Board of Directors

Officers

Chair John Restrepo is the director of the Division of Housing and Community Development at Jersey-City-based Garden State Episcopal Community Development Corporation (GSECDC). He has been involved with the planning, development, and management of over 500 scattered site housing units and 35,000 square feet of commercial space to increase the affordable housing stock in high cost markets. In the early stages of his career, Mr. Restrepo was once a community scholar and in 2016, served as the co-chair of the inaugural year of the Housing Scholars program. He returns to the Board of Directors after previously serving as Board President in 2015.

Vice Chair Leslie Stivale  is the President/CEO of Triple C Housing, Inc. (Triple C), a non-profit community housing development organization (CHDO) and supportive services provider. As a vision driven, results oriented leader, she has expanded Triple C’s supportive housing program, leveraging multiple funding sources to develop high quality housing and grow opportunities to enhance supportive services for individuals, families and veterans who have been formerly homeless and disabled. Ms. Stivale possesses twenty eight years of experience in behavioral health, human services and the supportive housing industry having worked within the private and non-profit sectors in senior and executive management. In 2010, Ms. Stivale was appointed to the NJ Interagency Council for Preventing and Reducing Homelessness. In 2017, Triple C was awarded the Governor’s Excellence Award in Supportive Housing, and in the same year, Leslie was presented with the prestigious Mort Gati award by the NJ Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association. She has served on the Network’s Board of Directors since 2014.

Treasurer Dan Antonellis has served as President of Region Nine Housing Corporation (RNHC) since 2012, developing high-quality affordable housing and providing services to families, seniors and disabled individuals. Prior to becoming RNHC President, he served as a Staff Representative for the Communications Workers of America, Local 1038 and spent nearly 25 years at the New Jersey Department of Labor prior to that. He is a former Vice President and Board President of the ARC Mercer and a founding member of the Board of Orphan Sponsorship International (OSI). Mr. Antonellis joined the Network Board of Directors in 2018.

At Large Members

Edward Bethea serves as the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Gateway Community Action Partnership. He oversees all financial, managerial and revenue-generating departments and activities within the agency. He is the chief negotiator of all contracts and leases and serves as chief developer on all construction projects. He is responsible for the Operations, Finance and Human Resources Departments as well as, Head Start, Health Services, Economic Development, Social Services, Information Technology, Weatherization, Property Management and Facility Maintenance. He brings years of experience in tax consulting, financial planning, cash flow projection and asset management to Gateway, and maintains approval authority on all agency spending. He is also directly responsible for the interactions between Gateway and financial institutions and governmental entities. Mr. Bethea current serves as President of the Bridgeton City Municipal Council.  

Robert F. Guarasci is Founder and Chief Executive Officer of New Jersey Community Development Corporation (NJCDC) in Paterson. Prior to starting NJCDC, he served for four years as Executive Assistant to New Jersey’s Commissioner of Human Services. Governor Chris Christie has appointed Mr. Guarasci to serve on the Board of Trustees of William Paterson University and the New Jersey Interagency Council on Homelessness. He has also been appointed by US Secretary of the Interior to serve on the Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park’s Federal Advisory Commission, which he currently chairs and a Trustee of the Paterson Alliance, a consortium of non-profit agencies serving Paterson residents. Mr. Guarasci joined the Network's Board of Directors in 2015.

Victoria Hernandez, a native Newarker, joined Ironbound Community Corporation (ICC) as its Executive Director in December, 2019. She is the first woman, first Latina, and first multi-lingual Executive Director at ICC. She has led the organization’s response to the Coronavirus and its impact on Ironbound community members. This has included mobilizing all of ICC’s resources and programs to address the most basic and pressing needs, which are impacting our community members including access to food, money and housing. Prior to joining ICC, Ms. Hernandez most recently served as Chief Program Officer at New Jersey Community Development Corporation in Paterson, where she led implementation of a Strategic Plan and the Great Falls Promise Neighborhood Initiative to ensure that children reach adulthood career and college ready.

Michael G. Johnson serves as Regional Director of Community Life for New York/New Jersey for The Community Builders, Inc. in New York City, a position he has held since January 2020. He leads strategic priorities for Community Life in New York City, the Capital District, Westchester County and New Jersey, working closely with TCB’s real estate development, property management and fund development teams. Previously, he served as Vice President in Global Philanthropy at JPMorgan Chase & Co., where he was responsible for the firm’s Affordable Housing and Community Development portfolio for the New York Tri-State area and a national portfolio involving affordable housing seed capital and data driven solutions for neighborhood revitalization through Partnership for Raising Opportunities (PRO) Neighborhoods.
 

B
ridget Phifer has served as Executive Director of Parkside Business and Community in Partnership (PBICP) since 1999. Since joining PBICP, she has grown the organization’s budget tenfold. Staff has increased from one (Ms. Phifer) to half a dozen as the housing effort has expanded, and homeownership education, marketing and neighborhood planning programs have been created. Strategic partnerships with foundations, other community development organizations, corporations and government agencies have been critical to this success.  


Laura Rodgers, LCSW is Chief Program & External Relations Officer for JFS in Atlantic & Cape May Counties, New Jersey. She has over 25 years of experience providing and developing programming in the areas of counseling, mental health outreach, homelessness, older adult services, justice involved services, and supportive housing. Laura is the co-founder of the Garden State Leaders; a leadership and advocacy training program for individuals with lived experiences of poverty. Additional areas of Laura’s professional focus include grief counseling and anti-poverty grass roots organizing. Laura has a BS in Public Health and a Master’s Degree in Social Work

Jaymie Santiago has been working for the progress of New Brunswick’s residents since 2004. He began his work with the Rutgers Cooperative Extension and was instrumental in creating a citywide network of Food Hubs consisting of farmers markets and community gardens. In 2009, he served on the initial planning committee that developed the New Brunswick Community Food Alliance. And in 2011, he was the Co-Director of Rutgers Against Hunger, a university-wide initiative offering temporary relief to families faced with hunger across New Jersey. Mr. Santiago joined New Brunswick Tomorrow as Director of Operations in 2012, becoming President in 2016. He managed the Healthier New Brunswick initiative; designed to improve the overall health of city residents.
 
Blair Schleicher Wilson is the Chief Executive Officer of Morris Habitat for Humanity located in Randolph, NJ. She is a founding member, past chair and current vice chair of the Housing Alliance for Morris County, a coalition of organizations committed to increasing the supply of affordable housing in Morris County. She serves on the Advisory Board for the Housing Partnership for Morris County and their Foreclosure Task Force. Ms. Schleicher Wilson is a former four-term councilwoman in Mountain Lakes, serving two terms both as Mayor and Deputy Mayor as well as liaison to all Borough Committees in her tenure. She has joined the Board of Directors in 2014.


Associate Members
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Alle Ries
is the Regional Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) Officer for M&T Bank. In this role, she serves as a liason between the bank and community-based organizations throughout NJ to develop and administer creative initiatives that meet the needs of low- to moderate-income individuals and their families. Prior to joining the bank, she served as the Director of Community & Economic Development and Director of Program and Fund Development at La Casa de Don Pedro. She joined the Network's Board of Directors in 2018.

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Board Member Emeritus

Joseph Della Fave, is the former Executive Director of the Ironbound Community Corporation, retiring from the position in 2019. During his tenure the multi-service nonprofit agency was recognized by local, state and national organizations for the impactful and innovative work they were doing in the Ironbound community. The Network is very appreciative that although retired Mr. Della Fave continues to be an active and valued member of our Board.

 

Helen Steblecki is the Senior Vice President, State Director of Community Development for Citi in NJ; and Community Development Officer for Manhattan and Staten Island. As the State Director of Community Development, she is responsible for developing, implementing and funding innovative solutions to address urban community issues, including programs focused on financial inclusion, asset building, college access, affordable housing and small business development for low- to moderate-income individuals and communities. Ms. Steblecki moved to Emeritus status in January 2020.