Mr. Robert Santiago, Executive Director / CEO
For over 30 years, Mr. Robert Santiago has utilized his vision, energy, and a proven record of accomplishment to bring diverse stakeholders together to provide key social services to the underrepresented communities of Brooklyn. A proven organizer, he uses positive messaging and relationship building to engage and empower community members to move complex initiatives forward.
Mr. Santiago holds an undergraduate degree in Political Science, as well as a M.S. in Economics and a Doctorate of Jurisprudence (J.D.) Degree from Rutgers University.
The founding Executive Director of HPCDC, he furthers his commitment to the residents in Brooklyn by also having served as a committee member to several organizations with related goals and interests.
In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his family and grandchildren.
Carlos J. Aviles, Chief Financial officer
Mr. Carlos J. Aviles is the Chief Financial Officer for HPCDC. He has lived and worked in the Cypress Hills Community for the last 12 years and has over 20 years of non-profit accounting experience, including different funding sources such as DHS, OASAS, DHMH, OPWDD, DFTA, OJJDP, Ryan White, and DYCD.
Mr. Aviles grew up in Bushwick, Brooklyn and was valedictorian of his H.S. graduating class in 1990. He graduated from SUNY Empire State College with a B.S. in Business Management and Finance.
“I enjoy helping people and improving their overall quality of life. Working with the homeless in NYC has given me a different perspective. I am grateful and thankful for the opportunities that life has given me and I feel very fortunate I was put in an agency that helps and makes a difference in our community”.
He is a loving and devoted father of three sons and a grandfather of two. Mr. Aviles is vigilant in the fact that he wants to ensure he is able to provide the best services and safeguards for all his clients, as well as his staff. He always has an open door policy and is always available to lend a helping hand. He goes above and beyond what is required and is constantly looking to improve the quality of services provided for his clients and staff.
Mr. William Ruiz, Chair
Mr. William Ruiz has served on the Board for the last nine years with pride and dignity.
He is a graduate student with a Bachelors Degree in Human Services from Boricua College. As a student of Boricua College, he served as President of the Student Government for 2 years, from 2000 – 2001. Mr. Ruiz is now the Chairman of the Boricua College Alumni Association, which oversees four campuses. Mr. Ruiz was also the first Latino to serve as Vice President for the Liberty Park Glendale Home Owners Association, in 2002 – 2003. He also served as a Housing Advocate for individuals living with HIV/AIDS within the five boroughs.
He is a former member of the Brooklyn Democratic Club, and currently holds membership with the 38th Assembly District.
Joseph Giglia, Treasurer
Mr. Joseph Giglia is a Certified Public Accountant, working for a small CPA firm in Port Lee, New Jersey for nearly 35 years.
Mr. Giglia graduated from Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School in 1976 and from Queens College in 1980.
His interests outside of work include traveling, reading, and working in his garden. He has resided in Ozone Park for almost sixty years.
Ms. Giselles Acevedo, Secretary
Ms. Giselles Acevedo received a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from Binghamton University in 2003, and also holds an M.S. and Ph.D. in Cellular and Molecular Biology, with a concentration in Neuroimmunology from Rutgers University, Newark from 2013.
Ms. Acevedo’s turning point was when she became a mother in 2011. Since then, she has made every decision based on her daughter’s best interests. After her daughter was born, Ms. Acevedo started looking into different ways in which she could spend time with her daughter and help the community at the same time.
She established Infants and Toddlers Bright Beginnings, Inc., and is a member of the youth ministry at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church. In this ministry, they promote events that get young people more involved in the church.
Another milestone she wants to reach is to be able to help her East New York community. She became a board member of the Highland Park Community Development Corporation (HPCDC), whose main focus is to provide services that will improve the quality of life in our Brooklyn communities. By participating in these groups, Ms. Acevedo is doing what she likes best: HELPING OTHERS.
Miss. Diana Ascensio, Board Member
Miss Diana Ascensio values honesty, commitment, compassion, and kindness.
“I was born in the Bronx, New York to a Mexican family who only spoke Spanish. We travelled so frequently to Mexico, that half of my youth was spent there and the other in Bushwick, New York. My first Language is Spanish and English is my second language.”
Miss Ascensio has been working in the health care industry for almost 10 years. Currently, Miss Ascencio works as a Medical Transcriptionist at Mount Sinai West Hospital, in the Radiation Oncology Department. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Community and Human Services from SUNY Empire State College. At SUNY Empire State College, Miss Ascensio was the Co-chair of the Human Services Collaborative Club.
“I considered it an opportunity for me to grow, learn new skills, help other students to reach their goals, and make a difference. I was excited about the prospect of helping facilitate events with speakers talking about educational and societal topics; important to students and the school, that would help raise awareness and generate a better understanding about them.”
She is an Alumni member of the Black Male Initiative (BMI). She was also on the Search Committee for a Chief Diversity Officer for Institutional Equity and Inclusion (CDO) and is a lifetime member of the Professional Women’s Group (APWG) Dress for Success Worldwide.
Miss Ascensio also serves in the healing ministry at the Rock church.
“Our organization and its outstanding staff are devoted to improving the quality of life for those communities we services. We, the boards of directors, have engaged in positive changes over the past year that will hopefully have an effective change on our rezoned community. Moreover, the board will work to implement more programs that benefit our residences. We are committed to collaborating with other community based providers, community members, government officials, and others to provide a platform for consciousness-raising discussions throughout the community to insure that we start to create the services we need!! Again, our mission is to provide services that will improve the quality of life in our Brooklyn communities. I personally believe in the importance for the community to continue developing our marketable skills and to improve our ethical beliefs, our morals, and our values. AND I believe that Highland Park Community Development Corporation is the organization to assist with these skills. And with your assistance and commitment We can get the job done!”
Larry Fernandez, Board Member
Mr. Fernandez has been a Brooklyn resident for over 50 years and has been a veteran DOE NYC teacher for more than 30 years.
A graduate of St. Francis College with a B.S. in Accounting and a graduate of Long Island University with an M.S. in Taxation, he has taught Business and Financial Literacy at several high schools, including Eastern District HS, Island Academy at Rikers Island, Automotive HS, and P-TECH (Pathways in Technology Early College High School.
Ever a community advocate, he has served on several boards in the past. In particular he has served with: Beginning with Children Foundation (Parent Liaison), St Joseph & Dominic Academy (Treasurer & Secretary), Seigel Street Homeowners Association (Treasurer), and the Polonia Democratic Club (Treasurer).
“I have always been involved in community activities and look forward to continue my service to the community with Highland Park Community Development Corporation.
Michael Lantigua, Board Member
Mr. Lantigua has been a long time resident of Brooklyn.
After graduating from Harry Van Arsdale High School, where Mr. Lantigua volunteered to perform activities designed to help with school issues; including tutoring, homework help, reading clubs, and financial literacy on the Beacon Youth Programs, Mr. Lantigua realized he had a passion to help others. He realized this passion had been with him since he received the gift of speech and that he had a way with words. Mr. Lantigua is a talented writer and editor. He is also highly social and works well with others.
Mr. Lantigua is a Certified Electronics Technician. He is able to troubleshoot and perform repairs on electronic systems. His desire is to freely share his natural wisdom with others in the community. He believes in positive change and helping others in the community, and believes that Highland Park Community Development Corporation is the best place where he can begin to make and share these goals.
Stephanie Abreu, Board Member
“My goal is for the community to come together and be well-informed about what is happening all around us. I especially want the youth to be catered to in educational and recreational realms.
“I am a Brooklyn Technical High School graduate, and I will be graduating from Brooklyn College with a B.A. in Political Science.
“Highland Park Community Development Corporation is exactly the kind of organization the community needs. It has put people who are products of the East New York community in a position of leadership in which we can impact, change, and inspire our peers.”
Indhira Castro, Board Member
Ms. Indhira Castro is a first generation Dominican, who was raised in East New York, Brooklyn.
Her background is in the Education field. She has over 12 years of Non-Profit / Literacy Program Management experience. Over the years, Ms. Castro has led school-based academic intervention programs throughout various NYC School Districts, managed a Birth – Fifth Grade Literacy Initiative in East NY, mobilized volunteers to serve as tutors in their local communities, and supervised staff and worked closely with school administrators to monitor and evaluate student achievement. Currently, as a NYC Department of Education employee, Ms. Castro works at a Middle School / High School in East NY. In her current role, she is charged with the responsibility of increasing parental involvement and building partnerships with local community organizations to provide workshops and resources to parents.
Ms. Castro also takes pride in her volunteer work in the community. She is the newest member of the Board of Directors for Highland Park Community Development Corporation. She is also an active member of the East New York Education Summit Committee, where she serves as Creative Director. Through her involvement in that committee, she also gets to follow her passion by leading a monthly book club for adults at the Arlington Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library.
As a mother, educator, and founder of a parenting blog called Parenting GABS, Ms. Castro understands the importance of being actively involved in our community and our children’s education!
Ms. Castro is a member of the Zeta Phi Beta, Sorority, Inc., the NAACP, as well as a member of the National Association for the Education of Young Children.
In her spare time, you can find her helping out at her church, where she is undergoing Liturgical Ministry training to become a Lector.