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stephanie pinder, executive director of the lincoln square neighborhood center, died unexpectedly the weekend after christmas from unknown causes. she was 60.

pinder is survived by her son chitepo, father joseph andbrother duane, along with a niece and nephew and two grandchildren.

pinder, who joined the center in 1999, revamped the facility to make it an integral part of the community for residents of the amsterdam houses, a public housing project in the west 60s. she worked to renovate the physical space and expand programs to meet an economically diverse community.

"when she first got there, lincoln square center was deader than a doorknob," said fredda vladeck, who met pinder three days after she joined the organization. "she created the space and environment that [let] people actually believe that what they thought mattered and they could make a difference."

though pinder was executive director, she often pitched in answering telephones and took time to get to know visitors, board members and staff.

"she didn't adhere to a 9 to 5, monday through friday schedule," said katie cunningham, vice president of the center's board of directors. "she really took time to know people who came to the center and getting to know people who support the center. that requires a lot of time and commitment."

council member gale brewer, who met pinder 20 years ago, praised her leadership on raising money, forming ties to community stakeholders and bringing in a retirement program that let seniors age in their homes.

"i will miss stephanie pinder more than i can ever express here," brewer said in a statement. "we looked to her for the advice and knowledge that comes with years of experience in leading programs that truly help families and individuals."

she was one of only two african-american directors of settlement houses in the city, according to brewer's office.

a viewing in harlem, where pinder grew up, is scheduled jan. 7 from 3 to 6 p.m. at benta's funeral home, 630 saint nicholas ave. at 141st street. the funeral follows from 6 to 8 p.m.

the burial will be held jan. 8 at 10 a.m. at woodlawn cemetery in the bronx, 501 e. 233rd st. a meal and prayer will follow the burial at 1 p.m. at lincoln square neighborhood center, 250 w. 65th st. between west end and amsterdam avenues.

pinder's family requests contributions to the neighborhood center in lieu of flowers. condolences can be sent to her brother and son at the center.

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