Kareem Alston Communications Manager

Kareem Alston joined the New York Foundation in 2016. Before he managed the foundation's communications, which includes producing original written and video content as well as administrating the New York Foundation’s website, Mr. Alston was the Program Coordinator at Stanford University's Institute for Diversity in the Arts, where he received both his bachelor's degree in African & African American studies and his master's degree in African studies. Mr. Alston continues to do freelance video editing and documentary research with production companies in New York City. As a native New Yorker having lived in both Harlem and Washington Heights, he could not be more thrilled to be back in the city.

Melissa Ellison Operations Manager

Melissa Ellison manages the foundation’s finances and human resources. She provides administrative support to the program staff and acts as a liaison to the foundation’s trustees. Prior to her current position, Mrs. Ellison served as program assistant and acting grants manager. Her other work experience includes positions as a financial assistant and education associate at St. Francis Xavier Action Youth Center. She was awarded an internship at the Municipal Credit Union by the African-American Credit Union Coalition. Mrs. Ellison holds a bachelor of science in business management and finance from CUNY Brooklyn College. She is a Certified Not-for-Profit Accounting Professional.

Edna Iriarte Program Officer

Edna Iriarte came to the New York Foundation in 2009. As part of the program team, she evaluates grants, conducts site visits, writes recommendations for board review, and provides on-going support to community organizing and advocacy organizations. She manages the Summer Internship in Community Organizing program and represents the Foundation in the Fund for New Citizens and the New York City Youth Funders group. Edna’s philanthropic experience began with an internship in 1994 at the Norman Foundation. Later, at the New World Foundation, she played an important role in launching the Phoenix Fund for Workers and Communities and in developing an apprenticeship model for program associates. As a program officer with the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation, she managed a portfolio of organizing groups dedicated to protect New York City’s environment and the health of its residents. In addition to her work in philanthropy, Edna conducted research informing the creation of La Fuente, a labor and community partnership that promoted immigrants’ and workers’ rights. Edna earned a master’s degree in urban planning from the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University. She completed her bachelor’s degree in Spanish and Italian at Queens College of the City University of New York. The daughter of immigrant parents and originally from New York City’s Lower East Side, she lives with her compañero and her son in Jackson Heights, Queens.

Maria Mottola Executive Director

Maria Mottola has been the executive director of the New York Foundation since 2003. She served as a program officer from 1994 to 2002. Prior to joining the foundation, from 1989 to 1994 she was executive director of the City Wide Task Force on Housing Court, a housing advocacy organization that promotes the reform of New York City's Housing Court. As the Task Force’s founding director, Ms. Mottola managed the group’s transition from a volunteer activist campaign to a fully staffed and funded organization. From 1984 to 1989, Ms. Mottola was the director of neighborhood programs and a community organizer at Lenox Hill Neighborhood House, a settlement house on the Eastside of Manhattan. From March 2010 through May 2011, Ms. Mottola acted as an executive-on-loan to Gladys Carrión, the commissioner of the New York State Office of Children and Families, working closely with the commissioner and her senior staff on a variety of projects. Ms. Mottola has taught community organizing at New York University School of Social Work, and has been an adjunct instructor at Hunter College Graduate School of Urban Affairs and Planning since 1996. Ms. Mottola was co-chair of the Neighborhood Funders Group, a national affinity group from 2003 to 2006. She currently serves on the boards of the New American Leaders Project and Red Hook Initiative. Ms. Mottola is also a freelance illustrator, and studies at the Art Students League. She received her undergraduate degree in liberal arts at the University of Toronto and a master's degree in social work from Fordham University.

Altaf Rahamatulla Program Officer

Altaf Rahamatulla joined the New York Foundation team in 2017 as a program officer. Mr. Rahamatulla comes to us from the Ford Foundation where he served as a program associate on the Gender, Racial, and Ethnic Justice team. While at the Ford Foundation, he served on working groups pertaining to place-based grantmaking in New Orleans and New York City, criminalization, and immigration. Previously, he worked with the Innocence Project, a national litigation and policy organization that seeks to overturn wrongful convictions using DNA testing. In both his professional and personal life, Mr. Rahamatulla has supported civil and human rights, criminal justice reform, racial justice and minority rights, and immigrant and migrant rights. Mr. Rahamatulla earned his master’s degree from the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University and received his bachelor’s degree in political science and Spanish from Amherst College. He currently serves on the advisory board for the New York City chapter of the New Leaders Council, which works to recruit, train, and promote future progressive leaders. He participates in iMentor, an organization that seeks to empower first-generation students from low-income communities to graduate high school and succeed in college, and is a mentor at a high school in Brooklyn. His family has deep ties to New York City—his father's side emigrated from Guyana to Washington Heights, and his mother's family from Italy and Honduras to the Bronx.

Isabel Rivera Grants Manager

Isabel Rivera has been with the New York Foundation since 1994 and handles grants management, acts as the webmaster and coordinates the foundation’s capacity building program. Mrs. Rivera served as the foundation’s program assistant prior to her current position. She is a member of the Grants Manager Network. Prior to the New York Foundation, Mrs. Rivera worked at Columbia University Medical Center’s Dermatopathology Department. Mrs. Rivera holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Hunter College. She lives in the Bronx with her husband and two sons.