Leadership Institute Class of 2016

Sandra Abeles is the Chief of Staff at the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs. Prior to that, she was responsible for overseeing the Worker Protection Division at the New York State Department of Labor which enforces labor standards and safety and health regulations across New York State. Ms. Abeles has also served as an Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Rights Bureau of the Office of the New York State Attorney General combating immigration services fraud. In addition, she worked on the Healthcare Industry Taskforce helping to obtain nationwide reform of the consumer reimbursement system for out-of-network health care charges and nearly $100 million dollars to develop a new, independent database for the industry. Earlier in her career, Ms. Abeles was a litigation associate at Mayer Brown, where she worked on a number of complex commercial cases. Ms. Abeles received her law degree from New York University and holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Columbia University.

Karen Armstrong  is an Assistant Commissioner of Kings County Adult Services at the New York City Department of Probation (DOP), with a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from St. Johns University. Karen began working with the City of New York in 1988 as an Investigator with the Department of Investigations. In 1989, she accepted a position as a Probation Officer trainee with the Department of Probation and was assigned to work with adults clients in Brooklyn.

Byron Biggerstaff is an Assistant Inspector General with New York City Department of Investigation (DOI). Byron’s position at the Department of Investigation gave him the opportunity to instruct his first New York City Department of Investigation Academy Class of 2015.

Bridgette Blair is an Operations and Program Director at NYC Service, in the Office of the Mayor, with a Masters of Public Administration, Executive Program, from the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at NYU. Bridgette has worked with NYC Service in various capacities, such as marketing and grant writing besides having almost 15 years of professional experience, primarily in nonprofits and journalism. 

Sabine Chery is an Assistant Commissioner for the Administration for Children Services (ACS), with three Post Masters degrees from Hunter College School of Social Work in Administration, Advanced Clinical Social Work and Seminar in Field Placement.  Sabine began her career in Direct Care Adoption in 1996 as a Child Welfare Specialist and is now overseeing the Office of Older Youth Services.


Daniela Curmei is a Chief Business Analyst at NYC Department of Finance (DOF), with a Master’s Degree from Columbia University in Finance and Economic Policy, and has also been a McNair Research Scholar. Her responsibilities are split between managing special projects and conducting high level data analysis. She has worked as a financial analyst with the Financial Strategies Group at NYC Department of Education and Morgan Stanley Wealth Management.

Leonard Ferguson is a Deputy Program Director for the NYC Department of Design and Construction (DDC), with a Master of Business Administration from the State University New York Empire State College. He also received a Master’s Certificate in Project Management from The George Washington University.  Leonard has served as a Project Officer for the New York City School Construction Authority and as a Project Manager for Empire City Subway (ECS), an owned subsidiary of Verizon Communications NY Inc.

Mahsa Forkin is an Acting Director with the Department of Correction (DOC) since December 2015, with a Masters of Arts in Urban Affairs from Queens College.  Before her appointment to Acting Director, Mahsa had been working with the Department of Correction as a Strategic Planning Manager within the Project Management Office. Prior to her time with the Department of Correction, she worked as a Senior Project Manager with the New York City Department of Environmental Protection.  

Scott French is a Senior Planning Manager in the Office of Planning and Performance Management at the Human Resources Administration (HRA,) with a Master’s of Public Administration from the University of Southern California and a Master’s of Fine Arts from Columbia University.  Scott had also worked as the Director of Institutional Giving at Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (S.A.G.E.) where he was instrumental in the development of the National Resource Center on L.G.B.T. Aging, a program of the U.S. Administration for Community Living, and the SAGE Center, New York City’s first senior center for LGBT older adults.

Lucy Joffe is the Executive Director for Regulatory Compliance at the Department of Housing Preservation & Development (HPD), with a J.D. from the New York University School of Law. Lucy worked previously as a Legislative Aide in the Office of General Counsel of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.  She taught at P.S. / I.S. 50 in East Harlem as a Teach for America corps member and served as an Americorps member in Detroit. 

Nicole S. Junior, Esq., is a Deputy Chief Prosecutor at the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB), with a Law degree from Temple University's Beasley School of Law.  In addition to litigation, Nicole is responsible for supervising efficient investigations of high profile police misconduct complaints and assisting with the creation of policy recommendations. She is a former felony prosecutor from the Kings County District Attorney’s Office and a former fourth grade teacher in the New York City public school system.  

Laudrey Lamadieu is a Deputy Assistant Commissioner at the New York City Department for the Aging (DFTA), with a Masters in Social Work from New York University. Her City career started with the Administration for Children’s Services and has been in the field of Social Work for over 20 years.  Her longest tenure was as the Director of Community Health at Safe Space.  Laudrey has also provided trainings in asthma and HIV and was an Adjunct Professor at Monroe College.

Man Wai Law is the Absence Control and LODI Compliance Supervisor for the Fire Department of New York (FDNY). He joined FDNY-EMS in 2005 as an Emergency Medical Technician, working in Mid-town Manhattan.  In 2008, he was accepted into the FDNY Paramedic Basic Program and upon successful completion; being bilingual in Chinese and English, he was assigned to serve the Lower East Side to assist the Asian Community until his promotion to Lieutenant in 2010.

David Lee is the Health Informatics Specialist in the Division of Disease Control at the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) with a MPH in Epidemiology from Columbia University and an MBA in Information Systems and Decision Sciences from Baruch College.  David has held various positions in the Department within his 4 ½ years of city service  and currently advises the Assistant Commissioners and Deputy Commissioner on information systems strategy, coordinates division-wide policies for information systems use, and manages priority analytic projects.

Linda McGhee is a Senior Manager of Human Resources at the NYC School Construction Authority (SCA) with a bachelor’s degree in Government from John Jay College of Criminal Justice.  Linda’s career in City Government spans 31 years, she is currently responsible for managing the administration of staffing and recruitment functions for exempt, managerial, union, work study and contingent staff assignees.

Joan Mosely is an Executive Director of Assessment and Operations in the New York City Department of Education’s Office of Adult and Continuing Education (DOE) with a Master of Science Degree in Education. Joan joined NYCDOE in 1999 and held several positions, ranging from teacher and high school principal to Deputy Network Leader.  Currently Joan manages all fiscal and human resource operations supporting over 200 teachers, principals and operations staff and 29,000 students. In addition for over 10 years, she has also taught statistics and other mathematics courses for the City University of New York.

Ronald Oberlender is a Senior Advisor at the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) with a Master’s degree in Urban Planning from Hunter College.  Ron’s responsibilities for the Infrastructure Management Division’s strategic planning and administrative operations enables him to touch on a wide array of functions, from budget and resource management to technology planning and solutions.

Atulkumar Patel is a Computer Systems Manager at the Financial Information Service Agency (FISA). In his role, he leads quality assurance and system testing of Financial Management System, Payee Portal and the Vendex system, manages business analysis, and engages directly with over site agencies users on a variety of projects and initiatives.

Rosanne Pisem is an Associate General Counsel in the New York City Housing Authority’s Law Department (NYCHA) with a Law degree from Brooklyn Law School.  She began her NYCHA career as a litigator, and now provides legal advice on policy, legislative matters, and major initiatives and oversees NYCHA’s Public Information Unit.

Stacie Sanchez Hare is a Youth & Young Adult Coordinator at the NYC Human Resources Administration (HRA) with a Master’s of Science in Social Work from Columbia University.  Stacie is responsible for developing engagement and employment strategies for youth and young adults at HRA.

Corey Schaffer is a Director of Administrative Services and Human Resources at the New York City Campaign Finance Board (CCFB).  Corey has been working for the City of New York for 1 ½ years, with almost 15 years of experience in local government. Prior to moving to New York, Cory was the appointed City Clerk for the City of West Hollywood where he oversaw administrative services operations for the city, as well as running the municipal elections.

Rachel Sulaymanov is the Director of Intergovernmental Affairs at the New York City Office of Emergency Management Department (OEM) with a Master of Public Administration from New York University’s Robert Wagner School of Public Service.  Rachel is responsible for managing programs and issues related to policy, intergovernmental and legislative initiatives, and oversees outreach and communication to elected officials and community stakeholders.


Rodney Stiles is the Executive Director of Policy and Analytics at the Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC). He graduated from the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University in 2009. Rodney has worked for the City for over six years, starting at the Department of City Planning and joining TLC in 2012, and is a big proponent of data-driven decision making and open government.

Tonia Vailas is a Director of Property Valuations for the New York City Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS).  She is a graduate of Queens College City University of New York and a designated member of the Appraisal Institute (MAI).  Tonia leads the Property Valuations Unit in the valuation of New York City owned real estate and private real estate that is leased to City agencies.

Christopher Wong is a Director of Planning in the Corporate Planning Service’s department at NYC Health + Hospitals. He has a Master of Business Administration from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and a Master of Science from Columbia University’s School of Professional Studies. Christopher leads the Housing | Community Transition and Collaboration Solutions group, which reports to the Vice President of Intergovernmental Relations and Planning. He supports strategic priorities associated with responsibly leveraging the health care system’s vacant and underutilized real estate assets for affordable independent and supportive housing development, and provides consulting services to the system’s health care facilities. 

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