Our Leadership

Executive Leadership Team

Safe Horizon CEO Ariel ZwangAriel Zwang
Chief Executive Officer
Ariel Zwang has been the CEO of Safe Horizon since 2008. Safe Horizon is the nation’s leading provider of services to victims of crime and abuse. Each year it provides support to hundreds of thousands of people who have endured domestic violence, child abuse, human trafficking, and many other forms of violence. Ariel was previously the executive director of New York Cares, which, under her leadership, became the city’s largest volunteer organization, deploying 40,000 volunteers annually. She was appointed a White House Fellow from 1999-2000 by President Bill Clinton. Ariel’s previous experience includes serving as a vice president of the Women’s Housing and Economic Development Corporation in the South Bronx, and as special assistant to the Chancellor of the New York City Board of Education. Ariel began her career at Morgan Stanley and the Boston Consulting Group. She is a board member of the Human Services Council of New York and a former board member of the Points of Light Foundation. Ariel received an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BA in Applied Mathematics from Harvard College.

Uploaded Image: /uploads/images/Liz_Roberts_bio.jpgLiz Roberts
Deputy CEO & Chief Program Officer
Liz Roberts joined Safe Horizon in 2010. Liz was previously with the New York City Administration for Children’s Services as director of domestic violence policy and planning, assistant commissioner for child and family health, and deputy commissioner for family support services. She also worked as a clinician and trainer for the Child Witness to Violence Project at Boston Medical Center, a nationally recognized clinical program for young children who have witnessed violence. At the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Liz trained more than a thousand health care providers to identify and respond to intimate partner violence. She received an MSW from Salem State College and a BA in Social Anthropology from Harvard/Radcliffe.

Greg BrooksGreg Brooks
Chief Financial and Administrative Officer
Greg Brooks joined Safe Horizon in 2014. Greg was previously the associate executive director for finance and administration at the 92nd Street Y. He has held positions in New York City government, including deputy comptroller for policy, audit, accountancy, and contracts and executive assistant/chief of staff to the Brooklyn Borough President. Greg was also the Brooklyn member of the New York City Board of Education and a member of the Board of the Directors of the New York City Economic Development Corporation. He received an MPA from New York University's Graduate School of Public Administration, an MA in English from Hunter College and a BA from SUNY Plattsburgh.

Uploaded Image: /uploads/images/Maria_de_los_Angeles.jpgMaría de los Ángeles Corral
Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications
María de los Ángeles Corral joined Safe Horizon in 2013. María was previously the associate director of Latino communications at the College Board where she worked to increase the college-going rates of Latinos and acted as a leading spokeswoman. She spent eight years with the American Red Cross where she shaped policies around multicultural crisis communications. María possesses deep experience creating integrated marketing strategies that create social relevancy and engage audiences. Early in her career, she spearheaded Walgreen’s first brand campaign for Latino consumers. She received a BA in International Studies from DePaul University.

Vagnes De La RosaVagnes De La Rosa
Chief of Staff

Vagnes De La Rosa joined Safe Horizon in 2014. Vagnes has over a decade of management experience in the non-profit sector, specializing in youth development and leadership programs. Vagnes was previously a deputy director of the Sports and Arts in Schools Foundation, where he was responsible for 24 college readiness programs. He has also worked as a management consultant, trainer and motivational speaker. Vagnes is passionate about working with the community, especially for those who sometimes need a little extra support. He received a MPA in Non-Profit Management from Baruch College's School of Public Affairs and a BA in Psychology from the University of Rochester.

Uploaded Image: /uploads/images/Maria_de_los_Angeles.jpgEddie Pelto
Chief Development Officer
Eddie Pelto joined Safe Horizon in 2013. He previously served as vice president for Development at the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation where he oversaw a comprehensive multi-channel fundraising program. He has also served as vice president for development at the National Hemophilia Foundation. Eddie has held progressive leadership roles in development at Barnard College, the NYC Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center, and Physicians for Reproductive Health. He received a BA in Fine Arts from Hofstra University.

Uploaded Image: /uploads/images/Michael_Williams.jpgMichael Williams
General Counsel
Michael H. Williams joined Safe Horizon in 2007. Michael represents the legal interests of Safe Horizon, including contractual, real estate, policy, litigation, regulatory, employment, not-for-profit governance, and tax-related matters. He also manages the organization’s relationships with outside counsel. Michael previously served as deputy general counsel of Phoenix House Foundation and as assistant corporation counsel for the New York City Law Department. He also serves as chair of the board of New York Peace Institute, a spin-off of Safe Horizon. Michael is admitted to practice in the State of New York. He received a JD from Brooklyn Law School and a BA in Sociology from Tufts University.

Juan C. Brito
Vice President of Human Resources
Juan joined Safe Horizon as the Vice President of Human Resources in January 2016. He is responsible for all human resources strategic, operational, and administrative goals, policies and practices, including overseeing employee relations, staffing, compensation, benefits, training and staff development. Juan previously served as the Associate Director, Human Resources at the Rockefeller Foundation a respected one hundred and two year old global philanthropic organization, whose mission is to promote the well-being of humanity throughout the world via building resilience and advancing inclusive economies. Prior to joining the Rockefeller Foundation, he was the Director of Human Resources at the Foundation Center, the leading source of information about philanthropy worldwide. Juan is also the president of the Human Resources Professional Association of Nonprofit Organizations (better known as HR PANO), which is dedicated to advancing proficiency in the human resources field for its members and their organizations within the nonprofit community. Juan received his BBA degree from Baruch College.  

Senior Leadership Team

Kelly Coyne

Kelly Coyne
Vice President, Domestic Violence Shelters
Kelly Coyne first joined Safe Horizon in 2013 as the director for Prelude House. She became vice president of domestic violence shelters in 2015. Kelly was previously with the Safe Alliance, a multi-service victim advocacy agency in North Carolina, where she provided leadership for a domestic violence shelter and ran a program for incarcerated women. During that time, she led the development, from the ground up, of a new shelter facility. Prior to joining the Safe Alliance, Kelly coordinated a violence against women program located on the campus of Johnson C. Smith University, in Charlotte, North Carolina, and was a program coordinator in a domestic violence shelter located in Boone, North Carolina. Kelly is a trainer with the North Carolina School Health Training Center and is a Nationally Certified Trainer in the ASIST suicide intervention curriculum. She received an MBA from Queens University, a MS in Higher Education Administration and a BA in Public health from Appalachian State University.

Nancy Arnow

Nancy Arnow
Vice President, Child Advocacy and Mental Health Treatment Programs
Nancy Arnow joined Safe Horizon in 1988. Nancy has over twenty-seven years of experience working in various programs and in a variety of leadership positions. She currently oversees Safe Horizon’s five Child Advocacy Centers, the Child Advocacy Resource and Consultation Center, and our Counseling Center. Nancy is also Safe Horizon’s compliance officer. She has devoted much of her professional career to developing programs and enhancing services to child and adult victims of crime, abuse and trauma. Nancy serves on the Board of the Coalition of Behavioral Health Agencies. She received an MSW from Columbia University and a BA in Counseling from Kent State University.


Maureen CurtisMaureen Curtis
Vice President, Criminal Justice and Court Programs
Maureen Curtis is responsible for the development and oversight of Safe Horizon’s Criminal Justice Programs, overseeing staff of more than 100 in 25 locations citywide. Ms. Curtis has worked for more than 25 years in the field of victimization. Her work with senior level staff in the NYPD and the New York City Housing Authority has led to changes in policies that impact victims citywide. Ms. Curtis has designed and provided training for law enforcement and community members on the topics of victim safety, offender accountability, housing options, and the criminal justice response to domestic violence. She has been instrumental in creating and introducing new practices for Safe Horizon staff in their work with clients, including training for supervisors in the implementation of client-centered practice, and providing support and guidance to help staff develop their skills and enhance their knowledge. Ms. Curtis is a licensed social worker and also holds a Masters in Public Health.

James Deadwyler James Deadwyler
Vice President, Foundation and Government Support
Jim Deadwyler rejoined Safe Horizon in 2013, having previously served in a similar position at the agency a decade earlier. Jim leads Safe Horizon’s partnerships with foundations and government funding agencies, which comprise a majority of the organizational budget. With over 20 years of experience as a professional fundraiser, he served as a vice president of development at Points of Light, as director of development for grants at United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta, and as an independent fundraising consultant prior to returning to Safe Horizon. Jim received a BA in Russian from Emory University.

Barry GendelmanBarry Gendelman
Vice President, Real Estate and Facilities
Barry Gendelman has been with Safe Horizon since 2012, and is responsible for the management of more than 50 agency facilities, including nine residential shelters, over 30 individual residential units, and multiple office sites. Mr. Gendelman negotiates and administers lease agreements and manages capital projects for the construction and renovation of office space and residential shelter facilities. Prior to joining Safe Horizon, Mr. Gendelman worked for 11 years as Assistant Commissioner for Property Management and Leasing and Asset Management at the New York City Department of Citywide Administrative Services. He also served as Senior Director for Real Estate in the Office of Facilities Development for the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation. Mr. Gendelman earned his master’s degree in City Planning from San Diego State University.

Denise HagleyDenise Hagley
Vice President, Finance and Controller 
Denise Hagley joined Safe Horizon in December 2000. In her role as Finance Controller, Ms. Hagley oversees the agency’s accounting, payroll, accounts payable, accounts receivable, and grants management operations. She is responsible for the day to day financial activities of the organization, including the production of periodic financial reports, maintaining the accounting records system, and a comprehensive set of controls and budgets designed to reduce risk, enhance the accuracy of the agency's reported financial results, and ensure that the reported results comply with accepted accounting principles. Before joining Safe Horizon, Ms. Hagley filled a similar role at the College of Insurance (now St. John’s University) and Power of Attorney. She graduated from Bernard Baruch College and the New York City College of Technology.

Lisa O'ConnorLisa O’Connor
Deputy Program Officer
Lisa O’Connor joined Safe Horizon 2013. Dr. O’Connor was previously the vice president for children and family services at the New York Foundling where she held executive responsibility for; specialized preventive services, residential placement and support functions of the organization including staff and foster parent training, youth development, home finding, family team conferencing, intake, adoption and legal services, records management and information, and parent advocacy. Dr. O’Connor was also an assistant commissioner for program analysis and development at the New York City Administration for Children’s Services, where she was responsible for contract management, program analysis and reporting, and program development. Dr. O’Connor has devoted most of her career to program development, research and evaluation, and policy development on behalf of vulnerable populations. She brings experience with child welfare, juvenile justice, substance abuse, and social policy. Dr. O’Connor received a Ph.D. from Columbia University and a BA in Psychology from Smith College.

Michael PolenbergMichael Polenberg
Vice President, Government Affairs
Michael is responsible for directing the agency's legislative and budget advocacy on both the state and local levels. He also oversees Safe Horizon’s legal services programs, including the Domestic Violence Law Project and the Immigration Law Project, which together provide expert legal assistance to many hundreds of crime victims each year. Michael draws on his twenty years of advocacy work in New York to ensure that our laws explicitly help victims of crime find safety and begin to heal. He also fights for millions of dollars in public funding to sustain programs helping victims of child abuse, domestic violence, human trafficking, and sexual assault. Michael's connections in and out of government increase Safe Horizon's profile and raise public awareness of the needs of crime victims. Michael has a BA in History from the University of Wisconsin/Madison.

Rafail Portnoy Rafail Portnoy
Chief Information Officer
Rafail Portnoy joined Safe Horizon in 2009. Rafail is responsible and accountable for development and execution of the enterprise-wide IT strategy as well as ongoing technology operations. He has over twenty years of technology experience, and spent over fifteen years managing complex IT environments. Rafail was previously a founding chief information officer at The Levin Institute and held a variety of technical and management positions at the IBM Corporation. He received a MS in Information Systems Engineering from Brooklyn Polytechnic University and a BBA from Pace University.


Carolyn StrudwickCarolyn Strudwick
Associate Vice President, Youth and Anti-Trafficking Programs
Carolyn Strudwick oversees Safe Horizon’s Streetwork Project for homeless youth as well as Safe Horizon’s Anti-Trafficking Program. Ms. Strudwick began her career in social services at Safe Horizon in 1993 as an outreach worker and case manager at Streetwork. She has worked with street-involved youth in many capacities, including group facilitation, clinical case management, and shelter supervision. Ms. Strudwick is a seasoned and leading expert among youth providers in New York City. She received her master’s degree in Social Work from the Hunter College School of Social Work at the City University of New York.  

Juanito VargasJuanito Vargas
Vice President, Community Programs, Hotlines and Project SAFE
Juanito Vargas joined Safe Horizon in 2012. Juanito is responsible for the overall management of Safe Horizon's Anti-Trafficking Program, Community Programs, Hotlines. He is a New York State licensed social worker with 20 years’ experience in the social service field. Juanito’s career encompasses a wide range of experiences including working with adults with chronic mental health issues and survivors of childhood sexual abuse to call centers, substance abuse and mental health clinics as well as psychiatric mobile crisis teams and in behavioral health managed care.

Safe Horizon's mission is to provide support, prevent violence and promote justice for victims of crime and abuse, their families and communities.
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