“If I had to choose one, I would go with Los Tres Golpes,” says Kerwin Ledesna, LSSNY’s General Counsel, when asked for his favorite Dominican recipe. He adds that he only eats this from time to time vs. every day. “Otherwise I’d have a heart attack,” he laughingly explains.

Born and raised in the Bronx — in Morris Park — his neighborhood has shifted many times over the past forty years. “It was predominantly Italian and as I grew older, it became Latino and West Indian, then Albanian, and then Middle Eastern. It’s now called ‘little Yemen,’” he says.

Kerwin’s father came from the Dominican Republic in the 50’s and founded a driving school in the South Bronx. He met his future wife at work. “At the time, he might have been the only person of color on his street,” says Kerwin.

His father had a very thick accent when speaking English, and to this day, Kerwin tries to be as patient as possible when he sees someone struggling with English.

At home, his family spoke Spanish a lot. There were a couple of older Italian neighbors “from the old country” who taught him some phrases and a couple of Jewish families in the area. “I actually found out about the Holocaust when I was five or six,” says Kerwin. “Joe lived across the street and he had numbers on his arm and that’s when I got a history lesson. It was a very diverse neighborhood.”

After graduating from Fordham University, Kerwin worked for years at the Administration for Children’s Services, attending New York Law School by night. He 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”).

“Most of my professional career was in a service capacity,” he says. “I wanted to transition from public service but at the same time still be of service.” Working for LSSNY turned out to the be the “perfect marriage of service and career.” He cites the general counsel role, the breadth of LSSNY’s programs, its mission, longevity, and good reputation.

Kerwin’s two-year-old son just celebrated a birthday (a day apart from his). What he’d like to pass on to his child is the “Dominican spirit,” work ethic, and close familial ties. Also adaptability — “another big part of the Dominican story” — finding ways to take advantage of the opportunities and flexibility the US affords.

Also the delicious food and great music of course.

“Have you ever been to a Dominican baby shower?” he asks. “It’s a party, giving out gifts for the mom-to-be. But it quickly becomes less about the baby and the whole community shows up,” he explains.