Our Staff

Meet Our Founder

1 in 4 youth who age out of foster care in NYC enter a homeless shelter within 3 years of leaving care.

In 2010, I was working at a non-profit social service agency and was assigned to help a young woman, let’s call her Ashley, find housing just three months before she aged out of the foster care system. We submitted a public housing application; unfortunately, she did not get an apartment before she aged out of foster care on her 21st birthday.

For several months Ashley couched surfed, essentially a homeless young woman. In a way, she had always been homeless. As a young child, Ashley was removed from her family’s home due to neglect. She then spent her adolescence bouncing from home to home, living with strangers.  The resulting trauma left her ill equipped to manage the challenges facing her.

When Ashley finally moved into an apartment, she was no longer eligible for the one-time voucher covering the minimum pieces of furniture she required. I reached out to friends and found a futon mattress; not a full futon with the base, just a mattress that at least she could sleep on.

A few months later, I visited Ashley. The agency where I worked had to close Ashley’s case, but we were meeting one more time so I could assist her in accessing a free cell phone.  Ashley was ecstatic to have a home of her own, but her hopelessness and sense of being lost since leaving care was painfully evident.  On the studio floor apartment was the futon mattress, without a sheet, and little else, no pots or pans or even a shower curtain – only a liner purchased from a dollar store. Ashley had nothing more than what I had been able to provide, all used items donated from a friend who had been moving. I left her home feeling sad that there was so little I could do for Ashley, and wondering how she woke up everyday in her home, sleeping a few inches from the floor, still committed to pursuing her dreams.

I was dumbstruck and saddened by this enormous gap in services, the vast need these young adults have as they attempt to find their own way after a life in care. Gathering items from generous friends and scouring the web for donations, I pieced together household goods for other clients, but it was never enough. Despite that, I saw what a difference even a little bit of help could make in their lives, and I knew that if all our foster youth were to have a chance at success, a larger effort was needed to help during this important life transition.

This is how City Living NY was born. We are dedicated to assisting each youth in securing all the household goods required to create a home. But that’s just the beginning. Our mission is to ensure that these young people have every chance at the broader success available to any young adult venturing out into the real world: to link them to educational resources, and help them obtain scholarships to enter or remain in school; to work on resumes and prep for interviews; to connect to them to services; to listen to their concerns and questions; and to always be available to guide them as they build a self-sufficient life and reach for their dreams.

With gratitude and hope,

Executive Director and Founder, City Living NY

Liz Northcutt, LMSW

Meet Our Staff

Liz Northcutt

LMSW
Liz Northcutt, LMSW, our Executive Director, has been working in the child welfare system for over a decade. She received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Florida, and her Masters in Social Work from New York University. While working within the child welfare system as a social worker at St. Vincent’s Services, Borough Coordinator at Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), and Forensic Social Worker at Comprehensive Family Services, Ms. Northcutt repeatedly saw her young people enter their first apartments with little or none of the supplies needed to turn this empty space into a home.  Ms. Northcutt founded CLNY with the help of other licensed social workers and business professionals who were aware of and concerned with the issues facing youth as they age out of care.

Young-In Shin

LMSW
Young-In Shin, LMSW, is a Program Director/Social worker with CLNY and works four days a week.  Ms. Shin has a BS from the University of Rochester and an MSW from New York University. Ms. Shin has ten years of experience advocating for children and families starting her career at CASA – NYC. In addition, she worked for a child protective service agency in Washington State, investigating child abuse and neglect allegations, providing crisis intervention and supportive counseling to families in crisis. Ms. Shin has additional experience providing one-on-one counseling with young people involved in the juvenile justice system.

Gabrielle Breslow

LMSW
Gabrielle Breslow, LMSW, is Director of Operations/Social Worker with CLNY. Ms. Breslow has a Bachelor of Arts from Princeton University and an MBA and MSW from Columbia University. She brings experience working within the criminal justice system as well as counseling addiction and eating disorders at the Beacon Program in New York.

Danielle Clarke

LMSW

Danielle Clarke, LMSW, is a full-time social worker with CLNY. Ms. Clarke has a BS in Social Welfare and Sociology from SUNY Albany and an MSW from NYU. She brings experience working with youth from her work at Good Sheperd’s Services Juvenile Justice program and providing therapeutic services to adolescents in schools.

Abby Kamen

LMSW
Abby Kamen, LMSW, is a full-time social worker with CLNY who received her BSW from New York University and her MSW from Columbia University. Her work with young people began at Crossroads Juvenile Center in Brownsville, Brooklyn and in the social work department of MS/HS 223, The Laboratory School of Finance and Technology in the South Bronx. As a Research Assistant at Columbia University’s SAFElab, Ms. Kamen facilitated a high school internship program on the intersection of technology, social media, and social change with a group of young people at the Brownsville Community Justice Center. Abby is passionate about equitable access to resources and opportunities for youth.

Lili Grauber

LCSW
Lili Grauber, LCSW, is a part time clinical therapeutic coach with CLNY providing clinical services to City Living NY youth. Lili has a BA in Creative Writing from Oberlin College, and an MSW from Columbia University School of Social Work.  Lili has over twelve years of experience working with older youth in foster care as a social worker, therapist, and youth advocate with SCO Family of Services’ LGBTQ program. Lili completed postgraduate clinical training in trauma therapy at the Institute for Contemporary Psychotherapy, and she currently has a part time private psychotherapy practice. Lili is also an adjunct lecturer at Columbia University School of Social Work, and she mentors a cohort of young adults who transitioned out of foster care during the last ten years.

Kashana Wilson

LMSW
Kashana Wilson, MSW, is a full-time social worker with CLNY who received her BA from Medgar Evers College and her MSW from Touro College. She brings experience as a case manager at Samaritan Village assisting with housing, emotional support, and educational needs for children. This work inspired her to get her MSW during which time she interned at Graham Windham as a case planner, working with families with trauma and assuring the safety of children in their homes, at the YMCA providing emotional support to struggling high school teens and at The Bridge assisting clients with emotional and mental health needs.

Katie Ortiz

LMSW
Katie Ortiz, LMSW, is a full-time social worker with CLNY who obtained her Bachelor of Arts from the University at Albany and her MSW from Tulane University. She spent six years working in the case management field in California – serving incarcerated and formerly incarcerated adults, individuals with a history of mental health, substance use, and homelessness, as well as people with HIV/AIDS. Upon returning to her home state of New York, she worked as a care coordinator with children and teens with mental health and physical health diagnoses.

Melody Gradowski

LMSW
Melody Gradowski, MSW, is a full-time social worker with CLNY. She received her Bachelor of Science in Health Education from Lehman College in May 2011 and her Master’s in Social Work from Lehman College in May 2022. While working for the Board of Education, she became interested in the lives of the families she served. Her burning desire to help others inspired her to seek her social work degree. While pursuing her social work degree Ms. Gradowski worked at the Veteran Affairs Medical Center in the Bronx, where she supported homeless veterans with housing, employment stability, and emotional support. Her various positions, coupled with her lived experience of the foster care system, shaped her into the social worker she is today. Prior to her education and social work careers, Ms. Gradowski was also a U. S. Army Reservist from 1998-2006.

Adreanna Maier

Adreanna Maier, LMSW, is a full-time social worker with CLNY. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2013 and her Master’s in Social Work from Fordham University in May 2015. As the child of a social worker, she was inspired to become one herself. While pursuing her degree, Ms. Maier worked at Catholic Charities assisting homeless clients with locating community resources and housing. Ms. Maier then spent seven years working in the child welfare system. She worked with children and families impacted by the foster care system as a Case Planner in the Therapeutic Foster Care program at Forestdale.

Adin Lenahan

Adin Lenahan (they/them) is the Operations & Development Associate at CLNY. They received their BFA in Drama from New York University and their MFA in Playwriting from CUNY Hunter College. Adin spent several years working in real estate and marketing for MetroLoft Management, a leasing office in the Financial District, assisting with various operational duties. Adin is also a writer and performer, whose work has been produced or workshopped at numerous venues across NYC. They are a producer with the Brooklyn-based multidisciplinary arts incubator, Undiscovered Countries, where they assist in fundraising activities.