Board of Directors
- David Sweeny
- Eric J. Grannis - Chair
- James Jones
- Sarah Hawkins
- Stephanie Saroki de Garia - Brilla representative
David Sweeny will provide guidance and technical assistance as a founding advisor on real estate and facilities. David is a Founding CEO and current board member of Civic Builders, the current Vice-President for Real Estate and Finance at Children’s Aid Society, and will be the Chief Real Estate Officer for Vertex Partnership Academies. David is a seasoned executive motivated by improving non-profit financial performance through leveraging private sector strategies and best practices.
David has a strong track record in sourcing social-impact capital and startup grants, generating earned income for government-funded agencies, launching and scaling social enterprise, and supporting organization change. He has a deep understanding of real estate, opportunity zones, and how to bring large-scale facilities projects to on-time, on-budget completion. At Children's Aid Society, David designed and executed a five-year strategic plan to reorient the agency’s real estate and finance practices to better support business and program priorities. The assignment included $100M in asset sales, $80M of new acquisitions, 190,000 square feet of new construction, and the issuance of $75M in tax-exempt revenue bonds. He drove improved performance across the company’s portfolio of forty three sites, including 400,000 square feet of charter schools, medical clinics, community centers and administrative offices. David is an Advisory Member of LISC, Chairperson of the Disability Investment Fund, and was named by Crain's New York Business as New Yorker of the Week.
Eric J. Grannis is a graduate of Columbia College ('86) and Columbia Law School ('93). He graduated third in his class, was an editor of the Law Review and a Kent Scholar, and was awarded first prize in oral advocacy. Following graduation, Mr. Grannis served as a law clerk to the Honorable Peter K. Leisure, United States District Court Judge, Southern District of New York. Mr. Grannis was subsequently associated with the firms of Debevoise & Plimpton (1994-1998) and Salans (1998-2002). At both of these firms he specialized in civil litigation and commercial arbitration. Mr. Grannis's publications include Fighting Words and Fighting Freestyle: The Constitutionality of Penalty Enhancement for Bias Crimes, 93 Colum. L. Rev. 178, 191-92 (1993), and A Problem of Mixed Motives: Applying Unocal to Defensive ESOPs, 92 Colum. L. Rev. 851 (1992). Mr. Grannis is an experienced litigator who has tried six Federal cases to jury verdicts. He also speaks French and represents numerous French clients in U.S. litigation. Mr. Grannis has been a founding board member and pro bono counsel to two charter schools: the Bronx Preparatory Charter School and the Girls Preparatory Charter School of New York.
James Jones is a Vice President in the Global Banking and Markets Technology division at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Prior to this role, he was Vice President of Business Management within the Chief Compliance and Regulatory Affairs Division at Credit Suisse. Throughout his 25 years of corporate business experience, James has held various finance and business management positions in financial services. His broad and extensive experience includes financial management, budgeting, auditing and operational improvement.
Born and raised in East New York, Brooklyn, James understands the challenges in educating our at-risks youths. His commitment to working with youth is demonstrated by his ongoing involvement and volunteer efforts for many years. He has participated in the Student Sponsor Partners and Everyone Wins! Programs and have lectured on the importance of personal finance in schools.
In addition to serving on the Vertex board, James is a board member of Brilla Public Charter Schools where he chairs the audit committee.
James holds a BA in accounting from Syracuse University and is licensed as a Certified Public Accountant in the state of New York and New Jersey. He lives in Maplewood, NJ with his wife, Salma and daughter, Jessica.
Sarah Hawkins is the CEO of the East Region of Hines, Hines, the global real estate investment, development, and property manager, and a member of the firm’s global Executive Committee. She is responsible for all development, acquisition, asset management and operations activity in the East Region, which includes active offices in New York City, Boston, Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia. Previously, she served as the East Region’s Chief Operating Officer, and prior to that she was a Managing Director in the New York regional office. Prior to joining Hines as an associate in 2011, she was an associate at Fortress Investment Group and before that an analyst at The Blackstone Group. Hawkins earned her BA and BBA from the University of Texas at Austin, where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa.