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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

Pilar Bernabé – Garcia Vice President, Finance & Controller

Pilar Bernabé – Garcia rejoined Safe Horizon in 2007 and has held a variety of finance roles at Safe Horizon since her tenure beginning in 2000. As Vice President, Finance & Controller, Pilar provides oversight of accounting operations, including payables, receivables, payroll, budget, and tax preparation while developing appropriate tracking methods for revenue and expenses. Additionally, she continues to build and manage a strong finance team. Previously, as the AVP, Finance-Grants Administration + Accounting, Pilar had oversight for grants reporting, planning, and budgeting of the agency’s budget and fiscal administration of over 200 contracts from government and private sources. Pilar began her career in finance at The Research Foundation of The City University of New York (RFCUNY) and previously filled a finance role at the Ms. Foundation for Women. Pilar holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Brooklyn College.

Mia Briones Vice President, Individual & Community Engagement

Mia Briones (she/her/hers) is a fundraising professional who specializes in raising funds and resources for causes related to human rights and social justice. At Safe Horizon, she is responsible for the individual and corporate giving programs. She previously served as Director of Major Gifts at Harlem Children’s Zone, where she led the Individual Philanthropy team. She also spent over six years as a major gifts fundraiser at the International Rescue Committee, a global humanitarian aid and refugee resettlement organization. During her time at IRC, she raised over $20 million in primarily unrestricted funds for the organization. Mia holds a Master of International Affairs degree from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, and a BA in Peace and Conflict Studies from the University of California at Berkeley. A proud native of Oakland, California, Mia has also worked and volunteered in Mexico City, Cameroon, and Tanzania.

Kristina Coleman Vice President, Child Advocacy and Mental Health Programs

Kristina Coleman joined Safe Horizon in 2022. She previously worked as a Program Director at Children's Village. As the Vice President of Child Advocacy and Mental Health Programs, Kristina is responsible for overseeing all five Child Advocacy Centers (CACs), the Counseling Center, and the Child Trauma Response Team (CTRT) program. She has over 13 years of experience working within child welfare systems and has played a key role in advocating for changes in polices that impact thousands of children and their families. As an advocate for youth, Kristina continues to educate on prevention and reunification for children and their families. She received a Master’s in Public Administration from Hunter College, a Master’s in Social Work from Hunter College Silberman School of Social work, and a LMSW from Hunter College.

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.

Pamela Ellermann Associate Vice President, Foundations and Government

Pamela Ellermann joined Safe Horizon’s fundraising team in 2017. Pamela has over a decade of experience in institutional partnerships, with a focus on collaborative program development and design to advance innovations in the sector. Pamela has dedicated her career to the field of survivor advocacy and resource development. She previously worked at Women Against Abuse, the largest domestic violence agency in Pennsylvania. She has volunteered as a victim advocate with the Crime Victims Treatment Center to provide support to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault in emergency rooms in New York City. Pamela received a BA in Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania.

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.

Michele Richard Vice President, Community and Digital Services

Michele Richard joined Safe Horizon in 2019. As the Vice President of Community and Digital Services at Safe Horizon, Michele oversees the Community Programs, Hotline, Safe Chat, Helpline and DOVE Initiative. She previously served as the Senior Director of the Safe Way Forward Program. Michele has worked in the field of intimate partner violence for over 20 years and has always been passionate about working toward safe home environments. She began her career at STEPS To End Family Violence, and most of her work focused on Teen Dating Violence. Michele was among a team that created an accountability program for adolescent men that were causing harm to their partners or mothers. Michele received her master’s in public administration from New York University.

Olga Rodriguez-Vidal Vice President, Domestic Violence Shelter Operations

Olga Rodriguez-Vidal is the Vice President of Domestic Violence Shelter Operations. Olga obtained her Bachelor’s in Psychology and then went on to obtain her Master’s in Public Administration while simultaneously working in the Human Services field with vulnerable populations. As a Feminist, Olga has always been passionate about women’s rights and helping women and children who experienced abuse. Working as a Domestic Violence advocate was a natural career path. Olga has been with Safe Horizon for over 13 years in the shelter programs first as a shelter Director, then an Associate Vice President and now as the Vice President. Olga is proud to work at Safe Horizon and to continue the very important work of providing safe spaces for survivors and their children.

Vicky Royter Vice President, Information Technology

Vicky Royter joined Safe Horizon in 1993. She has over 30 years of technical experience with in-depth knowledge of IT management and technology, application development, infrastructure and telecommunications, cyber security, project management and user support. In her role as VP of IT Vicky provides vision and leadership for developing IT and Telecommunications strategic and operational initiatives, directs the planning and implementation of enterprise IT systems to support Company's mission, improve cost effectiveness, service quality, and provide innovative solutions to program technology. Vicky received her Master of Science Degree in Applied Mathematics and Computer Science from Belarussian Polytechnical University. She also graduated from the Executive Cybersecurity Program at Rutgers University and received 2019 Crain’s Notable Women in Technology Award.

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.

Gaudí Tomasino Senior Director, Internal Communications and Project Management

Gaudí Tomasino joined Safe Horizon in March 2020. As the Senior Director of Internal Communications and Project Management, Gaudí implements mission-driven internal communication strategies across various platforms. In addition to her internal communications leadership, and as a member of the executive office, she is responsible for implementing critical projects and Board of Directors engagement. Gaudí's extensive experience in both Safe Horizon and the telecommunications industry spans various roles in operations, technical support, and communications. Notably, Gaudí launched a successful Hispanic employee resource group and championed numerous diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and corporate social responsibility initiatives. Her passion for DEI is further evidenced by her previous work as a Linguistics instructor in Latin America. Gaudí is a proud alumna of the City University of New York (CUNY), where she earned her M.A. in Philosophy and B.A. in Philosophy and Spanish Literature both from Queens College.

Sebastien Vante Associate Vice President

Sebastien Vante is the Associate Vice President at Safe Horizon Streetwork Project, which delivers comprehensive case management, daytime respite, and crisis shelter services for thousands of Runaway and Homeless Youths in NYC annually. Using client-centered practice, trauma-informed care, and harm reduction frameworks, Sebastien has nearly 15 years of experience working with juvenile justice system-involved and at-risk individuals, LGBTQIA+ communities, and unaccompanied, chronically unhoused youths. Sebastien also serves as National Community Health Worker Advisor on Homeless and At-risk youth issues for Wellness Equity Alliance, a public health start-up addressing social determinants to public health.

Sebastien has served in HIV Prevention and Reproductive Health as a facilitator of evidence-based interventions on federal, state, and local levels, including the NYSDOH, AIDS Institute, ACS, and the CDC. Sebastien is currently responsible for implementing the PlaySure Network 2.0 initiative in collaboration with the DOHMH and affiliates in New York City. Offering wrap-around services for vulnerable youths, Sebastien has developed and conducted numerous health and wellness groups at Streetwork Project. He has partnered with agencies and local CBOs to promote increased sexual health and HIV prevention education and practices within the RHY (Runaway Homeless Youth) community. Sebastien's work with BIPOC-identified young men has been highlighted in several presentation forums and media outlets, including workshops at the National Harm Reduction Conference and featured news stories and articles. Sebastien has penned numerous blog posts and Op-Ed's to promote awareness of issues affecting the multifaceted RHY community. He seeks to engage clients, caregivers, and stakeholders in the well-being and empowerment of Black and brown young people.