Senior Staff


David Nocenti
Executive Director
David 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. @DavidNocenti
Derrick Boone
Associate Executive Director of Adult Programs
Derrick joined Union Settlement in June 2018. For over two decades he has worked for nonprofit social service programs in direct care, professional consultation, and executive leadership. He has experience working with organizations that focus on mental health, employment, education, school based counseling, seniors, transitional living, trauma informed care, and homelessness.  He has Master’s and Doctorate degrees in psychology from Loma Linda University.
Kristine Cooper
Director of Development & Communications
Kristine joined Union Settlement in August 2020. She has over 20 years of experience strategically managing and growing fundraising activities encompassing annual funds, galas, major gifts, and sponsorships; in addition, identifying and stewarding prospects and donors creating new revenue streams. Kristine is a graduate of Hampton University in Hampton, VA and holds a certificate of individual giving from Baruch College. She is also a 2019 Lead the Way Fellow, a program of the New York Women’s Foundation, which prepares women of color for nonprofit leadership roles.
Hilda V. Cortés
Director of Adult Education
Hilda joined Union Settlement in May 2018 after most recently serving as the Program Coordinator of Adult Literacy Education at Catholic Charities Neighborhood Services in Brooklyn, and previously held educational and job development positions at the Hudson County Schools of Technology. Ms. Cortés holds a Bachelor degree in Spanish from SUNY-Buffalo, and a Master’s Degree in Education from the College of Mount St. Vincent.
Esther Kuykendoll
Director of Youth Services
Esther joined Union Settlement in April 2021. She is a passionate and experienced youth service leader withover 12 years of experience. She excels in leading operational strategies, managing a portfolio of programs,team coaching, and contract compliance while improving the experiences of children and families served. Before joining Union Settlement, she was Senior Program Director at Roads to Success in East Harlem. Earlier in her career, she worked in youth services for organizations such as Harlem Children’s Zone,Goodwill Industries, The YMCA of Greater New York, and two nonprofit organizations in Tokyo, Japan; Refugees International Japan,and at Hands on Tokyo. She holds a M.A. in Urban Policy and Administration from Brooklyn College. She is also a 2020 participant of the High Performing Managers Initiative Cohort, a program for emerging high-potential leaders at nonprofit organizations and government agencies, which prepares local leaders for nonprofit leadership roles.
Luz Lara
Director of Senior Services
Luz joined Union Settlement in February 2020. With almost a decade of work with NYC seniors, Luz is excited to bring her knowledge and experience back to Union Settlement as Director of Senior Services.  After working at Union Settlement from 2012-2017 in various capacities, including Senior Services Coordinator, Senior Center Manager and Assistant Deputy Director, Luz joined the NYC Department for the Aging. From 2017-2020 she worked as a Program Officer, getting a handle on the issues and solutions that go into the business of running large groupings of senior centers.  Luz holds a Bachelors in Business Administration from SUNY Albany and a Masters of Social Work from Hunter College.
Edwin NievesEdwin Nieves
Senior Director of the Business Development Center
Edwin joined Union Settlement in July 2014 with over 30 years banking experience. Mr. Nieves has been dedicated to providing bilingual curricula for entrepreneurial training, loan programs, computer training and technical assistance to East Harlem residents for more than a decade. He has a B.A. in Business Administration from Marymount Manhattan College.
Oneida Perez
Director of Human Resources
Born and raised in Harlem, Oneida joined Union Settlement in August 2018 after most recently serving as the Director of Human Resources at Queens Community House. Her career portfolio includes the Boys’ Club, the YMCA of Greater New York, Building Educated Leaders for Life, and various NYC Universities where she has worked to build communities, strengthen human connections, and support employees with processes and tools to empower them to do their best work. Oneida holds an M.A. in Organizational Management from University of Phoenix, and is a Senior Certified Professional by the Society for Human Resources Management.  
Denise Ramos
Interim Director of Early Childhood Education
Denise joined Union Settlement in June 2020. She comes with over 25 years of early childhood experience in both for profit and nonprofit organizations. She started her career as a teacher in a Head Start program and worked her way up to an Education Director. Most currently she served as the Family Child Care Network Director for Union Settlement. Denise holds a dual Masters Degree in Early childhood and Special Education from Touro College and holds her professional certification from birth to grade 2.
Ingrid Sotelo
Director of Community Outreach

Ingrid Sotelo joined Union Settlement in January 2020. She was born and raised in East Harlem. There she attended the Young Women’s Leadership School of East Harlem and was the first member of her family to enroll in college, graduating from Marymount College and pursuing her Master’s in Public Administration from Marxe School of Public and International Affairs, Baruch College. Ingrid brings 10 years of experience in government and community relations. Her keen interest in government led her to serve in public service for State Senator Jose M. Serrano, Manhattan Borough President’s office, NYC Comptroller’s Office and NYC Census 2020.
Lissa Southerland
Chief Operating Officer

Lissa came on board at Union Settlement in January 2019. Before that she served as the Senior Regional Director for Operations at Community Healthcare Network (CHN), which provides primary and behavioral healthcare, dental, nutrition, wellness and needed support services to over 85,000 New Yorkers every year. While there, Lissa oversaw a wide variety of operational and administrative functions at CHN, and previously had served as the Regional Director for CHN’s Manhattan centers, and as the Director of their Helen B. Atkinson Health Center.
Carlos Toruño
Director of Facilities
Carlos has overseen all Union Settlement facilities and supervised the agency’s maintenance staff since 1995.
Lijo Varghese
Director of Finance
Lijo Chirayil Varghese was born and raised in southern India. There he earned a Master of Finance from Bharathiar University, where he was named Salutatorian. He went on to complete his Post-Graduate Diploma in Computer Application (PGDCA). Lijo continued his education in Australia at Latrobe University in Melbourne, where he earned his Masters of Accounting and Financial Management. Lijo came to the US in 2011. He began his career in Accounting at BronxWorks, where he worked for 8 years. Lijo started as an Accountant, and eventually became the Director of Grants and Contracts. In March 2020, he joined Union Settlement as the Director of Finance. He believes strongly in Union Settlement’s mission of helping people, and is proud to be a part of a great team that strives to better the social and economic lives of many. Lijo has two kids with his wife, an NYC public school teacher.
Sheila Wilson-Wells
Associate Executive Director of Early Childhood & Youth Programs

Sheila joined Union Settlement in June 2019. She has devoted her career to helping children & families for nearly two decades. Most recently she served as the Director of Elementary and Special Initiatives at New York Edge, which is one of the largest providers of youth programs in the NYC area. In her earlier career she worked for nonprofit social service programs in Head Start, Residential Treatment Facilities, Foster Care and Preventative Services.  She holds a Master of Science in Non-Profit Leadership from Fordham University.
Stacie Woodland
Director of Mental Health Services
Stacie joined Union Settlement in December 2017 as a Clinical Supervisor in the Mental Health Clinic.  She took on the position of Director of Mental Health Services in December of 2018. Stacie comes to Union Settlement with almost two decades of experience working in areas around mental health, homelessness, HIV and adolescent issues. She has expertise in trauma informed care. As an adjunct professor of psychology at Touro College since 2004, she created the curriculum and has taught advanced seminars on both Trauma and Eating Disorders. An avid animal lover, Stacie volunteers at a local animal shelter. She is also a Certified Grief Counselor and one of the few Certified Counselors in NYC for Pet Loss Grief Counseling (PGRS-C, Pet Loss and Grief Recovery Specialist).