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Senior Leadership Team

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

Senior Leadership Team

Nancy Arnow Vice President, Child Advocacy and Mental Health Treatment Programs

Nancy Arnow joined Safe Horizon in 1988. Nancy has over 27 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.

Stella Billings Vice President, Foundation and Government Support

Stella Billings joined Safe Horizon in 2017 as the Vice President of Foundation and Government Support, leading efforts to secure funding from national and local institutional partners. In this role, she integrates community voice, client experience, direct service, and social systems to tell the story of Safe Horizon’s impact and help to launch new opportunities. As in previous roles at the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services as well as work with a range of community groups in NYC, she strives to enact organizational values of equity, justice, and anti-racism within the world of development. Stella received a BA in Literature from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Maureen Curtis Vice President, Criminal Justice and Court Programs

Maureen Curtis joined Safe Horizon in 1986. She has over 30 years of experience working in the field of victimization and has extensive knowledge of victims' rights within the criminal justice system. Maureen is responsible for development and oversight of Safe Horizon’s Criminal Justice Programs with a staff of more than 200 co-located in family court, criminal court, Family Justice Center, Supervised Visitation Program and precinct locations city-wide and manages a budget of more than 20 million. She has designed and provided training for law enforcement and community members on topics such as victim safety, offender accountability, housing options, and the criminal justice response to domestic violence. Her experience working in NYPD precincts led to an expansion of programs and creation of the Crime Victim Assistance Program (CVAP) that places Advocates in every NYC police precinct and provides services to all victims of crime. Maureen 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. She received her social work degree from Hunter College and her Master's in Public Health from Hunter College.

Denise 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.

Michelle M. Lawrence Director, Anti-Racism Organizational Development

Michelle M. Lawrence first joined Safe Horizon in 2014. She became the Director of Anti-Racism Organizational Development in 2018. Michelle plays a leading role in Safe Horizon’s work to address systemic racism and move us towards being a more racially equitable and inclusive workplace and organization. She is part of our Anti-Racism Steering Committee, and works closely with internal working groups and affinity groups in developing and coordinating an annual action plan, leading conversations about racism throughout the organization, and partnering with external consultants to further our work to create lasting, measurable change. Michelle continues her Anti-Racism education by being an active member of the Mary Pender Greene’s Executives Undoing Racism since 2018 and attending similar spaces. She was selected to part of New York Nonprofit Selection Committee 2019 Excellence Awards for her DEI expertise. Michelle completed the New York City Racial Equity Labs with Race Forward in 2019. She has been working for over 18 years in the domestic violence field and was previously the Childcare Center Supervising Coordinator for our Domestic Violence Shelter Administration Program. Michelle received a BA in Human Services with a concentration in Child Welfare from New York City College of Technology.

Michael 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 20 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 received a BA in History from the University of Wisconsin/Madison.

Samuel Saunders Vice President, Real Estate and Facilities

Samuel Saunders joined Safe Horizon in 2020 as the Vice President of Real Estate, Purchasing, and Facility Property Management. Samuel leads the team responsible for the management of more than 50 agency facilities, including nine residential shelters, over 30 individual residential units, and multiple office sites. Samuel is responsible for the leasing, renovation, construction, and build-out of office and residential property. Through past roles at the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services and Operation Hope, Samuel has dedicated much of his career to advancing real estate initiatives for people in need. Samuel joins Safe Horizon with 17 years of experience working in real estate. Samuel received a BA in Business Administration from Pace University, New York.

Carolyn Strudwick Associate Vice President, Streetwork Youth Programs

Carolyn Strudwick oversees Safe Horizon’s Streetwork Project for homeless youth. 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 in Social Work from the Hunter College School of Social Work at the City University of New York.

Wendell Thomas Vice President, Information Technology

Wendell Thomas has been with Safe Horizon for over 10 years. As Vice President of Information Technology, he is responsible for developing and implementing information technology and telecommunications initiatives across the organization. Wendell promotes and oversees strategic relationships between internal IT resources and external entities, including government, vendors, and partner organizations. He ensures IT system operation adheres to applicable laws and regulations and participate in strategic and operational governance processes of the organization as a member of the senior management team.

Juanito Vargas Vice President, Community and Digital Services

Juanito Vargas joined Safe Horizon in 2012. Juanito is responsible for the overall management of Safe Horizon's Anti-Trafficking Program, Community Programs, SafeChat, and 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. He received an MSW from the Fordham University School of Social Service and a BA in Psychology from Lehman College, City University of New York.