SoBRO was founded in 1972 by a group of business executives and community leaders. Our mission was urgent: reverse the flight of businesses and jobs from the South Bronx. It was the first and most fundamental step toward rebuilding a community whose name evoked images of burned out buildings, crime, poverty, and drugs. But as SoBRO began to evolve, it became clearer that community revitalization required a multifaceted effort.
Today we address all aspects of community development: assisting businesses to get started and grow, training residents according to the needs of employers, offering opportunities for youth to learn and develop, and creating affordable housing and commercial space that reverses blight in the community.
Since our founding in 1972, SoBRO has served over 20,000 students, helped to create and retain more than 40,000 jobs for area residents, and created the climate for hundreds of million dollars of capital investment into the South Bronx. Our success is exemplified by the following awards:
Steven Brown, President and Chief Executive Officer
Steve Brown is a seasoned leader in housing and community development, with extensive experience managing mission driven organizations. Prior to his role at SoBRO, Brown was the Executive Director of Building Skills New York, which provides training and employment opportunities for low-income New Yorkers in the affordable housing, construction and management industries. He also served as President and CEO of the Greyston Foundation, a non-profit community development organization in Yonkers, New York that addresses poverty through multiple interventions including workforce development, affordable housing, child care services and community gardens. World renowned, the Greyston Bakery has served as a model for successful work force development, community renewal and personal transformation within a profitable business environment. Brown’s career in the non-profit sector has been focused on affordable housing, community development, and human development. For more than 15 years, he was a senior leader at the New York City Housing Partnership and oversaw the development of over 13,000 units of owner-occupied housing in the five boroughs, working closely with many of the City’s affordable housing developers. From 1998-2004, he was President of the Jackie Robinson Foundation, which provides mentoring and college scholarships to minority students throughout the country. Today, as the recently appointed President and CEO of SoBRO, Brown is committed to revitalizing and expanding the legacy of this 45 year-old Bronx institution.
Johanna DeJesus, Senior Vice President of Programs and Operations
Johanna DeJesus comes to SoBRO as a Bronx native, a product of the New York City public school system, public housing, and a former teen mom. Ms. DeJesus has over 15 years of managerial and direct-service experience, having built exemplary youth, young adult, and family programs for underserved communities throughout New York City. She received a B.A. from the College of New Rochelle, and is currently pursuing an M.A. in Human Services Leadership at St. Joseph’s College. In addition, Ms. DeJesus is a graduate of the National Urban Fellows’ Leadership Development Program.
SoBRO’s mission is to enhance the quality of life in the South Bronx by strengthening businesses and creating innovative economic, housing, educational, and career development programs for youth and adults.
SoBRO is a registered 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization. All donations are tax deductible in full or in part.
Auxiliary aids and services are available upon request to individuals with disabilities.