About Landmark East Harlem

Landmark East Harlem (LEH) is a coalition of organizations and individuals whose mission is to protect the special character of the neighborhood. We do this by working to secure City landmark designation and State and National Register listing for individual properties and historic districts in East Harlem. We also advocate for contextual new development and adaptive reuse of older properties. Landmark East Harlem was formed in 2015 by leaders from  CIVITAS, East Harlem Preservation, and the Marcus Garvey Park Alliance; Ascendant Neighborhood Development joined shortly thereafter as the fourth member of the alliance.
Landmark East Harlem believes that historic preservation is an indispensable component of a holistic community development strategy.
Founding members Joanna Delson, Kathleen Benson Haskins, & Connie Lee at an LPC hearing.
 LEH has had significant success in raising awareness about the rich tapestry of historic resources in East Harlem, and has worked with the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) and the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) to bring long-overdue protections to several properties throughout the neighborhood. Since late 2017, LPC has designated three new individual landmarks in East Harlem.
The first historic district in East Harlem listed on the New York State and National Registers of Historic Places is centered around East 116th Street and Pleasant Avenue. The unanimous vote by the State Review Board in March 2019 to list the district represents the culmination of a three-year long process initiated and propelled by Landmark East Harlem. LEH secured grant funding from the Preservation League of New York State and The New York Landmarks Conservancy to hire a preservation consultant who conducted an intensive survey of the proposed district. The consultant determined boundaries and identified defining features and structures of significant architectural importance to make the case for historic district listing.
East Harlem Historic District Boundary
Click Map to Zoom In

Our Leadership

We rely on our members for their expertise, guidance, and passion for preserving our East Harlem landmarks. 
Interested in joining our board? We’re looking for new members!
Email LEH member  Chris Cirillo with questions about how to get involved.

Chris Cirillo

Chris Cirillo became the Executive Director/President of Ascendant Neighborhood Development in July 2012. Since arriving at Ascendant, Chris has expanded the organization’s work to include neighborhood planning, historic preservation, and asset management. He also helped to establish the Northern Manhattan Collaborative and was an early supporter of Landmark East Harlem. Before joining Ascendant, Chris spent 6 ½ years as Vice President for Development at The Richman Group. Chris also held several positions at the NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development over ten years, including Director of Large Scale Development and Assistant Commissioner for Neighborhood Planning. Chris is a graduate of Brown University, where he received a Bachelor of Arts in Urban Studies. He recently completed his Master of Science in Historic Preservation at Pratt Institute, and teaches in the Real Estate Practice and Historic Preservation programs at Pratt. Chris is a member of the Board of Directors of the Historic Districts Council and the Board of Directors of Friends of La Marqueta.
Joanna Delson Bio Photo

Joanna Delson

​Joanna Delson, a native New Yorker, serves as the Executive Vice President of CIVITAS and is a Founding Member of Landmark East Harlem. Her design business, Space Management Design, focuses on space planning for small New York apartments. She lives with her family in East Harlem.

Kathleen Benson Haskins

Kathleen Benson Haskins serves on the Board of East Harlem Preservation and is a Founding Member of Landmark East Harlem. She is also on the advisory board of Placeful, a member of the East Harlem Holiday Tree Committee, and a Friend of Hope Community, Inc.

Connie Lee

Connie Lee is the President of the Marcus Garvey Park Alliance and a Founding member of Landmark East Harlem. The Alliance collaborated with community partners and NYC Parks to raise awareness and funds to preserve the iconic fire watchtower that has stood atop Mount Morris in Marcus Garvey Park since 1857. Connie is also a Public Art Leader and created the Public Art Initiative, an ongoing program that supports local artists and facilitates public art installations in parks and open spaces throughout East and Central Harlem extending the Alliance’s advocacy beyond the borders of Marcus Garvey Park.

Robin Stratton Rivera

Robin’s longstanding commitment to volunteerism is evident in her past membership of the boards of the New York Junior League (NYJL), West Side YMCA, Grosvenor Neighborhood House and New York Youth at Risk. She has received the NYJL’s highest honors: Outstanding Volunteer in 1998, and Outstanding Sustainer, 2019. Currently, along with being a board member of LEH, she is the Co-Treasurer of CIVITAS, which is dedicated to enhancing Urban Life in New York’s Upper East Side and her neighborhood of East Harlem. Robin served two three-year terms as a lay member of the Departmental Disciplinary Committee of the New York State Supreme Court Appellate Division, First Department. Robin is responsible for marketing, client relations, studio booking, accounting and personnel at Digital Laundry, which she owns and operates with her husband. Fluent in several languages, she often works as a freelance translator and editor for non-native English speakers. In addition, she has a blog, diversitymom.com.
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