CUP’s core staff supports the organization from day to day, but CUP projects are designed and implemented by teams of artists, designers, educators, activists, and researchers.
Originally from Ethiopia, Liya’s personal and professional interests include finding ways to bridge writing, creativity and a love of the world with interests in program evaluation, international development, anthropology and public health. Liya has worked in international health and evaluation for about 15 years on projects covering various countries in Africa, Asia and Central America. She is currently focused on setting up an evaluation practice centered on combining storytelling with quantitative data, culturally responsive and contextually relevant approaches and on strengthening organizational capacity to use data for decision making, planning, and program design. She is also working on a project highlighting systemic gaps within the practice of international development. Liya has a Master of Public Health from Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and a Master of Science in Applied Anthropology from the University of North Texas.close
Christine Coletta is an attorney at the law firm Hirschen Singer & Epstein, where she specializes in affordable housing and community development. Christine represents both non-profit and for-profit clients in the structuring, financing and development of affordable housing and mixed-use developments throughout New York City. A specialist in not-for-profit governance, Christine is actively involved in deals ranging from supportive housing to rental and homeownership initiatives. She has held positions at the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development and Fifth Avenue Committee. Christine received her BA from Brown University and her JD from Boston College Law School. She is a native Rhode Islander and lives in Brooklyn.close
Ariel Fausto is a partner at the nationally-recognized design firm H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture. As a design leader specializing in architecture for the arts, culture and public space, Ariel is interested in design that connects people to the arts, their community and each other. From Lincoln Center Theater’s new LCT3 to a new maritime museum in Biloxi Mississippi, Ariel spearheads some of the firm’s most ambitious projects. He studied Environmental Design as an undergraduate at Texas A&M University, and went on to receive a Masters of Architecture from MIT.close
Anisa Keith is a Managing Director at BRP Companies, which specializes in green, urban, multi-family housing in the NY Tri-State area. In this capacity she is responsible for the development and expansion of BRP’s relationships with institutional investors. She joined the firm from Mumbai-based Khambatta Securities where she was Head of Global Sales for the firm’s Institutional Brokerage Group and worked on placements of real estate investment vehicles for the Tata Group (India’s largest conglomerate). She has 15 years of experience in the financial services sector, mainly as an analyst and sector fund manager with the $400 billion pension and insurance company, TIAA-CREF. Ms. Keith has held CFO and COO roles at two NY-based service companies, for one of which she also directed new business activities, including an expansion into the Mid-East/Gulf region. Additionally, as an independent consultant, she has provided advisory services to financial companies. Ms. Keith started her professional career as an analyst at Booz Allen and Hamilton.
Ms. Keith received her MBA from Columbia Business School in New York City and her Bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University in Washington, DC.close
Beom Jun Kim is an architect, visual artist and founding partner of WA.K Studio in Brooklyn. His research based practice is focused on exploring the intersection of narrative and design utilizing digital technology and virtual reality. Beom Jun was born in South Korea and grew up in Southern California where he studied business and economics at UCLA. He relocated to the east coast to study architecture and received his Master’s degree from Yale University. As an architect, he has experience leading public space and residential development projects in Brooklyn and Manhattan. Prior to architecture, Beom Jun has held positions as controller and CFO for a film production studio in Hollywood and practiced as a CPA at a real estate accounting firm in Los Angeles. Beom Jun joined the Board of CUP in 2016.close
Aaron Koffman is Director of Affordable Housing at The Hudson Companies, Inc. and has over 12 years of experience in real estate development, finance and public policy. He has helped Hudson develop almost 600,000 SF of mixed-use real estate and over 500,000 watts of solar photo-voltaics – including the largest solar panel system on a residential building in New York State (Dumont Green). Aaron has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and as a guest on the CUNY-based TV show, The Michael Stoler Report. In July 2012, Dumont Green received the National Grid Energy Efficiency Award from the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce.
In addition to serving as a Trustee of Achievement First schools, on the Board of NYSAFAH and on the Board of Enterprise Foundation’s Gotham Society, Aaron is an Adjunct Professor of Affordable Housing Finance at NYU. Aaron is a diehard Lakers fan who received a Masters of City Planning degree from MIT and a BA in Economics from the UC Berkeley.close
Faizah Malik is an attorney and social justice advocate. The daughter of South Asian Muslim immigrants, Faizah grew up in Southern California and went to school in New England and the Midwest before settling in Brooklyn. Currently, she is Legislative Counsel at the New York City Council where she works on public housing and housing-related policy and legislation. Prior to joining the City Council, she was Counsel and Manager of Special Projects at Single Stop USA, a national nonprofit dedicated to helping people access the safety net. Faizah has also worked at at the Community Development Project of the Urban Justice Center, the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A, and the Restaurant Opportunities Center of Michigan. She is a member of the Council of Urban Professionals and the Muslim Bar Association of New York. Faizah graduated from Brown University and the University of Michigan Law School, where she received the Jane L. Mixer Memorial Award for her contributions to advancing the cause of social justice.close
Sam Marks was born and raised in New York City. After graduating from Brown University, Sam founded Summerbridge at The Town School, an educational enrichment program for motivated NYC public school students (now called Breakthrough New York). He received a Masters in Public Policy & Urban Planning from the Harvard Kennedy School and then entered the community development field, working at WHEDCo in the South Bronx and at the Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation. He is currently the executive director of LISC New York City. He joined CUP’s board in 2011.close
Jeremy Robinson-Leon is principal and chief operating officer at Group Gordon, a New York-based strategic communications firm named the Holmes Report’s Best Boutique Agency to Work For in North America in 2014 and 2015. He oversees all aspects of client service across the firm’s corporate, public affairs, and crisis practices and has considerable expertise in strategy, media relations, social media, and crisis management, appearing regularly as a commentator on related topics in the media. Jeremy advises leading companies and organizations, including Shake Shack, Union Square Hospitality Group, Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, DonorsChoose.org, the Ford Foundation, Marcato Capital Management, and Schulte Roth & Zabel, among many others. He sits on the board of Enterprise Community’s Partners’ Gotham Society and early in his career worked with elected officials at both the state and Federal levels. He earned his B.A. in political science from Vassar College.close
David Smiley teaches architectural design and urban history at the Graduate School of Architecture Planning and Preservation at Columbia University. His research and teaching focus on the ways the discipline of architecture overlaps with planning, policy, preservation, finance and community-based initiatives. His book, Pedestrian Modern: American Architecture and Shopping, 1925-1956, (Minnesota, 2013) examines how architects joined modernist design and planning ideas with new programs and scales of retailing. Smiley has organized conferences on the use of public spaces and streets in New York City and has written about malls, urban design and suburban housing. He previously taught at Barnard College were he organized symposia including “Rights of Way” in 2009 and “Moving Toward Utopia” in 2010, at which invited planners, architects, community advocates and public officials examined bikeways and other changes to public space in the NYC. Previous publications include Redressing the Mall: Sprawl and Public Space in Suburbia (2002) and Hell’s Kitchen South: Developing Strategies (2001). David is a member and the Chair of CUP’s Board.close
Dan Wiley is a Community Coordinator for a Congressperson in southwest Brooklyn and teaches part time at Columbia University GSAPP fall urban design studio. Working in the Congressional office since 2000, he has coordinated planning projects and initiatives spanning communities from downtown Brooklyn southwest to Red Hook, Gowanus and Sunset Park. Prior to that, he served as Education Coordinator at Brooklyn Center for the Urban Environment (1993-1999). He holds an MA in Urban Geography from Hunter College, CUNY (2007), a BFA from Cooper Union (1987) and was a fellow at the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program (1988). Before joining the board of CUP in 2006, he participated in the Building Codes exhibition (2001) and The Programmable City. He also leads numerous interactive public neighborhood and waterborne tours. His work can be found in If You Lived Here: The City in Art, Theory, and Social Activism, Seattle: Bay Press, 1991.close
Willy Wong immigrated at an early age with his family to Brooklyn from Hong Kong. He currently collaborates with artists, entrepreneurs, philanthropists, and community leaders. He teaches at SVA and Parsons. From 2006–2014, he served as Chief Creative Officer of NYC & Company, where he and his team contributed to over 100 civic initiatives and public/private partnerships, including NYCGO, NYC Service, PlaNYC, GreeNYC, MillionTreesNYC, NYC Taxis, Bike NYC, NYC Mayor’s Cup, NYC Restaurant Week, NYC Broadway Week, Fashion’s Night Out, and NYCxDesign. During his tenure, tourism’s total economic impact to the City increased 50% to $60 billion, with domestic visitation increasing by 50% and international by 100%. He previously worked in advertising at MFP New York, software engineering at Sapient, management consulting at PricewaterhouseCoopers, and private banking at JP Morgan. He earned his MFA from Yale and AB from Dartmouth.close