Lourdes Zapata rejoined SoBro in August 2019 as its President/CEO, becoming the first woman and first Latina to lead this South Bronx economic development nonprofit corporation.
Returning to SoBro is a homecoming for Zapata, who first walked through SoBro’s doors in 1997 as its Director of Community Development. During her earlier tenures at SoBro she had the opportunity to manage exciting projects and initiatives, including the development and management of more than 750 units of affordable and special needs housing scattered throughout the South Bronx and Harlem, leading planning efforts including the rezoning of Third Avenue and Bruckner Boulevard, Brownfield redevelopments in Port Morris and Eastchester, developing and managing multiple business development projects, and securing millions of grant and private funding for the organization.
Before rejoining SoBro, Zapata was appointed by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo as Chief Diversity Officer for the State of New York. In this role she supported the governor’s programs and initiatives to increase diversity within the state workforce and engaged in policy and program development to increase the participation of women and people of color in all areas of state government.
Zapata also served the state as the Executive Vice President of the Division of Minority and Women’s Business Development at Empire State Development. Her responsibilities included the development and oversight of statewide Minority and Women Business Enterprise (MWBE) procurement policy as required by Article 15A of the Executive Law and in line with Governor Cuomo’s emphasis on promoting equality of economic opportunities for MWBEs and eliminating barriers to obtaining state contracts. She oversaw the division’s certification, compliance, and business development activities, and worked with state commissioners and the legislature on matters affecting the MWBE community.
Zapata’s public service also extends to her earlier tenure as Community Development Director for the City of Newburgh in Orange County, New York.
Born and raised in the Bronx, Zapata received her master’s degree in Public Administration from New York University and her bachelor’s degree from Hood College in Frederick, Maryland.