Meet the dedicated employees of West Harlem Development Corporation.
Interim Executive Director
Zead Ramadan has worked for more than 15 years in New York City community leadership in advocacy, professional, academic and not-for-profit settings. His community service includes sitting on the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone’s Board of Directors, on Manhattan Community Board 12 and as Chair for the Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial, Education and Cultural Center Board of Directors. He is also the Chair of the Board of Directors of CAIR-NY, a civil rights advocacy organization for New York Muslims. He is the Corporation President and Co-proprietor of X Caffe and companies. He speaks Arabic and Spanish. Mr. Ramadan has businesses in West Harlem.
Director of Programs
Joanna E. Castro is a native New Yorker with over ten years of nonprofit executive experience working and consulting with Northern Manhattan community stakeholders to fortify their organizations, community spaces, and access to public resources. As Executive Director of NoMAA (Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance), Joanna expanded the reach, visibility, and funding to one of New York’s leading arts service orgs by raising the profile of Uptown arts orgs and artists, as well as local businesses by forging alliances, grants opportunities, and cultivating public engagement around issues affecting the Northern Manhattan community. She also developed and implemented innovative year-around technical assistance workshops and annual Institute addressing community-wide needs.
Joanna earned a B.A. in Spanish and International Studies cum laude from Dickinson College. She lived and worked in Spain for seven years receiving her M.A. in Arts and Cultural Mgmt from the Universidad Carlos III (Madrid). Joanna has received fellowships from Coro/Neighborhood Leadership, Hispanic Federation, among others. She is an Advisor for the Emerging Leaders Program at the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA).
ARISE! Program Lead
Born in West Harlem, Ken leads strategy and implementation for the ARISE! youth development program. Professionally his career spans public and private sectors including media, social impact consulting, and working with a two-term member of President Obama’s Sports, Fitness & Nutrition Advisory Council.
Ken is a graduate of Vassar College and former member of their Trustee Board. He serves as a longstanding member on Community Board 9’s Youth, Education & Libraries committee. He is a past recipient of the CEC5 Unsung Heroes award for his work promoting equity and quality education in the district. Harlem is home.
Erika started working for West Harlem Development Corporation in July 2019 as the Administrative Assistant for WHDC’s West Harlem Skills Training Center. She now serves as the Administrative Assistant for the main office of WHDC. Erika studied to be a journalist in her native Venezuela and has worked as a professional office administrator and in communications at Meridian News broadcast channel. Erika is an avid animal lover and is passionate about cinematography. She enjoys spending time with her family, meditation, and sewing.
Administrative Assistant for WHSTC
Adalyss Ruiz began working for the West Harlem Development Corporation in February 2021 as the Administrative Assistant for the West Harlem Skills Training Center.
Adalyss was raised in the West Harlem community and also went to school at Don Pedro Albizu Campos on West 133rd Street. She enjoys learning and expanding her experiences and also helping in her community. Adalyss also enjoys spending time with family, singing, and taking walks in Central Park.