Snug Harbor Welcomes Six New Members to Board of Directors

New Board Members Add Diversity, Expertise

November 7, 2023 | Staten Island, NY –  After an eventful fiscal year at Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden, the Board of Directors has elected six new members at their September meeting. The new members bring a wealth of diversity, expertise, and energy to the 83-acre historic site.

“It is with great pleasure and enthusiasm that I announce the appointment of six distinguished individuals to our esteemed board,” said Mark Lauria, Chair of the Board of Directors of Snug Harbor. “Each member brings a wealth of experience, expertise, energy and passion that will undoubtedly elevate Snug Harbor to new heights. Their diverse backgrounds and unique perspectives will enrich our decision-making process, paving the way for innovative strategies and sustainable growth. We welcome them wholeheartedly and look forward to their invaluable contributions in shaping the future of our organization.”

“The Snug Harbor staff is proud to celebrate this infusion of new energy, and we applaud our dedicated and long-serving board of trustees for their efforts to grow their ranks with this amazing new class of directors,” said Jessica Baker Vodoor, President and CEO of Snug Harbor.  “I look forward to partnering with these exceptional new trustees to help us continue growing the impact of Snug Harbor in Staten Island and across the region!”     

Snug Harbor is pleased to welcome:

Nisha S. Agarwal: As Deputy Executive Director of Impact at International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), Nisha oversees the departments of Policy, Communications, U.S. Litigation, Legal Knowledge and Training, and Climate Displacement. Previously, she served as Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, building landmark initiatives like IDNYC, the City’s municipal identification card, and Cities for Action, a national advocacy coalition of local elected officials.  In the second de Blasio administration, Nisha took on the role of Senior Advisor to the Deputy Mayor to boost civic engagement among New Yorkers and build DemocracyNYC’s efforts on immigration, people with disabilities, and justice-involved communities.  A child of immigrants from India, Nisha became a public interest lawyer out of Harvard Law School, leading the Health Justice Program at the New York Lawyers for the Public Interest in 2006.  She later was the deputy director and co-founder of the Center for Popular Democracy and the executive director of the Immigrant Justice Corps. Nisha received her A.B., summa cum laude, in Social Studies, from Harvard College in 2000; a British Marshall Scholarship in Oxford University, St. Antony’s College in 2003; and a J.D. at Harvard Law School in 2006, where she received a Skadden Fellowship.

Coleen Cahill: Coleen Cahill is an experienced brand and marketing leader, and has worked with many of the world’s leading brands throughout her career.  Coleen is presently the Chief Growth Officer at Principle, a brand and implementation consultancy, where she oversees a global community of business development and client leaders.  Prior to Principle, Coleen was Chief Client Officer at Superunion, part of WPP, where she led the global partnership with Bank of America among other clients.  Coleen has been involved with a number of non-profit organizations over the years, and is currently a pro-bono advisor to TYSA (Tackling Youth Substance Abuse), which is focused on decreasing youth and young adult substance misuse as part of the Staten Island Partnership for Community Wellness.  Born on Staten Island, Coleen currently lives in Brooklyn with her husband.  She is continually inspired by New York City, its people, and the breadth of its culture.  She has a degree from Lafayette College, and has attended the Wharton Executive Leadership Program.

John L. Esposito: Born and raised on Staten Island, John Esposito is a graduate of St. John’s University where he received his Associate in Arts in 1982 followed by a Bachelor of Arts in 1984, majoring in History and American Studies with a minor in Political Science.  John pursued additional study at the College of Insurance, later St. John’s College; he has remained active with St. John’s, mentoring students since 1993.  John’s professional insurance career began in 1986.  Since then, he has acquired a broad knowledge of the global insurance market as well as a detailed knowledge of company operations, underwriting, claims, audit, regulatory reporting requirements, IT business support platforms and budgets.  He has worked with both State legislative and regulatory bodies on various issues and also provided insight on the U.S. Commercial Auto markets to the Taiwan Guarantee Association.  In 2008, he received his Six Sigma Black Belt Certification in Project Management methodology by Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC).  He served as a Board Member of the New Jersey Property – Liability Insurance Guaranty Association (NJPLIGA) from 2011 to 2015, last as their Vice-Chairman, and prior to that as Chairman of the Investment Committee, and previous to that as Chair of the Audit Committee, in addition to working on a number of sub-committees.  He is active in the New York Archdiocese.  John is widowed and lives on Staten Island with his daughter Kaitlyn and son John.

Ishita Gaur: Ishita is an Urban Designer and Planner at Marvel Architects, working on developing visions, master plans, concept development and schematic design, urban redevelopment, and planning, as well as site analysis and research.  She is interested in the social, economic, and cultural conditions of cities and places, and their influence on urban interventions and concept development during the early stages of design.  Ishita aims to incorporate community and stakeholder engagement process in most of our projects and build consensus among the different group a transparent and inclusive outcome.  She is the co-chair of the Junior Board for the non-profit Asia Initiatives, which promotes healthcare, education, sustainable development, and women empowerment in underserved communities through urban design.  Ishita is also the recipient of the Urban Design Forum’s Forefront Fellowship for the year 2018, with a focus on homelessness in New York, and was a member of the Emerging Leaders Program with the Beverley Willis Architectural Foundation in 2019.  Ishita was the project manager for the Snug Harbor Vision Plan developed with SHCCBG, DDC and DCLA as key stakeholders, where she led an inter-disciplinary team of urban designers, landscape architects, engineers, historic preservation experts, financial experts, and graphic designers to develop a holistic plan for future investments at Snug Harbor. 

Alexis C. Platis: Alexis Platis has spent her career in the field of municipal finance, focusing specifically on municipal bond transactions/securitizations and her current employer is Build America Mutual, a municipal bond insurer.  Alexis is a native Staten Islander who grew up in New Dorp and attended Staten Island Academy from 1st-12th grade, where her six year old is currently enrolled as a first grader.  She briefly left the Island to attend Vassar College, where she met her husband David, and then went to NYU for graduate school.  She currently lives in the Arrochar neighborhood of Staten Island with her family.  Her family has spent countless hours at Snug Harbor (particularly during COVID where they met other families and did homeschooling as a pod, and she is grateful and excited for the opportunity to give back to this incredible place. 

Judith Saltzman: Judith Saltzman is a founding principal of Li/Saltzman Architects (LSA) and has more than 40 years of professional experience as an architect and preservationist.  A native New Yorker, she was educated at Pratt Institute and Columbia University.  Judith has a strong commitment to environmentally and socially responsible design, and a realistic understanding of the complexities of preservation and development.  With a focus on cultural and civic projects, Judith’s work includes the restoration of late-18th to mid-20th century structures; the adaptive use of existing buildings for commercial, residential, and community occupancies; and new buildings within historic districts.  Judith’s projects have received numerous awards from civic, architectural, and preservation organizations, including the New York Landmarks Conservancy, the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission, the Municipal Arts Society, the American Institute of Architects, and the Victorian Society.  Judith is a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)-Accredited Professional and a long-standing member of the Preservation Committee of the Municipal Arts Society, the Architectural League, the Association for Preservation Technology, the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), and the Documentation and Conservation of the Modern Movement (DOCOMOMO).

About Snug Harbor

Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden is where art, history and nature converge. We offer dynamic programming in the arts, horticulture and agriculture for diverse communities and all ages, on our historic 83-acre campus. We envision being a locally impactful, globally renowned destination, true to our values of artistic vibrancy and community, inclusion and discovery, stewardship and conservation.

Snug Harbor is the result of more than four decades of restoration and development to convert a 19th-century charitable rest home for sailors into a regional arts center, botanical gardens and public park.  One of the largest ongoing adaptive reuse projects in America, Snug Harbor encompasses 26 historic structures, 14 botanical gardens, a 2.5-acre urban farm, wetlands, forests and park land on a free, open campus.  Snug Harbor is a proud Smithsonian Affiliate organization. Learn more at snug-harbor.org.