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



Jimmy Swift is the National Executive Director PLA University at Phalen Leadership Academies. PLA is a Non-Profit Organization that specializes in School Turnaround for K -12 Schools across the country in underserved communities and serves over 10,000 students. Jimmy’s role is to build and run the organization’s Workforce Development Program that is offered exclusively to PLA students’ families to help them acquire the skills needed to achieve gainful employment and move from poverty to prosperity.

Dr. Kevin

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.

Dr. Edward

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.


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.



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.

Dr. Erwin

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.

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.


Mr. Arroyo is Associate Director of the Center for Public Health Education at Stony Brook University. He has spent 30 years working in the field of HIV/AIDS, providing training to health and human service providers. Mr. Arroyo oversees the LI/NYC Regional Training Center Initiative on HIV/STI/Viral Hepatitis and New York State’s AIDS Institute Peer Certification Program. He serves as Program Director of Stony Brook’s Northeast/Caribbean AIDS Education and Training Center. Mr. Arroyo is a member of the Ryan White Planning Council for the Long Island Region as well as Stony Brook University’s diversity training team. He holds a BS in Bilingual Special Education and MA in Health Systems Management and Policy.


John Maresca is a Long Island native with over 20 years’ experience in finance and accounting, predominantly in the media industry. He currently works at Warner Media, focused on financial reporting and digital advertising finance; prior to that he served as Finance Director for Bloomberg Media’s magazine publications. He holds an MBA in Accountancy from Baruch College.

Our Program Staff

Community Engagement

Jane Bertsch-Wells |
Associate Executive Director

Gladys Jennerjahn |
Director of Programs & Evaluation

Loida Santos |
Community Service Director

Mariela Ramirez |
Quality Manager

Lenny Spada |
Program Coordinator

Jennafer Spedaleri |
Program Coordinator

Collin Kirdahy |
Social Media Specialist

Briana Delossantos |
Community Service Associate

Tracy Tosado |
Community Service Associate

Care Coordination

Harriet Gourdine-Adams |
Health Homes Supervisor

Dr. Therese Craine-Bertsch |
Clinical Supervisor/Program Development

Hayley McLemore |
Coordinator of Health Homes

Ashley Morris |
HARP Care Coordinator

Marlene Bennett |
Care Coordinator

Grace Oloke |
HARP Care Coordinator