce and college-readiness training to New York City residents. She uses her digital know-how to enhance the Center’s web presence by managing CEWD’s website and blog by developing engaging content including articles on local city and college events, program announcements and highlights, and visual representations of program achievements, just to name a few. Ms. Cinelli has a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of Vermont and is currently pursuing a master’s degree of Urban Studies at CUNY’s School of Professional Studies.


1da0fcb[1].jpgSarah Levy, Contextualized Academic Instructor and Curriculum Developer, NRC

Sarah Levy has spent the last decade as a test prep instructor, helping students of all ages succeed on standardized exams, ranging from the CUNY Assessment Exam to the SAT, GMAT, GRE and LSAT.  She is currently a contextualized academic instructor for KCC’s grant-funded Continuing Education programs by providing integrated math and writing instruction to supplement community health and culinary arts course content. She is also an HSE math and science instructor for the CUNY Fatherhood Academy.  Sarah piloted the Quantway mathematics curriculum in 2014, and since then she has been at the forefront of CEWD’s study on contextualizing Quantway for non-math disciplines.

Norma DarancioNorma D’Arancio, Program Coordinator, DYCD

Norma began her career with the Center for Economic and Workforce Development in 2009 as a student aide while taking classes at  a Kingsborough Community College. Over the course of her employment she was promoted four times, and most recently began her position as Project Rise’s Program Manager. Norma’s greatest contribution to CEWD has been her strong administration role she played in the successful SIF Project Rise program. Norma completed her Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice from John Jay College in spring 2014. She plans on pursuing a law degree in the near future.



Cris Izaguirre, KCC Urban Farm Manager

Cris immigrated with their family as a child from Nicaragua and grew up in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Seeing first-hand the impact of food insecurity and structural racism in their Brooklyn community has made them keenly aware of the necessity to address intersections of race, class, gender and food sovereignty within low income and communities of color. Previous to this position, Cris apprenticed at the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems in California, on permaculture and native farms on the Big Island of Hawaii, Honaunau Elementary School teaching gardening classes, and even KCC Urban Farm’s early days as a farm assistant pre- and post-Hurricane Sandy. Cris has worked for LGBTQ rights organizations including Lambda Legal, El/La Paratranslatinas and CUAV (Community United Against Violence) both as direct service staff and in program coordination. Cris believes that in order to address root causes of violence /discrimination, people’s basic needs such as shelter & food must be met.

GillianGillian Gooding, Compliance & Quality Assurance (QA) Manager, NRC

Gillian has been with CEWD since November 2012, where she joined as a part-time Data Assistant on the CUNY CarreerPATH (CCP) TAACCCT grant, and was promoted in November 2013 to Compliance and QA Manager.  She was also contracted to work on the Northeast Resiliency Consortium (NRC), simultaneously.  Her main role on both grants includes overseeing the technical and operational aspects of the homegrown databases, CCP Database and NRC Database.  For Round 1 she is also responsible for the data reviews, and ensures that the data is accurate for reporting at the consortium level, and has been instrumental in drafting and implementing QA standards to assist in carrying out consortium-wide audits.  In addition, she reviews the policies and guidance dictated by USDOL, interprets and disseminates it consortium-wide.  Gillian’s long term goal is to see the CCP and NRC Databases evolve into robust data management systems and to continue to grow in this capacity and ensure that our ‘QA’ procedures become ‘the gold standard’ for future awarded USDOL grants and all other promising initiatives.

Sara Davaasambuu, Research and Analysis Associate

bio to come…

Christopher PileggiChristopher Pileggi, Data and Technology Associate, CEWD

Chris has been with Center for Economic and Workforce Development since February 2014. As the Data Assistant, he primarily focuses on maintaining the data and data software used throughout the Center. His roles include the maintenance and augmentation of the CareerPATH Database, as well as assisting with Quality Assurance by developing database queries to search for and identify inconsistent data throughout the system. He is in the process of developing the Northeast Resiliency Consortium Database. Chris currently holds a BS in Computer Science from Brooklyn College.

Genesis ReyesGenesis Reyes, Program Coordinator, CFA

Genesis began her career with the CEWD in 2011. She is currently a Kingsborough Community College student and works for CEWD full time. Over the course of her employment Genesis was promoted three times, and most recently began her position as Program Coordinator for SIF Project Rise. In this role, she provides support the program with day-to-day support to ensure if functions optimally. Genesis has successfully provided support to the Project Rise team by effective multi-tasking and administrative coordination. Some of Genesis’s contributions include creation of the Project Rise newsletter, co-coordination of the Job Club, efficient management of payment requests, to name a few. Genesis is studying Early Childhood Education and is expected to graduate fall 2015. She plans on pursuing a degree in Education Studies at CUNY Brooklyn College.

HillaryHillary Stackpole, Manager of Strategic Community Partnerships

Hillary joined CEWD in September 2014 as NRC Program Assistant and became Program Coordinator in December 2015.  She works with Continuing Education programs served by NRC.  Hillary tends to see things in black and white so auditing students’ folders for accuracy and completion is right up her alley.  She maintains students’ enrollment information as well as grades, internships and certifications received.  Hillary contacts NRC students for post-completion updates and enjoys hearing about students’ experiences with their programs and especially their new employment information.  Outside of CEWD, Hillary is pursuing her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration, a board member of two Brooklyn-based not-for-profit organizations, and is most proud of her two children.  Hillary believes if people need help, you help them. “Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value” –Albert Einstein

Carlene Selmen-Matthews

bio to come…

Cristina Nava-Sosa, Program Assistant, CFA

bio to come…

Victoria BershtatVictoria Bershtat, Program Counselor, DYCD

Victoria has been with CEWD since 2009 where she has worked as a Job Developer previous grants CYAP and Coney Island training programs. In 2011 she started working for Project Rise, TASC/job development training program as a program counselor providing individual counseling, case management and referral services for disconnected young adults helping them focus on self-awareness, growth and resolve barriers to academic and professional success. Victoria also provides National Work Readiness Credentials workshops to prepare participants for workforce and facilitate weekly reflections of internship and discuss participants’ successes, limitations and concerns.

Ulyana YusimUlyana Yusim, Job Developer, DYCD

Ulyana has been with CEWD since 2008 were she was hired as a Job developer/Internship Coordinator for the Coney Island Project Welcome training program.  She was then assigned to the CUNY Young Adult Program and at its conclusion was placed on the SIF Project Rise program team in 2011. Her primary role as a job developer/internship coordinator is to assess the students of the program and provide career couching and counseling.   Additionally, Ulyana serves as the point-of-contact for external partners regarding internship opportunities and coordinates the internal activities and communication to support seamless services to the participants placed with these employer partners.  She is proactive in her research with identifying contacts and/or developing potential sites for internship opportunities.  Ulyana, is part of an interdisciplinary team that has developed a successful Internship tier system and job club workshop curriculum that has maximized efficiency throughout the training programs internship component.


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