The SBRT Backbone Team is made up of a group of staff from Children’s Aid and Phipps Neighborhoods that builds and maintains the infrastructure needed for collective impact, including communications, engagement, measurement, and sustainability.


Michael Partis,


Michael Partis is a Bronx-born educator, researcher, and social entrepreneur. Prior to joining South Bronx Rising Together, he was a Lecturer in the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology at CUNY Brooklyn College and Assistant Adjunct Professor of Urban Studies at LIU Brooklyn.

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Lara Kyriakou, Early Learning System Manager

Lara Kyriakou has over 10 years of experience in the early childhood field, with a particular focus on parents and children in the first three years of life. Prior to joining SBRT, she was most recently a project manager at NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. Lara earned her Master’s Degree in Human Development from the University of Pennsylvania.


Kendall Lewis, School-Age Network Manager

Kendall Lewis has made a career in human services, with a particular focus on non-profit management, youth advocacy, and leadership development. Prior to joining SBRT, he worked as an Writing Instructor for high school students and earned his Juris Doctor from the City University of New York School of Law.


Abe Fernandez,

Senior Advisor

As Director of Collective Impact at Children’s Aid, Abe Fernandez provides strategic support to SBRT and leads the Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative in the Bronx, a statewide effort to plan and implement strategies to mitigate poverty. Abe was a founding co-director of SBRT and formerly the Deputy Director of the Children’s Aid National Center for Community Schools.


Kate Ford,

Senior Advisor

As Chief of Staff for Phipps Neighborhoods, Kate works with management to implement agency-wide strategic projects to ensure staff members achieve results related to our mission: to empower children, youth, and families in the South Bronx overcome poverty by creating opportunities for community members to access education, career programs, and vital community services.