Our Mission

We aim to Lift People Out of Poverty Through Employment.


Begun in 2005 by social innovators, Mr. Peter Cove and Dr. Lee Bowes of America Works, the Work First Foundation was founded on the idea that employment is the most important first step towards lifting people out of poverty. Soon after its founding, the organization began its fellowship program, which provides a service-year and research opportunity, allowing young professionals interested in public policy to have a direct impact on urban poverty. Today, the foundation operates in San Francisco, New York, Washington D.C. and Baltimore, conducting demonstration programs that connect disadvantaged job seekers to opportunities. It also engages in advocacy efforts that promote economic self-reliance for needy individuals and produces research on ways to improve access for low-income individuals' entrance to the workforce. 

The Work First Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to research, employment and spreading the success of the Work First strategy. 




Senior STAFF


Dirrane Cove

Executive Director

In Dirrane's role as Executive Director, she overseas all programs operated by the organization, including ensuring ongoing programmatic excellence, rigorous evaluation, and consistent quality of finance and administration, fundraising, communications, and systems, while recommending timelines and resources needed to achieve strategic goals.



Capt. Peter I Wikul, USN (Ret.)


U.S. Navy SEAL Bullfrog 13

Peter Wikul is the longest serving U.S. Navy Seal earning him the honor of Bullfrog 13.  Capt. Wikul retired from the Seals in 2009 after more than 30 years. He now leads as the chair of the Work First Foundation with the focus of connecting people in need with work. 


Mario Mangiameli

Secretary of the Board

Mario served in the U.S. Marine Corps leaving with the rank of Captain.  Mario began his service with with 3d Battalion 2nd Marines, where he deployed twice to Iraq’s al Anbar province.  Upon returning he received orders to Headquarters U.S. Marine Corps where he worked for the Director of Command, Control, Communications, and Computers (C4).


Dr. Lawrence Mead

Professor, New York University

Professor Lawrence Mead holds a doctorate in Political Science from Harvard University and has studied in some of the worlds top institutions. As a professor at NYU, Dr. Meade researches poverty and welfare in America. He recently wrote about how to extend work requirements for Welfare recipients.  Find links to his interests and works below. 

Kathy Mone

Finance Manager Academic and Student Affairs at CUNY

Kathy Mone has worked in public education financing for over three decades in the New York City area. She is the current Finance Manager of Academic and Student Affairs at CUNY. Prior to her time with CUNY Kathy worked with the New York City Department of Education in the Division of Special Education for more than 22 years.  She later worked as Special Education coordinator and business administrator at two New Jersey charter schools.  


Henry Saltzman

Organization MANAGEMENT Professional

Henry Saltzman is a career fundraiser for major non-profits in the New York City area. Recently retired Henry joined the Work First Foundation with an interest in research and development in the field. Henry uses his expertise in Non-profit development and fundraising to guide the foundation's growth. 



Fred Siegel

Senior Fellow, The Manhattan Institute

Fred Siegel is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a City Journal contributing editor. Fred joined the board to provide an expertise in Urban Governance. He is a professor emeritus of history at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, and a scholar in residence at Saint Francis College. Fred also spent years as a visiting professor of modern American history at the University of Paris. Other experience includes a senior advisory role to Rudy Giuliani during his mayoral campaign. 

What We Have Achieved

  • Connected social activists with businessmen, politicians and policy makers to share fresh approaches to resolving unemployment
  • Linked ex-offenders with temp-to-permanent job opportunities
  • Developed a wage subsidy program where employers retain 83% of placed workers
  • Helped place more than 10,000 people into the workforce
  • Launched a fellowship program connecting recent college graduates with the opportunity to make a direct impact on urban poverty while conducting research
  • Created meaningful curriculum to best educate out-of-work adults in HSE, Computer Literacy, ESL and Food Services


Contact Us


228 East 45th Street                                        (212) 599-5627 x128                                 info@theworkfirst.org
New York, NY 10017-2700