Board of Directors

Wendy Zimmermann Board Chair

Wendy worked for 15 years at the Urban Institute, a Washington, DC-based think tank, where she focused on immigration and immigrant integration issues, including the effects of education and welfare reform on immigrant communities. She also served on the board of Upwardly Global, a non-profit organization that helps skilled immigrants and refugees find jobs in their fields.

Wendy holds a B.A. from Duke University and received an M.A. in Latin American Studies from Stanford University.

Wendy Zimmermann
Joe Curto

Joseph Curto Jr. Vice Chair

Joe has been the president and co-owner of Yonkers Tennis Center since 1986. He was a partner of the Curco Operating Company and the JoMale Realty Corporation, both Yonkers-based management and development companies. He’s currently President of 493 Sprain LLC, a real estate holding company.

Joe is very passionate about community involvement. He has been active on the boards of several Westchester & Putnam County organizations, including the Haldane Board of Education, the Westchester Coalition for the Hungry & Homeless, the Haldane School Foundation, the Julia L. Butterfield Memorial Library, Philipstown Little League, and Yonkers Partners in Education. He has also served as a trustee of the Friends of Philipstown Recreation and on the Advisory Board of the Westchester Green Business Challenge.

He received his B.S. from the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University.

Brian Carroll Treasurer

Brian is a member of First Hill Partners, which provides investment banking services to emerging growth companies and their owners. He began his career in corporate finance at Morgan Guaranty in 1980. From 1995-2001, Brian served on the Board of Teatown Lake Reservation in Ossining, NY, where he assisted with land acquisitions and a capital campaign.

He holds an M.B.A. from Columbia University and a B.A. with honors in English Literature from Colgate University.

Brian Carroll

Natasha Fapohunda Secretary

Natasha is senior vice president & chief counsel, Enterprise Partnerships at Mastercard based in Purchase New York. Natasha is a strategic legal advisor and business partner focused on driving new industry opportunities for Mastercard. Prior to joining Mastercard, Natasha was a corporate associate with the NYC law firm of Willkie, Farr & Gallagher.

Natasha is a longtime resident of New Rochelle and alumna of the Yonkers and New Rochelle public school systems. She currently serves as an executive member of the Legal Aid Society’s New Leadership Board and she is a member of New Rochelle’s Police Review Committee. She holds a BS in Industrial & Labor Relations from Cornell University and a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center.

Natasha is the mom of three curious and inspiring young children and she loves growing herbs in her backyard and trail running in Westchester County.

Fazena Bacchus Board Member

Fazena Bacchus is an environmental engineer at Carollo Engineers. Her professional experience encompasses a wide range of projects involving design related to water and wastewater infrastructure, coastal resiliency flood protection, and stormwater management. Outside of work, Fazena is passionate about education, mentoring youth, conservation, and connecting people and nature. Fazena served on the NY State Board of Trustees at The Nature Conservancy and on the Advisory Council at Groundwork Hudson Valley. She serves as an academic mentor for high school students.

Fazena earned a B.S. in Earth and Environmental Engineering from Columbia University and a M.E. in Environmental Engineering with a concentration in Water Resource Management from Manhattan College. She is a National Fellow of the Environmental Leadership Program.
In her spare time, Fazena enjoys hiking, biking, kayaking, and exploring new places.
Robert Baron

Robert Baron Board Member

Robert worked for 10 years at the education finance firm First Marblehead. Prior to this, he managed social service programs for at-risk populations at JEVS in Philadelphia and Homes for the Homeless in New York City. He also serves on various committees in local government, and served as President of Temple Beth Shalom, a Reform congregation in Hastings-on-Hudson, NY.

Robert attended Hamilton College and received a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University.

Sarah Carrier Board Member

Sarah is an editor and supervisory analyst of institutional equities research, with nearly 15 years of experience. Sarah currently works at Macquarie Capital (USA) Inc. Prior to her career in the financial services industry, Sarah was a web designer. Sarah received her B.A. in advertising design from Seton Hall University in South Orange, NJ. Sarah is also a member of Macquarie’s New York community advisory committee which champions volunteer and fundraising efforts for several local non-profit organizations in coordination with the Macquarie Foundation.

Sarah, her husband and her son Owen, have lived in Croton for 11 years.

Sarah Carrier
Donna Davis

Donna Davis Board Member

A graduate of the Cochran School of Nursing in Yonkers, Donna went on to specialize in the care of cardiology patients. She currently works with home care patients whose significant medical conditions require intensive support.

Donna also turned a photography hobby into a second career, serving as freelance photographer for the local newspaper Yonkers Rising, as well as for the City of Yonkers and other organizations. Her favorite photography subjects are musicians, dance and theatre performers and the ever-changing landscape of the city’s public spaces. The Science Barge and the daylighted Van der Donck Park around the Saw Mill River appear frequently in her photos.

With her early years spent in the Schlobohm Houses and in Yonkers’ public schools, Donna has a lifetime connection to the city. In addition to the Groundwork board, she also serves on the board of Philipse Manor Hall State Historic Site.

Pat Truscelli Ellis Board Member

Pat is Vice President of St Faith’s House Foundation, an independent private foundation based in Westchester County, New York, that originated as a 19th century residential treatment facility for unwed mothers. She is also President of The Thursday Club, a fundraising organization based in Irvington, New York. She currently serves on the board of Greater Hudson Heritage Network. Pat has served on the board of the New York State William B. Hoyt Memorial Children and Family Trust Fund, and also as Legislative Coordinator for Assemblywoman Sandra Galef in Ossining, New York. Previously, she practiced law in New York City as a partner in the firm of Parker Chapin for more than 20 years, specializing in Environmental Law.

She holds a B.A. from the State University of New York at Albany and a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center.

Pat Truscelli Ellis
Pam Michels

Pam Michels Board Member

Pam has nourished her care for people and the planet through volunteerism. She served on the Larchmont Mamaroneck Coastal Zone Commission for many years and then the Mamaroneck Harbor and Coastal Zone Commission; both bodies chartered with protecting the vitality of the community waterways and borders and directing development in a way that enhances the quality of living and best serves the long-term interests of the community. Pam also volunteers with Bridges to Community, a not-for-profit organization that works in rural communities in Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic on community-driven development and construction projects. She often employs her cooking skills at the Coming Home program. Based in Riverside Church in Manhattan, Coming Home helps people who have completed long prison terms to develop deep and caring friendships while practicing job hunting skills. An avid gardener, she is completing a Gardening certificate at the NY Botanical Garden.

Pam held many sales executive positions at IBM and holds an MBA in Finance and Economics from Fairleigh Dickinson University.

Renee Milligan Board Member

Renee has been one of the main driving forces for the Yonkers Greenway Project. She has worked with Groundwork Hudson Valley to present the vision of the Yonkers Greenway to the Environmental Protection Agency and to various funders.

Since the age of 14, she has engaged in community work and currently works with the Yonkers community in various ways. She is an Assistant Sunday School Teacher & Angel Tree Coordinator at her church, Chairperson of the Mayor’s African American Advisory Board, member of the National Night Out Planning Committee, member of the Citizen Police Academy Alumni Association, and previously served on the Board for Peace Keepers of Yonkers, Living Transformation, and the initiating team for Stepping Up Yonkers. Renee currently works for the City of Yonkers in the Finance Department.

Renee holds a B.S. in Accounting from Wilberforce University.

Renee Milligan
Balfe Morrison

Balfe Morrison Board Member

Balfe is a Vice President in BlackRock’s Real Asset Securities group where he conducts equity research on publicly traded utility, midstream and renewable companies. Prior to this, Balfe evaluated and executed infrastructure investments globally as part of BlackRock’s infrastructure private equity group. He began his career working in the investment banking division of Bank of America and then later at Lazard.

Balfe attended the University of Pennsylvania where he received a B.S. in Economics with a concentration in Finance.

Balfe currently resides in Harlem, NY.

Julia Schonfeld, M.D. Board Member

Julia Schonfeld is an ophthalmologist who has maintained her own private practice in Manhattan for over twenty years, Julia D. Katz, M.D., PLLC. She is certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology and is also on staff in the Department of Ophthalmology at Northwell Health’s Manhattan Eye, Ear & Throat Hospital. She is a member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Society of Cataract & Refractive Surgeons.

She lives in Westchester County, where she currently serves on her community’s Conservation Advisory Council helping to promote environmentally friendly initiatives.

Julia received a B.A. from Yale University and an M.D. from New York University School of Medicine. She completed a residency in internal medicine at The New York Hospital-Cornell University Medical Center, and a residency in ophthalmology and a fellowship in cataract and refractive surgery at the Manhattan Eye, Ear & Throat Hospital.

Anthony Simari

Anthony Simari Board Member

Anthony Simari is a partner at Holm & O’Hara, LLP and former partner at Smith, Buss & Jacobs LLP, a staple in the Yonkers legal community for over 25 years. He joined the Yonkers firm Smith Buss & Jacobs LLP in 2004 and was made a Partner in 2007. Anthony has extensive experience in negotiating and closing all types of complex commercial real estate transactions, including acquisition, development and financing of apartment buildings, commercial and retail properties, office buildings and air and development rights throughout New York City and the metropolitan region. In addition, he is the President of the Masonic Club of Darien and holds a seat on the Masonicare Investment Committee.

He obtained a BA with honors from Boston University and a JD from Brooklyn Law School.

Stephan Spilkowitz Board Member

Stephan Spilkowitz is a purpose-driven professional and advocate with over 10 years of experience in the mental health and non-profit sector. In his current full time role as Assistant Director of Therapeutic Programming & Youth Development at ANDRUS, he leads a team of Recreation Therapists as well as a wide variety of special programs including a Ropes Course, motivational youth dirtbike program, therapy dog program, Swimming Program, winter sports program, music production program, and more. Stephan is also an experienced trainer and practitioner of trauma-informed systems of care, experiential education, organization development, and emotionally intelligent leadership. Additionally, he has been deeply involved in serving his hometown of Yonkers, as a former member of the City Council President’s Advisory Board for Children with Special Needs, co-chair for the Lower Hudson Valley Progressive Action Network’s Education Committee, and as an elected Democratic District Leader.

Stephan holds a BA in Psychology from Cornell University and an MA in Organizational Psychology and Change Leadership from Columbia University.

Head Shot- Stephan Spilkowitz

Ruth Walter Board Member

The Honorable Ruth Walter grew up in Dobbs Ferry, the youngest of 8 children. She graduated from Hackley School in Tarrytown and Princeton University. Her interest in public service came from her father, who was a speechwriter for New York City politicians and from her mother, who was an elementary school teacher in the Bronx. Ruth has served in many civic roles, most recently as Westchester County Legislator (2020-2021) where she chaired the Environment & Health Committee and secured new County funding for GWHV to support the Green Team and its work along the Saw Mill River to reduce flooding.

Ruth has been passionate about environmental activism since her children were small, sending them to nature camp each year, reducing their family's carbon footprint and teaching them the joys of camping and hiking. Ruth is proud to join this amazing Board and to contribute her efforts to the mission of Groundwork Hudson Valley.

Shakira Wilson Board Member

Shakira Wilson is Con Edison’s Vice President of Electric Operations and is responsible for the safe and reliable operation of the electric distribution system serving a population of approximately 2.9 million residents in the Bronx and Westchester County. Shakira joined Con Edison in 2001 as a management intern and has held positions of increasing responsibility in electrical construction, project management, and auditing. She is experienced in the operations and maintenance of both the electric distribution and transmission systems. Shakira was a regional incident commander for the restoration effort in Puerto Rico after the devastation of Hurricane Maria. She was responsible for leading the New York State contingent in restoring electric service to residents in the San Juan region. In addition to her regular duties, Shakira finds time to work with new employees that are just starting out in their careers. She also spends time mentoring young, career-minded women and shares with them her own experiences as a working mom in a non-traditional role. She helps women understand both the challenges they will face in the workplace as well as the intrinsic rewards associated with accomplishing important, meaningful work in a fast-paced work environment.

She is a graduate of the College of Mount Saint Vincent with a bachelor’s degree in Communications and has a Master of Business Administration from Oswego State University of New York.

Shakira Wilson