Tousif coordinates the Public Bank NYC coalition as a key part of our work to advance public banking in New York, working with community groups from around the city and state to fight for racial and economic justice. Before joining New Economy Project’s staff, Tousif coordinated various campaigns at NYPIRG, ranging from environmental protection to expanding voting rights. He started out at NYPIRG training as a student organizer, then coordinated student chapters and student-led campaigns at CUNY campuses all over the city. Having grown up in Queens as an immigrant, Tousif has seen first-hand how the inequities faced by working class communities. He is invested in building power through movements so that communities like his can reclaim their future. In his free time, Tousif volunteers with his local tenant’s union, bikes to places for good food, and engages in mainstream nerd activities.
Sofia helps staff the NYC Financial Justice hotline and works on community outreach and education initiatives in English and Spanish. Prior to working at New Economy Project, Sofia was a researcher at an architecture studio in Brooklyn and studied issues of affordability and urban space in New York City. She graduated from the University of Chicago with a degree in sociology and architectural studies. Her research focused on finance and urban land in Latin America with a particular focus on public housing and urban land struggles in Venezuela.
As Development Director, Grace (she/her) works closely with the leadership team to oversee all aspects of New Economy Project’s development activities. She brings over a decade of experience working at the intersection of nonprofit fundraising and communications to advance racial and economic justice. Prior to joining New Economy Project in 2022, Grace was Senior Community Development Officer at LISC NYC where she managed programs and led development, securing record funding to launch new affordable housing and economic development initiatives. In 2021, Grace was appointed to lead the strategic plan for Project 10X—LISC’s largest-ever commitment to invest in racial justice initiatives nationwide. A proud Queens resident, Grace is a steering committee member of the Western Queens CLT and member of Queens Neighborhood United. She is also on the board of F.Y. Eye. She was a 2010-2011 U.S. State Department Fulbright Fellow and 2019 PLACES Fellow with the Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities. She has a Master’s in Public Administration with a concentration in economic development from the University of Pennsylvania and bachelor’s degree from Seton Hall University, where she was a Regent’s Scholar.
Deyanira (she/her) has worked for almost 25 years to promote cooperative and community-controlled finance, immigrants’ economic rights, and equitable neighborhood development. At New Economy Project, she has worked closely on community land trust, public banking, and financial justice campaigns, and helped launch the organization’s community loan funds. Deyanira has trained community groups and policymakers, and authored reports and articles, on a range of fair lending and community development matters. She is a longtime board member of the LES People’s Federal Credit Union, a citywide financial cooperative serving historically redlined neighborhoods, and previously served on the boards of Inclusiv and New Immigrant Community Empowerment. She also served on the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Community Advisory Group. Deyanira has received the Frances Perkins Working People’s Award from Fiscal Policy Institute, the Mujeres Destacadas (Outstanding Women) award from El Diario/La Prensa, and the Revson Fellowship on the Future of the City of New York.
Liz (she/her) provides direct legal assistance to New Yorkers through our NYC Financial Justice Hotline, and works on our impact litigation and coalition campaigns. She also coordinates strategic communications for our legal advocacy, helping produce New Yorkers Speak Out testimonials and know-your-rights material. She returns to New Economy Project having worked at the organization from 2011 through 2015, first as a legal intern and program associate, then as an Equal Justice Works Fellow. Most recently, she worked at the New York City Commission on Human Rights as a Staff Attorney and Supervising Attorney, addressing discrimination against New Yorkers in housing, employment, public places, and by law enforcement. She is a graduate of CUNY School of Law.
Elise joined New Economy Project staff in June 2021 and supports the organization’s community land trust (CLT) organizing and policy work, including coordination of the NYC Community Land Initiative. Elise has a decade of experience organizing with groups including tenants, street vendors, and public school parents. In 2020, Elise graduated from CUNY’s School of Professional Studies with a Master’s degree in Applied Theatre. She focused her research on bringing theater tools to organizing spaces to strengthen leadership development and political education skills and bolster creativity. Originally from Evanston, IL, Elise is a proud Midwesterner and loves improv, hiking, and eating her way across NYC neighborhoods.
Ben coordinates New Economy Project’s community mapping and research, graphic design, video production and website management. Ben graduated from the University of Central Florida in 2010 and earned a master’s degree in Urban Planning from New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, concentrating on Housing and Economic Development policy. He has presented research at the national conference of the American Planning Association and contributed to Orlando Weekly and Untapped NY. His photography appears in Common Practice: Basketball & Contemporary Art, and he is currently completing a book on Garden City-inspired neighborhood development in Queens.
Sarah Ludwig, Founder & Co-Director
Sarah founded New Economy Project in 1995, as the Neighborhood Economic Development Advocacy Project (NEDAP). As a longtime leader in the movement for community financial justice and neighborhood equity, Sarah has testified frequently at public hearings, trained hundreds of community organizers and advocates, and built and led effective coalitions that address manifestations of structural racism and other systemic inequities in our economy. In 2013, she helped shepherd the organization’s transition from NEDAP to New Economy Project, returning the organization to its original dual mission of working with community groups to fight for economic justice, and to create community-led vehicles that ensure self-determination over people’s housing, work, money, land, energy, and communities at large.
Sarah received the 2000 Rockefeller Foundation’s Next Generation Leadership fellowship; the 2002 Union Square Award; The Ford Foundation’s 2004 Leadership for a Changing World award; New York Lawyers for the Public Interest’s 2008 Felix A. Fishman Award; and Chhaya CDC’s 2011 Architect of Change award. She serves on the board of directors of the Center for Responsible Lending, and for six years served as co-chair of North Star Fund’s Community Funding Committee. Sarah received a law degree from NYU School of Law, where she was an Arthur Garfield Hays Civil Liberties Fellow, and a master’s degree in urban planning, also from NYU.
Andy coordinates New Economy Project’s coalition organizing and helps plan and execute our strategic campaigns, in collaboration with community, civil rights, and labor groups, cooperatives, and others. He also co-leads communications efforts and supports direct-donor and other development campaigns. Andy previously worked at New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), where he ran the organization’s statewide canvassing operation, developed policy and organizing strategies, and trained students to be effective activists. His 2014 report exposing discrimination in New York’s auto insurance market initiated an investigation by the state’s insurance regulator, which led to a statewide ban on the use of education level or occupation status in setting auto insurance premiums. He is a graduate of CUNY School of Law and Columbia University.
Gabriel (he/him) conducts outreach to community-based organizations and research to help advance the New Economy Project’s advocacy and organizing. He is also helping to produce new episodes for our New Yorkers Speak Out video series and Let’s Be Real podcast. As the organization’s 2021 Racial Justice and Neighborhood Equity Fellow, Gabriel worked on multiple projects, including research and mapping, and outreach for our NYC Financial Justice Hotline. Gabriel is a student at the City College of New York and will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in political science in December 2021. Prior to joining New Economy Project, he worked with Sistas and Brothas United (SBU), organizing youth in the Bronx against police violence and education inequities. In his free time, Gabriel loves to play basketball, go on adventures and travel.
Mike joined New Economy Project in 2018 and helps coordinate statewide coalition-building and advocacy for the NYS Community Equity Agenda. He also contributes to New Economy Project’s communications work and various campaigns. He previously served for five years as Membership Director for the New Economy Coalition, a national network of more than 200 organizations working toward a democratic economy rooted in racial, economic, and environmental justice. Mike graduated Magna Cum Laude from NYU with a degree in Economics and Ecology and is currently pursuing a Masters in Public and Non-Profit Administration.
Susan (she/her) directs New Economy Project’s legal strategies, including our direct legal services to low income New Yorkers and community groups, and impact litigation that challenges Wall Street corporations and advances economic justice in NYC communities of color. She is a recipient of the Rising Star Award from the Partners Council of the National Consumer Law Center, the Consumer Advocate Award from the National Association of Consumer Advocates, and an award from the Civil Legal Advice and Referral Office (CLARO) for outstanding service and dedication to helping New Yorkers in need of legal assistance. Susan was previously a Skadden Fellow and Staff Attorney with The Legal Aid Society in New York City. She is a 2006 graduate of New York University School of Law, where she was an Arthur Garfield Hays Civil Liberties Fellow.
Will Spisak joined New Economy Project’s staff in February 2021. Will is a lifelong New Yorker from Queens committed to fighting for economic justice and an equitable city. For over a decade, Will has worked as an organizer and advocate with immigrant and working class communities. Before joining New Economy Project, he served for five years as a Program Director at Chhaya Community Development Corporation, where he expanded tenant organizing and foreclosure prevention services, organized small businesses to fight commercial displacement, started a community land trust initiative, and led the citywide campaign to legalize safe basement apartments. At New Economy Project, Will supports key campaigns, including the community land trust and public bank campaigns. In addition, Will is an adjunct instructor in the Urban Studies department at Queens College. He holds a master’s degree in International Political Economy and Development from Fordham University and a bachelor’s degree from Queens College.
Raquel Villagra works on New Economy Project’s impact litigation and provides legal assistance through our NYC Financial Justice Hotline. Raquel previously worked at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP as a litigation associate. Raquel received a J.D. from New York University School of Law and a B.A. in Art History from Columbia University. In law school, Raquel was a Helaine Barnett Fellow with Legal Services Corporation, was active in the Racial Justice Clinic and Juvenile Defender Clinic, and was Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Review of Law & Social Change.
Matt Wildey, Operations Manager firstname.lastname@example.org
Matt manages office operations and keeps the office organized and running smoothly. He assists with outreach and research for New Economy Project’s campaigns. Additionally, he coordinates individual donor fundraising efforts and supports administration of grants and contracts. Before joining the team in 2017, Matt organized with community and food justice groups in his home state of Washington. He graduated from the University of Washington in Seattle with a B.A. in Community, Environment, and Planning and a B.A. in Geography. Matt is a 2021 New York Community Trust Leadership Fellow. You can find him exploring NYC parks and neighborhoods on his bike, baking fresh sourdough bread, or working with neighbors at his local community garden.