Jessica Katz, Executive Director
Jessica joins CHPC from the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development, where she most recently served as the Associate Commissioner for New Construction. In that role she oversaw the creation of affordable and special needs housing—serving everyone from the formerly homeless to middle-income New Yorkers. Leading a team of more than 60 professionals, she has been responsible for an annual capital budget of more than $500 million and for creating thousands of much-needed units of housing. She has held a variety of roles at HPD, including as Assistant Commissioner of Special Needs Housing, Senior Advisor to the Commissioner, and Assistant Commissioner for Preservation Finance.
Jessica began her career with HPD in 2003, and started as the Production Manager for Special Needs Housing, gaining in-depth experience in the creation of housing for our most vulnerable populations. She left HPD in 2009 to become the Executive Director of Lantern Community Services, a not-for-profit that operates social service programs in the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Manhattan as well as operating 1,000 units of permanent supportive housing.
“Jessica’s experience in government and the non-profit sector, building housing for New Yorkers with great needs, will be a wonderful complement to CHPC’s mission to shape public policies that improve our City’s neighborhoods,” said CHPC President Mark Ginsberg. “Throughout her career, she has shown an awareness of how nuanced policymaking can be, and that will be very helpful as she helps steer CHPC.”
Jessica received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Urban Geography from McGill University and went on to receive a Master in City Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Sarah Watson, Deputy Director
Sarah Watson is a housing professional who has built a diverse and unique career in housing policy in a wide variety of housing roles in both London and New York. In London, she worked in the development and management of affordable housing and urban renewal – specializing in using resident involvement to improve housing management policies and programs.
In New York, Sarah has worked at CHPC since 2007. She began as a Policy Analyst conducting research and analysis of NYC’s complex housing marketplace. More recently she has taken on a leadership role, devising and shaping CHPC’s research and education initiatives and ensuring they have a real impact in public policy. Sarah is the author and manager of the Making Room initiative, a new approach to housing policy that seeks to match the design of a city’s housing with the needs of its households, was the content curator for the Making Room exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York, and the new national exhibition at the National Building Museum, is responsible for the work of the Zoning Committee and many other policy projects.
As Deputy Director, Sarah also supports the Director in managing the operations and governance of CHPC. She develops and oversees the annual budget, manages the communications strategy, and develops board relations. She also supervises the overall workplan, policy staff and administrative staff, the William R Ginsberg Fellowship program, CHPC Connect, a study tour program for international visitors, and the CHPC archives and library.
Sarah is a frequent speaker, guest lecturer, and panelist and co-teaches a housing policy class at the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. Sarah holds an MSc in Housing and Regeneration Policy from the London School of Economics.
Kate Leitch, Senior Policy Analyst
Kate Leitch is a researcher and analyst, who is currently focused on advancing CHPC’s Making Room At Home initiative. Like her colleagues, she also has a hand in several other CHPC efforts, including administration of the Green Buildings Committee.
Before joining CHPC, Kate was a structural engineer who returned to school to study public policy and administration. She has extensive experience as a project manager and senior structural engineer working in a variety of cities in the US and abroad collaborating with teams including Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Daniel Liebskind.
Kate also served as a legislative aide to then Council Member Gale Brewer where she worked on a wide range of issues such as inclusionary zoning and 421-a Tax Exemptions. A published writer, an Adjunct Associate Professor at Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, and active in the civic life of NYC, Kate brings a wealth of analytical and technical skills to her Fellowship position at CHPC.
Kate has a B.S. in Engineering from Brown University, a Master of Engineering from MIT, and a Master of Public Administration from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.
Heather Beck, Policy Analyst
Heather Beck is a policy analyst and researcher with a passion for communications and problem solving. She is a recent graduate of The Milano School of Policy at The New School and has a Master of Science in Public and Urban Policy with a concentration in Housing and Community Development. Prior to joining CHPC, Heather worked at Enterprise Community Partners on the Policy and Communications team, where she worked to drive communications around the organization’s policy priorities and conducted research on emerging policy issues.
Before moving to New York City, Heather was a Program Director for an AmeriCorps program in Rhode Island where she worked with public school officials to expand a pilot program across the state. She also spent several years in New Orleans managing programs in various rebuilding non-profits after Hurricane Katrina. Her passion for housing and community development is rooted in her experiences working with neighborhoods and homeowners rebuilding the city. She has undergraduate degree in Psychology and a minor in Public Relations from Gonzaga University.
Outside of work Heather spends her time discovering new parts of the city, running, or taking her dog to the park.
Danny Cabrera, Policy Analyst
Danny Cabrera is a housing data analyst and researcher with a background in economic analysis, community organizing, and casework. He joins CHPC from the Office of the Manhattan Borough President (Gale Brewer). There, he served as a Constituent Services Liaison and Community Coordinator, working to ensure City government’s responsiveness to the need of New Yorkers. In doing so, Danny primarily worked with tenants and tenants associations to prevent displacement and address landlord-tenant harassment. Prior to working in Gale Brewer’s Office, he was an Economics Research Assistant at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, where focused on poverty, inequality, and structural patterns of growth.
Driven by the societal need for social justice, Danny see’s inclusive housing policy as crucial to achieving justice. He has a B.A in Economic and Public Policy from Hobart and William Smith Colleges. Outside of work Danny can be found riding around the City on a Citybike (safely!) or running around on a squash court.
Sheena Kang, Policy Analyst
Sheena Kang is a policy analyst and researcher with a background in urban planning and community development. She joins CHPC from Hope Community, Inc. in East Harlem, where she was a Morgan Stanley/ANHD Community Development Fellow and led economic development initiatives including the conversion of a vacant storefront into La Galeria, Hope’s community art gallery and workspace. Before working at Hope, she was a policy and planning fellow at the Pratt Center for Community Development, where she helped to provide technical assistance to community-based organizations citywide.
Propelled by a passion for social equity, Sheena began her work in urban issues in Portland, OR, where she worked as a research assistant to an investigation of the bottled water industry and its environmental and sociopolitical impacts. She holds a B.A. in Sociology from Portland State University and an M.S. in City and Regional Planning from Pratt Institute.
In addition to her policy and planning work work, Sheena has ten years of professional experience in the hospitality industry and retains a great passion for food, wine, and people. In her spare time, she is an avid runner, music enthusiast, and reader of novels.
Vivienne Davis, Administrative Assistant/Program Associate
Vivienne has come to us from the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce where she handled membership recruitment and communication, event planning, was the office liaison for the MWBE program, and managed a variety of administrative tasks. She has also applied her considerable organizational skills in her spare time, to a variety of community efforts including coaching tennis to young people and is a member of the Caribbean American Heritage Committee which recognizes the contribution of members of the Caribbean community in NYC.
At CHPC, Vivienne is responsible for managing our database of funders, maintaining the collection in the Marian Sameth and Ruth Dickler Archival Library, acting as CHPC’s point of contact for the public, managing on site logistics for our events, and maintaining communication with CHPC’s Board of Directors.
Jerilyn Perine, Senior Policy Fellow
Jerilyn Perine has built a talented team at CHPC to spearhead a high impact agenda to improve the quality of public debate, inform public policy, promote new ideas, and engage a wide audience, as well as a diverse and active Board Membership to improve NYC neighborhoods.
Ms. Perine is an urban planner with 30 years of experience in housing and community development. She was appointed Commissioner of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development by both Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Mayor Michael Bloomberg to lead America’s largest municipal housing agency with more than 3000 employees and an annual operating and capital budget of $800 million.
As Commissioner, Ms. Perine was the author of Mayor Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan, announced in December 2002 that provided $3 billion over 5 years to preserve and create over 65,000 units of affordable housing. Under Mayor Giuliani she designed and oversaw the management and operation of programs designed to return a significant inventory of tax foreclosed residential property to local, private ownership.
She has lectured widely and collaborated with practitioners in Germany, Austria, Spain, Northern Ireland, England, and Australia. Ms. Perine is an Adjunct Professor at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and was a member of the International Brownfield Exchange between 1998 and 2002. She serves on the board of Highbridge Voices, a children’s choir in the South Bronx and the West Side Federation for Senior and Supportive Housing.
Harold Shultz, Consultant
Harold Shultz is an attorney who served in New York City government for more than 30 years and specialized in policy and legal affairs particularly in regard to housing preservation, community development, Code Enforcement, and homelessness. As Special Counsel at the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development, Harold was responsible for federal policy issues and was instrumental in the creation of the Third Party Transfer Program and the revised in rem legislation, the negotiation of the 203(k) settlement with HUD, local legislation regarding lead paint in residential housing, the redevelopment of Noble Drew Ali Plaza in Brooklyn and restructuring Code Enforcement. In addition, he oversaw the agency’s computer technology and the production of the Housing and Vacancy Survey.
He is well known for his extensive legal knowledge, his understanding of a troubled housing market, his pioneering work to preserve New York City’s Single Room occupancy housing stock, and his efforts to improve conditions for tenants in the City’s aging housing stock. For CHPC, he has written extensively on topics ranging from affordable housing finance to explaining lead paint rules to recommending new methods to collect water liens. Currently he is working to develop effective solutions for New York City’s over mortgaged rental housing. Harold is also currently the President of Neighborhood Restore; a non-profit organization that administers the Third Party Transfer Program.