Shaye Belcon, Investigative Coordinator
Ms. Belcon holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Akron and a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from Cleveland State University. Prior to joining the FHJC, Ms. Belcon worked for the Fair Housing Contact Service (FHCS) in Akron, OH. At FHCS, she served as a Fair Housing Initiatives Program Manager and implemented strategies to eliminate housing discrimination and enforce fair housing laws. Before her work in civil rights, Ms. Belcon held positions in social service providing crisis intervention to victims of crime in addition to family and community-based services within a behavioral health setting.
LaDonna Burns, Program Manager
Ms. Burns began working for the FHJC in 2007. Prior to joining the FHJC, Ms. Burns worked as a Legislative Assistant for the Indiana House of Representatives. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Michigan State University in Microbiology. Ms. Burns has lived in New York City since 2001 and is a professional singer.
Paul Carlson, Budget/Finance Assistant
Mr. Carlson has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Binghamton University in Environmental Studies and has also studied accounting and database management at NYU. He has over 20 years of experience with New York-based nonprofits including fair housing testing, door-to-door canvassing, environmental education, computer programing, database management, and bookkeeping.
Lizette Carrion, Senior Investigative Coordinator
Ms. Carrion has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Government and Politics. She has worked as an actor in television, film, and theatre since 1994. Throughout her acting career, she has contributed her time and talents to various community action groups and civil rights organizations and previously worked as a tester with the FHJC’s Acting for Justice program. Ms. Carrion is bilingual in English and Spanish. Ms. Carrion has coordinated systemic testing investigations that have resulted in the filing of numerous federal fair housing cases. She has also developed and implemented effective testing protocols for investigating lending practices.
Alaine Dungee, Senior Investigative Coordinator
Prior to joining FHJC, Ms. Dungee worked as a Court Advocate for a New York based non-profit organization dedicated to criminal justice reform. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Northern University of Arizona in Criminal Justice and a Juris Doctorate degree from Vermont Law School. During her law school career, Ms. Dungee interned for the Naval Criminal Investigative Services (NCIS) in Washington DC as well as the Orange County State’s Attorney’s office in Chelsea Vermont.
Fred Freiberg, Executive Director
Prior to co-founding the Fair Housing Justice Center in 2004, Mr. Freiberg worked for the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice where he directed a national testing program that he helped to establish in 1992. From 1999 – 2002, Mr. Freiberg directed the field work in two national research projects conducted by The Urban Institute involving testing – a study of mortgage lending practices and the national Housing Discrimination Study (HDS). During the 1980s, Mr. Freiberg worked as a fair housing consultant for private and public fair housing organizations. Mr. Freiberg was a founder and the first Executive Director of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Fair Housing Council from 1977-1981. Mr. Freiberg’s professional activities for fair housing span more than forty years during which time he has testified in dozens of fair housing cases, published articles on fair housing, and received numerous awards for his accomplishments in the fair housing field. He was also the Executive Producer for the documentary, A Matter of Place. Mr. Freiberg is one the nation’s leading experts on the use of testing as an investigative tool to enforce civil rights laws.
Katherine Garcia, Communications Coordinator
Ms. Garcia has a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Affairs and a Graduate Certificate in Unitarian Universalist Studies. For more than 10 years, Ms. Garcia has worked in the field of strategic and crisis communication and leadership development. During this time, she has advised leaders and organizations across multiple sectors including non-profits, international and national NGOs, religious institutions, educational institutions, political action campaigns, inter-governmental organizations, and small businesses. She is the founder and president of a small communications consulting firm, Athene Strategies. Prior to founding her firm, she served as Interim Communication Consultant for the Starr King School for the Ministry and Communications Consultant for Religions for Peace. She has also worked in organizations such as Freedom to Marry, Disaster Chaplaincy Services, and Logos Consulting Group. Ms. Garcia is passionate about using her skills to promote and inspire social change.
Caitlin Mroz, Education Coordinator
Ms. Mroz holds a Master of Social Work from the University of Chicago, School of Social Service Administration and a Bachelor of Social Work from Loyola University, Chicago. During her time as a direct service provider, Ms. Mroz worked in mental health settings with youth at Seneca Center in the Bay Area of California and with Thresholds in Chicago. While a graduate student she interned with the Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing and the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless and spent a summer as the Program Coordinator for an undergraduate social justice program at the University Community Service Center. A Michigan native, Ms. Mroz developed a passion for housing policy issues after seeing the impact of injustice on the people she served as a social worker and on the communities in which she lived.
Frank Oleszko, Office Manager
Mr. Oleszko has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Arts Management from the State University of New York College at Purchase where he received the Senatorial Appreciation Award in recognition of outstanding service as Chairman of the Public Arts Council and School of the Arts Senator. Prior to working at the FHJC, Frank spent six years working in Arts Administration in fundraising, development, marketing and production for various performing arts centers in the New York metropolitan area. Mr. Oleszko is also a musician, playing drums and percussion in various genres of music.
Chanera Pierce, Policy Coordinator
Ms. Pierce has prior experience working on economic and community development issues in traditionally marginalized communities throughout the South and Midwest. She recently worked in Detroit convening capacity-building trainings; organizing community stakeholders around economic justice policies; and facilitating critical civic engagement in the wake of the city’s economic revitalization. Born and raised in Memphis, her interests center on equitable, urban development with a focus on building truly inclusive and accessible communities. Ms. Pierce holds a Master of Public Policy from the Ford School at the University of Michigan and a Bachelor of Science in Political Science from Middle Tennessee State University.
Cooper Sirwatka, Legal Coordinator
Prior to joining the FHJC, Mr. Sirwatka worked as the Fair Housing Program Manager at Westchester Residential Opportunities where he oversaw fair housing testing and investigations. He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Literature from the State University of New York at Purchase and a Juris Doctor Degree cum laude from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law where he was the Editor-in-Chief of the Cardozo Journal of Law and Gender. Mr. Sirwatka is also involved in a variety of work with LGBT young people in the Greater New York region.
Jerry Tam, Investigative Coordinator
Mr. Tam holds a Bachelors and MBA from Stony Brook University. For more than 10 years, he worked for various government agencies. Previously, he was a financial investigator in the criminal justice division of the New York Attorney General’s Office. In addition, he worked in law enforcement at the US Department of Treasury and the Department of Justice. Mr. Tam, who speaks Cantonese, is also involved in the community and currently volunteers at the NYC Emergency Management CERT program.