Meet the Team
Message from the Executive Director
Long Island is not one place, it’s many places — stretching over 100 miles from an urban border with New York City to rural farms in eastern Suffolk County. In our neighborhoods, playgrounds, schools and churches, Long Islanders reflect the full diversity of American life. We strive for the same security as families across the nation. Whatever’s happening on the news is also happening in our own backyards.
Project Safety Net is a new agency focused on identifying needs and creating solutions so Long Island’s diverse communities don’t get left behind. Informed by current research and by individual lives, we design programs and provide services that are practical and effective. Our spirit of care and advocacy was first mobilized during the AIDS crisis to support people spread across a wide geography. Today our field staff continue the road warrior tradition, packing access into our vans and meeting people where they’re at.
Project Safety Net is headed down a new road. We welcome partners and peers to join us. We’ve got a lot of ground to cover!
Colin Pearsall, Executive Director
Board of Directors
Dr. Kevin Jordan has more than 25 years of experience in higher education, specializing in student support services. Currently serving as VP of Student Affairs at SUNY Farmingdale, Dr. Jordan’s management roles include Chief Diversity Officer, Assistant Dean for Student Development, and Dean of Academic Support Services at a variety of colleges in Long Island and New York City. Dr. Jordan holds degrees from Princeton University in psychology and African American studies, Union Theological Seminary in practical theology, and Dowling College in Educational Administration, Leadership and Technology.
With over 25 years as a non-profit executive in the field of public health, John Haigney pioneered community based services for people with HIV/AIDS and developed public health policy in the early years of the epidemic. John has brought attention and services to the underserved in our region through his work on the HIV Advisory Board of Catholic Charities and as a board member for Long Island Health Systems Agency, Bias Help of Long Island, and the Allen Morten Foundation. Most recently John assisted in the formation of Project Safety Net NY. John lives in East Marion, NY.
After 132 years of organization, Steamfitters Local 638 elected its first woman Business Agent. Janet Powers is that woman, representing 8,200 members across Long Island and New York City. As a 30-year veteran in a male dominated industry, Janet knows the challenges of equal opportunity, fair pay and just representation. In addition to advocating for workers’ rights, Janet is a proponent of using the power and success of organized labor to create pathways and opportunity across generations.
By fusing his passion for students with his expertise in science, Dr. Erwin Cabrera aims to uplift and mentor the next generation of young scholars. Dr. Cabrera is motivated to guide students and be the bridge between the academic-science world and the community, especially for those who are typically underrepresented in these arenas. He holds a BS in biological sciences from University of Maryland Baltimore County and MS and PhD in Biomedical Sciences and Neuropathology from New York University School of Medicine.
Shaun Rasmussen is the Director for External Relations & Engagement for CUNY’s Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP), a nationally recognized associate degree completion program serving 25,000 students. In this role, Shaun leads program marketing and citywide outreach efforts. In addition to his experience at CUNY, Shaun has held a variety of positions focused on the arts, education, and employment opportunities for young adults in New York City. Shaun holds a BA in International Criminal Justice and MS in Organizational Leadership.
Born and raised on Long Island, James Swift has over 25 years of experience as a higher education executive. He has served as campus president for several medical training schools with cardiovascular, veterinary, pharmacy and nursing program specializations. Currently Executive Director/School President for Empire Education Group in Manhattan, James oversees campus operations for 300 students and 35 employees. James holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and is a proud member of the LGBTQ community.
Edward F. Martinez, Ed. D. is a first-generation college student who has 25 years of administrative, academic, and program development experience in higher education marked by numerous leadership roles in student affairs. An advocate for student access, Dr. Martinez is the Associate Dean for Student Affairs on the Ammerman Campus at Suffolk County Community College, SUNY’S largest community college. His research interests focus on the narratives of Latinx students and professionals in the community college sector.
Dr. Erica J
Dr. Erica Jayne Friedman holds her PhD in Social and Personality Psychology from City University of New York and currently serves as LGBTQA Associate Director for the Office of Multicultural Programs and Services at Florida International University. She has over 10 years of higher education experience including teaching, research, program development, student and faculty support. In her research, Dr. Friedman has examined topics within gender and queer studies focused on understanding the impact of cisgenderism and heterosexism.
Our Program Staff
Director of Community Engagement and Grant Programs
Director of Data and Analytics
Deputy Director of Community Engagement & Youth Programs
CDC Project Connect, Project Echo
SAMHSA Project Highway to Health
SAMHSA Prevention Specialist
SAMHSA Prevention Specialist
Director of Health Home Services
Dr. Therese Craine-Bertsch
Clinical Supervisor/Program Development
Patient Care Navigator
HARP Care Coordinator