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.
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.
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.
Melissa Ellison joined the New York Foundation in 2002. Mrs. 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 a 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.
Zabrina Collazo joined the New York Foundation in 2020 from the Ms. Foundation for Women where they managed a portfolio of women-led, and particularly women of color-led, grantees working at the local, state, and national levels across the U.S. Before becoming a program officer, she was a program associate supporting grantmaking, grantee convenings, and capacity building. Their first foray into philanthropy was as a program assistant at the Scherman Foundation. Zabrina co-chaired the Youth Leadership Engagement Working Group at Funders for Reproductive Equity from 2016 through 2020. A lover of books, Zabrina worked at the Asian American Writers’ Workshop and Bluestockings Bookstore. She has organized in NYC’s Filipino-American community with Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE), an organization that connected the Filipino diaspora to the women’s movement in the Philippines. Zabrina is the child of a Filipina immigrant from Batangas and a Puerto Rican from Brooklyn. They graduated from CUNY Hunter College, where she organized against budget cuts and tuition hikes and pressured the administration to provide funding and staffing for Asian American Studies. They currently live in Queens.
Maggie Colgan joined the New York Foundation in 2019 as the communications manager. Prior to the foundation, Mx. Colgan worked in children’s publishing, reading and editing for Creston Books and managing client relations for children’s publisher-clients at Publishers Group West. In college they led their school’s climate justice student group, started a surrealist writing collaborative, and coordinated on-campus writer’s residency programs for artists such as Suheir Hammad and Joe Sacco. In addition to professional communications, Mx. Colgan is an experimental electronics musician and vocal performer. Ms. Colgan received their B.A. in Transnational Literature and Creative Writing from Hampshire College.
Ruhama Mumin joined the New York Foundation in 2017. She worked as a digital communications intern from 2017 to 2019, then returned as the New York Foundation’s summer intern in 2020. Ms. Mumin graduated Hunter College High School in 2019, where for two years she was editor-in-chief of The Coloring Book, and president of the Muslim Student Association for 3 years, the longest running presidency in Hunter’s history. Now, as a sophomore at Stony Brook University majoring in Psychology, Ms. Mumin has resumed her post once again and will be working with Maggie Colgan as the digital communications assistant. You can meet her in our profile interview here.
Holly Delany Cole