Richard Shaw, Board Chair

Richard serves as an SVP/client advisor with the Bessemer Trust Company. He has over 15 years of experience in the financial services industry as a financial analyst. J.P. Morgan Chase, Mark Asset Management, and Scudder Kemper Investments are just a few of the firms he has worked with. Richard received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Boston University and an M.B.A. in Finance from Columbia Business School. He is also a Certified Financial Planner (CFP), a Certified Trust and Financial Advisor (CTFA), and has Series 7 and 63 licenses.

Dr. Joseph Tait, Board Director

Serving on the Board of Directors since 1972, Dr. Tait assumed the presidency of the Harlem Commonwealth Group from September 2004 until his retirement in April 2016.


During his tenure, his vision for the future of the Harlem Commonwealth Group sparked and promoted sustainable economic development opportunities, which benefited countless Harlem residents.


Acutely aware of the challenging socio-economic conditions community residents continue to endure, he specifically focused on implementing economic development initiatives that evolved from making numerous NYC real estate holdings profitable to structuring programs to meet the demand for quality education choices.


Educational choices, such as creating HCC’s After School Program, Arches Transformative Mentoring, and Adult Literacy Program, designed to give community residents appropriate tools to grow personally and professionally, have and continue to be measurably impactful in creating positive socio-economic change.


Above all, Dr. Tait sought to improve the lives of young people in the community who he feels should be a top priority. His passion for providing underserved youth with guidance through mentorship, and desire to see all underserved youth in the community excel, led him to establish an healthcare-related educational scholarship assistance fund and internships for bright, talented, committed young people striving for academic excellence with strong connections to the Harlem community. Dr. Tait received his VMD in 1968 from the University of Pennsylvania.

Michael T. Johnson, Board Director

Michael has worked in the real estate industry for over 25 years. He is a principal of Uptown Gambit, Inc., a real estate brokerage and development firm located in Harlem where he manages real estate sales, finance, and developments. Michael is a graduate of the University of Florida.

Zevilla Jackson Preston, Board Director

Zevilla is the principal and owner of J-P Designs, Inc. (JPD), an architectural firm developing real estate in Harlem for over 20 years. She is known for her sustainable designs and understanding of the socio-economic issues of urban communities. She graduated with a B.A in Architecture from the City College of New York and taught at the school. A thought leader, she founded the African-American Architects Roundtable for Entrepreneurs (A3 RE). She is also a member of The Children’s Art Carnival Board and the Municipal Art Society’s Planning Committee.

Aaron Migdol, Board Director

Aaron is a real estate operator, attorney, and co-founder of the Migdol Organization. The Migdol Organization helps to provide homeless shelter housing and social services to homeless families through a contract with the NYC Department of Homeless Services. Devoted to improving the lives of men, women, and children, he has also revitalized dozens of dilapidated brownstones and buildings in Harlem, which he has either sold on rented at affordable prices to Harlem residents. He is a board member of The Migdol Family Foundation, Friends of Public School Harlem, Friends of Harlem Hospital, and Harlem YMCA. Aaron graduated with his J.D. from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.

Jonnie Marshall, Board Director

Jonnie has been a community activist for over 30 years and volunteers with several major organizations including the Girl Scouts of America, Harlem Children’s Zone, and Salem United Methodist Church.

Michelle B. Hardy, Board Director

Michelle is a Senior Sales Executive with over 30 years experience in the pharmaceutical and health care industry. She currently  works with Merck & Co., Inc. and  serves as a Senior Account Manager in the Surgical and Anesthesia division. Over the course of her career she has worked in several institutions including the National Institute of Health, Harlem Hospital, and the New York City Department of Health. She has a special interest in addressing community health care disparities and  barriers related to HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, Nutrition, and Alopecia. Michelle is a certified trichologist and  received her BA in Economics and African American History from Wellesley College and a Master in Public Health from Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. She is a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.

Anthony Watson, Board Director

Anthony is an accomplished senior leader with expertise in program development, human relations and program management. Extensive background in staff recruitment and retention, with 18+ years of experience in managing both youth and adult programs. Currently, Anthony is the Executive Director of the Manhattan Educational Opportunity Center where he is responsible for all areas of institutional operations and development.

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Harlem Commonwealth Council is an economic development corporation determined to bring economic prosperity to Upper Manhattan, Washington Heights, and Bronx residents.

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Harlem Commonwealth Council, Inc.

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