April 11, 2022 Category: Meet Fresh Air


The Fresh Air Fund Board of Directors and Chairman William P. Lauder announce the appointment of Lisa Gitelson as the new Chief Executive Officer to begin on April 18, 2022.  The Fresh Air Fund, a not-for-profit youth development organization, has served New York City’s youth since 1877. Throughout Ms. Gitelson’s over 25-year career in public service, as an attorney and child welfare advocate, she has been dedicated to addressing the needs of underserved youth.  Prior to joining The Fresh Air Fund, she was Assistant Executive Director/Legal Counsel for The New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NYSPCC). She is also an Adjunct Professor at Silberman School of Social Work, Hunter College, CUNY, where she teaches the Policy & Practice of Child Welfare.

“We are pleased to name Lisa Gitelson as The Fund’s new Chief Executive Officer,” said William P. Lauder, Chairman of the Board. “Thousands of Fresh Air children and families will benefit from Lisa’s commitment to the well-being of New York City’s children.  She is a fierce advocate for children’s rights and has a solid foundation of experience in management, public policy, development, communications and finance, along with providing legal expertise.  Lisa has deep roots in the communities we serve, and we welcome her to our Fresh Air family.”

As Assistant Executive Director/Legal Counsel for NYSPCC since February 2021, Ms. Gitelson managed various aspects of the agency including Operations, Research and Evaluation, and Training.  She identified legislation and other public policy issues that impacted the work of the organization and developed an advocacy agenda and action plans to move public policy efforts forward.  

“Our city is stronger when each of our children and their families are stronger. I am honored and excited to lead an organization with a rich history of providing children with transformative experiences which open worlds of possibility to them. I look forward to working with The Fund’s dedicated staff and partnering with our families and communities to continue strengthening the children of our city,” said Lisa Gitelson, Chief Executive Officer, The Fresh Air Fund.

Previously, Ms. Gitelson served as Associate Executive Director, Downstate, at the Council of Family and Child Caring Agencies (COFCCA) where she was responsible for bringing private foster care, juvenile justice, residential care and prevention services agencies together to collaborate, share best practices, and coordinate efforts to improve and advocate for the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. In this role, Ms. Gitelson advocated for COFCCA member agencies in discussions with the Administration for Children’s Services, the New York City Council and the New York State Office of Children and Family Services and worked with stakeholders to ensure that membership best served New York City children and families.

Prior to COFCCA, she was the Director of Foster Care and Adoption Services at Sheltering Arms Children and Family Services. Ms. Gitelson began her career as an attorney representing foster care agencies before serving in multiple leadership and supervisory roles at the New York City Administration for Children’s Services, Family Court Legal Services.

Ms. Gitelson succeeds Fatima Shama, The Fund’s Executive Director from 2015 to 2021, who resigned her position to join Bloomberg L.P.  Board President Wendy Flanagan stepped in as Interim Executive Director. Ms. Flanagan said, “Lisa is a fantastic choice for our new Chief Executive Officer.  We were impressed with the breadth of her experience and by her commitment to the children and families of our city. We are delighted to have Lisa lead us in our next chapter, as we return to our traditional sleepaway programs and build on programs developed to serve New York City youth during the pandemic. I am looking forward to working with her on a smooth transition and as Board President.”

Ms. Gitelson is a graduate of Colgate University and has a JD from Washington University School of Law. She lives in Washington Heights with her son, a high school junior, and her daughter, a college junior.