Staff

Staff

Toya Williford, Executive Director

Toya Williford, Director of Programs and Policy

Toya Williford serves as the Executive Director of The Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City. In directing the Mayor's Fund, Toya oversees the overall management of the Mayor’s Fund and leads the effort to foster public-private partnerships between City agencies, the private sector and the philanthropic community. Before serving as Executive Director, Toya oversaw the Programs and Policy team at the Mayor's Fund for four years, and brings more than 20 years of experience in philanthropic services, program and organizational development, and community organizing. Prior to joining the Mayor's Fund, Toya served as the Program Director at the Brooklyn Community Foundation, the first and only foundation solely dedicated to Brooklyn's charitable community. Committed to the advancement of her community, Toya takes special interest in programs and policies related to education and youth development, environmental sustainability, economic development, health and human services, and workforce development. Toya is a member of the Brooklyn Workforce Innovations Board of Directors and the New York City Youth Funders Network Steering Committee. She is a certified vinyasa yoga and prenatal yoga instructor. She received a Master's degree in Urban Studies from Cleveland State University and a Bachelor's degree in Rural Sociology from Cornell University. She currently lives in Bedford Stuyvesant with her husband and four children.


Irfan Ahmed, Senior Programs and Policy Manager

Irfan Ahmed, Programs and Policy Manager

Irfan serves as the Senior Programs and Policy Manager at the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City. Irfan manages the New York City Soccer Initiative and oversees a diverse array of public-private partnerships. Prior to joining the Mayor’s Fund in 2016 as the Programs and Policy Associate, Irfan served as the Financial Literacy Coordinator at the Arab-American Family Support Center (AAFSC), a nonprofit organization that provides culturally competent social services to recently arrived immigrants. Irfan joined AAFSC in 2014 as a Development Assistant, where he composed grant proposals for several direct service programs. He also successfully fundraised and designed the first-ever financial literacy initiative called, the Financial Revitalization through Economic Empowerment project, which provides personal economic planning courses and coaching services for immigrants and survivors of domestic violence. Previously, he worked for a variety of nonprofit organizations that specialize in areas of international education, interfaith relations, and global peace and security. Irfan is a graduate of Manhattan College and currently resides in Manhattan.


Daniele Baierlein, Director of Development

Daniele Baierlein, Director of Development

Daniele serves as the Director of Development at the Mayor's Fund. With over 16 years of fundraising and policy experience in New York, Washington, DC and throughout the country, Daniele builds relationships with some of the nation's most active charitable individuals, corporations and foundations to bring significant dollars to support programmatic work across all 5 boroughs aligned with the administration’s agenda. Her prior experience includes positions with Madison Square Garden Company, the Podesta Group, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. She serves on the boards of the Hugh O’Brien Youth Foundation NY Metro Chapter, which develops a global community of youth volunteers who are dedicated to leadership and service and is the Co-Chair of the Jenkins Hill Society New York Chapter, a women’s donor network built to close the donor gap. Daniele has a bachelor's in environmental conservation and political science from the University of New Hampshire. While working full time, she earned a Juris Doctor at the Catholic University of America School of Law. A native of Long Island, she currently lives in Manhattan.


Fred Begley, Director of Finance & Operations

Fred Begley, Director of Finance & Operations

Fred brings over twelve years of experience in non-profit management, with a focus on finance and operations to The Mayor’s Fund. Prior to joining, Fred was the Director of Finance and Administration at the Institute of Play Inc. in New York City; Director of Operations for Animal Haven, a New York City No Kill Animal Shelter. In addition, Fred served as Director of Finance & Administration for The CityKids Foundation and Artists Striving to End Poverty, two internationally-recognized, New York City-based organizations that serve at risk, impoverished and marginalized youth. He received his BA from Purchase College and Master’s in Public Affairs from Baruch College.


YooRae Choi, Development Associate

YooRae Choi, Development Associate

YooRae Choi serves as the Development Associate for the Mayor’s Fund. She was born in South Korea and immigrated to the United States at a young age and grew up in New Jersey. She graduated from Montclair State University, where she received a bachelor's degree in English with a minor in African American Studies and Studio Art. Prior to joining the Mayor's Fund, she served in both the arts and the non-profit sector by serving in institutions such as The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Rubin Museum and the Foundation Center.


Ashleigh Fryer, Communications Manager

Ashleigh Fryer, Communications Manager

Ashleigh Fryer joined the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City in 2019 and serves as the Communications Manager, a role in which she works to develop and execute the Fund's strategic communications efforts. Prior to joining the Mayor's Fund, Ashleigh was the communications manager at the Center for Employment Opportunities, a national nonprofit providing comprehensive employment services exclusively to individuals recently released from incarceration. She also served as a publications editor and strategic writer at The Council of State Governments Justice Center, a data-driven nonprofit working with state and local leaders across the country to improve the criminal justice and behavioral health systems at all levels. Before joining the nonprofit sector, Ashleigh was the senior editor of a hyper-local newspaper in Southern California. She received her BS in journalism from Boston University in 2013. A native of California, Ashleigh currently lives in Brooklyn.


Aarthi Gunasekaran, Programs and Policy Manager

Aarthi Gunasekaran, Programs and Policy Manager

Aarthi Gunasekaran serves as the Programs and Policy Manager at the Mayor’s Fund and oversees a diverse array of public-private partnerships, including ThriveNYC. Prior to joining the Mayor’s Fund, Aarthi worked on the Field Team for the Beto O’Rourke for Senate campaign. She previously served as the Policy Advisor for the NYC Mayor’s Office for International Affairs, where she developed policy initiatives to showcase NYC’s local efforts in building a more sustainable and equitable city on the global stage. In this capacity, Aarthi designed the Global Vision|Urban Action program, which produces analysis of how the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals are implemented on the local level and shares best practices on how NYC will reach key environmental and social targets. She also steered a coalition of cities to influence the UN Global Compact for Migration – the first, intergovenmentally negotiated agreement seeking to address international migration and the rights and protections of migrants. Before joining city government, Aarthi worked at the Center for American Progress on the National Security and International Policy team focusing on the Asia-Pacific region. Aarthi is a graduate of Boston University. She grew up in India, Singapore, France and Texas, and currently lives in Manhattan.


Chris Kelsaw, Finance Manager

Chris Kelsaw, Finance Manager

Chris joins the Mayor's Fund as Finance Manager, bringing over 15 years' experience in Finance and Operations in the non-profit, public and private sectors. Her prior employment includes serving as the Finance Manager at Women Make Movies for five years, as well as tenures at the International Center of Photography, Standard Insurance and the City of Lake Oswego. Chris is a graduate of Virginia Union University and is originally from Portland, Oregon. She currently resides in Brooklyn since moving to New York in 2005.


Jorge Luis Paniagua Valle, Chief of Staff

Jorge Luis Paniagua Valle, Chief of Staff

Jorge Luis Paniagua Valle joined the Mayor’s Fund in 2017 and serves as Chief of Staff. In this role Jorge Luis supports the Executive Director on a range on operational and programmatic priorities. Jorge Luis comes to the Mayor’s Fund with ten years of experience working with nonprofit organizations, institutes of higher education, and public service. Before joining the Mayor’s Fund, Jorge Luis served as the Assistant Director of Talent Development in the NYC Mayor’s Office of Appointments. Before working in public service, Jorge Luis served as the Programs Director for the Public Interest Law Center at NYU School of Law. Jorge Luis has also worked as a conflict resolution associate at the Center For Conflict Resolution in Los Angeles providing bilingual alternative dispute resolution support to low-income communities. He graduated with a BA from Loyola University Chicago and received his MPA from the NYU Wagner School of Public Service. Jorge Luis was born and raised in Los Angeles and now lives in Manhattan.


Cesaryna Pena, Administrative and Programs Associate

Cesaryna Pena, Special Assistant

Cesaryna Pena is the Administrative and Programs Associate at the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City. In her role, Cesaryna provides administrative and programmatic support across Mayor’s Fund teams, which include serving as Deputy Agency Chief Contracting Officer. Prior to joining the Mayor's Fund, Cesaryna was an Administrative Assistant at a small middle-market investment banking firm while completing a full-time course load at Medgar Evers College. Cesaryna graduated with a Bachelor's in Public Administration in May 2015. She has also interned with the Fiscal Operations department at the Mayor's Office as well as with the public relations department at Bloomberg LP. Cesaryna was born in New York City and lives in upper Manhattan with her parents and three younger brothers.


Leah Prestamo, Director of Programs and Policy

Leah Prestamo, Director of Programs and Policy

Leah Prestamo serves as the Director of Programs and Policy. In this role, Leah oversees the Programs and Policy team tasked with administering a diverse portfolio of programs and policy initiatives in partnership with City agencies. Prior to joining the Mayor's Fund, Leah worked as in-house legal counsel for the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA), a national nonprofit. At NACA, Leah managed regulatory compliance, contracts, and litigation for the organization's loan brokerage and housing counseling programs. Leah has worked for a wide range of local, national, and international nonprofits in New York, Boston, India, and Hong Kong, focusing primarily on food policy and access to legal and social services. She received a BA in philosophy from Adelphi University in 2008, a JD from Boston University in 2012, and a Fulbright Scholarship to teach in Hong Kong in 2008-2009. Leah currently lives in upper Manhattan.


Tatjana Richardson, Development Manager

Tatjana Richardson, Development Manager

Tatjana joined the Mayor's Fund in 2018 and serves as Development Manager. She is responsible for designing processes and implementing systems for ensuring best practices in engaging New York City's corporate, foundation and philanthropic community for their support of the Mayor's Fund programs. Prior to her work for the Mayor's Fund, she worked as a strategy, advancement, and development consultant for various non-profit organizations, private companies, and social enterprises. Her work for her clients focused on strategies and tactics to increase social impact through movement building, especially regarding the advancement of women and girls. She was previously a development associate at Children's Health Fund and God's Love We Deliver, where she helped to increase giving with enhanced event strategies and cause marketing campaigns. When not at work, Tatjana spends time at home in Brooklyn with her husband and daughter and volunteers her time at Sanctuary for Families. Tatjana has an MPA from the NYU Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service and a BA in Spanish and Theatre from Illinois State University.