Juan Cartagena is one of the nation’s leading voices on equality and nondiscrimination who has successfully used the law to effectuate systems change for the benefit of marginalized communities. A public speaker, litigator and educator, Mr. Cartagena, formerly the President & General Counsel of LatinoJustice PRLDEF, is a graduate of Dartmouth College and Columbia University School of Law, Juan currently lectures on constitutional and civil rights law at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, Rutgers Law School in Newark and at the Interamerican University School of Law in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He is a former Municipal Court Judge in Hoboken, NJ.
christian gonzález-rivera, has been a researcher and advocate for many years, working on policy issues around older adults, workforce development, economic development, and housing. At Brookdale, he has authored studies on older adults and technology, testified before the City Council on a wide range of issues affecting older New Yorkers, and published several op-eds and commentaries.
Before coming to Brookdale, christian spent seven years as a senior researcher at the Center for an Urban Future (CUF), where he led the organization’s work in the areas of workforce development policy and older adults policy. His signature achievement at CUF was to place the needs of New York’s growing and increasingly diverse older adult population firmly onto the radar of policymakers, elected officials, and city and state agencies.
Prior to that, he researched housing policy at the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy at New York University. As the research manager at the Greenlining Institute in Berkeley, California (since relocated to Oakland, CA), he authored and supported research on housing, philanthropy, diversity in the healthcare workforce, access to financial services, consumer protection, and the green economy.
He is the immediate past president of the State Society on Aging of New York, an interdisciplinary membership society focused on improving the quality of life for older New Yorkers. christian is also a fellow of the Sterling Network, a group of systems leaders from New York City’s government, non-profit, and business sectors working together to expand economic justice across the five boroughs.
In 2016, City and State named christian one of New York City’s 40 Under 40 Rising Stars. His work has been covered in both English- and Spanish-language media outlets, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Daily News, Next City, City and State, Gotham Gazette, Univision, NY1, WNYC, KPFA, and others. He holds a BA in urban studies from Columbia University and a Masters in Urban Planning from New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.
Harold Holzer is the Jonathan F. Fanton Director of The Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College in New York, a post he assumed in 2015 after 23 years as Senior Vice President of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
For ten years (2000-2010, Holzer also served as Co-Chairman of the U. S. Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, appointed by President Clinton, and for the next six as Chairman of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation. In 2008, Holzer was awarded the National Humanities Medal by President George W. Bush. In 2013, he wrote the Lincoln essay in the official program for the re-inauguration of President Obama.
Holzer is the author, co-author, or editor of 54 books on Lincoln and the Civil War. His Lincoln and the Power of the Press won the 2015 Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize, as well as awards from Harvard’s Kennedy School and the Columbia University Journalism School. His most recent book is The Presidents vs. the Press: The Endless Battle Between the White House and the Media, From the Founding Fathers to Fake News (2020).
Holzer’s 2012 Lincoln: How Abraham Lincoln Ended Slavery in America was the official young-adult companion book for the Steven Spielberg film Lincoln, for which Holzer served as script consultant. He also served three years as the Roger Hertog Fellow at the New-York Historical Society. He was awarded the NY State Archives & History Award in 2017, served that year as Distinguished Visiting Scholar at Yeshiva University, and in 2020 taught at Cardozo Law School in New York. He has also taught at his home base, Hunter College, where he edited the school’s sesquicentennial book: Hunter150.
In 2021, Holzer was principal consultant and on-air commentator for the six-part CNN documentary series, Lincoln: Divided We Stand, which attracted an average of 1.3 million visitors per episode. He will also appear in the forthcoming History Channel documentary, Abraham Lincoln.
Holzer has written more than 630 articles in scholarly journals and popular magazines, published 17 monographs, and contributed chapters or prefaces to 69 additional volumes. Among his other awards are a second-place Lincoln Prize in 2005 for Lincoln at Cooper Union, and book prizes from the New England Society, Freedom Foundation, Manuscript Society of America, Civil War Round Table of New York, and Illinois State Historical Society, along with lifetime achievement awards from the Lincoln Groups of New York, Washington, Peekskill, Kansas City, and Detroit, as well as honorary degrees from nine colleges and universities. Holzer is a member of many history boards and advisory committees and serves as Chairman and co-founder of The Lincoln Forum. He served from 2015 through 2021 as a Trustee of The Metropolitan Museum.
Melva M. Miller, the Association for a Better New York’s first Chief Executive Officer, is responsible for the overall success of the organization through economic development, long-term planning, stakeholder engagement, strategic partnerships, and the expansion and evolution of ABNY’s membership. Prior to this role, Ms. Miller led the organization’s Census initiative for an accurate count of New York where she supported and supplemented the 2020 census efforts by the U.S. Census Bureau, State and City of New York, and in coordination with community-based organizations in an effort to help New York State and City achieve the most accurate census count possible.
Ms. Miller has also served as the Deputy Borough President of Queens, working with the Borough Presidents on moving Queens forward. Ms. Miller’s achievements include the creation of the Jamaica NOW Action Plan, a $153 million stakeholder-driven strategy to increase quality employment, economic diversity, and financial security in downtown Jamaica. She was also the lead organizer of the Western Queens Tech Strategic Plan, an initiative that produced a five-year, $300,000 planning initiative that produced a blueprint for equitable growth of the Long Island City and Astoria tech ecosystem. Ms. Miller has held several senior economic development roles throughout her career, including Director of Economic Development for the Borough of Queens and Executive Director for the Sutphin Boulevard Business Improvement District. She serves on the Boards of the New York City Economic Development Corporation, Habitat for Humanity New York City, and the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation.
Ms. Miller holds a Bachelor’s degree from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, a Master’s degree in Social Work from Hunter College School of Social Work, and received a second Master’s Degree in Philosophy from The Graduate Center at the City University of New York. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Social Welfare program at CUNY’s Graduate Center.
Matthew S. Washington is currently Vice President & Chief of Staff at Phipps Houses. In this role, he is responsible for overseeing internal and external communications, including all digital and print media across Phipps affiliated entities. He also supports efforts that strengthen stakeholder relationships on land use and programmatic objectives. Matthew also assists in the overall coordination and integration of activities between Phipps Houses and its affiliate, Phipps Neighborhoods. He has a wealth of experience in government, real estate, and nonprofit sectors.
Prior to joining Phipps, Matthew served as Deputy Manhattan Borough President in the office of Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer. In that role, he oversaw the distribution of over $130 million in funding to enhance parks, theaters, hospitals, museums, affordable housing developments, community centers and public schools. He was also a member of the boards of more than 15 organizations, including Business Improvement Districts, Park Conservancies, Economic Development agencies for New York City and New York State and Other. Notably, he served as a trustee to New York City Employees’ Retirement System which has over 350,000 members and is a fund of over $80 billion. Matthew was named to the 2018 New York City 40 Under 40 Rising Stars list published by City & State New York.
Matthew has a diverse professional background in real estate and non-profit organizational management. He was Deputy Director of External Affairs at The Durst Organization where he managed public affairs for new development in Queens, worked with the construction and marketing teams to complete and lease One World Trade Center and worked on other projects including managing New York Water Taxi. Matthew was previously the Executive Director of Friends of the High School for Environmental Studies where he built relationships with other organizations to help students gain experiential learning opportunities across 26 different states in the summer while students were on break. He was also Deputy Director of Friends of Hudson River Park where he was a part of the team that successfully advocated for the funding to build Hudson River Park on Manhattan’s West Side.
Matthew is particularly proud of the 10 and a half years he was on Manhattan’s Community Board 11 which represents East Harlem where he was born and raised. During his time on Community Board 11, Matthew was elected as the Chair when he was 26 years old, making him the youngest community board chair throughout New York City and he remained the city’s youngest chair for the entire 6 years that he served in that position.
Matthew is still active with numerous organizations as a member of the Board of Directors of the Trust for Governors Island, Manhattan Community Board 10’s Exonerated 5 Task Force, Friends of La Marqueta, CIVITAS and Association for a Better New York’s Young Professionals Steering Committee. Matthew also serves as a trustee on the Board of Trustees at Alfred University where he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Comparative Cultures.