Meet the Life's WORC Leadership Team
Our leadership team is made up of a group of accomplished professionals who are all focused on one thing: the people we support.
Matthew Zebatto, Chief Executive Officer
Matthew Zebatto has spent over 25 years leading the resource-development efforts of Life’s WORC, helping to grow the agency’s private support base through special events, corporate and foundation appeals, major gift solicitation, digital appeals and direct mail.
Matthew joined Life’s WORC in 1997, and since that time the agency has enjoyed a successful development program that has grown from year to year. Highlights include the Million Lights Gala in 2017, which raised $750,000; participation with Geraldo Rivera on Celebrity Apprentice in 2015, which raised $725,000; the agency’s first virtual event in 2020, Life’s WORC Together, which was an online fundraiser during the Covid Pandemic that raised $300,000; and the development of third-party events that raise nearly $300,000 annually.
Most recently, Matthew was instrumental in the development of the new Life’s WORC Planned Giving Program, hiring an agency lobbyist and selecting an advertising agency to help promote the new Life’s WORC employment initiative for the people we support, which will be launched in 2022.
Outside of his time at Life’s WORC, Matthew enjoys spending time in Florida with his family and friends.
Jenny Antony, Chief Financial Officer
Jenny Antony, Chief Financial Officer, CPA, has a unique combination of public accounting experience and working with nonprofit organizations, making her the perfect person to lead the finance team at Life’s WORC.
Jenny joined Life’s WORC in 2018 as Senior Director of Finance, and was later chosen to become its Chief Financial Officer in 2021. She brings her 15-plus years’ experience to the organization, with 10 years in public accounting, as well as expertise in audit and consulting services for nonprofit organizations, rate reimbursement and cost allocation methodologies.
In addition to her time spent at Life’s WORC, Jenny is committed to continuing education, attending and participating in provider association finance committees, obtaining CPE credits and maintaining her CPA licensure
Michael Billia, Chief Administrative Officer
Michael K. Billia is the Chief Administrative Officer for Life’s WORC. His 38 years of experience building out and managing bank branches and employees across the region are an asset to the Life’s WORC team as we continue to grow and expand our services and staff. Prior to his role at Life’s WORC, Michael was Senior Vice President and District Manager for Investors Bank, where he was responsible for the branch network on Long Island.
Michael is very active in the special needs community and previously served as Vice Chair of the Life’s WORC Board of Directors. He also is an active board member for the Michael Magro Foundation, and a past board member for Option’s for Community Living, Girl’s Inc, APEC and Queens Chamber.
In addition, Michael participates in many volunteer activities supporting several nonprofits throughout the Queens/Long Island Markets. He has also been recognized as the honoree for The Michael Magro Foundation, The Book Fairies, Townwide Fund of Huntington and Alley Pond Environmental Center; and received the 2022 Moxxie Mentoring Foundation Award for advancing the careers of women.
John Pfeifer, Assistant Executive Director
John Pfeifer, Assistant Executive Director of Residential Services, has been a member of the Life’s WORC team for over 20 years, but has been making a difference in the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families his entire career.
John joined Life’s WORC in 2001 as Director of Clinical Services, and when the Family Center for Autism opened in 2015 he became Director of Autism Services. He was promoted to Senior Director of Community Services in 2016, and then Assistant Executive Director in 2019 as his role within the organization continued to grow. John brings 30-plus years of industry experience working with the IDD and autism community to the agency, and oversees all residential, nursing, clinical and admission functions for the agency.
Robert White, Assistant Executive Director
Robert White, Assistant Executive Director of Human Resources and Talent, MS, SHRM-SCP, has dedicated his career helping organizations acquire, engage, develop and retain talent, making him a valuable asset to the Life’s WORC team.
Robert joined Life’s WORC in 2022, bringing not only his expertise in talent and human resources management strategies and innovation, but years of experience in the non-profit sector including the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities field where he worked in similar roles at other agencies.
Robert’s human resources education, experience, training, and knowledge makes him a great fit to oversee Human Resources and Talent Management at Life’s WORC. In this role he leads the efforts of the Human Resources and Training Departments that enhance our commitment to acquiring, developing and retaining quality employees to work with the people we support. Robert holds a Bachelor’s in Business Administration from Hofstra University, a Master’s Degree from New York University, and a Certificate in Strategic Human Resources Leadership from eCornell.
Nicky Faranda, Senior Director of Community Services
Nicky Faranda, Senior Director of Community Services at Life’s WORC, knew from an early age that she wanted to pursue a career that allowed her to help people achieve their best possible lives. She began her career working at nonprofit organizations working with people with developmental disabilities and her passion turned into over two decades of dedication to the field.
Nicky joined Life’s WORC in 2017 as the Senior Director of Community Services, and since then has also come to oversee the Respite and Community Habilitation programs, and most recently the Family Center for Autism. Under Nicky’s leadership, the Day Habilitation and Employment programs have greatly expanded their services, operations have been streamlined, and the departments boast a skilled, cohesive team equipped to support people of all abilities.
Outside of her work within the organization, Nicky also participates in the Inter Agency Council’s Adult Day Services and Individualized Community Supports committees. She has previously served on committees within the New York Alliance for Community and Inclusion as well as the New York Integrated Network for Persons with Disabilities.
Emilee Samtani, Senior Director of Human Resources
Emilee Samtani, Senior Director of Human Resources, has extensive experience working in HR, and her personal connections to the nonprofit world led her to seek out a position in a mission-focused organization – a position she found at Life’s WORC.
Emilee joined Life’s WORC in 2020 and successfully managed HR operations through the challenges posed by the global pandemic. She brings over 15 years’ expertise overseeing human resources operations for large companies and organizations, including prior experience in a lead role in merger and acquisitions with Monster.com.
In addition, Emilee holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Resource Management and is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree through Life’s WORC and Stony Brook University cohort.
Paulette Elbers, Senior Director of Entitlements & Financial Support Services
Paulette Elbers, Senior Director of Entitlements & Financial Support Services, has been an integral member of the Life’s WORC team for over two decades, helping to build and enhance the entitlements and financial service offerings and programs through her expertise and her commitment to supporting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and autism.
Paulette joined Life’s WORC in 2002 as an Entitlements Coordinator, and her impact in ensuring people maintained their benefits and receive their much-needed services was immediate. She was promoted to Director of Entitlements in 2005, overseeing and ensuring benefit eligibility for over 250 people in our residential programs. Her expertise and understanding of government benefits ultimately led to the development and creation of the Life’s WORC Pooled Trust Program in 2007, and later the comprehensive Trust Services department in 2011, which Paulette oversees as Trust Administrator, managing over $9.2 million in trust program funds. In 2022 Paulette was promoted again to Senior Director of Entitlements & Financial Support Services, and has taken on the oversight of the agency’s newly expanded Planned Giving Program.
In addition to her professional role at the agency, Paulette is also an important member of and past Chairperson of the Life’s WORC Values Committee, and is helping lead the agency’s DEI programs and initiatives.
Lauren Accovelli, Senior Director of Quality & Compliance
Lauren Accovelli, Senior Director of Quality & Compliance, has been working in the health and human services field for nearly two decades, enabling her to pursue her passion and make a difference in people’s lives when they are experiencing times of crisis.
Lauren joined Life’s WORC in 2022, taking the next step in her extensive career working at nonprofit organizations that specialize in working with people with developmental disabilities. She has significant experience with the oversight, operation, innovation, and support of certified and non-certified sites, and a wide variety of experience in behavior support, crisis settings, residential and non-residential programs and opening new programs.
Lauren’s experience, training, and knowledge working with children and adults with complex needs and behavioral challenges makes her a perfect fit to oversee Quality & Compliance at Life’s WORC. In this role she leads the efforts of the Quality & Compliance Department that enhance our commitment to our core values, while developing and achieving quality outcomes and working toward person-centered services that ensure quality for the people we support.
Outside of her time at Life’s WORC, Lauren is an active member of the Interagency Council Committee and the LIQA Committee.
Board Of Directors
|Lynne Koufakis||Donald Barrick|
|Dawn Del Mastro Chruma|
|Michael Billia||Ben Filingeri|
|Renee Daniel Flagler|
|John Lee||Peter Klein, CFA|
|Ron Aghassi, CPA||Gregory J. Pond, Esq.|
|E. Christopher Murray, Esq.||Anthony Taormina, Jr.|
|HONORARY BOARD MEMBERS
|Victoria Schneps-Yunis, Founder|
|Rick Del Mastro (1945-2020)|
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