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Spotlight on…Danielle Moss Lee, Ed.D.

1 Apr

Dr Danielle Moss LEeI recently had the opportunity to interview Dr. Danielle Moss Lee, the CEO of the YWCA of the City of New York. With many years of experience in community development and education, Dr. Moss Lee provides insightful opinions on equality and the importance of continued improvement of our education system.

Rachel Bogin: Being that Women’s History Month has just passed, I’d like to open by asking you about your current role as CEO of YWCA, and how it feels to be working with and surrounded by such a strong group of women. Do you think that there is a support system that exists here that doesn’t in other workplaces, with regard to the majority of the staff and board being women? What are the advantages?

Dr. Danielle Moss-Lee: Because the YWCA has a mission of eliminating racism and empowering women, we don’t get to save our activism for special occasions or a “marginalized group of the month”. We understand that we have a responsibility to model what we want for women in the workplace through how we identify, develop, support, and recognize our staff. So we have a level of consciousness about how we approach every aspect of the business that makes us unique; whether it’s professional development for our staff or leveraging board networks on behalf of the organization – gender and race are always comfortably in the room. The advantage is, when you call the world what it is, you have a better opportunity to make necessary changes.

RB: As the Women Leaders of Social Change Speaker Series wraps up, can you give us some insight into some of your own inspiration? Who inspired your drive for social change? Were there any panel speakers whose message resonated with you more than others?

DML: It may seem like a cliché, but my mother was the inspiration for dedicating my life to social change. She was really active in the post-Civil Rights early ’70s in our community, and she always made sure I knew who I was and what it meant to be a Black girl in America in all the best senses of that identity. She belonged to a social club for conscious Black women that met weekly in the various women’s homes. Their steadfastness and their willingness to examine issues of gender in the context of race was more than I could comprehend as a child. Later, when I was an adult, I understood how incredible that time was. To this day, my mother is always growing, always reading, always learning, and always connecting the dots. As one of a few Black women in management in corporate America when I was a kid, she took a lot of hits. She was even asked to accept a demotion when I was in elementary school because a white male colleague had a baby on the way. When I think about what that took on her part, and how she went back to that job with her head held high – even though she was more credentialed – because she had to support our family, I’m completely in awe of her.

I’m proud to say that the YWCA of the City of New York did an extraordinary job at bringing women from many walks of life together to advance the conversation on women this month. Our World YWCA General Secretary Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda talked about a global village of women and called intergenerational leadership; Journalist Zerlina Maxwell and Andrea Shapiro Davis of Mayor Bloomberg’s office spoke about the need to hold men accountable for how they engage women from an early age to eradicate rape culture; Shamika Lee of BET Networks challenged us not to forget about young women in foster care who are vulnerable to sex trafficking, and Arva Rice of the New York Urban League and Deputy Borough President Rose Pierre-Louis reminded us that the struggle for women’s equality is not over. The response to the Women Leaders of Social Change Speaker Series was tremendous, and the YWCA of the City of New York looks forward to reestablishing itself as a safe place for women to share their experiences and to highlight opportunities for social justice engagement.

RB: The YWCA offers young girls and women many programming opportunities: after-school programs, mentorship, vocational training, benefits counseling, and more. I’m curious as to how have technology and the advances made in the past decade (easier access to the internet, computers, social media, etc) changed the way that YWCA supports its clients. Do you feel that social media has played a role in engaging younger women?

DML: I would venture to guess that a great many of our participants in the speaker series found out about the events through social media. We know that the playing field in terms of how people get information has changed substantially over the last 20 years. Technology is here to stay. Social media is special because it’s not a one-way news monologue. It allows organizations like the YWCA of the City of New York to engage the larger community of women in new and fundamental ways through conversation. So, if we’re going to engage a younger audience at the YWCA, social media and technology have to be central to our strategy.

RB: It seems as though social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter have given a voice to young women who may have previously not been able to so easily express themselves and their emotions. Do you feel that this is the case? Are these sites a step in the direction of female empowerment, or perhaps, just the opposite?

DML: Social media is just like the power of the tongue. When we use our words and our networks to build nations, we can do that. When we use them to tear down others, we can do that, too. The power of sites like Facebook and Twitter depends on what the goal is. I’ve been able to reunite with old friends, interface with some of my favorite authors, and get the word out about the YWCA via Facebook and Twitter. But, these media are all relatively new, and I think a lot of young women struggle with what the boundaries are, how to control their online images, what’s worth sharing and what isn’t for the public domain. In all fairness, I know there are a lot of adults still trying to figure out how to use social networking sites constructively. But the reality is that social networking sites aren’t going away. So education about their power and possibility is essential.

RB: How would you describe the education experience you had growing up, compared to that of young women today? Do you feel there have been significant advances made to encourage and welcome women into STEM fields since your early education?

DML: I think there is much more excitement about the possibilities for STEM to build a future America when girls are represented more broadly across disciplines. We’re in cheerleading mode on this issue right now.  We unanimously agree that it’s a good thing but we’ve not figured out how to make it stick. There are a few scattered efforts, but I’m not sure we’ve developed the pedagogy to really match our enthusiasm – not just for girls but for all of our kids. Nonetheless, the YWCA of the City of New York is looking forward to tackling this challenge, and joining the conversation around solutions to get girls excited about STEM in a meaningful, outcomes-driven, program-oriented way.

RB: There is a growing divide in NYC in terms of public versus charter schools, and their respective pros/cons. Do you feel that one is exceeding the other in terms of fostering STEM fields and equality amongst young children (particularly girls) in general?

DML: If either traditional public schools or charter public schools had figured out the secret to this dilemma, we probably wouldn’t be having this conversation. What I do hope for is that as both sides continue to challenge themselves to advance education for all children there will be increasing opportunities for crosspollination so that as proven best practices are developed on both sides of the education fence, children don’t lose out because there’s no sharing of ideas, methods, or new approaches to teaching and learning.

RB: Finally, picture the world five years from now: where do you hope the biggest changes will have been made and implemented in STEM field education and the advancement of women, and where does YWCA fit into that vision? 

I hope that all children of every economic background will have increased access to the best teachers our country can develop in all areas of STEAM (the added A is for the arts), and that those teachers will have the strategies to engage kids in using STEAM to solve real world problems through an understanding of the fundamentals, and a willingness to step outside the proverbial box in creating solutions to everyday problems. The YWCA has a unique opportunity to position itself at the forefront of this transformation. As an out-of-school time provider, we have the opportunity to take risks and use broad instructional methods because we’re not bound by a complex system of rules and regulations that calls itself “accountability.” And, as a supporter of women, we can take a teenage girl from high school through college and then mentor her into a career that matters. This kind of work is built into our DNA as an organization. STEAM and the YWCA are the logical next step.

About Dr. Danielle Moss Lee: She was born and raised on Manhattan’s Upper West Side and enthusiastically joins the YWCA of the City of New York after a stellar ten years as President and CEO of the Harlem Educational Activities Fund. Danielle joined HEAF in 2002 after many years of experience in education and youth and community development in the nonprofit sector. She previously served as Assistant Principal of the Grace Lutheran School, Assistant Executive Director of the Morningside Area Alliance, Director for Community and Parent Partnerships at The After-School Corporation, and most recently as Director of the CTY Goldman Sachs Scholars Program of the Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth.

Click for full bio


Hurricane Sandy Recovery Project: Volunteer with NYC Parks

1 Nov

Update 11/1/12, 3:50pm: Direct from the NYC Parks Department Website:


Many of New York City’s parks and playgrounds were impacted by Hurricane Sandy. If you would like to volunteer with the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation to aid in clean up and recovery, please review the list of parks and playgrounds below that are in need of assistance this Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Click the links below to sign up in your borough and be sure to check back for updates on other parks in need of volunteers!


  • Van Cortlandt Park
  • Orchard Beach

Volunteer in the Bronx


  • Prospect Park
  • McCarren Park

Volunteer in Brooklyn


  • Happy Warrior Playground
  • Annunciation Park
  • Carl Schurz Park
  • Anne Loftus Playground (at Fort Tryon Park)
  • Randall’s Island (Friday and Saturday only)

Volunteer in Manhattan


(Friday and Saturday only)

  • Brookville Park
  • Baisley Pond Park

Volunteer in Queens


The Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City is accepting financial donations from organizations and individuals to support Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. Visit the Mayor’s Fund  page to make a donation.

Nuns on Ice: You Dont Want to Miss This!

15 Feb


FREE to the Public Event with Giveaway of 100 Nun’s Habits,

Raffle for SISTER ACT Tickets and Musical Performance


WHAT:             Citi Pond℠ at Bryant Park, Broadway’s SISTER ACT & God’s Love We Deliver host Nuns On Ice, Feb.16th from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. The first 100 people to rent skates during the event will receive a beautiful, flowing nun’s habit to wear as they glide across the ice.  All guests wearing the habit will not only keep their ears warm, but will be entered to win tickets to SISTER ACT on Broadway!

$1 from all skate rentals between 5:30 and 6:30pm will support God’s Love We Deliver, an organization that provides nutritious, individually-tailored meals to people who are too sick to shop or cook for themselves.

Skaters and spectators will also enjoy a dazzling free performance from a SISTER ACT cast member singing “Fabulous Baby.”


VISUALS:         100 ice skaters of all ages donned in Nun’s habits gliding across the ice

                            Performance of SISTER ACT’s “Fabulous Baby”


WHEN:             Thursday, Feb. 16, 2012, 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.

WHERE:           Citi Pond at Bryant Park

Between W. 40th and W. 42nd Streets and 5th and 6th Avenues, New York, NY

CONTACT:       Quinn & Co.

David Semanoff, Office: 212.868.1900 x222,

A Multi-Designer Sale’s Event and Fundraiser

10 Feb



Over 20 Independent Designers, Makers & Vintage Collectors Selling

for the Benefit of God’s Love We Deliver

NEW YORK – Feb 8, 2012 – Artists & Fleas, Williamsburg’s weekly indoor market for artists, independent designers and vintage collectors, will hold Love for Sale, a multi-designer Valentine’s Day sales event with a portion of proceeds to benefit God’s Love We Deliver. The weekend-long sale will be held on February 11th & 12th at Artists & Fleas’ Williamsburg, Brooklyn location. Over 20 participating indie designers, artists and vintage collectors have contributed an item to be sold at prices discounted up to 20% off of regular pricing in a red color themed area curated by the market management. Participants will include Georgia Varidakis Jewelry, FSMNYC, QP & Monty and the Spooky Boutique. Artists & Fleas will match sales profits in a contribution to God’s Love We Deliver. Additionally, Brooklyn-based Karaoke DJs The Kings of Karaoke will be holding a Saturday evening free karaoke session beginning at 5pm to kick off the weekend.

“Valentine’s Day at the market has always been as much about giving as it is receiving and the opportunity to get gift-worthy goods while supporting independent artists and a tremendous organization caring for people across New York City is a perfect match,” said Ronen Glimer, co-founder of Artists & Fleas with Amy Abrams.

Artists & Fleas has curated a space within the market for Love for Sale, consisting of merchandise and items for sale across a wide range of styles and trends in fashion, art and design with merchandise to include jewelry, clothing, housewares, handmade goods, vintage fashion, antiquities and visual arts. Some highlights include:

  • Georgia Varidakis Jewelry, a Williamsburg-based designer of modern-day heirloom jewelry.
  • Evolving Habitat, Brooklyn-based design studio that re-purposes found and salvaged items such as deer antlers, birch wood, antique glass and metal for the home and wardrobe.
  • QP & Monty, East Village-based vintage sellers and creators of a series of bespoke men’s clothing.
  • Pioneering women’s vintage collector Ricky Becker of Spooky Boutique, a long-time NYC advisor to fashion stylists seeking inspiration from vintage clothing and period pieces.
  • More than 20 other independent designers from the Artists & Fleas’ community.

Artists & Fleas “Love For Sale” will be open Saturday & Sunday, February 11th & 12th from 10:00 a.m. to 7 p.m. at 70 North 7th Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and is free to the public. For a full line-up of vendors and additional information, visit or email


Media Contact:

Artists & Fleas: Ronen Glimer,, 917.301.5765

About Artists & Fleas:

Artists & Fleas is Brooklyn’s longest running curator and creator of weekly markets for indie designers, vintage collectors, emerging artists and food artisans to set up shop and connect directly with customers and the broader community of independent creative makers and entrepreneurs. Established in 2003 in Williamsburg Brooklyn, Artists & Fleas is a unique destination for the community of artisans, collectors and cool-hunters to come together in a thriving alternative-to-retail setting open every weekend year-round where buyers and sellers can meet from around the world. Current markets include the Williamsburg, Brooklyn location (weekends only, year-round), a Summer seasonal market at the Williamsburg waterfront as part of the OSA Presents concert series (Summers only, resuming June 2012) and a pop-up at Chelsea Market in spring 2012. Follow Artists & Fleas Love on Facebook and on Twitter @artistsandfleas. For more information, visit


God’s Love We Deliver: Em Findley,, 212.294.8141, 517.402.1776

About God’s Love We Deliver
God’s Love is the New York metropolitan area’s leading not-for-profit provider of life-sustaining meals and nutritional counseling for people living with life-threatening illnesses. God’s Love We Deliver is dedicated to cooking – and delivering – the specific, nutritious meals a client’s severe illness and treatment so urgently require. God’s Love supports families by providing meals for the children and senior caregivers of its clients. All of the agency’s services are provided free of charge, and in its entire 25 year history, God’s Love We Deliver has never had a waiting list. For more information, visit Follow God’s Love on Facebook and follow them on Twitter, @godslovenyc.

Today: Shop Til’ You Drop for GLWD

5 Jan

If you’re like me, your refrigerator is just about empty after weeks of home-cooked meals, holiday leftovers, and the general gluttony of ushering in a new year. Today is the perfect day to re-stock with a trip to Whole Foods Market in NYC. Not only will you be able to find healthy foods that will help you stick to that 2012 diet you just started, but you’ll also be giving back to one of my favorite New York charities, God’s Love We Deliver. Whole Foods will be donating 5% of ALL SALES to the organization today.

To sweeten the deal, check out the sales that Whole Foods currently has going on in your local store. Here’s a few deals I’ll be picking up tonight at the Whole Foods Market in Columbus Circle: