Division of Economic and Financial Opportunity
Financial Management and Administration
Neighborhood Development Division
NYC Business Acceleration
Maria Torres-Springer has a demonstrated record of expanding small business opportunities, with a history of building relationships with community, government and private businesses to support economic development projects throughout New York City.
Torres-Springer’s experience collaborating with local communities began when she worked at the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), a nonprofit focusing on bringing together community organizations and stakeholders with private and public resources to help revitalize neighborhoods based on locally-defined priorities.
More recently, Torres-Springer served as the Executive Vice President and Chief of Staff at the New York City Economic Development Corporation, where she oversaw the development and implementation of more than 100 initiatives designed to support innovation and entrepreneurship across all industries.
From directing the revitalization of a 27-acre district and surrounding area in Coney Island and creating an amusement and entertainment district, to helping lead the Applied Sciences NYC initiative, spurring new applied science and engineering campuses across New York City, Torres-Springer has continually proven her commitment to creating a dynamic city economy that works for all New Yorkers. Torres-Springer has also served at the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development & Rebuilding as a Senior Policy Advisor and as the Chief Operating Officer of Friends of the Highline.
Maria received a B.A. in Ethics, Politics and Economics from Yale University and a Masters in Public Policy from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two daughters.
First Deputy Commissioner
Euan Robertson is First Deputy Commissioner at SBS.
He was most recently President and COO of the not-for-profit MaRS Discovery District in Toronto – a major urban innovation center. At 1.5M sf, MaRS is one of the largest innovation campuses in North America, and runs a number of programs which support entrepreneurship, social innovation, impact investing, and skills development.
Euan joined MaRS in May 2013 from the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), where he served as Managing Director of the Center for Economic Transformation.
During his almost five years there, he played a key role in a variety of major economic development initiatives, in particular those focused on technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship.
Prior to his work in New York, Euan held senior roles in both the public and private sectors in the U.K.; including start-up, large public company, and national government positions.
Euan holds an MBA with Distinction from London Business School and an MA (Hons.) from the University of St. Andrews.
Chief of Staff
As the Chief of Staff, Sarah Krauss assists the Commissioner in the management of the Agency and works with senior leadership to shape and manage agency strategy, policy and programs. Sarah oversees operations in the Executive Office, as well as manages Strategic Planning and Operations for the agency and Communications and Marketing.
Sarah has been with SBS since 2010. Previously she was the agency’s Communications Director. In this role, Sarah was responsible for planning and directing the Agency’s communications strategy, promoting agency programs and services, overseeing marketing projects and the agency’s design staff, and coordinating the distribution of information to press and the public.
Previously, she was the Communications Director for the New York City Office of the Public Advocate. Prior to her time in city government, Sarah was a Senior Account Executive in the Public Affairs practice at Edelman, a global public relations firm. She provided strategic communications consulting services to private sector, non-profit, and government clients. Before working at Edelman, Sarah was the Deputy Press Secretary for U.S. Senator Charles Schumer.
Sarah received a B.A. in American Studies from Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT. In 2013, she was chosen to participate in the Harvard Kennedy School’s Senior Executives in State and Local Government Executive Education program.
Faiza S. Issa
Assistant Commissioner, Innovation and Strategy
Faiza S. Issa is Assistant Commissioner at SBS where she oversees the organization’s Innovation and Strategy team. Previously, Faiza served as Director of Entrepreneurship Initiatives at the New York City Economic Development Corporation, where she oversaw the expansion of the city’s incubator initiative and spearheaded other real estate and talent programs to support NYC’s entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem.
Prior to joining NYCEDC, Faiza worked at the Council on Foreign Relations and Goldman Sachs. She holds a BA from Yale University, a JD from NYU Law, and an MPA from the Harvard Kennedy School.
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Deputy Commissioner, Business Development Division
As Deputy Commissioner of the Business Development Division, Gregg is responsible for NYC Business Solutions, Business Incentives, and Business Recovery. These programs are designed to make it easier for businesses to start, operate, and expand in New York City.
Gregg has worked on a number of initiatives as Deputy Commissioner, including the launch of Compete to Win, a $3.2 million investment by the City of New York in capacity building programs to help minority and women businesses build capacity and compete for City contracts. The services include Bidding Technical Assistance, Bonding, the City’s first Construction Mentorship program, and NYC Teaming.
Previously as the Assistant Commissioner of the Division of Economic and Financial Opportunity, Gregg was responsible for overseeing various areas of the division, including the Minority-and Women-owned Business Enterprise (M/WBE) program including certification, capacity building, and developing strategic initiatives that support the business needs of City buyers and prime contractors subject to M/WBE purchasing goals under New York City Local Law 129. He also managed the NYC Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) for Small Businesses and works with various community organizations to deliver capacity building services, including financing assistance to small businesses and M/WBEs until 2012.
Prior to his appointment in DEFO, Gregg served as the Senior Manager of Workforce Development at NPower, where he was responsible for doubling the capacity of Technology Service Corps, a nationally recognized technology training program for young adults 18-25. Prior to NPower, he served as the Director of Web Operations at Oxygen Media, where he helped guide the media company’s web consolidation strategy. Gregg also served as Vice President of Technology Operations at TheStreet.com, where he helped build and maintain the company's internal and external technology infrastructure. Gregg began his career at VIBE Magazine helping to establish the publications brand during the pioneering days of the web.
Gregg received his Masters in Integrated Marketing and Management Communication from The Florida State University, and graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.S. in Business Administration from Florida A&M University, both in Tallahassee, FL. He has also studied International Management and Marketing in Tokyo, Japan and is a graduate of the Coro Foundation’s Leadership New York program. He is also an adjunct professor at Baruch College: School of Public Affairs and serves as Board president of Red Hook Initiative.
Assistant Commissioner, NYC Business Solutions Program Management
In this current role, Kelvin is responsible for developing and executing the service delivery strategy of the NYC Business Solutions system; a portfolio of seven centers and eight Industrial Service Providers. He also oversees the operations of the agency’s Business Outreach Team/Emergency Response Unit and the Customer Service Center.
Previously, Kelvin was the Executive Director of NYC Business Solutions Program Management where he was primarily responsible for driving performance of seven NYC Business Solutions Centers and eight Industrial Service Providers. Among some of his responsibilities was integrating the agency’s industrial program into the NYC Business Solutions brand. His work has resulted in the launch of a new strategic operating plan for the industrial program with clearly defined performance expectations and evaluation system for all contracted partners. Under his leadership, the NYC Business Solutions system has assisted over 600 businesses access more than $65MM in capital.
Prior to joining SBS, Kelvin held the position of Director of NYC Business Solutions Center at the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce for four years. There he transformed the operations and performance of the Center. His work has led to hundreds of small businesses in Brooklyn gaining access to over $18MM in capital to help launch and expand business operations.
His professional experience also includes the field of workforce development where he was tapped to launch and lead the Community Partnership initiative at the Queens Workforce1 Career Center back in 2007.
Kelvin has served as a We Are All Brooklyn (WAAB) Fellowship steering committee member and mentor. He holds a Business Degree in Marketing & Information Technology from Midwestern State University in Texas.
Assistant Commissioner, Business Incentives
As Assistant Commissioner, Don oversees such programs as the Energy Cost Savings Program (ECSP), Lower Manhattan Energy Program (LMEP), Printers Relocation Grant Program, and Industrial Relocation Grant Program. Prior to his appointment as Assistant Commissioner, Don served as Executive Director of NYC Business Relocation Assistance Corp. and helped create the Industrial Relocation Grant Program and Printer's Relocation Grant Program.
Don has over 12 years of experience working with the City of New York to assist commercial and industrial firms relocate and expand within NYC. Before his work with SBS, Don worked with Ernst & Young Tax Incentives Division. He holds a B.A. from Boston College and a Masters in Political Science from Columbia University.
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Deputy Commissioner, Division of Economic and Financial Opportunity
As Deputy Commissioner of the Division of Economic and Financial Opportunity, Kerri Jew oversees the oversees the City’s Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprise (M/WBE) Program, which certifies eligible firms, promotes equity in City contracting opportunities, and provides services to companies interested in doing business with government. Prior to joining SBS, Kerri served as the Executive Director of New York State’s M/WBE Program at Empire State Development.
Kerri joined Empire State Development in May 2013 as the Corporation’s Compliance Officer. Kerri has also owned and operated a small business, served as a Deputy Commissioner and Deputy General Counsel at SBS from 2003 – 2008, and was Chief of Staff for Columbia University Facilities. Beginning her legal career at Proskauer Rose, Kerri enter City service as a federal civil rights litigator with the New York City Law Department. Kerri graduated with distinction from Emory University School of Law and earned a B.A. from Cornell University.
Assistant Commissioner, Operations
As the Assistant Commissioner of Operations in the Division of Economic and Financial Opportunity. Maria is responsible for growing the base of businesses that can compete in the government market place and help connect them to contracting opportunities. In this role, Maria will oversee DEFO’s certification and agency and business analysis units.
Maria comes to SBS with over ten years of public sector experience and a substantial knowledge of City procurement, most recently at the Mayor’s Office of Contract Services, where she specialized in construction, health and human service contract analysis.
Maria holds a B.A. in Environmental Science from Wesleyan University, a Masters degree in environmental studies from Long Island University and a Masters degree in public administration from the School of Public Affairs at CUNY’s Baruch College.
Assistant Commissioner, Contractor Services
As Assistant Commissioner of Contractor Services, Helen portfolio includes the Division of Labor Services and the enforcement of Executive Order 50 in the Division of Economic and Financial Opportunity. Helen oversees the contract monitoring program under Executive Order 50, which ensures job opportunities generated through City contracts are available to all qualified persons by helping contractors implement fair employment practices, policies, and procedures while supporting them in their efforts to increase the representation of minorities and women in their workforce. Under her leadership, Labor Services has greatly expanded agency connections with prime contractors and developers to match more minority and women contractors to public and private subcontracting opportunities, and has helped cross-sell agency wide services to more DLS customers.
A native from Brooklyn, Helen began her career in public service in 1980.
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Deputy Commissioner for Legal & Regulatory Affairs
As Deputy Commissioner for Legal & Regulatory Affairs, Andy serves as General Counsel for the agency and oversees fiscal and administrative activities of agency operations, including procurement, property management, and waterfront permitting. In his work with SBS, he has drafted and assisted in passage of legislation at City and State levels, Andy has been with the New York City Department of Small Business Services since 1996, and has worked in City government for over 25 years. His career in public service includes serving as Chief Litigation Counsel for the New York City Campaign Finance Board and as an Assistant Corporation Counsel in the General Litigation and Condemnation Divisions for the City's Law Department.
Andy is a graduate of New York City public schools and a cum laude graduate of Brooklyn Law School. Prior to his service with the City, he worked as a Ranger in the National Park Service at the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and Saratoga Battlefield.
Assistant Commissioner, Finance
As Assistant Commissioner for Finance, Shaazad oversees all Financial Management and Operations services for the Agency with four Directors reporting directly to him, responsible for a staff of over forty. In addition, Shaazad oversees Budget, Fiscal and Audit, Procurement, and Agency Operations.
Shaazad joined the agency twenty-six years ago as an auditor. Over the years, he played an integral role in various mergers of the agency, and has served under several Commissioners. In 1988, he was appointed Fiscal Director, and in 1992, he also assumed the role of Agency Chief Contracting Officer (ACCO). He served as Director of Administration until he was appointed as Assistant Commissioner in 2001.
Shaazad holds a B.B.A. from Pace University. He was certified as Government Financial Manager (CGFM) by the Association of Government Accountants in 1996, and was certified by the Universal Public Purchasing Council in 1993 as a Certified Professional Public Buyer (CPPB).
Assistant Commissioner, Technology and Chief Information Officer
Stephen Fisher is the Assistant Commissioner for Technology and serves as the Agency’s Chief Information Officer. In this role, Stephen leads the day-to-day management of all critical Agency technology operations and network infrastructure, software applications, and databases. He represents the Agency in city-wide technology forums to ensure cooperation and integration of data services across Agencies.
Stephen began his technical career as a customer support technician with IBM/TSS where he was responsible for repairing technology hardware. He trained himself to become a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer and was hired by MCI as a Network Administrator at one of their local city offices. Stephen joined SBS as a Network Administrator and during his time here, has assisted the Agency through several major networking migration projects and network security audits. Prior to his current position, he served as the Agency’s Executive Director of Technology Operations. Stephen is also a US Air Force veteran who served for four years throughout the United States and Europe as a Ground Radio Communication Specialist.
Stephen received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the New York Institute of Technology.
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M. Blaise Backer
Deputy Commissioner, Neighborhood Development Division
Michael Blaise Backer is the Deputy Commissioner of the Neighborhood Development Division at the New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS). In this role, Blaise is responsible for oversight of the City’s 70 Business Improvement Districts (BIDs), the largest network in the country investing more than $100 million annually in programs and services for neighborhoods across the five boroughs. In addition, Blaise oversees the City’s primary commercial revitalization program known as Avenue NYC. Avenue NYC provides annual funding of approximately $10 million to neighborhood organizations through competitive SBS grants and awards. He also manages the Neighborhood Retail Leasing Program and the Coro Neighborhood Leadership Program. These programs are all designed to empower local communities with the tools and resources necessary to strengthen the city’s commercial districts and create the conditions that attract private investment, allow our small businesses to thrive, boost local employment, and make our neighborhoods better places to live, work, and shop.
Before joining SBS, Blaise was the Executive Director of Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership for 10 years. The Partnership, comprised of the Myrtle Avenue Revitalization Project LDC (MARP) and the Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Business Improvement District (BID), oversees the economic revitalization of the 20+ mixed-use blocks in Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, and Wallabout, Brooklyn. Blaise also served as the co-chair of the board of the New York City BID Association, the membership association of the 70 Business Improvement Districts in New York City.
Blaise holds a Master in Urban Planning from NYU’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and a B.S. in Commerce from the University of Virginia.
Assistant Commissioner, Neighborhood Development Division
As Assistant Commissioner, James Mettham is responsible for oversight of the City’s Business Improvement District (BID) program and the growth of the agency’s commercial revitalization initiatives. These programs are designed to make our commercial districts better places to live, work and shop. James manages the City’s relationship with its network of 70 Business Improvement Districts, liaising with City agencies and elected officials on a wide range of issues that impact these districts; creating reports and analysis that promote transparency and encourage innovation; ensuring that district management organizations meet contractual obligations and developing training and networking opportunities to promote best practices. At the same time, James leads efforts to support the creation of new BIDs, building relationships with business and property owners to garner stakeholder support, developing service delivery strategies and actively working with the New York City Council through the legislative approval process. James also ensures that all investments are tied to measurable outcomes and developing a capacity building initiative to support the organizational development of non profits serving commercial districts.
In addition to his experience here at SBS, he was with the Economic Development Corporation for six years performing neighborhood economic development and strategic investment work on projects throughout New York City. Mr. Mettham received a Master of Urban Planning degree from the Wagner School of Public Service at New York University and holds a B.A. from the University of Pittsburgh.
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Deputy Commissioner, NYC Business Acceleration
As Deputy Commissioner of NYC Business Acceleration, Robinson oversees an inter-agency initiative that provides the City's new and existing businesses with streamlined services to navigate government regulations and open faster by reducing the time and effort needed for basic City requirements like plan reviews and inspections. Prior to this position, Robinson was a Special Advisor to the Commissioner of the Department of Buildings and helped coordinate the agency's response to emergencies with other City, State and Federal agencies. Robinson also worked at SBS and helped create the City's new Industrial Business Zones, which provide assistance to the City's manufacturing businesses.
Before joining the City, Robinson started his career with the General Electric Financial Management Program where he focused on cost management and operations productivity. Robinson later worked at Ernst & Young and govWorks.com delivering technology solutions for industrial businesses and local governments.
Robinson has a B.S. in Finance from Boston College and a Master of Urban Planning the Wagner School of Public Service.
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Deputy Commissioner, Workforce Development
As Deputy Commissioner, Jacqueline Mallon is responsible for encouraging business growth and economic development by helping businesses hire and train qualified New Yorkers and positioning, preparing and training New Yorkers to succeed in their job searches and careers with New York City companies. Jacqueline leads and oversees the Division of Workforce Development, including the operation of the City’s Workforce1 Career Center System, the Workforce1 Training program, and multiple initiatives funded by the Center for Economic Opportunity.
She has served at SBS as Assistant Commissioner of Business Development and Strategy where she managed 40+ full time contracted vendor sales staff to increase the number of business customers using NYC Business Solutions services, achieve job placement goals, assisting nearly 1,000 business access financing and over 400 businesses launch. In a prior position, she built the Agency’s business development infrastructure; including the reorganization of a 40+ member sales team, the establishment of a data analysis unit and developed new service offerings for New York City businesses.
She received an MBA from the Zicklin School of Business and a Bachelor of Science from the University of Rhode Island.
Assistant Commissioner, Small Business Capacity Building Services
Carolyn Githinji is responsible for the development and implementation of training programs that improve the skills and wages of New Yorkers, as well as help local small businesses increase productivity, become more competitive, and employ a better-trained workforce. These programs include the newly developed Web Development Fellowship, the “Made in NY” Media Employee Training program, and the Customized Training program. Carolyn also works to ensure that the training programs align with the programmatic objectives of key City, State, and Federal agency partners, including the New York State Department of Labor, US Department of Labor, City University of New York, Workforce Investment Board, Center for Economic Opportunity, New York City Housing Authority, Department of Education, and other local philanthropic partners.
Prior to her appointment, Carolyn spent seven years with SBS’ Division of Economic and Financial Opportunity, where she created capacity-building programs to help small businesses sell their products and services to government and institutions. She oversaw the NYC Procurement Technical Assistance Center, a Federal program serving than 1,500 small businesses annually, after having secured a federal grant to continue running the Center. Carolyn was instrumental in securing and launching Compete to Win, a $3.2 million investment by the City of New York to help minority and women businesses build capacity and compete for City contracts. She also created the SBS-Columbia Mentorship Program, which helped construction businesses perform on construction projects through technical assistance and training at Columbia University. Working with the City Council, Carolyn formed the M/WBE Leadership Association to serve small businesses across the city through a network of 15 community-based organizations and administered $1.5 million in contracts.
Prior to her career in City service, Carolyn worked at the School District of Palm Beach County as a Business Analyst where she crafted policies and programs that increased procurement utilization of minority- and/or women-owned businesses.
Carolyn received a Master of Urban Planning degree from the Wagner School of Public Service at New York University.
Assistant Commissioner, Business Development and Recruitment
Kate serves as Assistant Commissioner of Business Development and Recruitment. In this role, she approaches workforce development by building connections between businesses and job candidates. Kate oversees candidate recruitment and training strategy and performance for NYC Business Solutions, which is the set of free services offered by the Department of Small Business Services to help businesses start, operate, and expand in New York City. She is responsible for setting and managing strategy for the Workforce1 Career Centers to recruit, screen, and refer candidates to these business customers.
Kate joined the Department of Small Business Services in 2008, and she has served in various programmatic and operational roles since that time. Kate has spent her career focusing on building communities and the economy through jobs. Prior to joining SBS, she worked for Columbia University, STRIVE/East Harlem Employment Service, and LIFT where she was a founding member and leader of an organization dedicated to contributing to economic stability in the Fordham-Bedford neighborhood of the Bronx.
Kate holds a Master of Science in Social Work Administration from Columbia University and a B.A. from Fordham University.
Assistant Commissioner, External Relations and Special Programs
Chris Neale serves as Assistant Commissioner of External Relations and Special Programs in the Workforce Development Division. In this role, he manages key relationships with oversight and funding entities, including the New York State Department of Labor, the Center for Economic Opportunity, the Mayor’s Office of Human Capital Development and the NYC Workforce Investment Board. In addition, he oversees a number of strategic programs that supplement the work of the Workforce1 Career Centers. Prior to his current role, Chris was the Assistant Commissioner for Workforce1 Recruitment, responsible for overseeing the strategy and performance of the Workforce1 Career Centers in terms of recruiting, screening, and referring qualified candidates to our business customers.
Chris worked at SBS from 2004 to 2006, and then returned to SBS in 2007. In between his two "lives" at SBS, he served as the Director of Workforce Development for the Education & Youth Services Division at FEGS Health and Human Services System, a major nonprofit organization based in New York City. In that role, he managed several employment and education programs for young adults and oversaw the Division’s extensive internship program.
Chris holds a Master’s in Public Policy degree from the Harvard Kennedy School and a B.A. from Stanford University.
Assistant Commissioner, Quality Management & Control
Xenon Walcott is the Assistant Commissioner of Quality Management & Control in our Workforce Development Division. Xenon is responsible for leading the Division’s fiscal management, validation, quality assurance and data management and reporting functions. Prior to his appointment to the Workforce Development Division, Xenon was a Senior Director of the Strategic Operations team at SBS where he spent two years driving operational improvement projects to support the Career Center system.
Prior to arriving at SBS, Xenon spent eight years with a background screening company as an Operations Manager and Project Manager, where he managed the development and implementation of proprietary software to increase the productivity of the company’s Operations departments.
Xenon has a B.A. in Actuarial Science and a certification in project management.
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