Ben Margolis joined SBIDC as Executive Director in August of 2017. For more than twenty years, he has worked on economic development projects in the public, private and nonprofit sectors. As a private consultant, Ben worked on behalf of small business owners and nonprofit organizations in rapidly-developing communities and managed comprehensive planning and urban revitalization projects for cities such as Newark, NJ. From 2009-2014, he served as Senior Vice President for Development at the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC), helping to conceive and advance waterfront development projects that have garnered approximately $1.2 B in public and private investments. Through the NYC Industrial Development Agency (IDA), he also helped small manufacturers finance and invest in their businesses. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Ben served on the New York City Special Initiative for Rebuilding and Resiliency (SIRR), addressing the twin challenges of how to rebuild local communities and how to improve critical citywide systems and infrastructure given the likely long-term impacts of climate change. As a Senior Research Analyst for The Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program, he seeded and implemented major research and policy projects examining development trends in metropolitan areas and urban economies. Ben is a Visiting Assitant Professor of Sustainable Development and Planning at Pratt Institute. A confirmed “Dutchaphile”, Ben also has a consulting practice in The Netherlands where he helped open Pendergast Smokehouse, a flourishing restaurant in Amsterdam (please let him know if you’re planning a visit: www.pendergast.nl).
Andrea Devening joined SBIDC as the Planning and Revitalization Manager in January of 2013 and is currently SBIDC’s Deputy Director. Throughout her career and across fields, she has worked to strengthen communities and help those in under served areas. Andrea manages SBIDC’s community economic development initiatives including Red Hook commercial revitalization and Brownfield Opportunity Area (BOA) programs. Her work also allows her to engage in planning and policy related to industrial retention, environmental resiliency, and economic development in Gowanus, Red Hook and Sunset Park. Prior to her current position, Andrea coordinated a workforce development capacity-building feasibility study with SBIDC and a collaboration of Brooklyn economic development partners. While obtaining her master’s degree in city and regional planning, Andrea was a Fellow at the Pratt Center for Community Development where she worked on various community economic development and food policy research projects. Before residing in New York City, Andrea worked for seven years in the field of refugee resettlement in various capacities in both Washington, DC and Chicago. Andrea has a BA in Sociology and Anthropology from Mary Washington College and a Masters in City and Regional Planning from the Pratt Institute. She recently graduated from Coro’s Neighborhood Leadership 2015 program. Andrea is an animal lover and is only a little obsessed with dogs.
Office Manager/Employment Assistant
Jenny Suriel grew up in Sunset Park, Brooklyn and attended Fort Hamilton High School and is now attending Kingsborough Community College. Jenny joined SBIDC in 2009 as the Office Manager/Employment Assistant at SBIDC, where she is responsible for office administration, as well as assisting the workforce team by conducting and processing intakes for applicants, managing our database, and helping with membership and other outreach efforts. She is a certified Notary Public in the State of New York and speaks Spanish fluently. She has a dog named Sheiley with an expensive wardrobe.
Director of Strategic Partnerships and Development
Justin Collins joined SBIDC as the Director of Workforce Development in 2013, after practicing law as a commercial litigator. He currently serves as the Director of Strategic Partnerships and Development, responsible for community outreach, collaboration with partner organizations, program and organizational development, and institutional fundraising. A resident of Brooklyn for many years, Justin is active in the community, serving as a member of Brooklyn Community Board 7’s Economic Development Committee and the Junior Leadership Board of Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow (OBT). He is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, where he majored in urban studies, and Brooklyn Law School. Justin can often be seen yelling at the television during various sporting and/or political events, and his spaghetti sauce was once described as “pretty good.”
Jesse Tinen Solomon
Director of Economic Development & Policy
Jesse joined SBIDC in 2014 as the Economic Development Specialist, providing assistance to the business services programs and SBIDC’s commercial revitalization project in Red Hook. With a background in community organizing and advocacy, Jesse is passionate about community driven economic development, particularly in the urban context. She worked as an organizer on the Obama 2012 campaign in Philadelphia, and then as the Youth Lead Organizer for the Arab American Association of NY in Brooklyn, where she lead youth-run campaigns for immigration reform and police accountability. Most recently, Jesse worked as the Scheduler for Council Member Carlos Menchaca, where she became connected to the fight to preserve Southwest Brooklyn’s extensive industry and manufacturing sector. Jesse has a Master’s degree in Urban Policy & Leadership from Hunter College. She received her BA from Bryn Mawr College in Arabic Studies. She lived in Egypt for two years and speaks Arabic. She now lives in Sunset Park and likes working directly with the businesses in the community. Jesse recently graduated from Coro’s 2016 Neighborhood Leadership program.
Entrepreneurship Services Manager
Erin joined SBIDC in July 2017 as the Entrepreneurship Services Manager, managing the Plan for Growth program to help local businesses scale their operations responsibly. Erin is passionate about advancing local business growth as a stabilizing force in neighborhoods, and she is interested in the planning context surrounding resiliency and industrial retention. Prior to joining SBIDC, Erin worked as a Neighborhood Planner for the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development where she worked with other City agencies to ensure that affordable housing investment was coordinated with investment in economic development, transportation improvements, and community facilities and services. She has also worked for Council Member Brad Lander, Brooklyn Community Board 2, and the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance, so she is intimately aware of the local issues and challenges facing Brooklyn neighborhoods. Erin has a Master’s degree in City and Regional Planning from the Pratt Institute. She also has a Certificate in the Organic Management of Orchards. She lives in Southwest Brooklyn with a dog, a cat, and too many house plants.
Sherea joined SBIDC recently in early 2017 as the Program Associate, helping to provide retention services to applicants placed by SBIDC- through both the organizations Workforce 1 Center, and other efforts as well as providing management and direction of comprehensive social service referrals. Before joining SBIDC Sherea worked for Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) helping Parolees and Probationers find full time Employment. Prior to CEO Sherea worked for Fulton Area Business (FAB) Alliance working with local small businesses, and creating weekly/monthly community events to activate the area. Sherea graduated from SUNY Binghamton University receiving her Bachelor’s Degree of Arts in Sociology. Her passion lies with helping others, especially the marginalized and underserved populations. Sherea can often be seen singing and listening to nothing but R&B and 90’s music, loves doing karaoke, and will find any chance to go bowling.
Business Services Manager
Michelle joined the organization in November of 2017 as the Business Services Manager, managing the Industrial Business Zone contract. She has previously worked as SBIDC’s Economic Development Intern performing outreach to businesses in Southwest Brooklyn about incentives, navigating government, real estate, and procurement services. Since completing her internship she has broadened her professional experience to include capacity building, partnership building, and technical assistance. Michelle is incredibly excited to be serving the Southwest Brooklyn IBZ once again. She is finishing up her Master of Urban Planning degree at Hunter College, and when she isn’t in school or working, she can be found catching up on the latest art films.
Director, Brooklyn Industrial and Transportation Workforce 1 Center
Karen-Michelle Mirko joined SBIDC in 2016 to launch its Brooklyn Workforce 1 Industrial & Transportation Career Center. As the Founding Director, she connects industrial employers to local talent and is proud to witness the powerful impact an industrial career path can make to reducing income inequality. Karen-Michelle works closely with SBIDC’s longstanding community, business, and government partners to create a critical workforce development resource that benefits industrial and transportation businesses, as well as local jobseekers. Prior to her current position, she was catalyst in the entrepreneurial ecosystem; working with a range of organizations and aiding small businesses launch and grow both locally and nationally. Karen-Michelle has a BA in English and an MBA in Finance and Marketing from New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business. An entrepreneur at heart, Karen-Michelle opened a successful vintage thrift store which remains open today.
Career Advisor/ Recruiter, Brooklyn Industrial and Transportation Workforce 1 Center
Imani Council is the Career Advisor and Recruiter of the Brooklyn Workforce1 Industrial & Transportation Career Center where she assists job seekers with job readiness and career development. Before joining SBIDC in 2016, Imani worked in the early childhood education field as a family service coordinator promoting family development, disability advocacy, and self-sufficiency. She is educated in Psychology from Bennett College for Women, in Greensboro, NC, prior to moving to New York City in 2013. Imani loves interior design, and is constantly redecorating her home.
Senior Account Manager,Brooklyn Industrial and Transportation Workforce 1 Center
Ashirea has been a Senior Account Manager at the Brooklyn Workforce1 Industrial & Transportation Center since 2016. A graduate of Metropolitan Community College (Class of 2012), she comes with 16 years in recruitment, agency outreach and sourcing– working with large firms such as Time Warner Cable, Guardian Life Insurance and Moody’s Investors Service sourcing for a range of positions from CDL Drivers to Direct Sales Supervisors to Support Staff. No stranger to Workforce1 program, she collaborated with the Upper Manhattan WF1 when sourcing for Utility and Consumer Electronics positions through Panasonic and PSEG NJ. Ashirea also has 6 years of B2C business development, selling credit repair, real estate, construction and staffing services. Ashirea is obsessed with pink, not just because its bright, but because she is a survivor and pink represents strength!
Bruce is an Account Manager at the Brooklyn Workforce1 Industrial & Transportation Center where he develops new relationships with employers in order to generate job opportunities for our job-seeker base. An MBA graduate of South Carolina State University (Class of 2014), he comes with 3 years of B2B sales, development and exceptional customer service skills. Bruce loves music, food and fun and is big on spending as much time with family as possible.
Intake Coordinator Brooklyn Industrial and Transportation Workforce 1 Center
Noe joined SBIDC as an Intake Coordinator in 2017. Noe has previously worked with local and federal law enforcement agencies. He is a John Jay college undergraduate and an Alpha Phi Sigma member. As an intake coordinator, he is hoping to help his community of Sunset Park by spreading awareness of available job positions in the area.