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Our Leadership

Safe Horizon is managed by fiercely dedicated individuals who bring expertise, compassion and thought leadership to our work.

Executive Leadership Team

 

Liz Roberts, MSW CEO

Liz Roberts began her tenure as CEO of Safe Horizon in February 2021, following a national search. Liz is a social worker with more than thirty years of experience addressing the needs of survivors of violence and abuse. She first joined Safe Horizon as Chief Program Officer in 2010 and served as Deputy CEO from 2014 to 2020. During her tenure at Safe Horizon, Liz was instrumental in launching several innovative programs, while establishing field-leading training, supervision, and quality improvement systems. Under her leadership, the organization nearly doubled its budget and secured the 2018 New York Non-Profit Excellence Award.

Previously, Liz served as a Deputy Commissioner for the New York City Administration for Children's Services, where she developed innovative preventive programs; improved the child welfare system’s response to domestic violence, mental illness, and substance abuse; and was the founding chair of the agency’s first Task Force on Racial Equity and Cultural Competence.

Earlier in her career, Liz provided direct services to children and adults affected by violence and abuse as a grassroots shelter and hotline worker, children’s advocate, and trauma therapist. She is a national expert in addressing the intersection of domestic violence and child abuse from a survivor-centered perspective and has held teaching roles at the Columbia University School of Social Work and Wheelock College.

She is a graduate of the Belle and George Strell Executive Leadership Program at the Silberman School of Social Work, and a 2017 recipient of the 50 over 50 Award from New York Non-Profit Media. She has presented widely on child abuse and domestic violence, co-authored numerous articles in academic journals, and been quoted in numerous media outlets, including Good Morning America, National Public Radio, the New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal.

Liz received an MSW from Salem State University and a BA in Social Anthropology from Harvard/Radcliffe.

Lisa A. O'Connor, PhD Deputy CEO and Chief Program Officer

Dr. Lisa A. O’Connor was promoted to the roles of Deputy CEO and Chief Program Officer as of March 2021. Lisa joined Safe Horizon in 2013 as the Deputy Chief Program Officer and was later promoted to Chief Program Officer. She is a psychologist by training and has spent most of her career in service to children and families impacted by violence. During her time at Safe Horizon, Lisa has led efforts to address the needs of young men of color who have been harmed by violence; implemented client-centered, trauma-informed practices that recognize the impact of racism in the lives of survivors; and led the successful fulfillment of a five-year strategic plan.

Prior to Safe Horizon, Lisa spent almost a decade in child welfare developing and implementing new program models and policies, first as an Assistant Commission at the Administration for Children’s Services and later as Vice President for Children and Family Services at the New York Foundling. In these roles, she designed innovative programs that brought evidence-based models to preventive services and for children in foster care and residential placement. She also developed policy and specialized foster care programming to help reduce child welfare’s use of residential placements for young people approaching adulthood.

Lisa has devoted most of her career to working on behalf of vulnerable populations. She has provided direct service to families in crisis: those experiencing family violence, impacted by poverty, and involved in systems. She received her PhD in Developmental Psychology from Columbia University and a BA in Psychology from Smith College.

Juan C. Brito Vice President of Human Resources

Juan joined Safe Horizon in 2016. Juan 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. He 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, Juan was the Director of Human Resources at the Foundation Center, the leading source of information about philanthropy worldwide. He 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.

Greg 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.

Kelly Coyne Deputy Chief Program Officer

Kelly Coyne joined Safe Horizon in 2013 as the Director of Domestic Violence Shelter Prelude House. She became Deputy Chief Program Officer in 2019. Kelly leads program operations and ensures that services integrate a trauma-informed, client-centered, and anti-oppressive lens while spearheading quality assurance and improvement efforts. She has over 19 years of experience working to end domestic violence in the lives of families in a variety of leadership positions. Kelly has specialized experience working with survivors of domestic violence and their children who are living in a domestic violence shelter. She serves on the Board of the New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence and is currently the Board Vice-Chair. Kelly was appointed to the Governor’s Domestic Violence Taskforce in 2019. She received an MBA from Queens University, an MS in Higher Education from Appalachian State University.

Laura Davies Chief Development Officer

Laura Davies joined Safe Horizon as Chief Development Officer in 2021. She was previously Safe Horizon’s Manager of Corporate Partnerships for five years and led all aspects of corporate and community fundraising. Prior to re-joining Safe Horizon in 2021, Laura served as Managing Director of Development and External Affairs at the Women’s Prison Association (WPA), the nation’s first organization for women impacted by incarceration. During her tenure at WPA, the fundraising and communications team doubled private revenue, launched a new brand and website, and built a pipeline of sustainable support. Laura began her career in advertising and held progressive leadership roles at various agencies. She is the recipient of the 2015 NonProfit PRO Rising Star award. Laura received a BA in English from Pennsylvania State University.

Vagnes 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.

Erin White Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications

Erin White joined Safe Horizon in 2018. Erin is responsible for nationally expanding awareness about the organization, driving its advocacy agenda and advancing understanding of how to prevent violence and empower victims of violence to move from crisis to confidence. She formerly served as Deputy Communications Director for Mayor Bill de Blasio and led communications for First Lady Chirlane McCray. Erin has a background in national advocacy, nonprofit communications, and government relations, as well as experience in reporting and media relations. Prior to serving in the de Blasio administration, Erin served as a senior communications strategist for the American Civil Liberties Union and a communications consultant for a variety of national nonprofits, leading national advocacy campaigns, communications strategy for Supreme Court cases, providing crisis management support and more. Her work has won national industry awards for multicultural campaigns and campaigns on a shoestring budget. Erin received a BA degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Michael 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.

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