Get to know our workforce development experts
Chief Executive Officer
Chief Program Officer
Managing Director of Digital Learning and Technology
Chief Learning Officer
Chief Operating Officer
Director of Field Building and Engagement
Director of Project Management
With over 4 years of experience in workforce development, Darren brings a wealth of experience in career readiness. Before joining WPTI, Darren worked at COOP Careers where he oversaw Recruiting and Program Managing operations. Throughout his overall experience, he was fortunate enough to partner alongside numerous academic/community-based organizations in assisting college graduates find job mobility in media and tech fields. Darren is a proud CUNY Alum having earned his BA in Political Science from CUNY Brooklyn College.
With more than 20 years experience in workforce development and academic technology, Dan Salemson returned to a full-time role with WPTI in April 2021 to lead the organization's presence in the digital space, overseeing expansion of virtual training and services that will enable workforce programs to operate better, faster, and more cost efficiently.
Dan has provided workforce and youth development consulting to a range of governmental and non-profit organizations since 2010, with a special focus on working with job seekers who have criminal histories. From 2006 until 2010, he served as senior Training & Projects Manager for Workforce Professionals Training Institute, where he developed and delivered training workshops and customized technical assistance on every area of workforce development to thousands of workforce practitioners from hundreds of non-profit, for-profit and government entities in New York City and beyond.
From 2004-2006, Dan served as Director of Workforce Development for the Midtown Community Court, an official branch of the New York State Court System, overseeing the court’s on-site employment preparation program that connected hundreds of formerly incarcerated individuals to employment annually. Prior to entering the workforce development field, he worked as an Academic Technology Specialist for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, helping professors integrate digital tools into their courses, and retains a strong interest in the potential of technology to broaden opportunity and lift people out of poverty. He completed the year-long Public / Private Ventures Workforce Leaders Academy in 2006.
Dan has authored numerous curricula and guides around creating opportunities for job seekers with barriers to employment, including WPTI’s Getting the RAP Down: Employment Strategies for New Yorkers with Criminal Records (2010).
Christopher joined WPTI in 2022 after working in New York City government for over seven years, most recently at the Mayor’s Office of Community Mental Health and before that at the Department of Youth and Community Development. He brings his experience supporting community-based organizations, developing and maintaining strategic partnerships, developing and facilitating training, providing clinical mental health services, and other areas to WPTI with the goal of helping others however possible.
During his time at the Mayor's Office of Community Mental Health, he served as a Senior Manager on the Strategic Partnerships team. In that role, Christopher developed engagement strategies and identified emerging opportunities to enhance the mental health capacity of New Yorkers and organizations to promote mental health and reduce barriers to mental health support. He also worked on Thrive in Your Workplace, an initiative that helped local employers strengthen their workplace mental health strategy.
While at the Department of Youth and Community Development, he worked as a Program Manager for Cornerstone Programs, community centers located in NYCHA public housing developments. In addition, Christopher also worked with the Mayor's Youth Leadership Council, the Young Men's Initiative, and other youth-related initiatives.
Christopher earned his Master's in Social Work from New York University's Silver School of Social Work and his Bachelor's Degree in Sociology from Morehouse College.
Yanni joined WPTI in 2020. His career spans over 20 years in the nonprofit and private sectors in the U.S. and Europe. Yanni is a multi-disciplinary leader with expertise in workforce development, project management, business strategy, retail management, talent development, and stakeholder engagement. He brings a passion for supporting and guiding workforce development practitioners, leveraging the adoption of new technologies, transforming the workforce development field, improving processes, and creating economic opportunities in underserved communities.
In his recent role as Director of Strategic Initiatives at Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow (OBT), Yanni served as a strategic partner working with cross-functional teams, board members and stakeholders to develop initiatives that create access to jobs, education, and trainings for local communities across New York City. In addition, he led the Innovation Lab - a public-private partnership that included Industry City, workforce agencies and New York City College of Technology.
Prior to OBT, Yanni managed the workforce development program for Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES). He was a key contributor in developing the infrastructure for the Lower East Side Employment Network (LESEN) - an innovative collaboration of workforce development agencies that work in partnership to meet business hiring needs and support candidate supply. He is active in the Romanian-American community and a founding member of the Romanian-American Business Council (RABC).
Yanni is a graduate of Cornell University with a master’s degree in Industrial and Labor Relations. He holds a B.S. in Business Management and Economics from SUNY Empire State College, and is a credentialed Global Career Development Facilitator (GCDF).
Ms. Vaghy is a nonprofit leader and national workforce development expert with over 20 years of experience designing and managing workforce, education, college, and social service programs. From 2007-2020, Ms. Vaghy led The Door’s career and education service department, helping to shape nationally recognized workforce development, education and college access services for in-school and out-of-school youth, including This Way Ahead, a unique retail sector training and internship program with The Gap, Inc., and Learn and Earn to Achieve Potential (LEAP), an Annie E. Casey Foundation and Social Innovation Fund initiative to improve college matriculation and persistence outcomes for homeless and system-involved youth. Prior to The Door, Ms. Vaghy was the Deputy Director of Client Services at Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation, where she developed nationally recognized workforce, entrepreneurial, employment support, immigration, and early childhood education programs including one of the first US Department of Labor-funded welfare to work initiatives, a licensed family daycare network, and one of the largest IRS-sponsored free tax preparation clinics in the United States. In 2008, she was a recipient of the second annual Emerging Social Work Leaders Award from NASW-NYC. Ms. Vaghy holds a Master of Science in Social Work from Columbia University with a concentration in Social Administration and Occupational Social Work and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Communications from the University of Michigan.
Ms. Sewell-Fairman joined WPTI in 2010 and was appointed Executive Director in October 2012. She brings over 20 years of workforce development experience at the local, state, and national level through roles with the Consortium for Worker Education, New York Association of Training & Employment Professionals, New York City Employment & Training Coalition, National Association of Workforce Boards in Washington, D.C., and Wadley-Donovan Growth Tech, LLC.
Ms. Sewell-Fairman holds a BA in English from State University at Albany, an MBA in International Business from the University of Maryland University College, a Certificate in International Business Studies from the University of Antwerp in Belgium, and a Certificate of Business Excellence, Senior Leaders Program for Non-profit Professionals from Columbia University. She serves currently on the Board of Directors for Day One New York.
With over 15 years of experience in youth and workforce development prior to joining us in 2016, Sabeen brings a wealth of frontline and leadership experience to the training room. She oversaw the daily operations of The Door’s Bronx Youth Center, managed a “Learning to Work” program site, created a Sheltered Internship Program model for young adults with a dual diagnosis, and placed hundreds of young people into internships and employment at FEGS Health and Human Services. She also helped youths launch social ventures through Ashoka’s Youth Venture. She earned a BS in Public Health Education from Indiana University.
Justin joined us in 2019 after spending five years in the economic and workforce development sector at Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corporation (SBIDC). He served as the Director of Workforce Development and as the Director of Strategic Partnerships, working closely with jobseekers, businesses, community groups, and other key stakeholders in the industrial waterfront neighborhoods of Sunset Park, Red Hook, and Gowanus to build a stronger local economy and create good jobs for low- and moderate-income residents. Prior to that, he worked as a lawyer, practicing commercial litigation in New York City. A longtime Brooklyn resident, Justin is a member of Brooklyn’s Community Board 7, as well as the Junior Leadership Board of Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow (OBT), a youth development organization with sites across New York City. He received his BA in Urban Studies from the University of Pennsylvania and his JD from Brooklyn Law School.
Gregory recently completed a Master of City and Regional Planning at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University, and has interned with the Hub at WPTI since June 2019. Prior to interning at the Hub, Gregory was a researcher for the Voorhees Center for Civic Engagement at Rutgers University, analyzing housing policy in Newark, NJ. His work at the Hub focuses on structural issues of equity and representation in the workforce development field.
Combining his background in customer service and hospitality with his research experiences in policy analysis and evaluation, Gregory now supports WPTI as the Senior Associate for Programs, Operations and Research. Gregory is actively committed to producing research that positively impacts communities, and he continues to learn about the nuances of the human services and workforce development ecosystem in NYC from his supportive supervisors and peers at WPTI.
Michael has 20 years of experience in nonprofit management, fundraising, and program design, specializing in organizational growth and strategic expansion of facilities, infrastructure, and technology systems. Serving as Program Analyst for The After-School Corporation, he developed the agency-wide payment and reporting procedures and managed the operations database. As a Policy Analyst and Researcher, he focused on issues that affect low-income communities, such as youth violence, criminal justice sentencing policy, and housing subsidies. During his graduate program, he collaborated with the Mayor’s Office to design and implement a youth-violence prevention symposium for grassroots organizations in New York City. Most recently before joining WPTI, Michael was Director of Operations with the Council of State Governments Justice Center. In the role, he developed the policies and systems that enabled the organization to more than double in size. Michael holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan and a Master of Public Administration from the Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership at The City College of New York.
Blake Foote has been a workforce development professional for 25 years at the local and national level. Her first role in workforce development was as a workshop facilitator and job developer for unhoused jobseekers in Oakland and Berkeley, California. While at Jobs Consortium, she managed daily operations of its Oakland office and implemented a nine-county training initiative for frontline workforce development staff. At the national level, she researched federal workforce programs for Congress at the U.S. Government Accountability Office, and launched sector-based employment programs at the National Economic Development & Law Center.
Since 2005, Foote has worked in partnership with local government, nonprofits, businesses, and foundations to improve workforce programs and influence policy in New York City. She served as executive director of the New York City Workforce Investment Board where she oversaw $80M in federal funding and engaged over 40 board members in local workforce policy. Prior to that, Foote was an executive director at the New York City Department of Small Business Services where she supervised the City’s large-scale recruitment initiatives in target industries, and she provided management support for Workforce1 Career Centers and the agency's partnerships with private foundations.
Foote has served on the Board of Workforce Professionals Training Institute for 10 years. She is also Foundation Board Chair of CUNY School of Professional Studies and an active Trustee of Brooklyn Public Library. She is a former Board member of Center for an Urban Future.
She holds a BS in International Relations from Georgetown University and a Master of Public Policy from Harvard Kennedy School.