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 which had suffered decades of disinvestment. 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:
Lourdes Zapata joined SoBRO in August of 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 Lourdes, having first walked through SoBRO’s doors in 1997 as 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 over 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 Brucker 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
Prior to joining SoBRO, Lourdes was appointed by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo as Chief Diversity Officer for the State of New York where 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.
She also served the State as Executive Vice President of the Division of Minority and Women’s Business Development at Empire State Development (ESD). Her responsibilities included the development and oversight of statewide MWBE procurement policy as required by Article 15A of the Executive Law – reflective of New York State Governor Cuomo’s priority to promote equality of economic opportunities for Minority and Women Business Enterprises (MWBEs) and to eliminate barriers to their participation in 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.
Her 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, New York, Ms. Zapata received her Master’s Degree in Public Administration from New York University and her Bachelor’s Degree from Hood College in Frederick, Maryland.
Delilah Tyson joined SoBRO in August 2019 as the new Chief Administrative Officer.
Prior to joining SoBRO, Delilah served as the Director of Operations at Clinton Housing Development Company where she was responsible for managing Clinton Housing’s daily organizational operations with an annual operating budget of $15 million. Delilah implemented and monitored operational systems and procedures for Housing Management, Housing Maintenance, Social Services, Community Cultivation, & Horticulture needs of CHDC. In addition to supervising the management and maintenance of more than 850 units of affordable, market rate and special needs housing, she was also responsible in cultivating partnerships with city agencies and community residents.
Previously, Delilah served as Senior Administrative Manager for the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership where she oversaw the day-to-day management and administration of Downtown Brooklyn Partnership and three Business Improvement Districts with a total operating budget of $11 million. Delilah dedicated her efforts in achieving the neighborhood goals, and was committed to ensuring that the community had their fair share of business opportunities, neighborhood events, and community beautification efforts.
Born and raised in Harlem, New York, Delilah holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Science from The College of New Rochelle.
Patrick R. James, Senior Vice President of Programs
Patrick brings over 25 years’ experience as a lending, financial services, community development and relationship management executive. He currently leads SoBRO’s programmatic areas inclusive of Community and Economic Development, Adult and Youth Education and Workforce Development.
Prior to joining SoBRO, Patrick served as General Manager of Healthy and Sustainable Communities at Greyston. There he managed a network of programs which he restructured and played a key role in the divestiture of Greyston affordable housing portfolio to a entity which extended the affordability an additional 40 years while recapitalizing and upgrading the portfolio. Before Greyston, he held several leadership roles in Community Development, Consumer Lending and Strategic Markets. Patrick began his career at LaGuardia Community College where he also held leadership roles.
Patrick has served a several boards and board committees. He is serves on the Board of The Mulford Corporation and the Loan Policy Committee of Neighborhood Housing Services of New York City. His interests are in the areas of the promotion of social justice, particularly through economic and human development, access to opportunities, access to capital, wealth creation and community engagement. Now Patrick holds his Master of Science in Urban Affairs from Hunter College and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and History from Fordham University.
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.