Kelly Vilar is the founder and CEO of the SI Urban Center. She has invested her life’s work in helping people to hope, dream and take action in their lives. She has always been passionate about helping others to be socially and economically conscious, and to be activists in their own lives--thus living and sharing her mantra --community development through community involvement. Kelly has been active on Staten Island as a member of Community Board No. 1 chairing the Youth Committee and helping to move forward an agenda for north shore youth to include finding new funds for programs such as the first YouthBuild Staten Island program ever in the borough.
In 2015 Kelly founded the Let’s Rebuild Cromwell Community Coalition dedicated to raising the community voice on youth recreation needs and common sense community development.
Kelly is passionate about her volunteer work with the Staten Island NAACP as they annually host the first and only Historically Black College Fair held on the island. At her church, Kelly is a Youth Ministry leader, Chair of the Scholarship Committee and helped to lead the Pastoral Search Committee at Brighton Heights Reformed Church. She also co-founded alongside Yvette Washington Wheatley, the Brighton Heights Reformed Church Youth Orchestra.
Kelly is Vice Chair of the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute, a multidisciplinary center for global afro-descendent culture integrating arts, education, and social activism.
In Kelly’s early years, part of her life’s work included an invitation from the African National Congress where she traveled with a group of NYC youth to meet the Honorable Nelson Mandela shortly after his release from prison to participate in South Africa’s Conference on Transitioning Government in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Kelly founded several organizations and groups that include the Circle of Sistahs, a youth conference bringing together young women of color to enter into mentorships with adult
women achievers and the MUEVETE Youth Conference which still today more than a decade later brings together Puerto Rican Youth as they celebrate and educate each other on Puerto Rican culture and history.
Over the years Kelly has worked closely with many organizations past and present such as UPROSE–an Environmental Justice organization, Cathedral St. John The Divine, NYS Youth Coalition, Ms. Foundation, National Latinas Caucus, AIDS & Adolescent Network of NY, Hispanic Corporate Achievers of Verizon, and NY Urban League to name a few.
For more than 20 years Kelly’s professional work has been in the financial field teaching people how to become more empowered. She holds a Masters Degree in Science-Urban Policy & Planning from the New School For Social Research.
Debbie Quinones is Chair of the Staten Island Urban Center's board of directors. She is long time activist who has worked for more than 30 years on the issues of health, women, youth, policy and the built environment. She is a fellow of the National Hispana Leadership Institute, co-founder of Muevete: Puerto Rican Youth Conference, Young Bucks Sports, Friends of Art and White Park Alliances, and former board member of the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone, Civitas, East Harlem Preservation, and Stanley Isaac Community Center. Debbie has made her mark in Harlem as a cultural placemaker developing historic markers in NYC communities through art, preservation, and urban policy development.
Leslie Colon is the Vice Chair of the board. She is a 25 plus year veteran of the NYC EMS and CPR instructor. Lelie has been a long time activist working on housing and political issues. She was responsible for increasing benefits for more than 10,000 Mitchell-Llama families. Through her work with communities all over NYC she has educated hundreds on how to save a life at the basic level and at a community level, engaging people to get involved in their communities. Leslie is a worldly and an outdoor type of person who loves to travel and experience new things. Leslie loves working with people and is passionate about hitting community goals.
Dawn Rannie White is the Treasurer. She is a life time member of Brighton Heights Reformed Church and currently an Elder on the Consistory, Co-Superintendent of the Sunday School and member of the Women’s Fellowship. Dawn is currently employed at Catholic Charities Diocese of Metuchen as an Assistant Program Director for Child Care Services. She possesses a Master’s of Science degree from Columbia University School of Social Work and a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Baruch College. An administrator, social worker, educator and trainer Dawn has extensive experience facilitating trainings in the areas of conflict resolution, youth development, parent education, behavior management, and communication.
Rebecca Samuels is the Secretary. Rebecca is a life long Staten Islander with a 20 year plus career as an educator. She graduated from Oswego State University with a BS in Education N-9. Rebecca is currently attending New York Theological Seminary pursuing a Master of Arts: In Pastoral Care and Counseling. Rebecca has over 30 years of experience working with youth through her church, schools, and community organizations.
Sarah Vilar is a member of the Board of Directors. As a retiree, she has lent her expertise as a former 40 year career hospital administrator to be a staunch advocate for senior citizens, quality housing and health care. She has served as past board treasurer for her 20,000 plus residents coop for several years. Sarah has been a leader in her community helping to create a positive environment for local residents.