Since 2006, block resident Ana Luiza Oliveira has run the New York Women’s Foundation, which is dedicated to helping women who are struggling improve their skills and gain control of their lives. Oliveira, who has
a long career in non-profit work, has followed her path on the Upper West Side since 1981, when she came to the U.S. from Sao Paulo, Brazil, to pursue her MA degree in Medical Anthropology at the New School.
It was one of the very few institutions that offered exactly the training she needed. That pursuit required a year of internship in a related field. She found her spot at the Lincoln Hospital Detox Clinic in the South Bronx. This served mainly Latino and Puerto Rican patients, many of whom were suffering from what was soon called AIDS. Oliveira was devoted to causes that helped women and volunteered to help both women and caregivers and was soon offered a position at the hospital.
In 1990 she went to work with the Osborne Association, where she helped to treat drug users who had been arrested but were steered into treatment rather than incarcerated. Oliveira headed a day treatment pilot program that addressed the whole person physically, spiritually and mentally. She worked with the association for 6 years, always with a special focus on women and teens who needed help. In 1996 she moved over to the Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC). She helped women coping with the impact of AIDS in their families who needed child care, lunch programs, legal services, to build parenting skills, and support.
In 1998 she was named Executive Director and oversaw a reorganization and rebuilding of the organization, as the epidemic evolved with the advent of effective medications and treatments.
Then in 2006 she was tapped by the New York Women’s Foundation, which will turn 30 this year. She oversees a staff of 27, and an annual budget that has grown to $12 million. The foundation funds 90 small organizations, often community-based, for up to 6 years. Two examples of their success:
- Perscholas in the South Bronx teaches computer skills. The ratio was 80% men, 20% women. Trough the support of the Women’s Foundation, the ratio has increased to 50% men and 50% women.
- In Brooklyn, a small group of immigrant women were baking bread from their homelands and wanted to expand. The Women’s Foundation helped, and they are now the Hot Bread Kitchen, based at 115th St. and Park Ave. They distribute their bread at Citerella, Whole Foods, and outdoor food markets, as well as promoting and encouraging a cooperative of food entrepreneurs to market as a group.
The NY Women’s Foundation also supports social services helping those involved in aiding victims of domestic violence, educational training for new jobs, and health and safety issues. Oliveira has spent her life supporting women and young adults to find ways to succeed. Her goal has always been to provide a pipeline to success and she has accomplished that goal many times.
Oliveira moved to 320 Riverside in 2003 and has enjoyed the building, the strong sense of community generated by the block association and newsletter, residents’ involvement in the annual Yard Sale and the flowers in our tree beds. She appreciates the existence of Bloomingdale Aging in Place, which enhances the quality of life in this area.