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Please Welcome our New Board Members!

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We are excited to announce five new members of the Bronx River Alliance’s Board of Directors. Please welcome Rafael Barbosa, Nicole Perrino, Marjorie Velázquez, Javier Lopez, and Justin Mashia to the Alliance. We can’t wait to work with them!
Rafael Barbosa (top left): A former Superintendent at NYCHA, Rafael Barbosa left city government to co-found Port Morris Distillery in 2010 with William Valentin. The two distill a specialty spirit, pitorro, a Puerto Rican moonshine native to the island of Puerto Rico that is a popular drink particularly during the holidays.

Port Morris Distillery, located in Port Morris, is the only distillery in the Bronx. And Rafael and William are the only pitorro makers in the continental United States. They produce it using a recipe from Rafael’s uncle and use local ingredients, such as apples and honey, from NY farms. 

Nicole Perrino (top middle): Nicole is the founder and editor of Bronxmama.com, a lifestyle and resource website for Bronx families. She also heads the marketing and event production of Windows of Hip Hop, a nonprofit organization in the Bronx, and is co-owner of Sol Sazon, a Dominican restaurant located in South Jersey. Nicole graduated from John Jay College of Criminal Justice with a Bachelors degree in Criminal Justice, and was named 25 Influential Women of the Bronx in 2016 by The Bronx Times. Her work with Bronxmama has been highlighted in The Daily News, News 12 The Bronx, and various other news outlets. She loves hosting community events via brand sponsorships, and is known for her interior design skills. When she’s not promoting the many things to do in her borough of the Bronx, she’s usually off exploring another town with her daughters Briana and Gia, and partner Luis.

Marjorie Velázquez (top right): Marjorie was born and raised in the Bronx. She has a degree in Finance and Accounting from the Stern School of Business at NYU. She worked in several corporate finance, budgeting and accounting positions, and most recently served as a Senior Accountant in the Corporate Finance Group at DIRECTV Latin America, where she designed and implemented accounting strategies for South and Central America, as well as the Caribbean.

In 2012, Marjorie suffered life-changing injuries from a workplace accident and a subsequent serious car crash that left her temporarily disabled. Always a fighter, she struggled through seven surgeries and a broken, bureaucratic healthcare and insurance system, but found a path to recovery through giving back to her community.

During her recovery, Marjorie’s life went from one of painful struggle to one of public service. Marjorie helped elect Ritchie Torres to the NYC Council, Darcel Clark as District Attorney for the Bronx and Jamaal Bailey into the State Senate through various roles in their respective campaigns.

She also joined Bronx Community Board 10 where she currently serves on the executive board as Municipal Services chair, and also serves on the boards of Amplify Her and The Broad Room, groups dedicated to empowering women through political and civic engagement.

Marjorie is also the Democratic District Leader and an executive board member of the Chippewa Democratic Club, both in the 82nd Assembly District. Marjorie has dedicated her life to public service and to fiercely and tirelessly advocating for her community. Marjorie lives in Throggs Neck with her husband, Jeff.

Javier Lopez (bottom left): Javier is the Chief Strategy Officer for Red Hook Initiative, one of New York City’s more successful youth development not-for-profit organizations. Javier leads RHI’s community building, urban farming and neighborhood Wi-Fi programs. In addition, he co-leads the organization’s development, external affairs and racial equity work.

Before joining RHI, Javier spent 15 years spearheading racial and gender justice policies and programs that aim to improve public health, expand public transportation, end urban gun violence and improve access to affordable housing in communities of color. He brings deep expertise in collaborative efforts to advance racial equity and is a frequent speaker on how public health is the best system to support racial equity.

Javier has extensive experience in eradicating urban gun violence. He comes to the Alliance offering racial justice centered tools that include research, policy analysis, program planning and narrative change. During his free time Javier co-facilitates “How to advocate for racial justice in your school” with parents of students of color school throughout New York City. He is a husband to his wife Michelle and a father to Ava, Maximilian and Leandro.

Justin Mashia (bottom right): Justin founded Bronx Sole in 2016 as “the running group for non-runners.” When he founded it in 2016 with Bronx native, Pedro Rivera, 34, they aimed to provide a weekly opportunity for Bronxites to develop a love for running–but also for Bronx history. They pair decided to launch Bronx Sole in reaction to the fact that the Bronx is consistently listed as the least healthy county in NY and as a way to reveal the rich history of the Bronx.

Justin is a native of Portland, OR, was astounded by the history in his adopted borough. “I had no idea the history was this rich,” Mashia said. “To find out the Lincoln Memorial was carved here in the Bronx and the Capitol dome was made here, it was amazing. The dome was actually built in the Bronx and they shipped it in pieces on the river down to D.C. No one ever talks about those things. I told Pedro, maybe we should incorporate history, because if I’m fascinated by it, that could be the thing that brings people out of their house.”

Mashia, who works as an electronic graphics operator for 21st Century Fox and recently has also been leading historical tours for the Bronx Historical Society.

New Directors Emeritus: Additionally, we are so excited to announce three new Directors Emeritus, Veronica Vanterpool, Kellie Terry, and Dart Westphal. Kellie and Veronica have been board members for years, and Dart has been a close advisor to and good friend of the Alliance for just as long. We look forward to having them continue to share their expertise as Directors Emeritus!

 

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About the Bronx River Alliance

The Bronx River Alliance is a coordinated voice for the river that works in partnership to protect, improve and restore the Bronx River corridor so that it can be a healthy ecological, recreational, resource for the communities through which it flows.

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