All About Executive Director Aria Doe
Aria Doe, is Executive Director and Co-founder of the Action Center— the only neighborhood-based nonprofit organization serving low-income Far Rockaway that promotes poverty eradication and resilience through communications and connectivity. Since 2001, the Action Center has addressed social crises and emergencies by building local capacity and providing information and services to more than 66,000 local families – many of whom live as much as 200 percent below the poverty level.
A former award-winning journalist and two-time recipient of the prestigious Chairman’s Award for Quality, as an American Express executive, Aria Doe left the corporate world in 2001 to found the Action Center of Far Rockaway with her husband Semeo after witnessing firsthand the tragic plight of a neighborhood beset by poverty and gang violence.
Aria has focused on Education, Feeding and Community Empowerment as the three pronged weapon she’s brought in to battle poverty on the peninsula. During her 13 year Executive Director tutelage the organization has conducted: 19 after-school, week-end and evening youth programs and the largest health advocacy empowerment program in the community covering the entire 150,000 Rockaway base. The Action Center has been designated as one of only three New York based Federally Funded Parent Information Resource Centers implementing support and services for the 0-5 population, Seniors, parents, youth and adults of the low-income Rockaway community. Financial resources and direct services outreach has more than tripled under her guidance; significantly increasing the number of children, mothers and community members served year over year.
In addition, the Action Center has become the largest food pantry and surplus food distribution point serving 3,000 individuals weekly. The laying of this foundation provided them with the capacity necessary during the peninsula’s most critical time of need–the landfall of Super Storm Sandy; to provide 600 to 1,000 families daily with food, quality of life supplies and services. She was able to lead the team by leveraging her networking abilities and provide her staff with the vision and direction necessary to morph into a relief center. At the height of the storm, they were able to amass,in record time, the provision of nearly 1 million dollars of privately donated in-kind supplies and services to the community, while treating over 200 residents in their clinics weekly. For their efforts, the organization received national acclaim with coverage featured in the Huffington Post, the New York Times, The New York Daily News, ABC, CBS and NBC News, and Al Jazeera.
Aria’s work promoting education, diversity, and community organizing earned the mother of three the Innovators of Change Award from J. Walter Thomson in 2013, along with an invitation to participate in a panel at The City Resilient, a summit organized by internationally renowned think tank Poptech. She was featured in Academy Award® nominee Josh Fox’s film concerning her’ bases Sandy experience and Greenpeace’s Postcard for Climate Change series. Aria was also named New York City’s Person of the Week in December 2012 and received Mayor Bloomberg’s Helping Hand Award in 2013. She is being honored by the Francis J. Logan, Jr. Foundation on May 7, 2014 for her work in the Rockaways.
She and her husband Semeo are the proud parents of three children who are seasoned travelers, volunteers in their communities and global thinkers who speak Chinese, Swahili, Japanese and German between them.
An avid traveler herself, a foodie traveler as she puts it, Aria has visited more than 27 countries, including her work in supporting and sponsoring female students in 3rd world communities and is fluent in German.
In her own words… I think of my work as Aria’s Song because as mothers we all have the songs we sing to our children, to soothe them, to motivate them, to inspire them…We have a song we take into battle to fight as warrior mom’s to protect them, take bullets for them, indeed to happily die for them. It does not matter our family make-up, orientation, hue, culture, or financial status. As mothers we all want the same things for our children; the chance for them to reach their full potential. Our struggles, hopes, dreams, indeed our “songs” are the same though on any given day the words might be different.