College Foundation

Founded in 2015, the Stella and Charles Guttman Community College Foundation is a not-for-profit 501 (c) 3 educational foundation dedicated to finding friends and supporters for the College.  The foundation is governed by an independent group of trustees who have a wide range of expertise and interests, as well as shared passion for public higher education and Guttman’s innovative model.

Please review the Foundation’s Annual Report 2016-2017 for more information.

All gifts to the foundation are used to support the College’s mission and are deductible to the full extent allowed by law.

Chair of Board

Lisette Nieves

Lisette Nieves is currently a clinical professor of educational leadership and policy studies at NYU Steinhardt. Lisette holds a B.A. from Brooklyn College, a B.A./M.A. from the University of Oxford, an M.P.A. from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University and a doctorate with distinction in Higher Education Management at the University of Pennsylvania. She is a Truman Scholar, Rhodes Scholar and an Aspen Pahara Fellow.

For over 25 years, Lisette has served in a variety of cross sector leadership positions. She is an experienced social entrepreneur, public sector leader and scholar. Lisette founded Lingo Ventures which is focused on growth, talent recruitment/retention, and change management. Lisette served as the Belle Zeller Distinguished Visiting Professor in Public Policy at the City University of New York at Brooklyn College. Lisette has also held senior leadership positions in municipal and federal government. She most recently served as an Obama appointee on the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, where she co-chaired the higher education subcommittee and supported the production of two reports and convenings.

Lisette also served as the founding Executive Director of Year Up NY, an innovative workforce development program, where in the span of five years she grew the organization from a $250,000 seed grant to a $6 million operation with over 20 corporate partnerships. Her interest in workforce and education led to her dissertation on the relationship between student work and school roles, for which she received the 2016 Dissertation of the Year Award by the (NCSD – AACC). Her board affiliations include serving as the Board Chair at Guttman Community College Foundation, Stand for Children, Edwin Gould Foundation, NewSchools Venture Fund, and serving as Vice Chair of Fund for the City of New York. Her areas of interest include community colleges, college pathways, workforce and education partnerships.

Board Members

Wendy Hattler Dessy

Wendy is the manager of corporate social responsibility for Proskauer. She oversees all aspects of employee engagement, board service and corporate social responsibility for the Firm. Through a host of initiatives, the Firm endeavors to advance education, raise awareness of veterans’ issues, and improve opportunities for women in Africa through literacy and education.

Some of her most impactful programming has included creating an Adopt-a-School initiative and establishing partnerships with both The Institute for Veterans and Military Families and Village Health Works. Wendy has also created local partnerships across the country in the cities and communities where Proskauer employees live and work.

Prior to joining Proskauer, Wendy served as Executive Director for NYC Cool Roofs and Manager of Public/Private Partnerships for the Mayor’s Office of Service and Volunteerism from 2010 to 2014. Wendy held various positions within the Bloomberg administration and campaigns from 2005 to 2010. Wendy also worked for Burberry as Vice President for their Women’s Division and in various executive capacities for fifteen years prior to joining the Bloomberg 2005 campaign.

Dall W. Forsythe

Dall is a Visiting Scholar at the NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. His current research interests center on the use of cost benefit analysis in budgeting, on securities regulation, and on the finances of New York City and New York State. Forsythe is also interim CFO at the Holy Apostles Church and Soup Kitchen, a member of the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board.

Forsythe has extensive management experience in the governmental, private and not-for-profit sectors. In government, he served as budget director for the State of New York and for the New York City Board of Education. In the private sector, he worked as a managing director in Lehman Brother’s public finance department. In the nonprofit sector, Forsythe served as chief administrative officer of the Episcopal Diocese of New York for four years.

Before joining NYU Wagner, Forsythe held faculty positions at Columbia University; the Kennedy School at Harvard; the School of Public Affairs at Baruch College (CUNY); and SUNY’s University of Albany. He also spent three years as a senior fellow at the Rockefeller Institute of Government in Albany.

Forsythe received his B.A. and Ph.D. from Columbia University. He is author of two books, including, Memos to the Governor: An Introduction to State Budgeting (Georgetown University Press, 2004), as well as several papers and articles. He also edited Quicker, Better, Cheaper? Performance Management in American Government (Rockefeller Institute Press, 2001). In 1998, he received the S. Kenneth Howard Award, a career achievement award from the Association for Budgeting and Financial Management (ABFM).

Steve Lessar

Steve is a Managing Director at BlackRock where he is co-head of the private equity secondaries. Prior to BlackRock, Steve served as a Managing Director at Goldman Sachs for nine years. He also previously worked as a principal at Trilantic Capital Partners, a New York-based private equity firm, and at Lehman Brothers’ direct private equity effort, sourcing and executing investments for their Merchant Bank. Steve served for five years as an officer in the U.S. Army.

Steve serves as a trustee of La Salle Academy, one of New York City’s oldest Catholic high schools, and is a sponsor of Student Sponsor Partners. Steve earned an MBA from the Wharton School and a BS in Engineering from the United States Military Academy at West Point. He and his wife, Melissa, have two children and live in New York City.

Lili Lynton

Lili Lynton is the co-founder and operating partner of The Dinex Group, which manages 17 Daniel Boulud branded restaurants. She is also the General Partner of Lezen Acquisition Group, which owns and operates several non-fiction US based publishing companies. She previously co-founded Telebank, an Internet bank sold to E*Trade in 1999.

Lili serves on the board of East Harlem Tutorial Program, which operates an after school program, and two affiliated charter schools: East Harlem Scholars Academy I and II.   Lili also serves on the board of four New Vision’s charter high schools operating in the Bronx.

Lili is a founding board member of The National Bail Project, which operates charitable bail funds across the country. She is a member of the Advisory Council of The Hamilton Project, a division of Brookings which develops proposals for a more equitable and robust U.S. economy. Lili is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Business School.

Marc Perlmutter

Marc Perlmutter has been practicing law at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison for nearly 40 years and is currently Of Counsel in the Corporate Department after retiring as a partner of the firm in August 2016.  Marc was a partner in New York before relocating to the firm’s Hong Kong office in 1986 and then moving to Tokyo during the summer of 1987 to open the firm’s Tokyo office. He spent six years in Tokyo, where he was registered as a gaikokuho jimu bengoshi (foreign law consultant), before returning to New York in 1993. Since then, Marc has returned to Asia on a regular basis each year in connection with his work for a number of clients in Japan, Korea and other countries in the region, while also working on a variety of matters in the United States and Europe for other domestic and international clients.

During his many years practicing corporate law in New York and Asia, Marc has gained extensive experience in a broad range of transactional matters including mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, license agreements and other complex commercial contracts. He also has performed more general corporate advisory work and, with support from the firm’s Litigation Department when necessary, has represented his corporate clients in a variety of successful dispute resolution proceedings.  Marc managed the firm’s Visiting Lawyers Program for visiting lawyers from both companies and law firms around the world for nearly ten years until his retirement as a partner last year.

Since January 2016, Marc has acted as a supervising attorney for law students in the Business Law Transactions Clinic at the New York University School of Law.  He is an active supporter of the Arts at Brown University and established in the fall of 2016 the Sue E. Perlmutter Fund for Dance, the first endowment fund formed specifically to support the Dance Program at Brown.

Susan Butler Plum

Susan Butler Plum is the founding director of the Skadden Fellowship Foundation, which awards two-year grants to 28 public interest attorneys per year. The foundation was estab­lished in April 1988 and has made grants to 733 attorneys who provide civil legal services to the poor.

Prior to joining Skadden, Ms. Butler Plum was the director of the Botwinick-Wolfensohn Foundation and program director of the Booth Ferris Foundation. She also was the associate director for the Environmental Defense Fund. She is a graduate of the University of Miami.

Among her board affiliations are trusteeships of the Stella and Charles Guttman Foundation and of Deaf We Can, which was founded by a former Skadden fellow. Ms. Butler Plum is also a board member of Justice Labs, a Hong Kong-based public interest legal organization. She also is a member of the Selection Committee of the Frederick P. Rose Architectural Fellowship; the International Advisory Council of the Harvard School of Public Health AIDS Initiative; the Harvard Law School Venture Fund Advisory Group; and the North Star Fund Leadership Campaign Committee.

In 2008, she received the annual North Star Award, Honoring New Yorkers Committed to Social Justice.  In 2013, she received a special Lifetime Achievement Award from the New York Law Journal shared with the Skadden Fellowship Foundation.  In 2015, Ms. Butler Plum was selected as one of 50 Inspiring Change Makers worldwide by the Harvard Law and International Development Society and the Harvard Women’s Law Association.

Alejandra Soto

A skilled media and communications professional, Alejandra Soto has over fifteen years of experience in front of and behind the camera.  Alejandra joined Stu Loeser & Co. after serving as Director of Communications at the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence during the Bloomberg administration, where, among other duties, she advised on awareness strategies that influenced policy-making in several cities around the country and abroad.

Formerly, Alejandra was a national spokesperson for the Insurance Information Institute representing the property/casualty sector and managed crisis communications during natural and man-made disasters.

Alejandra also has extensive experience as a journalist, having worked for NY1 News/Noticias, CNN en Español, NBC’s Telemundo 47, and United Nations Radio. Fluent in both English and Spanish, Alejandra has covered breaking news and feature stories, anchored live newscasts, and presented and produced political debate and analysis shows.

Marc La Vorgna

Marc served as the press secretary to Mayor Bloomberg, and he subsequently was named the Communications Director of Bloomberg Media Group.  He now operates his own media communications company.

Cynthia Rivera Weissblum

Cynthia Rivera Weissblum is devoted to educational equity and the fundamental belief that family income should not determine who succeeds in the American education system and beyond. She has focused her career on the challenges facing young people from low-income families–those not obtaining the post-secondary education needed to enter and thrive in America’s middle class. In the course of her career she has been both an advocate and entrepreneur, building organizations that advance the educational attainment of underserved youth.

As President and CEO of the Edwin Gould Foundation, she leads the Foundation’s initiatives – a unique combination of supports that include incubation services, grant making and advocacy focused on improving educational outcomes for low-income youth. Prior to her work at the Foundation, Cynthia was Founder and President of Results Collaborative Group, where she advised emerging foundations on their strategy. She also served as CEO of Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO) and Executive Director of the New York State Mentoring Program. Early in her career she honed her skills in student development at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, The University at Albany and Rutgers University.

Cynthia earned a B.A., M.S. and Certificate of Advanced Study in Counseling Psychology and Student Development from The University at Albany. She currently serves on the board of Hispanics in Philanthropy, Rockefeller Institute of Government, uAspire and Philanthropy New York, where she co-chairs the Committee on Equity and Inclusion.