Board of Directors
Peter Munkenbeck: Chair
Mr. Munkenbeck, who graduated from Princeton University with a degree in Public and International Affairs, earned his Juris Doctor cum laude from Harvard Law School, and was admitted to the bar in Massachusetts in 1973. From 1978-81, he was responsible for the redevelopment of several large waterfront industrial and mixed use parcels while employed at MASSPORT, including the planning, permitting, design, architecture, and construction of a 47-acre site for a marine terminal which involved the construction of a half-mile dike and three million cubic yards of fill purchased in part from the Southwest Corridor reconstruction project. He spent 16 years at The Community Builders, where he served as Deputy Director for real estate development, administration, and finance. Since 1997, he has been actively involved in the development and/or financing of 30 multifamily and commercial properties containing more than 4000 apartments and extensive commercial space on behalf of 15 community development corporations in Boston.
Zoe Weinrobe: Vice Chair
Zoe Weinrobe, JCHE’s Director of Real Estate Innovation, has more than 14 years of experience in the field of affordable housing finance and development. Zoe is currently managing a $71 million 4% LIHTC acquisition/rehab project, a $25 million new construction project, and a number of potential prospects for JCHE. Prior to joining JCHE, Zoe was most recently Vice President at Recap Real Estate Advisors working with public housing authorities and private property owners on conversions through HUD’s Rental Assistance Demonstration (“RAD”) program. Zoe has also worked at Urban Edge CDC, the Cambridge Housing Authority, and the City of Cambridge. Zoe has a Master’s in City Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and graduated with honors from Cornell University.
Lisa J. Drapkin: Clerk
Lisa Drapkin is a real estate agent at Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, based in their Cambridge Massachusetts Avenue office and serves Cambridge, Somerville, Arlingtonand Medford. Lisa has been working in real estate in Cambridge for over 20 years, and has received numerous recognitions for exemplary performance throughout her career. Though this work, she has developed a deep knowledge of the community, and the issues people face finding homes. She previously served on the Board of MassEquality for over six years, gaining extensive experience in nonprofit oversight. She is also active as a member of the Federal Club of the Human Rights Campaign, a top Pie Seller for Community Servings, and a member of Arlington Street Church. Lisa received her MBA from Babson College and her Bachelors in Marketing from Georgetown University.
Michael Kuhn: Treasurer
Michael Kuhn is First Vice President in Commercial Lending at Cambridge Savings Bank and helps to continue JAS’s longstanding partnership with Cambridge Savings Bank. Michael has been with Cambridge Savings for almost 10 years and previously worked for Rockland Trust Company and the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. He received a B.S. in Finance from Rowan University and an Associate’s degree in Computer Science from Camden County College.
Barbara has lived in Cambridge for 46 years, and has been retired from a career with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts since 2002. Her connection to Just-A-Start began when she found a flier in her front gate advertising low/no interest loans from the JAS Home Improvement Program. Barbara had been worried about the outdated wiring in her Kelly Road home for years, so the flyer felt like serendipity. She applied for a loan. That was the start of a wonderful experience in which she not only received a loan for multiple improvements that brought her house up to code, but was assigned a project manager who advised and guided her through the decision-making process and worked with her to choose and monitor the contractors. JAS applied on Barbara’s behalf to the Cambridge Historical Commission for a grant that resulted in the restoration of the exterior of her home to its 1894 elegance.
Ms. Dendy is the Program Director for Community Cooks who is responsible for overseeing 800 volunteers who prepare food for vulnerable neighbors seeking assistance from human service agencies, students working to improve their lives in after school programs, and families struggling with food insecurity. Prior to joining Community Cooks, Dendy worked at Elizabeth Stone House as Director of Adult Programming, overseeing three of their programs. Prior to joining Elizabeth Stone House, Dendy worked at the Community Resource for Justice as the Director of the McGrath House, a program that serves female offenders referred by the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department, the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the Massachusetts Parole Board. Throughout this transition Ms. Dendy has lived in Cambridge raising her children in a Just-a-Start community. Although there have been other housing opportunities in the last 10+ years, Ms. Dendy and her family continue to reside in that community because of the consistency and familiarity of neighbors.
Shawn Fitzpatrick is an Associate Director of Manufacturing at Shire Pharmaceuticals and has worked in the Biotechnology field for over 20 years. He is a former graduate (1997) of the Just-A-Start Biomedical Careers Program. He also sits on a number of advisory board of local schools with Biotechnology programs that advise on course curriculum, guest lectures, etc.
Gustavo Gallego heard about the “First-Time Home Buyers” program at JAS 17 years ago. At that time, he worked as a teller at Bank of America; that is to say, he did not make enough money to purchase an apartment on his own. For this reason, Gustavo took advantage of this grand program at JAS. So far, he’s happy with it and has no complains at all. Right now he’s working for Jewish Vocational Service (JVS) as a Manager of Secure Jobs Partnership; he oversees all aspects of this department and the MassLeap program. Something he has learned at JVS is that he really loves to enhance the lives of people in need.
Samuel Gebru is an Ethiopian American social entrepreneur, community organizer, consultant, and resident of Cambridge since the age of three. He began his career in public service at the age of 13, raising funds committed to maternal health issues in his native Ethiopia. While at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, Samuel launched Youth View Cambridge and was the first youth appointed to the Executive Committee of the Cambridge Family Policy Council. He has worked on municipal and state election campaigns and served as a legislative intern to Massachusetts State Senator Steven A. Tolman. From 2006-2016, Samuel founded and led the Ethiopian Global Initiative, and is currently the founder and managing director of Black Lion Strategies, a consulting practice that works to strengthen U.S.-Ethiopia relations. He is also the executive producer to Boston Ethiopia Week. Samuel serves on the Board of Directors of the Cambridge Community Center and launched the annual Samuel M. Gebru Leadership Award at CRLS, recognizing a graduating senior for experience in, and passion for, public service. He was previously a board member of Africans in Boston, and served on the Artist Selection Committee for Cambridge’s Prince Hall, honoring Prince Hall, the noted African American scholar, abolitionist, and founder of Black Masonry.
Richard Harding is a lifelong Cambridge resident whose career has always been focused on public service and community engagement. He began as an intern at Joe Kennedy’s Citizen’s Energy, then served as Director of Constituent Services for Senator Seven Tolman and is the past Chair of the Ward 2 Democratic Committee. He has served on the board of the Young People’s Project and of the Community Arts Center. Richard is the President of the Port Life Foundation and a founder of the Port Action Group, a neighborhood group focused on violence prevention. Richard is the proud recipient of the NAACP Education Excellence Award and the Cambridge Peace and Justice Award. As a School Committee member, Richard has served as Vice-Chair and co-chair of the Budget Committee and Contract Negotiations, co-chaired the Kids Council, and served on the Neighborhood Safety Task Force’s Employment Sub-Committee. Richard currently runs the Men of Color Health Initiative and is a program consultant to the job training program CambridgeWorks. He attended the Kennedy Elementary School and graduated from Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School (CRLS) and Fitchburg State College. His daughter is a 2015 graduate of the Cambridge public schools.
John Henn is a retired partner of the Boston law firm Foley Hoag LLP, and has also been an arbitrator in commercial cases for over 30 years. He is a former president of the ACLU of Massachusetts, and long-time pro bono counsel for Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts in reproductive rights litigation.
Jesse Kanson-Benanav moved to the Boston area after graduating from Oberlin College and started working as a community organizer on housing issues with Somerville Community Corporation. He went on to earn a Master in City Planning at MIT with a concentration in housing, community, and economic development. After completing his Masters, Jesse went on to work for several organizations focused on public housing, affordable housing, and real estate development, before returning to Somerville Community Corporation as a Senior Project Manager. He is currently a Senior Project Manager at B’nai B’rith Housing. Jesse also founded and serves as the Chairman for A Better Cambridge, a community group dedicated to smart growth development to preserve and expand diverse, affordable, livable and sustainable neighborhoods.
Joel Miranda is the Senior Director of Leadership Development and Graduate Leadership at YouthBuild USA. As the first YouthBuild graduate to serve in a Director’s role at YouthBuild USA, Joel leads efforts to deepen the practice of Leadership Development at YouthBuild programs, oversees the development of YouthBuild’s graduate leadership work, and to move the impact of Youthbuild’s leadership work deeper into the wider world. Prior to joining YouthBuild USA, Joel worked at the grassroots level as a Mentor, Case Manager, and lastly Deputy Director at the YouthBuild Just A Start Chelsea/Cambridge program. Joel was a 2012-2013 Community Fellow at Boston University School of Management’s Institute for Non-Profit Management and Leadership and a graduate of the 2014 American Express Leadership Academy for emerging non-profit leaders.
Paul Parravano has been part of the MIT community since 1991. His role in the Office of Government and Community Relations involves fostering communication and understanding between the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and all levels of government, major constituency groups, and MIT’s surrounding community. Mr. Parravano serves as MIT’s campus federal relations officer, accompanying MIT’s President on regular visits to Washington and hosting campus visits by elected officials and other dignitaries. In Cambridge, Paul works to strengthen MIT’s involvement in science education for K- 12 teachers and students through a growing list of partnerships, especially with the Cambridge Public Schools. In all of his work and travel, both in Washington and locally, Paul’s most critical task is to represent the Institute in a personal way as a resource for knowledge, neighborly support, and the advancement of MIT’s mission of scientific education and research. Prior to his employment at MIT, Paul worked as a staff attorney in a civil rights consulting firm in the Boston area, providing advice and consultation for corporations on the implementation of civil rights regulations. He received his undergraduate degree from Harvard University and a law degree from Northeastern University School of Law.
I retired from Maloney Properties, Inc. six years ago. I was a partner in the property management company with a specialty in elderly housing and resident services. In addition to serving on the Board of Just-A-Start, I am President of the Board of FOCUS – a non-profit that oversees supportive services in housing and just opened a home in Somerville for 15 young women aging out of foster care. I am involved in Partakers prisoner education, Sanctuary, and racial justice through Old Cambridge Baptist Church. I live in a housing cooperative in Cambridge formed 44 years ago.