Senior Staff

Maria Alejandro, Director of Senior Services, joined Union Settlement Association in 2002. Her previous experiences include serving as the Director of Sunnyside Senior Center, Inwood Senior Center and Corsi Senior Center. She has a masters degree from City University of New York’s Program in Adult & Community Education and has attended the Institute of Not-For-Profit Management at Columbia's School of Management. An acknowledged expert on the Hispanic elderly, Ms. Alejandro often speaks on the subject at conferences and workshops.
 
Nina Dastur, Director of Policy and Advocacy, joined Union Settlement in January 2013. For the previous nine years, she was a Fellow and Senior Policy Analyst at the Center for Community Change (CCC), where she provided technical assistance to grassroots organizing groups on campaigns focused on  the economy, job creation and job quality, and affordable housing. Before joining CCC, she taught a poverty policy clinic at Georgetown Law School, and was a legal services attorney. She graduated with honors from Harvard Law School and Duke University.
 
Linda Embry LCSW, Director of Mental Health Services, joined Union Settlement in 2011.  Ms. Embry has brought innovative programming and effective clinical practice to her clinical work and to directing mental health, child welfare and juvenile justice programs in New York and California.  She received her MSW from University of Southern California and her BS for UCLA.  She is an adjunct lecturer at Columbia University School of Social Work, where she teaches clinical practice. 

Laura Johnson, Associate Executive Director, has been with Union Settlement for more than 30 years. She was promoted to Associate Executive Director in 2001. Previously, she served as the Deputy Director of Operations and Finance, Director of Finance and Senior Bookkeeper. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Herbert H. Lehman College of the City University of New York. 
 
Charmaine Massiah, Director of College Readiness/Assistant Director of Youth Services, brings a Master of Science in Education from Hunter College and a bachelor’s degree from New York University. She has more than 17 years of experience in the not-for-profit world, including as a rehabilitation counselor, tutor and vocational counselor, as Director of Community Service for seven years at Presbyterian Social Services and as Director of Programming at Bedford Central Church.
 
Shabana K. Master, Director of Human Resources, joined Union Settlement in 2009. Previously she headed the human resources departments at the Neighborhood Coalition for Shelter and the Henry Street Settlement. Shabana brings a Bachelor's Degree from James Madison University and a Master's Degree in Public Administration from New York University, as well as ten years experience in the human resources field. 
 
Deochand Narain, Chief Financial Officer, has an MBA in Finance from Baruch College and a Bachelors degree in economics from Patrice Lumumba University. Prior to joining Union Settlement Association, he was the Chief Financial Officer at Heritage Health and Housing from 2007 through 2009, where he also served as Interim Chief Executive Officer for fifteen months. He was Vice President of Finance and Administration for New York Therapeutic Communities from 2001 through 2007. He also worked at the World Bank as a liaison between Caribbean ministries of finances and bank staff members and later as a World Bank consultant in his native Guyana. 
 
Melissa Nieves, Director of Adult Education, has been with Union Settlement since 2006. Prior to joining Union Settlement, she served as Director of the Harlem Center for Education’s Educational Opportunity Center and as Director of ESL, Literacy & Computer Services at University Settlement. She has a BA from Long Island University and is fluent in Spanish, French and Italian and brings 18 years of teaching, counseling and adult education experience.
 
David Nocenti, Executive Director, became the Executive Director of Union Settlement in January 2009. He has served as a top advisor to three Governors, including as Counsel to Governors David Paterson and Eliot Spitzer from January 2007 through June 2008, as well as Assistant Counsel and First Assistant Counsel to Governor Mario Cuomo from 1990 to 1994. He also served as Counsel to the New York Attorney General and the Queens Borough President and as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Brooklyn. He received his law degree from Columbia University Law School and his undergraduate degree from Princeton University.
 
Michelle Paige, Director of Early Childhood Programs, holds an MSED in Childhood Education from CUNY Queens College and a BSED from St. John’s University in Jamaica, Queens.  Ms. Paige has a NYS permanent teaching certification in Pre-kindergarten, Kindergarten and Grades 1-6, and is currently pursuing a dual certification degree in School Building and School District Leadership from The College of New Rochelle. After working as a classroom teacher at NYC PS 117Q, she joined The Children’s Aid Society in 2001 as the Center Director for the Drew Hamilton Learning Center, and subsequently became the Deputy Director of Early Childhood for The Children’s Aid Society.  Ms. Paige joined Union Settlement Association in January of 2013.  
 
Steven Portericker, Director of Youth Services, joined Union Settlement in 2002 and brings a MS in Human Services Leadership from St. Joseph’s College, a BS in Multidisciplinary Studies (Biology, Sociology and Women’s Studies) from SUNY-Stonybrook as well as a background in case management and dropout prevention. He served as Assistant Director of Youth Services before his promotion to Director in May of 2007.  In 2009, Mr. Portericker was recognized by the Partnership for After School Education as among "the best and brightest of New York City's youth development professionals."
 
Sara Stuart, Director of Development and Communication, joined Union Settlement in 2009. She was Director of Development and Communication at Citizens Union, a century old good government watchdog organization, and at Center for Community Alternatives, a social service agency serving people involved in the criminal justice system. From 1985 to 2002, she headed Communication for Change, where she led participatory communication projects in Asia, Africa and the Middle East focused on community development, health education and human rights.
 
Carlos Toruño, Director of Facilities, has overseen all Union Settlement facilities and supervised the agency’s maintenance staff since 1995.
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