The Foundation believes children do best when they are raised by their families of origin, where they have a strong sense of love, belonging, and community.
RHF envisions a future New York where children, youth and families are together, happy and healthy and living in communities that are well resourced.
RHF aspires to see families thrive and be free from over-surveillance, regulation and policing by the child welfare system. We work to end the unnecessary dismantling of families due to spurious findings of “neglect,” a determination that often conflates poverty and race with maltreatment. We support efforts to eliminate bias, pervasive racism, and socioeconomic discrimination against families, and work to ensure the child welfare system keeps the small percentage of children at risk of physical harm safe and supported.
Race Equity Values
The Foundation is doubling-down on its commitment to invest in a more racially-just approach to supporting families and communities. One important step towards this commitment is for us to strengthen our values that drive our decision-making, grant-making and strategic processes. RHF is actively seeking input and feedback on these newly-established values. Please contact us at email@example.com with comments.
People of color and their communities understand themselves best and are experts in framing challenges and developing solutions to achieve child and family wellbeing, in the child welfare system and other systems that disproportionately negatively impact them.
Children do best with their families of origin. Government should not remove children from their parents unless legally justified to do so. Moreover, allegations of abuse should be treated differently than allegations of neglect.
Families of color should not be disproportionately disrupted by the child welfare system due to current and historical racist policies and oppression; prevention, removal, placement and reunification practices should be anti-racist, intentionally promote racial equity and seek to be reparative.
Communities of color should be resourced equally to white communities, and cross-system barriers to doing so should be dismantled.
Families and communities should be provided with adequate resources and support to sustain themselves. All caregivers—birth, foster and kinship—should have access to the same types and levels of support, including financial, programs and services, therapeutic and clinical.
Communities should be involved in determining the types of resources and support available to them, and these should be culturally responsive.
Founded in 1986 by Catherine Redlich and Robert Horwitz, the Redlich Horwitz Foundation has provided financial support and implementation assistance to improve outcomes in areas of interest to them, most recently in foster care practice and policy.
While the Foundation is now best known for its efforts to ensure that every child has a safe and loving home, in its earlier years RHF supported diverse initiatives in education, criminal justice, drug policy, child welfare, and global health. The Foundation's first grants supported major national and international nonprofits, but evolved over time to help smaller organizations implement innovative, impactful programs. As then-residents of New Jersey, Rob and Cathy, through the Foundation, also funded policy reform, successfully spearheading efforts to legalize needle exchange programs in New Jersey to curtail the spread of AIDS and to achieve sentencing reform. The Redlich Horwitz Foundation worked with New Jersey based foster-care organizations to develop a mentoring program for foster youth, to promote adoption of older or hard-to-place children, and to provide financial support for young adults leaving foster care.
In 2012, after moving to upstate New York, Cathy and Rob made the decision to narrow the Foundation's grant-making focus significantly. Their objective was two-fold: to increase the impact of the Foundation's giving, and to become more proactively involved trustees. To that end, the Foundation hired its first executive director in 2013 and began a strategic planning process to determine the direction the Foundation would take going forward. The staff and trustees met with respected thought leaders, government officials, advocates, and philanthropies to learn more about opportunities and challenges facing New Yorkers and the systems that serve them. The result was a decision to focus the Foundation's mission on improving New York's foster care system to achieve better life outcomes for children in care and for those young adults aging out of the system.
Trustees & Staff
ROBERT HORWITZ & CATHERINE REDLICH
Founders & Trustees
Rob Horwitz earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan and a M.B.A. from the Harvard Business School. His first business venture was a custom bicycle frame-building business which he founded, operated and ultimately sold. Rob subsequently worked on Wall Street, starting the high-yield bond department at Donaldson, Lufkin and Jenrette, while remaining involved in private industry as a founder or co-founder of several medical device companies. In 1983, Rob formed RH Capital Associates, an investment management firm that operated a hedge fund from 1983 through 2006. Rob has been actively involved in many business startups, turnarounds, and restructurings and has served on the boards of numerous companies and foundations.
Cathy Redlich earned bachelor's and master's degrees in English literature from the University of Michigan, and a law degree from the Harvard Law School. Her first career was in the publishing field as an editor and writer. Following a federal judicial clerkship, she joined a law firm in New York and eventually became its first woman partner. Twenty years ago she co-founded Driscoll & Redlich, a law firm specializing in complex criminal litigation and regulatory and enforcement matters. She serves on the Dean's Advisory Council of the University of Michigan, the English Department Advisory Board, the Board of the Ancram Opera House, and has served on boards of directors, as well as various committees, related to the practice of criminal law. Cathy is a certified foster parent in New York State.
Their family includes two adult daughters, Jane and Grace Horwitz, who stay current on the Foundation’s work and participate, as time permits, in strategic planning and in guiding the direction of the Foundation moving forward.
Roseanne Scotti brings a wealth of expertise to the Foundation in policy formulation and advocacy, political strategy, and managing legislative initiatives. Roseanne is the senior technical advisor for Syringe Access Services for Vital Strategies. She is seconded to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, working to expand syringe services programs and harm reduction in Pennsylvania. Before joining Vital Strategies, Roseanne served for 17 years as the New Jersey State director for the Drug Policy Alliance. While there, she directed major campaigns focused on aspects of criminal justice reform and drug policy. Previously, Roseanne was a research coordinator at the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Studies of Addiction in the HIV Prevention Research Division. Roseanne has authored and co-authored law review and medical journal articles on HIV prevention and drug policy, and frequently lectures on these topics. In 2004, Roseanne received the award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of HIV Prevention from the New Jersey HIV Prevention Community Planning Group. In 2005, she was appointed by the Governor to New Jersey's Gang Land Security Task Force. Roseanne received her B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and her J.D. from Temple School of Law.
HASAN A. STEPHENS
Hasan A. Stephens long dreamed of using his talents in hip-hop culture to help shift youth culture and its perspectives. During his career and work as a leading youth advocate, mentor, entrepreneur and educator, Stephens recognized many of the same people continued to revisit youth detention facilities. In response, he started the Good Life Youth Foundation to help prevent youth recidivism, violence, poverty and incarceration. An educator and co-contributor to the book Rebel Music: Resistance Through HipHop and Punk, Stephens currently serves as a professor of Africana studies and hip-hop at the State University of New York College at Cortland where one of his courses is "Evolution of Hip-Hop Culture". He also is an active member of the Onondaga County (Syracuse, New York) Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative Steering Committee, and the Central New York State Regional Youth Justice Team. In addition, Stephens is a leadership consultant for the Central New York Community Foundation, Inc., The Leadership Classroom. He currently serves on the board of the Upstate Minority Economic Alliance (UMEA), a minority chamber of commerce for Upstate, New York. Stephens is a member of the Madden School of Business Advisory Board at Le Moyne College, and serves as an entrepreneur in residence for the Keenan Center for Entrepreneurship.
Cecilia Zalkind brings to the Foundation an extensive background in public policy advocacy for children. In her 25 years in leadership roles at Advocates for Children of New Jersey, including now as executive director, she has led important coalitions such as the Early Care and Education Coalition and the New Jersey Build initiative that have advanced high-quality early care and education in the state. Ceil has argued before the New Jersey Supreme Court on preschool standards in Abbott v. Burke, the landmark educational equity case, and on the issue of permanency for foster children in several child welfare cases. Ceil serves on various national leadership committees, including the national Children's Leadership Council. While at ACNJ, she served as an adjunct professor of family and adoption law at Seton Hall Law School. She holds a B.A. and M.A. from New York University and a J.D. from Rutgers Law School.
SARAH KROON CHILES
Sarah Chiles joined the Foundation in 2013 as its first executive director and, in partnership with the board of trustees, helped the Foundation develop its strategic direction. She has overall operational responsibility for the Foundation's grant making, the implementation of its mission objectives, and its relational networks with grantees, foster youth, government agencies, and policymakers. Sarah was previously vice president at the Thomson Reuters Foundation, where she headed the NY office. Sarah was also a vice president with SeaChange Capital Partners, a philanthropic network focused on providing growth capital to exceptional education nonprofits, and prior to that served as the director of programs for the NYU Stern School of Business's Berkley Center for Entrepreneurial Studies. During her tenure at NYU, she launched and directed the Stewart Satter Program in Social Entrepreneurship and oversaw the Social Venture Competition and grant making for the Satter Social Entrepreneurship Fund. Earlier in her career, Sarah worked in investment banking and directed a nonprofit social venture operated by a consortium of environmental groups. Sarah serves on the Steering Committee of the national Youth Transition Funders Group, is the co-chair of the Foster Care Work Group, is a co-coordinator of the NYC Foster Care Funders Group, and is an active board member of Achillea. Sarah is a graduate of Middlebury College and the NYU Stern School of Business.
Jessica is a long-time advocate, collaborator and strategist, with a deep commitment to dismantling the systemic oppression of children in the child welfare and education systems. Jessica joined the Foundation in August 2021 as a program officer and leads the foundation’s strategic initiatives and grantmaking in the rest of state region of New York. She has dedicated her career to leading budget and legislative advocacy campaigns, program implementation, and building coalitions focused on reforming systems. Most recently, Jessica served as the deputy director of Compassionate Education Systems California at the National Center for Youth Law, where she led initiatives aimed at creating equitable education opportunities for students experiencing homelessness, foster care or the juvenile justice system. While at NCYL, she co-led the Foster Youth PreCollege Collective and the successful advocacy of $30 million in state funds for targeted learning loss interventions and reengagement of youth in foster care. Previously, Jessica served as the founding director of the Fostering Youth Success Alliance (FYSA) here in NY, a statewide coalition she led to focus on reforming budget, policy and legislation that impacts the child welfare system. Under Jessica’s leadership, FYSA established a new statute and program, the Foster Youth College Success Initiative, and secured $21 million in state funds to support foster youth attending college in New York. Her previous leadership and engagement includes serving on numerous city or statewide task forces, child welfare advisory committees, and she served as a board member of New Yorkers for Children. Jessica is a proud New Yorker, and holds a Master of Science, in Urban Affairs from Hunter College where her focus was Public Policy and Nonprofit Management.
Program Officer, Community Partnerships
Hope is a community organizer, domestic violence survivor and parent advocate who brings both her personal and professional experience to her new role as the Foundation’s program officer for community partnerships. Drawing on her experiences of successfully reunifying with her three children, advocating for her special needs son with the NYC Department of Education, and more than a decade-long battle in Family, Criminal and Housing Courts, Hope is an expert on the injustices wrought upon children, parents, and families by multiple public systems. For the past seven years, she was a parent advocate with the Center for Family Representation, a not-for-profit law firm in New York City. During her time at CFR, she was featured in the 2019 New York Times article on the New York State Central Registry (The Child Abuse Charge Was Dismissed, but it could still cost you), published in Rethinking Child Welfare Blog (Branded), and the June 2021 Columbia Journal of Race and Law, (The Surveillance Tentacles of the Child Welfare System) as part of the CFR Policy Team. In addition to serving on the New York State Office of Children and Family Services Parent Advisory Board and the planning committee for Narrowing the Front Door, Hope speaks locally, nationally, and internationally on education issues, domestic violence and the evolution of the parent advocate movement. Hope has a B.S. in Public Relations in Journalism/Creative Arts in Advertising from Bradley University in Peoria, IL and is a certified professional coach who uses her skills to coach parents to transformation.
Committed and passionate with a focus on professionalism, Norayr Yerznkyan brings to the Foundation his extensive experience in project coordination and administration. With over 10 years in both public and private sectors, Norayr has experience in budget management, reporting, data management, calendar planning, event management and expert level proficiency in all MS Office applications. Norayr started his professional career at the British Council in Armenia in 2012 as a customer service and office assistant and since then worked in different departments of the organization with his latest role being a program country coordinator for the European Commission-funded Eastern Partnership Culture and Creativity Program. In 2018, he moved to the U.S. and started working as an executive assistant with the Eurasia Program at Open Society Foundations in New York. Norayr holds an MA in International Relations from Russian-Armenian University and a current PMP certification.
The Foundation works with several leading state and national consulting firms who provide child welfare expertise, data analysis & research, and technical assistance to the Foundation and its partners. Working across the Foundation’s major initiative areas including Family First Readiness, reducing congregate care, and expanding prevention services, our lead consultants include: Rashida Abuwala of Community Impact Advisors; James Czarniak of JCZConsults; and consultants from ChildFocus, Mainspring, Welfare Research Inc, Action Research, and Building Bridges Initiative.