New York


Allyson Crawford
Executive Director

Allyson Crawford joined Room to Grow in May 2014 with robust experience in the education space and non­profit external relations work. She previously served as the Managing Director, External Relations for Citizen Schools New York, where she led their fundraising, civic engagement, and communications efforts. At Citizen Schools, Allyson was responsible for raising a $5.5 million annual budget and for recruiting over 500 volunteers each year. Allyson also has a background in the private sector where she ran corporate events and adult professional education. She started her career as a preschool teacher in the Boston area, and later as a Teach for America corps member in South Central Los Angeles teaching second grade. Allyson graduated from Oberlin College with a double B.A. in Latin Language and Literature and Ancient Greek Language and Literature, and holds a Master’s degree in Education from Loyola Marymount University.


Danielle Alden

Manager, Individual Giving and Special Events

Danielle is enjoying the opportunity to mobilize her talents and give back to a cause she feels passionate about. She has already enjoyed a decade-long career in the Special Events industry and developed a high level of expertise in several aspects of event production. Expanding her work to include public and non-profit events, she feels more fulfilled than ever. Danielle most recently worked at Midori & Friends as a Development Associate, and previously interned at the Guggenheim Museum. In 2012, she was named one of Raine Magazine's RaineMakers to Watch. Danielle holds a B.A. from Fashion Institute of Technology. 
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Elaine Chow

Director of Communications & Community Relations

Elaine joined Room to Grow in 2009 as Community Relations Manager and transitioned to Director of Communications & Community Relations in the late summer of 2013. She was previously the Associate Director of Alumni Affairs at School of Visual Arts (SVA), where her efforts included developing a comprehensive set of alumni benefits, programs and events. Before that she was the Internship Coordinator at SVA, where she managed and expanded the school’s internship for credit program. Elaine is also a painter. She holds a Masters in Fine Arts from School of Visual Arts and a B.S.  in Studio Art from New York University.
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Melissa Gradilla

Program Associate

Melissa joined Room to Grow in spring of 2014 as Program Associate to support program operations and management. Prior to joining the team, she spent a year as a Upenn Fox Fellow at Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans working with refugees and survivors of human trafficking, followed by a position at the Global Health Partnership Initiative as a Program Associate supporting two global health initatives in Guatemala and Zambia. Melissa is originally from Chicago and holds two B.A.'s from the University of Pennsylvania in Health and Societies and Hispanic Studies.



Naomi Hanson

Inventory and Volunteer Coordinator

Prior to joining Room to Grow in the summer of 2012, Naomi worked as a Curatorial Assistant at the American Museum of Natural History, where she helped maintain her department's collection database and inventory. Additionally, she has dedicated over ten years to children and families working as a childcare provider throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn. Naomi holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from The New School's Eugene Lang College.
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Andrea Veras

Social Worker

Andrea joined Room to Grow in 2009. Prior to joining Room to Grow, Andrea worked with at-risk children and families in a variety of settings including home visits, community centers, health centers, schools, and the NYC Administration for Children's Services preventive programs. Andrea received a B.A. from Alfred University and an MSW from Fordham University. She lives in NYC with her partner Doran and son DJ.

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La Shell Wooten, LMSW

Senior Social Worker

La Shell joined Room to Grow in 2007. She received a B.A. from The City College of New York and an MSW from New York University. La Shell has provided social work service to the foster care system, to various adolescent groups and most recently to prenatal women at Beth Israel Hospital. In addition, she is the author of two children's books.
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 La Shell

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