Leadership Team

Damyn Kelly speaking to LSSNY’s Leadership and Management.
President & Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Lutheran Social Services of New York, Damyn Kelly, JD. PhD.

Dr. Kelly is a skilled strategic leader who has worked for more than 18 years as the chief executive of organizations serving many disenfranchised members of the community. His work has improved the lives of the formerly incarcerated; those living with mental illness, developmental and intellectual disabilities; and the homeless. He has leveraged his experience, industry knowledge, and strong commitment to community advocacy, to bolster the business practices and financial success of several social service agencies.

As CEO of Southeast Bronx Neighborhood Centers, Inc., Mr. Kelly had great success managing a multi-service agency serving more than 6,000 children and families in a variety of educational, vocational, and behavioral treatment programs across 11 facilities.

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Chief Program Officer (CPO), Lutheran Social Services of New York, Kerron Norman, MSC.

In Social Work, Columbia University, BA, Sociology, Binghamton University, Ms. Norman oversees a portfolio of programs and related services that include Early Life, Special Education, Foster Care, Preventive Services, Supportive Housing, Immigration & Legal Services, Hunger Prevention, and other Community-based Services.

Ms. Norman has worked as Vice President and Chief Program Officer for ANDRUS. Her former roles include Director of Child Welfare for the Westchester County Department of Social Services and Deputy Director of Field Operations for the NYC Administration for Children’s Services. She is the proud recipient of the Franklin H. Williams Judicial Commission’s Diversity Award, which honors individuals who work diligently to promote diversity and equality in systems.

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General Counsel, Lutheran Social Services of New York, Kerwin Ledesna Esq.

Kerwin LedesnaMr. Kerwin Ledesna is LSSNY’s General Counsel. He is responsible for providing strategic guidance, consultation, and support on a comprehensive range of legal and associated issues involved in carrying out LSSNY’s mission.

Mr. Ledesna began his legal career as a real estate finance attorney at different New York Law firms before becoming a Senior Advisor and Director of Compliance with the Human Resources Administration (“HRA”). At HRA, he spearheaded an agency wide risk assessment protocol and advised on various policy matters. He received his B.S. from Fordham University, and his J.D. from New York Law School.

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Chief Financial Officer, Lutheran Social Services of New York, Rinku Bhattacharya, CPA.

Ms. Bhattacharya holds a Doctoral degree in Accounting (DPS) from Pace University, an MBA in Finance from the University of Bridgeport, and an MS in Non-Profit Management from New School University. She has worked in various dimensions of the non-profit sector, managing budgets ranging from $5 to $75 million, most recently serving as the CFO for Westchester Community Opportunity Program. She serves on the global board of the Institute of Management Accountants and on the boards of Cluster, Inc., and the First Lego League of Hudson Valley.

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Executive Director for Children's Services - Margarita Marriaga

Margarita Marriaga is the Executive Director of Children’s Services at LSSNY. She is a social justice leader specializing in models, programs and partnerships that improve the lives of children and families in marginalized communities. She has successfully rolled out new initiatives and best practices in government and nonprofit organizations. She holds a BA degree in psychology from Hofstra University and a Master of Science degree in nonprofit leadership from Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service and the Gabelli School of Business. Margarita works from the tenet that all children deserve and can have an environment where they are safe and able to fulfil their potential. 

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Executive Director for Community Services - Cecilia Aranzamendez, LMSW, Esq.

cecilia-aranzamendez-v2Cecilia Aranzamendez, the Executive Director of Community Services, oversees the agency’s immigration legal program, disaster case management and hunger prevention programs. She brings considerable experience as both an attorney and a Licensed Master of Social Work (LMSW) to the division. Ms. Aranzamendez has over 16 years of experience working with immigrants, both in a legal and case management context. Among the programs she oversees at LSSNY is the Safe Haven for Children program, which provides residential, educational, vocational and legal services to unaccompanied children.

Ms. Aranzamendez has a J.D. degree from New York University School of Law and an MSW from New York University’s Silver School of Social Work.

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The Executive Director of Family Child Care Network (FCCN), Jenifer Barriteau.

MPH from New York University and MA in Organization Leadership from Columbia University comes with 25 years of experience working in the family child care field, twelve of which were in Early Head Start as a health manager and program director. She helped to spearhead one of the first Early Head Start Family Child Care Networks in New York City, now known as Rising Ground EHS. Her expertise in change management and program development has been vital in strengthening and enhancing the LSSNY FCCN that has resulted in significant expansion. She has completed the Program for Infant Toddler Care (PITC) training Modules I, II, III, and IV and is a certified trainer in Modules III and IV.

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The Executive Director, Early LIFE (Center-Based Program), Beatrice Hutcherson, SpEd.

Ms. Hutcherson holds an MS in Early Childhood Special Education from Adelphi University with NYS Professional Certification in Early Childhood Education (ECE) for grades B-2 and Students with Disabilities in B-2. With over 25 years in ECE and more than 18 years in Head Start, Ms. Hutcherson reports to the CPO and manages EL operations, actualizing contractual terms on behalf of LSSMNY. She serves as the Management Systems lead for the Early Life Division’s successful direction and overall management and is the point of contact for all early childhood government funding sources, ensuring contractual compliance.

Ms. Hutcherson directly supervises the Deputy Executive Director (DED), Continuous Quality Improvement, Assistant Executive Director (CQI, AED), Senior Director of Engagement, Health, & Disabilities (SD, EHD), Human Resources, Fiscal, & Administrative Staff. She communicates expectations of excellence in collaboration with the DED, Parent Coordinator & Policy Council, Mental Health Coordinator/Consultant, Nutritionist, Governing Board, colleagues, & parents. Additionally, Ms. Hutcherson directly oversees the 6 sites, examines data trends, and creates/updates management systems plans that meet the needs of families as revealed by program data. She is also certified in Trauma Crisis Intervention and Medication Administration.

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Executive Director for Residential Services – Rachel Bleecker

Rachel Bleecker joined Lutheran Social Services of New York in April of 2007. Though she has worked in our residential programs for nearly 15 years, she is one of the newer members of our Leadership team. As the Executive Director for Residential Services, Ms. Bleecker is responsible for the development, operation and delivery of services in our 7 residential programs located in the Bronx and Brooklyn. Throughout these sites, more than 500 individuals are served on a daily basis as we strive to help each of the participants to reach their full potential. 

Ms. Bleecker is a compassionate leader who is committed to LSSNY’s mission of dismantling the causes and effects of persistent poverty and social injustice. Her hard work and dedication is evident in her continued honors and awards throughout her career.  

Ms. Bleecker graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Human Resources Pre-professional Sociology from the State University of New York College at Oneonta in 1999. Even back then, she was on the Sociological Honor Society and was awarded Outstanding Performance in an Internship at her graduation. In 2004, Ms. Bleecker graduated with a Master of Social Work degree from Wurzweiler School of Social Work, where she also served as President of the Student Government Association. She is a licensed NYS Social Worker and has been involved in many important projects and has participated in several speaking engagements with our funders. Ms. Bleecker prides herself in cultivating leadership in others, fostering creativity and innovation amongst her team of thought leaders, celebrating success and employing a strength-based approach with both participants and staff as well as building strong relationships with individuals, families and leaders. 

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Director of Human Resources - Katie Paniagua

Ms. Katie Paniagua is the Director of Human Resources at Lutheran Social Services of New York. Katie joined LSSNY in the summer of 2015 as the Human Resources Assistant while completing her first semester of grad school at Lehman College.

Upon earning her Master’s degree in Human Resources, Katie was promoted to HR Generalist and later served as the Deputy Director of HR for a number of years. Prior to joining LSSNY, she worked in smaller, private companies with experiences in accounting, payroll, and customer service. With a BA in Business Management, she wanted to get as much experience in operations and eventually sought an opportunity to work in Human Resources.

Katie prides herself in operating from an unbiased vantage point and developing her team to think as leaders. She has the opportunity to work with and oversee a team of dedicated professionals who share the same passion for helping others. Katie also finds fulfillment in being able to assist individuals in need and guide them towards the appropriate services. Whether it’s sharing resources on the benefits LSSNY has to offer, opportunities for growth within the agency, or offering them the opportunity to be heard, she takes pride in making a positive impact on people’s lives.

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Deputy Executive Director, Early Life (Center-Based Program), Patricia Eckford-Jackson, MS.Here

Ms. Eckford-Jackson holds an MS in Education from CUNY and has Permanent NYS Certification for N-6, with over 25 years of experience. She is directly responsible for tracking School Readiness Goals and promulgating the School Readiness Report. She supports programs with the development and implementation of SRGs and aggregates data toward better student outcomes and quality improvement.

Ms. Eckford-Jackson works with the ED & CQI Director to examine annual Self-Assessment Data for trends indicating a need for shifts in educational programming. Additionally, she provides technical support and mentorship to the Early LIFE Directors, Educational Coordinators, and the Family Childcare Program with regards to Education Services.

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Assistant Executive Director of Continuous Quality Improvement, Early LIFE (CenterBased Program), Mateka Fung, MPA.

Ms. Fung holds a Masters in Public Administration from City University of NY. She ensures that our programs utilize valid data to make decisions, including data entry and assurance. She provides technical assistance and data analysis to support our work around meeting and exceeding all Management Systems and Service Area goals. Goals created and tracked by Ms. Fung include Health & Safety, School Readiness, ERSEA & Family Service goals. In addition, Ms. Fung works to analyze Self-Assessment Data, triangulating its results with other program data and our annual Community Needs Assessments to inform program planning.

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