As Chief Executive Officer of Urban Resource Institute (URI), Nathaniel Fields is responsible for leading the organization’s long-and short-term strategy and the implementation of its vision and mission.
Informed by two decades of practical work and achievement in social and human services, Nathaniel has spearheaded the transformation of URI in size, scope and services for vulnerable populations in New York City, particularly victims of domestic violence. Since taking the helm of the organization in 2012, he has transformed it into a dynamic, multi-service agency, nearly tripling the budget and building it into the largest provider of domestic violence shelter services in the country.
Under his leadership, URI has focused on innovation, exemplified by groundbreaking programs focused on prevention as well as services, such as People and Animals Living Safely (PALS), Legal Education Advocacy Program (LEAP), Career Exploration Program, Abusive Partner Intervention Program (APIP), and Relationship Abuse Prevention Program (RAPP) targeting youth and teens. To further his vision, Nathaniel is committed to a Culture of Excellence and an environment with data-driven, measurable outcomes.
Nathaniel serves in leadership roles for numerous organizations and councils, including: the Human Services Committee of the transition team for NYC Mayor-Elect Eric Adams; the Board of the Human Services Council; NYC Deputy Mayor for Health & Human Services 2020 Nonprofits and Social Services Advisory Council on “reopening” New York City; the special COVID-19 domestic violence task force of the New York State Council on Women and Girls; the COVID-19 Response Work Group of the New York City Office to End Domestic and Gender-Based Violence (ENDGBV); the Fatality Review Committee of the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence; and the New York City Mayor’s Nonprofits and Social Services Advisory Council. He has led the New York City Coalition of Domestic Violence Residential Providers as co-chair for over ten years. Since 2019 Nathaniel has been named to the annual New York City and State “Nonprofit Power 100” list, landing in the top 20 in 2021. Also in 2021 ,City and State included Nathaniel in the “Responsible 100” leaders of New York, and Crain’s New York Business named him to the list of “Notable Black Leaders and Executives” 2021.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in history with a focus on black and Hispanic studies and a Master of Social Work degree from Fordham University, and completed an executive leadership and certificate program in the not-for-profit sector at New York University. Born and raised in New York, Nathaniel has firsthand knowledge of the challenges affecting New York’s most vulnerable communities, as well as the positive work being done to effect structural changes. Working directly with marginalized groups, Nathaniel has seen that when investments are made in communities, they can thrive. At URI, Nathaniel enjoys being part of a community of people committed to improving the lives of others. When asked to identify his vision for URI, he states, “Hope is at the cornerstone of everything we do.”
Dr. Carla Smith is the Deputy Chief Executive Officer at Urban Resource Institute, where she is responsible for leading the day-to-day operations of URI, the largest provider of domestic violence shelter services in the U.S., and a leading service provider for homeless families. She joined URI in 2015 as Senior Vice President of Programs, quickly rising to Chief Program Officer and now Deputy CEO during a time of dynamic organizational growth. In her role, she oversees Executive Team members responsible for the Operations, Finance and Programs Divisions of the organization, which includes more than 20 shelters across New York City housing more than 2,200 adults and children each night. She shares responsibility to facilitating the development and execution of trauma-informed programming, impacting over 40,000 individuals annually through direct service, prevention, and intervention programs.
Dr. Smith has been instrumental in developing and expanding URI’s innovative, impactful programs by working to secure funding for each of these initiatives. Two of these include trauma-informed Abusive Partner Intervention Programs (APIP), which are both accountability program for individuals who cause harm — one for individuals mandated to participate by the criminal justice system and one for nonmandated individuals. Both are designed to reduce future incidents of domestic violence and promote engagement in healthy relationships. Dr. Smith was also integral to securing a 5 million dollar grant that allowed for the expansion and redesign of the economic empowerment program, which allowed for the provision of services to homeless families in addition to the URI domestic violence clients. She also continues to partner with leadership and staff to expand and increase awareness about the landmark People and Animals Living Safely (PALS) program, the only NYC program that offers co-living for survivors and pets, including expansion within the URI shelters and technical assistance nationwide to shelters wishing to adopt the program model.
In the sphere of prevention and breaking the cycle of violence, Dr. Smith has helped drive the visibility of URI, the mission and programs, by speaking about the programs such as PALS, at NYC City Council, the Department of Criminal Justice Conferences and through CUNY’s Institute for State and Local Governance Technical Assistance Initiative. Dr. Smith provides valuable commentary on individual and societal impacts of intimate partner violence, notably featured recently in media such as The Telegraph (UK), ABC News, and Bustle. She utilizes her professional background as a platform to passionately speak publicly about domestic violence and to advocate for New York’s underserved and underrepresented populations. Specifically, she has worked in the Bronx with law enforcement leadership to discuss the rise in intimate partner homicides over the years, and developed a collaborative community response to address this issue.
Dr. Smith’s career spans 25 years devoted to social services, during which her personal goal has been to serve New York’s most vulnerable populations. She has worked to improve the lives of domestic violence survivors, homeless individuals and families, individuals with HIV/AIDS, and victims of hate violence and sexual assault.
Dr. Smith completed her Doctorate of Education in Executive Leadership from Saint John Fisher College in 2014, while working full time, electing to focus her dissertation on Examining Shelter Access Barriers for Transgender Identified Survivors of IPV. This work and her commitment to ensuing an open access model of care, enabled her to spearhead URI’s effort to reduce barriers, enhance shelter access and initiate the provision of culturally competent services for members of the LGBTQIA+ community through the development of ongoing staff training and institution of protocol revisions. In 2020, Dr. Smith received an appointment to the Advisory Panel for the Lubin School of Business Transformative Leadership Program at Pace University.
Amanda Eckhardt, Ph.D. is Chief Program Officer for Urban Resource Institute, leading the Programs Division, setting the strategy and overseeing implementation of the comprehensive portfolio of trauma-informed, client-centered services for those impacted by domestic violence and homelessness. She will direct the full range of prevention, intervention, education and direct services programs.
Dr. Eckhardt is deeply committed to diversity, equity and inclusion, and ensuring that staff deliver culturally sensitive, trauma-informed services. She is also committed to the professional development, growth and training of staff members. A researcher by trade, she is impact driven and leverages data analytics as a key tool of programmatic operations and excellence.
Dr. Eckhardt brings a wealth of experience and expertise to URI. She was most recently Executive Director for Restore NYC, Inc., an agency that provides client services, housing (emergency, transitional, and independent living), and economic empowerment to individuals who have experienced human trafficking, which overlaps with the issues of domestic and intimate partner violence and homelessness. She previously served as Chief Program Officer and Director of Programs for the agency.
In addition to her professional experience, Dr. Eckhardt is an adjunct faculty member of the Counseling Psychology Program of Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and has frequently presented research and papers in academic and professional settings on issues related to trafficking, family violence and crime victims. She holds a Doctorate in Counseling Psychology and a Masters of Education in Counseling and Human Services, both from Lehigh University, and is a licensed Psychologist.
Anthony B. Edwards is Chief Financial Officer at Urban Resource Institute, where he has overall financial management responsibility for the organization, including developing and implementing strategies that promote the continued financial health of URI. He is also responsible for assisting in the management of organizational risk, including but not limited to the development, implementation and monitoring of financial controls, safeguarding against loss and ensuring that financials are executed in accordance with management’s authorizations and U.S. GAAP. As CFO, Anthony is also accountable for the overall management of the Finance and Accounting Division.
Anthony is a dedicated executive with over 25 years of experience and a record of achievement by improving the financial processes and performance of several nonprofits. Anthony most recently served as CFO and Senior Vice President at Sheltering Arms, which for 190 years has provided services for children, youth and families. Prior to joining Sheltering Arms, he was CFO at Brooklyn Community Services for a decade, and previously served as the Director of Research Administration and Operations at the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, where he played a pivotal role in improving research administration and grant management. Anthony has also worked at 1199/Employment Training & Job Security Program, and Beth Israel Medical Center in an accounting and financial management capacity.
Anthony received his MBA from Dowling College and a BS in Accounting at Brooklyn College. He is a member of the Global Academy of Finance and Management, certified as a Master Financial Planner, Accredited Management Accountant, and Accredited Financial Analyst. He is also a member of the American Academy of Financial Management, certified in Corporate Finance and is a Master Financial Manager.
Susan Arnot Heaney is Chief Marketing & Communications Officer at Urban Resource Institute. She is responsible for the development and execution of URI’s marketing, communications and public relations strategy that contribute to URI’s organizational success and mission impact. As CMO, Heaney directly manages communications activities that enhance, promote and protect the organization’s brand and reputation, and expand URI’s reach, visibility and influence in its mission to enhance the lives of vulnerable populations. Heaney brings corporate and nonprofit experience to the URI role. She held leadership roles at Avon Products, Inc. and the Avon Foundation for Women, including Executive Director of Corporate Responsibility and Director of Communications. During her tenure at the Avon Foundation, Heaney helped create and launch the global Speak Out Against Domestic Violence program and was instrumental in the re-branding and growth of the Avon Foundation from a corporate philanthropy to a 501(c)(3) public charity. Most recently, Heaney was Director of Global Marketing and Engagement for the Rainforest Alliance, an international nonprofit working with leading brands on the environmental, social and economic impacts of agriculture and forestry. Prior, she led marketing, communications and development for The Sustainability Consortium, a global multi-stakeholder organization that develops and promotes the science of consumer product sustainability, including social and environmental impacts.