550 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10018 | 212-613-0300


Our Executive Team has collectively over 50 years of experience serving various populations of need:

Profile of Nancy DowningSister Nancy Downing, CND, Esq.

Executive Director

Sr. Nancy Downing is dedicated to improving the lives of homeless young people and has demonstrated this for over 10 years at Covenant House New York. Sr. Nancy joined Covenant House New York in 2007 as a Senior Staff Attorney and became Director of Advocacy/Legal Services in 2008. In 2016, Sr. Nancy accepted the position of Executive Director with Covenant House New York.

Sr. Nancy has over 25 years of experience in management and as an attorney, working on issues of homelessness, poverty, fair housing, and civil rights. Prior to coming to Covenant House New York in 2007, Sr. Nancy was the Executive Director of the MCIF Center, serving immigrant women in Brooklyn. She also served as Staff Attorney at New York Legal Assistance Group, representing clients with chronic and serious illnesses, Legal Services Coordinator for STEPS to End Family Violence and as Executive Director of the Connecticut Fair Housing Center.

Profile picture of Leslie AbbeyLeslie Abbey, Esq.

Chief Operating Officer

Leslie Abbey joined Covenant House New York in April of 2017 as the Chief Operating Officer and brings with her over 20 years of experience working on issues such as family and youth justice, homelessness, fair housing, and evidence-based initiatives. Prior to coming to Covenant House New York, Leslie was the Chief Program Officer of Lantern Community Services, one of the largest supportive housing organizations in New York City, providing long-term supportive and permanent housing to various populations of need, including people facing chronic homelessness. Prior to this, she was an Associate Deputy Commissioner of the Division of Policy, Planning and Measurement at the Administration for Children’s Services, and a Staff Attorney for the Juvenile Rights Practice at the Legal Aid Society of New York City.

Theodora Carter, MSILR, PHR, SHRM-CP

Senior Vice President of Human Resources

Theodora Carter has over 25 years of experience in Human Resources in the nonprofit and health care fields. As Senior Vice President of Human Resources, Theodora leads a team that is responsible for ensuring the effective hiring, onboarding, and management of all staff at Covenant House New York. Theodora received her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and her Master’s of Science in Industrial and Labor Relations at Baruch College at the City University of New York.

Cathy Batista, LCSW

Senior Vice President of Residential and Support Services

Cathy Batista has over 10 years of experience in direct delivery of social services as well as program administration. Currently, Cathy oversees our residential and support services, which includes our Youth Shelter, Rights of Passage Transitional Independent Living Programs, Permanent Supportive Housing Programs, CovWorks Employment Program, and our Youth Development programming. Prior to joining Covenant House New York, Cathy oversaw residential programming at Lantern Community Services, one of the largest supportive housing agencies in New York City. Cathy received her Bachelor’s Degree from Le Moyne College, and her Master of Social Work from Fordham University. In 2016, she completed the Post-Graduate Executive Leadership Program at Hunter College’s Silberman School of Social Work.

Board of Directors

Covenant House New York is governed by a Board of Directors, to whom our Executive Director reports. The Board of Directors plays a critical role in helping transform the lives of runaway and homeless youth. The Board of Directors is Covenant House New York’s governing body, caring for the fiduciary aspects of our organization, and ensuring fulfillment of our mission.

Current Members:

Douglas M. Blagdon

Managing Partner
ShoreBridge Capital Partners

Kerri-Anne Bradin

Corporate Center CFO

William (Bill) Dacunto

Executive Vice President
Silverstein Properties

Jennifer Enslin

Managing Principal
Ricks Consulting Group

Dr. Michael Dean

Peter Greatrex

Ben Grizzle

Managing Director
Goldman Sachs

Maureen Henegan

Chair and CEO
Henegan Construction Company

Eric Hutcherson

SVP, Human Resources
National Basketball Association

James (Jim) Karwel

Ernst & Young

Pam Lewis

Founder/Executive Director

Mary B. Mayland

Sandy Logan Mullman

Registered Nurse

Louis Rauchenberger

General Auditor & Managing Director
J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.

Joseph E. Royce

Chairman, CEO & President
JENLOR International, LLC

Dawn Saffayeh

Executive Director
HeartShare St. Vincent’s Services

Matthew Schmeelk

Senior Executive Vice President
Kensington Vanguard National Land Services

Rick Van Benschoten

Lenox Wealth Advisors

Kenneth W. Willman

Needle Productions, LLC