Originally from Massachusetts, Ben lived, studied, and worked in Argentina, Chicago, and England after finishing his undergraduate studies. He moved to New York City in the summer of 2018 in order to participate in the Union Semester program at CUNY’s School of Labor and Urban Studies. Through this program, he served as a strategic researcher with Local 79, the Construction and General Building Laborers Union, before taking a job as a union organizer with 32BJ SEIU. As an organizer at 32BJ, Ben primarily worked at JFK airport, specifically working with non-union subcontracted workers in their fight for better working conditions. Ben lives in Crown Heights and is a member of the Crown Heights Tenant Union.
Born and raised in Manhattan and now making her home in Brooklyn, Kate is committed to fighting for housing as a human right and building economically accessible cities. Prior to joining the staff, she had been part of Met Council since 2017: first as a hotline volunteer, then becoming active in the 2019 campaign for Universal Rent Control as well as the annual Rent Guidelines Board vote. She has previously worked in the costume department of various film and TV productions, as a researcher for documentaries, and in the archives of Brooklyn Academy of Music. Kate is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Urban Planning at Hunter College. In her free time, she enjoys riding her bike and playing drums.
A native of the Bronx, Ava has been a community organizer for over a decade. She worked as the lead organizer on the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition’s fight for living wage jobs and community-driven development at the Kingsbridge Armory which blocked Mayor Bloomberg’s plan to turn it into a shopping mall. Ava went on to run the Living Wage NYC campaign with the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, which won passage of the Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act, securing a living wage of $13.13 for employees at city-subsidized developments. Prior to joining Met Council on Housing, Ava served as Chief of Staff to Council Member Antonio Reynoso of Williamsburg and Bushwick Brooklyn, co-chair of the City Council Progressive Caucus.
Program Manager and Member Organizer
Andrea is a lifelong Brooklynite, who is passionate about building strong and stable communities. She came to the Met Council after being the Volunteer Manager at Hunger Free America. Andrea has previously worked as a field organizer and lobby day coordinator for a political consulting firm. She has also worked closely with the domestic workers rights movement both nationally and locally as part of Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ), where she is on the board. Andrea has a Masters in Social Work specializing in Community Organizing from Silberman School of Social Work. She has also been a Grace Paley Organizing Fellow and Rene Cassin Human Rights Fellow. Before returning to school, Andrea worked in the development department at the Metropolitan Opera. When not organizing, she has a passion for art and cooking.
Maria Duarte migrated from Mexico at age 5 and was raised in rural Georgia. Her journey in grassroots organizing, abolition, and liberation work stems from her fight as an undocumented youth in the immigrant rights movement. Maria has a background in Fossil Fuel Divestment, Labor union organizing, and prison/detention abolition work. She co-found the sustainable impact team at Chatham University, an organization dedicated to fighting for marginalized students on campus as well as environmental justice. Maria was a co-founder of the western PA student power network. She was an integral member in the creation of the Pennsylvania student power network. Postgraduate she managed cases for undocumented children advocating for them to be reunited with their parents. As an organizer for Movimiento Cosecha, Maria held crucial roles in the development of nation, state, and local immigrant rights campaigns centered in fighting for permanant protection, dignity, and respect for all undocumented immigrants. Before joining Met Council Maria was a union organizer at SEIU Local 49 in Portland, OR where she organized immigrant janitors to win their union contract.
Ericka Stallings works at Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development.
Edline Jacquet has worked in the housing, policy and advocacy fields for her entire career. This year, as part of her role as the Senior Policy Analyst at the Supportive Housing Network of NY, Edline was part of a large collective statewide effort through the Campaign 4 NY/NY Housing that won a historic commitment for the nation’s largest expansion of supportive housing. These City and State commitments will create 35,000 new units of supportive housing for homeless individuals and families with disabilities and other vulnerable populations throughout New York State.
Kenny Schaeffer is a housing attorney with The Legal Aid Society and a long-time advocate of home rule (repealing the Rockefeller era Urstadt Law).
Jackie Del Valle is a lifelong tenant organizer who founded CASA (Community Action for Safe Apartments) at New Settlement and went on to work as Director of Organizing at Housing Conservation Coordinators. She is currently the Stabilizing NYC & Development Coordinator at the Urban Justice Center