The volunteer Board of Directors and professional staff of Long Island Housing Services serve as a resource in the field of fair housing to other nonprofit and government agencies, corporations, and individuals.
Ian Wilder, Executive Director
Prior to his association with Long Island Housing Services, Wilder worked from June 1994 to December 2008 (14 years) as a New York State licensed attorney in private practice with an emphasis on real estate issues in Nassau and Suffolk counties. During that time he developed a holistic view of housing issues by working with home buyers, home sellers, landlords, tenants, realtors, mortgage bankers, bank attorneys, government officials, landlord-tenant attorneys, real estate attorneys, and builders.
Wilder also brings a wealth of related experience from his personal life. He has spent his personal time over the last two decades as a social justice advocate, honing his communication and organizing skills. In addition. he has served as a board member for a number of nonprofit and community organizations where he has held the positions of Treasurer, Secretary, President, and Co-chair. As a writer, his work has been published in local magazines, newspapers, and poetry journals.
Wilder has a J.D. from George Washington University Law School and a B.B.A. in Management from Hofstra University. He is a life-long learner who follows the maxim of Stephen Covey in the “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” to constantly “sharpen the saw”. Wilder has taken classes in nonviolent communication; acting for better presentation; poetry theater; and master classes in poetry. Wilder reads and listens to college classes on CD on a breadth of topics including management, communication, history, politics, economics, physics, social justice, and comparative religion.
Marian D. Reid, Deputy Director
Marian D. Reid was appointed Deputy Director as of January 29, 2018. She has many years of Fair Housing experience with Long Island Housing Services. She was initially associated with Long Island Housing Services as a client in May 1992 when she reported being a victim of housing discrimination based on her race. She then began in May 1993 as a volunteer, during which time she was trained as a fair housing tester.
On November 14, 1994, upon successful resolution of her race complaint filed with the Fair Housing & Equal Opportunity Division of the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD), Reid joined Long Island Housing Services as a full time-employee.
In 1995, six months after working as a Fair Housing Investigator, she was promoted to a supervisory position. In this role, she began to investigate predatory lending practices of Associates Financial Services, Delta Funding Corporation and other unscrupulous lenders.
Reid, a highly dedicated and motivated civil rights advocate, has years of direct relevant experience in investigating and combating mortgage fraud, predatory sales/marketing and lending abuses. Her prior work experience as an Appraisal Supervisor with the Real Estate Loan Servicing Division of TRW Inc. is where she gained experience in analyzing real estate appraisals and noting practices that aroused concerns about racial discrimination in the valuation of homes.
Reid was the Project Manager for Long Island Housing Services’ Fair Housing Initiative Program enforcement grants since 2000, which made her the ideal person in 2001 to manage LIHS’ Fair Housing Department. In addition to participating in extensive training over the years, Marian is self-taught and her real estate experience beyond fair housing includes home purchasing, post -purchase and mortgage default counseling.
She served as Long Island Housing Services’ lead Testing Coordinator under Phase II of HUD’s 2000 national Housing Discrimination Study. She also received training from the Department of Justice and National Community Reinvestment Coalition for which she coordinated lending and rental tests.
Reid has extensive experience in conducting, coordinating and analyzing systemic lending, rental, and sales tests. She has a career record of investigating the most complex fair housing cases on Long Island, helping to file many meritorious complaints on behalf of victims of discrimination, and working with the HUD’s Office of Inspector General and Federal Bureau of Investigation on bank and lending fraud cases.
In 2015, Reid attended Adelphi University’s Leading in Community’s 8 month program. Leading in Community is a leadership development program that prepares individuals for not-for-profit and community leadership.
Reid was also a former board member of Long Island Coalition for the Homeless (formerly Nassau Suffolk Coalition for the Homeless). From 1996 – 1998, she was a member of the Federal Reserve Board’s Long Island Home Purchase Process Initiative. As a Sergeant, she served a total of 13 years with the Army, National Guard and Army Reserves.
Michelle Santantonio, Executive Director EmeritusAppointed Executive Director in 1999, Ms. Santantonio has 39 years of experience in Civil/Human Rights enforcement and advocacy. Specializing in Fair Housing enforcement since joining Long Island Housing Services’ staff in 1990 as the Testing Coordinator, she has directed Long Island Housing Services’ Private Enforcement Program since 1992, has investigated and assisted in filing hundreds of meritorious complaints, recruited and trained nearly 800 volunteer testers, executed more than 25 federal enforcement contracts for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and testing research projects for ERASE Racism, HUD’s 2nd National Housing Discrimination Study and the U.S. Department of Justice.
Under her direction, Long Island Housing Services has undertaken to identify and challenge predatory lending practices, has challenged discriminatory advertising, sought government support to examine potential for regional collaboration of entitlement jurisdictions’ efforts to analyze impediments and affirmatively further Fair Housing. Ms. Santantonio has provided Fair Housing education to local government, non-profits and the public, as well as some of LI’s largest real estate and management companies, increased Long Island Housing Services’ staff from 4 ½ to its current staff of 21, including 6 full time Staff Attorneys providing Fair Housing and Foreclosure Prevention services. In 2000, she worked to secure unanimous passage of Nassau’s local Human Rights law amendment to outlaw “Source of Income” and sexual orientation discrimination. Long Island Housing Services has initiated and supported numerous successful, landmark challenges resulting in increased awareness and compliance with Fair Housing laws, affirmative relief for victims, and creation of nearly 1,000 accessible units for people with disabilities and remains a leading force in challenging all forms of illegal housing discrimination.
Prior to Long Island Housing Services, she worked for local government for 13 ½ years conducting investigations, assessing claims, and filing complaints related to discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodation, credit and education. Her advocacy efforts have resulted in increased protections under local law beginning in 1988 when she drafted the successful amendment to Suffolk County Human Rights Law to include prohibitions about sexual orientation discrimination. Ms. Santantonio retired on July 28, 2017.
Connie Lassandro, President
Connie Lassandro is an innovative and visionary leader, with more than thirty years of diverse experience working in the non-profit and government sectors administering housing programs for low and moderate income persons. Appointed by County Executive Thomas R. Suozzi in 2002 as Director of Nassau County’s Office of Housing & Homeless Services, she was a leader in the preservation of affordable rental units and in the rehabilitation and construction of additional affordable rental units in Nassau County. She administered the largest Housing Choice Voucher Program and ancillary housing initiatives in Nassau County; introduced Section 8 Project-Based Vouchers to promote new construction and substantial rehabilitation on existing housing stock; leveraged Low Income Housing Tax Credits, HOME and IDA funding to expand affordable housing throughout Nassau County. Ms. Lasandro co-authored the Nassau County Fair Housing Plan and Housing Plan; implemented the first Section 8 program on Long Island in 1974 for the City of Glen Cove and, prior to becoming Director of Nassau’s Housing Program, was Director of Homeless Services for the Community Development Corporation of Long Island (CDCLI) in Suffolk County.
During her leadership Nassau County OHHS was certified in 2005 as a HUD Certified Housing Counseling Agency, and created the Nassau County Homeownership program providing housing counseling to first time homebuyers and for foreclosure/loss mitigation. Additionally, under her leadership in 2003 Nassau County was awarded a Five Year Homelessness Intervention Program Grant of $1.1 million dollars from the NYS Office of Temporary & Disability Assistance and in 2009 a grant of $6.5 million from U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Renewal to administer the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Rehousing (HPRP) grant.
Currently, Ms.Lassandro serves as Chairperson of the Town of Riverhead’s Anti-Bias Task Force; Long Island Housing Services’ Board of Directors; Long Island Community Foundation Affordable & Equitable Housing Initiative Advisory Committee; Community Advocates Inc. Secretary; ERASE Racism’s College of Advisors and Co-Chairperson for ERASE Racism’s Annual Benefit Reception in 2014 & 2015. She has served on National, State and Local committees and boards: National Association of Housing & Redevelopment Officials; National Leasing Housing Association; U.S. Housing & Urban Development (HUD) Casey Family Foundation Child Welfare Working Committee; National Center for Housing & Child Welfare;
Formerly, Ms.Lassandro served as Co-Chair of the Nassau County Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness, and Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi’s Homeless Task Force, Founder of the WARMBED Homeless Winter Hotline program, Fair Housing Task Force; Illegal Housing (Co-Chair) Task Force; Sober/Rooming Housing Advisory Committee; Common Sense for the Common Good Task Force Housing Committee Co-Chair; Women for Workforce Housing; Long Island Association Workforce Housing Committee; Long Island Housing Partnership; Nassau County Housing Development Committee; Association of Long Island Housing Agencies; and Boards of La Fuerza Unida Inc.; Community Development Corp.; Community Development Financial Lending Institute (CDFLI); Dominican Village; Sisters of Saint Dominic; Bethany House; Child Welfare League of America Housing Committee; Nassau Suffolk Coalition for the Homeless; and Hempstead Boys and Girls Club.
Professionally, Ms. Lassandro’s career reflects a hybrid experience not only in housing and community causes, but in protocol and public relations, which began during the administration of NYC Mayor John Lindsay, Chief of Protocol, and John (Bud) Palmer in the organization of celebrations, parades and diplomatic/head of state dinners and receptions coordinating with the United States Secret Service.
Currently, she is an Independent Consultant Revitalizing Communities with Economic Development & Housing and advocate for Affordable/Workforce Housing, Homelessness, Anti-Bias and all acts of Discrimination. Consultant for Riverview Lofts, East Main Street, Riverhead NY a storm recovery 116-unit development right in the heart of downtown Riverhead, featuring ground floor retail space, rooftop terrace with beautiful views of the Peconic River.
Stephanie Baldwin, Esq, Vice President
Rose M. Cicchetti
Jo Anne Durovich, PhD.
Georgette Grier-Key, Ed.D.Georgette Grier-Key, Ed.D. is currently the inaugural Executive Director and Curator of Eastville Community Historical Society of Sag Harbor, New York, the President of the Association of Suffolk County Historical Societies, and Cultural Partner for Sylvester Manor of Shelter Island. She is a cultural historian and preservationist working on the East End of Long Island. As a founding member and lead organizer of the Pyrrhus Concer Action Committee her continued work led to the rebuilding of the formerly enslaved Pyrrhus Concer’s homestead in the heart of Southampton’s Village. She continues to work on preserving historic structures in Sag Harbor and East Hampton. Dr. Grier-Key is also an adjunct history and political science professor at SUNY Nassau Community College. Most recently she has been elected to the 2019 class of board trustee for the Preservation League of New York State. Dr. Grier-Key has been a guest curator at various outlets, namely at the Suffolk County Historical Society of Riverhead, New York extending her work and expertise to the Smithsonian’s newly introduced National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington. Dr. Grier-Key has been recognized by various organizations and was awarded the Legacy Award from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Central Islip Branch.
Arguably, she is one of the most outspoken advocates for the preservation and celebration of Long Island history with an emphasis on African-American, Native-American and Mixed-Heritage historical reconstruction. Dr. Grier-Key contributes commentary regularly to local media outlets such as Newsday, Sag Harbor Express, Southampton Press, 27 East, Long Island Advance, East Hampton Star, Long Island Pulse, CBS New York and News 12; delivers lectures at CUNY Graduate Center, LIU Brooklyn, Hofstra University, and Suffolk County Community College; publishes her research in the Long Island History Journal and the Suffolk County Historical Society Register; serves on the Black History Commission of the Town of Brookhaven, Town of Brookhaven’s Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Committee and lends her services as an historian, educator, docent and special events manager to various private and public organizations including the Parrish Art Museum of Watermill, New York. Moreover, in her capacity as an founding member and lead organizer of the Pyrrhus Concer Action Committee (P.C.A.C.), Dr. Grier-Key has raised awareness about and fights to protect endangered historic African American sites, presence, history, folklore, and survival on Long Island’s East End. She is also a third-generation real estate broker and notary public and is licensed by New York State.
Champion of the rights and welfare of all Long Islanders, Dr. Grier-Key held an appointed position on the Suffolk County Women’s Advisory Commission, assumed the role of executive secretary for NAACP Eastern Long Island Branch, moderator and original local planning committee member for the 2010 National Think Tank for African American Progress Long Island, co-chaired the Health and Fundraising/Advertising Committees. Currently she is working on the committee for the State of Black Long Island with the Urban League; Long Island, Policy Link, and the Long Island Community Foundation with an official report launch date for February 2017. She has an earned doctorate in Cultural Leadership and Institutional Sustainability. Dr. Grier-Key has been elected for three terms including President of the South Country Library Board; She initially served Long Island Housing Services as a Fair Housing Tester and since 2011, has served on its Board of Directors and serves as advisor to various civic and educational organizations specifically, director of the South Country Community Conference, advisor for E.M.E.R.G.E, (Empowering Minorities through Educational Research Government & Private Enterprise), and organizer for B.R.I.C. (Brookhaven Residents in Control).
Linda R. Hassberg, Esq. – President Emeritus
Linda Hassberg, President of the Board of Directors, is a senior attorney in the Long Island office of the Empire Justice Center. Empire Justice is the only statewide, multi-issue, multi-strategy non-profit law firm focused on changing the “systems” within which poor and low income families live. With a focus on poverty law, Empire Justice undertakes research and training, acts as an informational clearinghouse, and provides litigation backup to local legal services programs and community based organizations, including Long Island Housing Services. As an advocacy organization, Empire Justice engages in legislative and administrative advocacy on behalf of those impacted by poverty and discrimination. As a non-profit law firm, the Center provides legal assistance for those in need and undertakes impact litigation in order to protect and defend the rights of disenfranchised New Yorkers.
Ms. Hassberg’s primary responsibility at Empire Justice Center is impact litigation in the areas of public benefits, access to health care, and disabilities. She has filed class action lawsuits against both counties in Long Island challenging untimely eligibility determinations for benefits applications, due process violations, and failure to provide emergency assistance. In addition, she has represented clients at administrative hearings and in court seeking assistance with child support, Medicaid coverage, day care benefits, and adequate emergency housing. In her prior work as staff attorney at the Western New York Law Center in Buffalo, New York, Ms. Hassberg represented Long Island Housing Services’ Fair Housing agency counterpart in Erie County, Housing Opportunities Made Equal, Inc., in several actions challenging discrimination in the provision of federal Section 8 housing vouchers, and apartment rentals in state subsidized housing.
Tawanda D. Harris is a graduate of Livingstone College (Cum Laude) in Salisbury, NC where she earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Office Administration. She also earned an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Secretarial Science from LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City, NY. Ms. Harris has over 30 years of experience working in the Affordable Housing Industry and has held various positions. She holds Certificates in Housing Inspection as well as Rent Calculations and has been employed with the New York City Housing and Preservation Development Agency, The Oakland Housing Authority, Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency, Nassau County Office of Housing and Community Development and Common Ground. She has also served on the Former County Executive Thomas Suozzi’s Nassau County Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness Task Force. Presently, Ms. Harris is employed with the New York State Housing and Community Renewal Agency. She is also a member of the NAACP, NCNW and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
Jennifer L. Martin, Esq., Secretary
Jennifer Martin’s career has traversed positions in corporate and public service sectors. She graduated with a Masters Degree in Public Administration from Tennessee State University in 2005, and was awarded a J.D. from Touro College School of Law in 2009. Ms. Martin is currently Chief of Staff for Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Valerie M. Cartwright. She held prior public posts as a District Representative to State Senator Jeffrey Klein and positions in the New York State and Tennessee State Attorney Generals’ offices. As a law school student, Ms. Martin served as Northeast Regional Chairperson for the National Black Law Students Association, presiding over regional board meetings and facilitating diversity events. The daughter of a US Air Force Veteran, Ms. Martin joined Association for Mental Health and Wellness ’s Board in 2017 and has been active on our fundraising events committees and our Organizational Diversity workgroup. She also serves as a part-time as a special prosecutor in the Village of Hempstead. Ms. Martin is the President of the Long Island and New York State Chapters of the National Women’s Political Caucus.
Michael Wigutow, Esq., Treasurer
Michael Wigutow has been an attorney with Nassau/Suffolk Law Services, a non-profit, legal services program assisting low-income individuals and families, for over thirty years. He has have represented people with severe and persistent mental health issues in their efforts to secure safety net assistance, ensure that the homeless obtain emergency housing assistance, and preserve existing housing. For much of the last two decades, Mr. Wigutow has focused on preserving housing for low-income individuals and families, and enforce their right to safe and decent housing. Mr. Wigutow represents tenants facing eviction and the loss, or improper reduction of essential federal rental subsidies, and since the financial crisis of 2007-08, low and moderate income homeowners facing foreclosure. Mr. Wigutow has litigated in hearings and trials in both State and Federal Courts, and administrative hearings, and in appeals in both New York State’s Appellate Division and the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, invoking several civil rights laws from the post-civil war reconstruction statutes to the Housing Acts of 1937 and 1949, to the Fair Housing Act of 1968, amended in 1988. Mr. Wigutow is a Board member of two well-respected Long Island housing advocacy agencies, Long Island Housing Services and Housing Help, Inc., and currently serves as a member of the committee considering Nassau County’s Consolidated Plan and analysis of impediments to fair housing. Mr. Wigutow has presented at Continuing Legal Education Programs for the New York State and Suffolk County Bar Associations, as well as to various social organizations working with low-income Long Islanders in need.
Long Island Housing Services – Board of Directors
- Connie Lassandro-President
- Stephanie Baldwin, Esq. – Vice President
- Jennifer L. Martin, Esq. – Secretary
- Michael Wigutow, Esq. – Treasurer
- Rose M. Cicchetti
- Georgette Grier-Key, Ed. D.
- Tawanda Harris
- Linda R. Hassberg, Esq. – President Emeritus
- Alex P. Ames
- Frederick K. Brewington, Esq.
- Cathryn Harris-Marchesi, Esq.
- Mildred Lewis
- Thomas Maligno, Esq.
- Nina J. Stewart, Esq.
- Robert Schonfeld, Esq.
- Beth M. Wickey, Esq