Education & Youth Services Appoints New Senior Director
By Henry Street Settlement
Senior Director of Education & Youth Services, Olivia Nuñez
Olivia Nuñez joined Henry Street Settlement in September 2023 as the senior director of education & youth services. Olivia brings over a decade of social service experience on the Lower East Side. A long-time advocate for strengthening communities by ensuring access to educational resources, she has worked at some of Henry Street’s partner organizations, which drew her to seek opportunities to work at the Settlement.
“Olivia’s diverse experience and collaborative lens coupled with her dedication to community solutions for community challenges uniquely positions her to thrive as senior director of education & youth services at Henry Street,” says Matthew Phifer, executive vice president for education & employment. “We’re excited to get started as there is so much potential in this incredible neighborhood!”
Olivia specializes in developing programs that expand educational access by providing preparation, placement, and/or supplemental services for students from elementary grades through college. As the senior director for community engagement at the GO Project, Olivia was able to collaborate with schools and other organizations that sought to support academically struggling students from low-income families with holistic services. As the chief program officer at Breakthrough New York, she developed programs for students from marginalized communities who strove to graduate from college and begin pursuing their careers.
Now, at Henry Street, Olivia oversees a wide array of our educational services including Early Childhood Education, afterschool programs, athletics and community enrichment, the Youth Opportunity Hub, the Expanded Horizons College Success Program, and many more. “I really love that there are so many pieces to the education portfolio,” Olivia says. “There is something for everyone from two to 24 years old.” She credits community engagement as the necessary avenue for developing effective programs, saying, “Our work is expanding from what the community is saying about what they need.”
Olivia’s passion for advocacy stems from her experience growing up with a disability. She was inspired by her mother, “my biggest advocate,” says Olivia. Her mother always remained informed about the services available for her daughter and learned to navigate the education system after emigrating from Cuba as a child. This lived experience led Olivia to her career in social services, where she pays it forward by providing the attention and care that she received to the participants in her programs. She believes that “where there is an opportunity gap, there’s usually an information gap,” and at the Settlement, she hopes to employ Henry Street’s resources to reverse information and access barriers and to be a fierce advocate of services for marginalized people.
In her free time, Olivia serves on the Conference Planning Committee of the National Partnership for Educational Access and fosters cats in her community with the Brooklyn Animal Action network.