Community Advisory Council

The mission of the New York Junior League's Community Advisory Council is to identify, analyze, and prioritize community issues that can strategically advance the NYJL's achievement of its goals and mission, heighten volunteer impact and strengthen community relations. The diverse expertise and skills these esteemed professionals bring to the CAC will provide the NYJL with a global view of community affairs, emerging social issues and advocacy on the state and city level.

The CAC is comprised of the following community and civic leaders who will closely collaborate with the NYJL Board of Directors.

New York Junior League's Community Advisory Council Members

Amelia Erwitt Chief of Staff, NYC Department of Consumer Affairs, Office of Financial Empowerment

Amelia Erwitt is the Chief of Staff of the New York City Office of Financial Empowerment (OFE), one of Mayor Bloomberg's leading anti-poverty initiatives. OFE designs, implements, and evaluates innovative solutions to educate, empower, and protect New Yorkers with low incomes helping them build assets and make the most of their financial resources. Amelia overseas a broad portfolio of asset building, financial education, and consumer protection initiatives, and manages the Cities for Financial Empowerment, a coalition of 10 cities that are pioneering the field of municipal financial empowerment.

Prior to her work with OFE, Amelia has worked for the United Nations, USAID, and the White House. She holds a Bachelors from the George Washington University and an MPA from the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University.

Yolanda B. Jimenez Commissioner, Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence

Yolanda B. Jimenez was appointed Commissioner of the Mayor's Office to Combat Domestic Violence in January, 2002. She is responsible for developing and implementing comprehensive policies and programs that reduce domestic violence, hold the batterer accountable and raise public awareness. Prior to her appointment, Commissioner Jimenez worked in the New York City Police Department for fourteen years. She served as Assistant Commissioner Programs and Policies and Assistant Commissioner Community Affairs, before being appointed Deputy Commissioner Community Affairs in 1996. During this period, she was responsible for a number of significant policies and programs that broadened and enhanced the scope of police/community relations, including the Courtesy, Professionalism and Respect Strategy and recruitment initiatives. From 1991 to June 1993, Commissioner Jimenez served as a member of the New York City Police Department Civilian Complaint Review Board and the Candidate Review Board.

From 1984 until 1988, Commissioner Jimenez served as Deputy Director and Chief of Staff for the Mayor's Office of Minority Affairs. In 1983, the Commissioner was appointed Director of Planning Operations for the New York City Fire Department's Office of Program and Policy Development, and in 1981, she served as Special Assistant to the Mayor's Advisor on Hispanic Affairs. The Commissioner graduated from Queens College with a Bachelor and Masters Degree in Political Science with honors. She is also a graduate of the Police management Institute Program at Columbia University.

Tanya Lewis-Kelly Independent Consultant and owner of TSL Consulting

Tanya Lewis-Kelly's career spans over 17 years of planning, implementing, and managing start up non-profit initiatives. As Principal of Tanya S. Lewis (TSL) Consulting, established in 2005, Tanya uses her expertise in program development, project management and individual and organizational capacity building to serve the nonprofit sector and individuals committed to giving back to their community. From 2005 to 2010, Tanya also served as Regional Director of the Volunteer Consulting Group (VCG), where she assisted nearly 60 nonprofits – from cultural and youth development organizations to charter schools and community-based civic associations on governance issues using practical tools and accessible methodologies. As a governance consultant, Tanya worked alongside dozens of Board Chairs and Executive Directors to address their issues of recruitment, engaging trustees, restructuring their boards and developing governance plans. Tanya also created a boutique consulting practice within VCG, specializing in NYC charter schools, which served over 30 schools under her leadership, more than any other governance consulting firm. Tanya's experience also includes developing and later serving as Deputy Director of the Harlem Community Justice and one of the inaugural staff members of the Children's Defense Fund's Black Community Crusade for Children – then led by Geoffrey Canada (Harlem Children's Zone) and Angela Blackwell Glover (Policy Link).

Tanya was appointed to the New York Junior League's Community Advisory Council in 2009 and has been a re-occurring trainer for the critically acclaimed NYJL's Board training program. Tanya is also a certified trainer in leadership and professional development training modules developed by the International Institute for Restorative Practice (IIRP) and Leadership Education for Asian and Pacific Islanders (LEAP). Tanya earned her B.S. from Cornell University and was a MPA Public Policy major with a concentration in Race, Poverty and Class at NYU's Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. Tanya is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.; and has been a catechist for the Church of St. Charles Borromeo's religious instruction program in Harlem since 2004. In addition, Tanya served as "Class Mom" for two years at The Spence School in New York City and is an active member of the Parent Association.

Valerie Oliver-Durrah President and CEO, Neighborhood Technical Assistance Clinic

Valerie Oliver-Durrah has made a career of philanthropic advisement, non-profit management, life coaching and writing. As President and Chief Executive Officer of the Neighborhood Technical Assistance Clinic (NTAC), she utilizes a well-developed, executive skill set in support of organizations and leaders who seek to address the needs of underserved communities. Adept at helping grassroots service providers develop effective programs and navigate the challenging terrain of fundraising, Ms. Oliver-Durrah has aided dozens of organizations in securing the economic and technical resources they need to flourish in difficult economic times.

Hundreds of non-profit and faith-based leaders across the five boroughs of New York City attend NTAC's annual Meet the Grant Maker conferences to enhance their skills, make direct contact with foundation officers and network with other service providers. Her experience in non-profit management has put her in demand as a guest lecturer or adjunct professor at Borough of Manhattan Community College, Medgar Evers College, and Long Island University (Brooklyn Campus). Ms. Oliver-Durrah's professional background includes the Vice Presidency of Programs of Citizen's Committee for New York City, National Project Director for the Association of Junior Leagues and as National Project Director of the Girls Club of America.

Having championed the causes of grassroots organizations in New York City for many years, Ms. Oliver- Durrah has received formal recognition from an array of non-profit organizations, religious organizations, community leaders, and government officials. Her record of merit includes the African American of Distinction Award (1994), provided by Governor Mario Cuomo; Dr. Susan McKinney Humanitarian Award (2004), presented by Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz; President's Award (January 2005), presented by the Support Network of New York City; Dr. Gardner C. Taylor Community Service Award (2005), presented by Concord Family Services; recognition by CaribNews as winner-up for the African American Mother of the Year (2006); In His Service Award (2006), presented by Church Women United in Brooklyn; 2006 ET3TEC Champion Leadership Award, presented at the 2006 Congressional Black Caucus weekend by United States Congressman Major R. Owens, Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Education Brain Trust and senior member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce; Valiant Community Service Award (2007) presented by NAACP Brooklyn Chapter President Karen Boykin-Towns with NAACP Chairman Julian Bond; Sustainer of the Year Award (2007), presented by the Junior League of Brooklyn; Star Award (2008), presented by the New York Women's Agenda; Founders' Award (2009), presented by Black Agency Executives; Making A Difference Award (2009), presented at the Apollo Theater by Reverend Dr. Sujay (Suzan Johnson) Cook, Senior Pastor of the Bronx Christian Fellowship Church, as part of Women's History Month; recognition on The Network Journal's list of 25 Influential Black Women In Business (2009); Corporate and Partnership Award (2009), presented by the Caribbean- American Chamber of Commerce and Industries, Inc.; Legacy Award (2009), presented by Medgar Evers College, CUNY; Community Leadership Award (2009), presented by Madiba South African Restaurant; Woman of Excellence Award (2010), presented by the National Action Network (NAN) Women's Auxiliary NYC Chapter; Community Pillar Award (2010), presented by Sesame Flyers International, Inc.; Leadership Award (2010), presented by Youth and Tennis, Inc.; Uplift Award (2010), presented by the Cooperative Culture Collective; and the Reclaim, Rebuild and Redirect Leadership Award (2010), presented by Redemption, Inc. Ms. Oliver-Durrah is a co-founder of the Black Women for Black Girls Giving Circle, and a visionary behind the report Black Girls in New York City: Untold Strength & Resilience.

Noting her work as a Bridge Builder in the Diaspora, Ms. Oliver-Durrah was presented the Marcus Garvey Award during the 2007 CaribNews Multi-National Business Conference. She has presented workshops for the University of the West Indies Endowment Fund and continues as a bridge-builder for the Caines Family Foundation in support of their work to improve and enhance education initiatives, strengthen economic development and promote healthy families in St. Kitts and Nevis. She has received Community Service Awards from varied non-profit organizations, such as Redeemed Outreach Ministries & Publications International, Inc., the Brooklyn Oldtimers Foundation, Inc., the Moriah Institute and the Historic Weeksville Heritage Center, and similar awards from the New York State Association of Black and Puerto Rican Legislators, the Boy Scouts of America and the Junior League of Brooklyn.

Ms. Oliver-Durrah serves on the boards of the South Street Seaport Museum and the Brooklyn Historical Society and is a member of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority. She is also a member of Bethany Baptist Church. An impressive list of Black Clergy Women across the United States have benefitted from her trainings and counsel.

Ms. Oliver-Durrah is a guest writer for CaribNews, where she submits articles featuring unique locations and best kept secrets in the Caribbean Islands, and she writes articles for "Nonprofit Matters" Business Trends newspaper, serving the non-profit communities of Brooklyn and Staten Island.

Valerie Oliver Durrah has earned the trust of foundations and grant seekers alike, and is frequently called upon to provide technical assistance to individuals, teams, large groups, and governmental agencies. Her detailed knowledge of New York City non-profits makes her an apt coach for new and transitioning non-profit leaders and philanthropic individuals who wish to invest in New York City's nonprofits and the neighborhoods they serve.

Nancy Ploeger President, Manhattan Chamber of Commerce

Nancy Ploeger is the President of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce (MCC). Enhancing New York City's economic growth and advocacy for small businesses has been her goal for the past 15 years. Since joining the Chamber in 1994 as the Executive Director, she has represented the business community on a wide range of critical issues, most notably those involving health insurance for SMEs, MWBE certification, government procurement, small business globalization, diversity and business resources for service sectors, among other issues.

Nancy has developed MCC's membership from 250+ to over 1400, launched a variety of economic development initiatives and committees and established the Chamber's relationships with officials at all levels of government. This powerful network contributes and supports to build the Chamber into a small business advocating force with expanded influence across the globe.

In order to develop MCC's international presence, Nancy created the MCC Chamber of Commerce Foundation which oversees the Manhattan International Development ("MIDC") program. With these vehicles, Nancy works closely with both NYS Economic Development Department and NYC Economic Development Department's International Division to generate global businesses for MCC's members and attract investments into New York.

MCC's community Development arm is the MCC Community Benefit Fund ("CBF"). Ploeger serves as the President of CBF that has provided over two million+ in grants to NYC nonprofit organizations. Each year additional funding is raised to expand the community development efforts. CBF's mission is to support community-based non-profits that contribute toward improving the quality of life in Manhattan.

Nancy was appointed by Mayor Bloomberg to serve on the Committee of the MWBE Advisory Board since 2006. She also serves on a number of boards and advisory groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (BCLC), New York Women's Agenda, The Doe Fund, New York District Export Council, Parent Jobnet, Health Advocates, New York City Department of Small Business Services and the Small Business Task Force of the Manhattan Borough President's Office. She served as the Chairperson of Chamber Alliance of New York State in 2007 and the Chair of the NYDEC World Trade Week Committee.

Prior to joining MCC, Nancy was the Vice President for TSI, New York, NY where she led the efforts to build one of NYC's premiere health and fitness corporations, she was responsible for overseeing 28 health clubs with over 1,000 employees in New York, Washington, Boston and Switzerland.

Daniel Reyes Director of Programs, New York Common Pantry

Daniel Reyes has been with New York Common Pantry since 2003. In 2006, he became the Director of Programs and Operations. Daniel oversees procurement and relationship development with local farmers and other food providers, and set-up and maintenance of all programs. The latter role includes resource acquisition practices and expectations for 365 YCP and Project Dignity case management teams, curriculum development and evaluation processes for Nutrition Education programs, procedures and protocols for Choice Pantry operations, including the web-based menu ordering system that allows pantry participants to order at the Common Pantry or from home. Daniel represents the Common Pantry on the Centers for Community and Academic Research Partnerships (CCARP) Partnership Board; the Partnership for a Healthier NYC Manhattan Coalition; Go Green East Harlem Steering Committee; the Communities IMPACT Diabetes Center steering committee; and the New York Junior League Community Advisory Council. He also advises on program development, evaluation and community-engaged research projects with the Mount Sinai School of Medicine; CONDUITS: Institutes for Translational Sciences; Manhattan Borough President’s Office; and Vanderbilt University.

Reyes started his professional career as a high school teacher before transitioning into the social service sector. Prior to the Common Pantry, he worked in other community based organizations managing programs in supportive housing, youth development, and family services. He is a graduate of the University of St. Thomas and holds a graduate degree from Roosevelt University.

Allison Schrager Economist and contributor to The Economist

Allison Schrager is a New York-based economist and writer. She is a frequent contributor to The Economist's economics blog Free Exchange and writes regularly for The Economist's lifestyle magazine More Intelligent Life. She has worked at the Bank of England and the International Monetary Fund. She also has consulted to the World Bank on issues related to private pension accounts and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development on globalization and entrepreneurship.

Allison graduated from the University of Edinburgh and holds a doctorate in economics from Columbia University where she specialized in macroeconomics and public finance. Her expertise is in Social Security reform and issues related to private pension accounts. After completing her doctorate, she worked at Integrated Finance Ltd. where she used her research to develop SmartNest, an innovative pension solution.

Carol Tweedy Executive Director, Asphalt Green

Carol Tweedy has been Executive Director of Asphalt Green since 1994. The organization is a not-for-profit dedicated to assisting individuals of all ages and backgrounds achieve health through a life-time of sports and fitness. Carol oversees a 5.5-acre complex, a $15 million budget and close to 300 full time/part time employees. Over 45,000 people receive services, both on and off the campus, every year. In recognition of the quality of the organization, Asphalt Green was invited to manage a new community center in Battery Park City.  The 52,000 sq. ft. facility will open in Spring 2012.
She is committed to activities which deliver services to those most in need of the benefits of fitness. Partnerships with public schools address the problem of lack of physical education. This includes a learn to swim program for 1,300 children which is provided during the public school day.  A recess program operates in 35 schools to create an opportunity for active play and reduce bullying. A specially written fitness curriculum for seniors is now used in 170 senior centers and has been distributed to 10,000 of their members.
Prior to joining Asphalt Green, Carol was Executive Director of the Stanley M. Isaacs Neighborhood Center for 13 years. She changed the image of the organization, eliminated the deficit, and developed new programs in areas of youth, adult, and senior services.  Both at the Isaacs Neighborhood Center and at Asphalt Green she has been instrumental in Board development, helping to bring on new leadership and connecting the Board more firmly to the organization’s mission.
In her 35-year career she has been a consultant for youth service programs, developed and operated a program for runaway teenagers and taught at the University Of Minnesota School Of Social Work.
Carol received her B.A. from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and her M.S.W. from the University of California at Berkeley. She has received the Margaret Chandler award for leadership from the Institute for Not-for-Profit Management at the Columbia School of Business.