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As president and CEO of the Urban Resource Institute (URI), Nathaniel Fields is responsible for the organization’s strategic vision and holistic functioning.
Beginning in 1996, at a time when the crime rate in New York was very high, drug use an epidemic, and a troubled economy was hampering efforts at building healthy communities, Mr. Fields was responsible for identifying and steering URI’s focus towards domestic violence as a pivotal issue area central to the building of safe and strong communities. The latest highlight in a career informed by nearly two decades of on-the-ground work and replete with achievements in social and human services, Mr. Fields was named president and CEO of URI in 2012 to lead all aspects of the organization.
Mr. Fields was born and raised in New York and has firsthand knowledge of the great challenges affecting New York’s most vulnerable communities, as well as the positive work being done to effect structural changes. He sees in URI, a warm, community-based organization working to help people meet their fullest potential. One of the experiences informing his methodology as president and CEO, took place in his early work with young people, in which staff changed their language and behavior in order to create a positive peer environment in which youth could thrive. Growing up in a crime-ridden neighborhood in Brooklyn, Mr. Fields witnessed many young people who were not able to meet their potential drop-out of school and fall victim to alcohol, drugs, crime, prison and in some cases, death. Working directly with young people, he saw personally that when we invest in them, they can thrive.
Mr. Fields holds a bachelor’s degree in US history, focusing on black and Hispanic studies. His interest in how people function and build systems led to additional attainment of a Master of Social Work degree from Fordham University in administration and clinical practice. He has also completed an executive leadership and certificate program in the not-for-profit sector at New York University and is licensed to practice in New York State. He believes that education is as important as its application. To this end, Mr. Fields has participated in and led conferences in order to ensure continued learning in the sector. He continues to sit on many nonprofit boards including the Human Services Council and has led the New York City Coalition of Domestic Violence Residential Providers as co-chair for approximately a decade.
At URI, Mr. Fields enjoys being part of a community of people committed to improving the lives of others. When he is not thinking of ways to nurture the staff he feels privileged to direct, he spends his free time with family, exercising, kayaking and walking to clear his mind.
An avid science-fiction movie lover and reader, his focus on the future of innovation can be seen in his mandate that URI be data-driven as a fundamental organizational practice key to his strategic plan, and in his visionary advancement of ground-breaking programs.
Under his leadership, URI can boast creation of the trauma-informed URI People and Animals Living Safely (URIPALS) program—New York City’s only program allowing domestic violence victims to live in shelter apartments with their beloved pets—as well as a nascent intervention program for abusive partners.
When asked to identify the galvanizing force behind his vision for URI, Mr. Fields says, “Hope is at the cornerstone of everything we do.”
To buttress that cornerstone, Mr. Fields is growing a culture of philanthropy at URI backed by a mastery of business administration practices borrowed from the for-profit world, and a diversified fundraising strategy. Mr. Fields’ belief is that a mission as stellar as the Urban Resource Institute’s, must be sustained by excellently managed resources sagely stewarded for a brighter tomorrow.
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