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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

Dr. Lisa A. O’Connor joined Safe Horizon in 2013. As Deputy CEO, she has executive leadership responsibilities for Safe Horizon’s internal functions, including program and operations. Lisa previously served in other capacities including Chief Program Officer and Deputy Chief Program Officer where she provided support and strategic leadership for all Safe Horizon programs. Lisa 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, she 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.

Before joining 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 those 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 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 Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from Columbia University and a BA in Psychology from Smith College.

Stella Billings Chief of Strategy and Board Engagement

Stella Billings re-joined Safe Horizon in 2023 as the Chief of Strategy and Board Engagement. In this role, she partners with staff, board, and community stakeholders to implement the organization’s strategic plan and advance Safe Horizon’s vision of safety, healing, and justice for survivors. From 2017 to 2022, Stella served in multiple roles at Safe Horizon, heading up foundation, government, and corporate fundraising partnerships, and working to deepen anti-racist narratives and organizational impact. Grounded in a deep commitment to the principles of community organizing and network strength, she has worked in New York City’s human services field for 15 years, supporting a range of organizations to navigate change, growth, and collaborative culture building. Stella has a Master of Public Health from CUNY Graduate School of Public Health.

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.

Kelly Coyne Chief Program Officer

Kelly Coyne joined Safe Horizon in 2013. As Chief Program Officer, she oversees Safe Horizon’s programs to ensure quality client services. She works to establish standardized best practices for victim services that are client-centered, trauma-informed and anti-oppressive. Kelly previously served as Deputy Program officer and Director of Domestic Violence Shelters. Kelly has over 20 years of experience working to end domestic violence in the lives of families in various leadership positions. She has specialized experience working with survivors of domestic violence and their children 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 -Chair. She received an MBA from Queens University and an MS in Higher Education from Appalachian State University.

Laura Davies Chief Development and Communications Officer

Laura Davies rejoined Safe Horizon in 2021. As Chief Development and Communications Officer, she leads the team responsible for revenue and awareness raising. From 2012 to 2017, Laura served in multiple roles with Safe Horizon, including Senior Director of Strategic Partnerships, where she led all aspects of corporate and community fundraising. Before rejoining the organization, Laura was 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 and a BA in Film from Pennsylvania State University.

Vagnes De La Rosa Chief of Community Engagement and Organizational Culture

Vagnes De La Rosa joined Safe Horizon in 2014. As the Chief of Community Engagement and Organizational Culture, he will focus on building our Safe Horizon community, increasing collaborative decision-making, and will continue overseeing our Anti-Racism organizational development. Vagnes was previously Safe Horizon's Chief of Staff and, before that, 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 has over two decades of management experience in the non-profit sector, specializing in human services, youth development and leadership programs. Vagnes is passionate about working with the community, especially those who sometimes need extra support. He received an MPA in Non-Profit Management from Baruch College's School of Public Affairs and a BA in Psychology from the University of Rochester.

Denise Hagley Chief Financial Officer

Denise Hagley joined Safe Horizon in 2000. In her current role as, Chief Financial Officer, Denise oversees the organization's finances. She manages all financial operations within the company, supports the mission by building a strong team, and engages in strategic planning. Denise oversees the production of financial reports, the maintenance of an adequate system of accounting records, and a comprehensive set of controls and budgets designed to reduce risk, enhance the accuracy of the company's reported financial results, and ensure that reported results comply with generally accepted accounting principles. Previously, she served as the Vice President of Finance and Comptroller. Before joining Safe Horizon, Denise filled similar roles at The College of Insurance, now St John's University, and Power of Attorney. Denise graduated from Bernard Baruch College and the New York City of Technology.

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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