NYATEP Introduces the Inaugural Buffalo & Niagara Falls Workforce Leadership Academy Fellows

Mar 23, 2023

 Local leaders selected for the program in partnership with the Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program

March 23, 2023, Buffalo & Niagara Falls, New York – Today, the New York Association for Training and Employment Professionals (NYATEP) introduced the inaugural class of a new program designed to improve local economic mobility and workforce development efforts and present innovative solutions to the challenges faced by workers and businesses.

The Buffalo & Niagara Falls Workforce Leadership Academy, a yearlong fellowship developed through a partnership with the Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program, engages nonprofit, government, academic, and business leaders in a series of retreats and workshops as they work together to advance an innovative and equitable workforce ecosystem.

The Buffalo & Niagara Falls Workforce Leadership Academy is the first in the region and one of six to be launched this year through the support of Walmart, The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, and The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation. This Academy is the latest in a series of several Workforce Leadership Academies hosted in communities across the United States and Canada.

The 24 members of the Buffalo & Niagara Falls Workforce Leadership Academy Class of 2023 represent a range of nonprofit organizations, business associations, institutes of higher education, training efforts, and public agencies. The Academy launches on March 23, 2023, and will culminate with a collaborative capstone project presentation on December 5, 2023.

Fellows selected for the Buffalo & Niagara Falls Workforce Leadership Academy are:

Brittany Tranello, Erie Niagara Area Health Education Center; Carol Machowski, OLV Human Services; Carolyn Storms-Stoltman, Northland Workforce Training Center; Cassidy Malough, Goodwill of WNY; Dixie Farr, Workforce Development Consortium, Inc Buffalo Employment and Training Center; Harvey Miles, GreenForce Training, Inc.; Jake Moskal, Jewish Family Services of Western New York; Jennifer Pauly, Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce; Jennifer Van Dusen, The Construction Exchange of Buffalo & WNY Inc.; Jesana Gadley, M&T Bank - Tech Academy; Joseph Milazzo, Villa Maria College; Justin Rogers, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Niagara County, Katie Pieri, Nonprofit Support Group; Kristin Fields, Buffalo State; Kristine Bieniek, Buffalo Niagara Partnership; Lillian Kahris, Western New York Area Labor Federation, AFL-CIO; Michele Taylor, NYS Department of Labor; Mike LaBerta, Workforce Development Institute; Ondalee Horton, The Service Collaborative; Purnima Mohan, Westminster Economic Development Initiative (WEDI); Rob Leteste, Invest Buffalo Niagara; Roscoe Naguit, M&T Tech (M&T Bank); Stephanie Bevacqua, Niagara University; Stephanie Peete, Say Yes Buffalo.

"NYATEP is honored to be entrusted with bringing this incredible opportunity to New York State, starting with Buffalo and Niagara Falls. We are excited to learn from the Fellows and support their work as they rethink the regional workforce ecosystem," said Melinda Mack, Executive Director at NYATEP.

“Collaboration grows at the speed of trust, and today’s workforce development leaders are increasingly being asked to devise solutions through collaboration,” said Sheila Maguire, senior fellow at the Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program. “This Academy is a rare opportunity for these local leaders to step back with colleagues from Buffalo & Niagara Falls, reflect on their own organizational challenges, hear from leading practitioners from around the country, and develop the network and trust so essential for success.”

The Buffalo & Niagara Falls Workforce Leadership Academy is led by NYATEP and an Advisory Board that includes Lindsay Aleshire, M&T Bank; Paul Brown, Buffalo Building Trades Council & the Niagara Building Trades Council; Molly Carr, Jewish Family Services of WNY; Michael Casale, Niagara County Center for Economic Development; Betsy Constantine, Community Foundation of Buffalo; Susan Dundon, Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation; Karen Kwandrans, Niagara University; Christina Orsi, The John R. Oishei Foundation; Robert Restaino, Mayor of Niagara Falls; Casimiro Rodriguez, Hispanic Heritage of WNY; David Rust, Say Yes to Buffalo; Laura Smith, Buffalo Niagara Partnership; Stephen Tucker, Northland Workforce Training Center, and Thomas Ulbrich, Goodwill WNY.

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Megan Farry [email protected] 518-728-7751





Brittany Tranello, Erie Niagara Area Health Education Center

Brittany Tranello is the Director of Programs and Operations at Erie Niagara Area Health Education Center, and currently serves as the Site Coordinator for PATCH for HOPE Buffalo and Erie Niagara AHEC. With nearly 10 years of experience in human services, she brings extensive knowledge of program management, professional education, and youth and community engagement to her position. She has been with Erie Niagara AHEC for six years. 

In her current position, Brittany is responsible for direct oversight of programmatic and grant activities, promotes community partnerships and coalitions, and directs organizational policies and procedures. She also coordinates all activities for the PATCH (Providers and Teens Communicating for Health) Program at her center.   

Brittany graduated in 2016 with her Masters in Social Work (MSW) degree from the University at Buffalo, where she also earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Health and Human Services with a concentration in Community Mental Health in 2013.


Carol Machowski, OLV Human Services

A graduate of the NYATEP Advocacy Academy (2017-18), Carol has worked for OLV Human Services since 2009. Areas of passion include workforce development, networking, inclusive employment and accessible transportation. Professional affiliations include Southtown Regional Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors (current term), WNY Employment Consortium and the WNY Workforce Development Collaborative. Carol is a member of Senior Leadership at her organization, and an agency trainer for Trauma Informed Care, Risking Connection. Carol is proud mother to two young adult daughters, one who is in the US Navy and the other a Hospitality Management student at SUNY Niagara County Community College.


Carolyn Storms-Stoltman, Northland Workforce Training Center

Dr. Carolyn Storms-Stoltman is the Vice President of Enrollment and Organizational Advancement for Northland Workforce Training Center (NWTC). Dr. Storms-Stoltman is responsible for planning, directing, and executing activities within NWTC’s applications, admissions, financial aid processes, and leading NWTC's collaborative relationships with their educational partners. Dr. Storms-Stoltman is an experienced higher education professional with over nineteen years combined experience as teaching faculty and collegial project management/administration.

Born, raised, and educated in Western New York, Dr. Storms-Stoltman holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from State University of New York at Buffalo as well as a Master & Bachelor Degree in the same discipline. In addition to teaching in both university and community college environments, she has a research background, experience in best practice-driven workshop development, expertise in both qualitative and quantitative analytical methodologies, administrative, project management, grant writing experience, and is dedicated to data-driven consistent program evolution.



Cassidy Malough, Goodwill Industries of Western New York

Cassidy Malough is the Senior Manager of Program Delivery at the Goodwill of Western New York. She has worked at Goodwill since June of 2021 and specializes in program development and project management. Cassidy is responsible for the running of Goodskills Career Builder, a 4-week-long workforce development program. Her positive attitude and tireless energy over her two years at Goodwill have helped the program flourish. Earlier this year, because of the success of Goodskills, the program was awarded $3.6 M in funding which tripled the size of the program and its impact across WNY. Cassidy also has an impressive educational background; she graduated in June of 2021 from the University at Buffalo with a Master of Business Administration and Master of Social Work degrees. Cassidy is passionate about making a positive impact on the community. She has made it her mission to help others and bring about needed changes in her hometown. In her free time, Cassidy enjoys rock climbing, hiking, canyoning, and camping. 


Dixie Farr, Buffalo and Erie County Workforce Development Consortium, Inc. BETC

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, the powerful words of Dr. Martin Luther King epitomizes my civic commitment to community. I am Dixie Farr, a Buffalo, NY native, University at Buffalo, Master of Social Work alumni, who has chartered the workforce industry learning first and then becoming a change agent. Dixie accelerated her career while working at Center for Employment Opportunities and currently serves on Erie County Conditional Release Commission, and Erie County Corrections Specialist Advisory Board. Dixie is currently working as Deputy Director for Workforce Development Consortium, Inc. reimagining the way workforce service is provided in Erie County and making that imagery tangible. She is devoting time to forging relationships with stakeholders to develop inclusive solution-focused plans to change our local workforce system. Dixie is a working professional who prioritizes work-life balance, by spending quality time with her daughter, Lauren Farr, and her equally exciting family and friends. She loves to host family and friends for dinner and fun, only if they clean up afterward. Dixie is not afraid to speak about change, this, her faith-based integrity, and energizing sense of humor, makes her a magnet to those she meets.


Harvey Miles, GreenForce

I am community minded U.S. Marine veteran, educator and community programmer who is a faithful servant in all aspects of his life. 

My education includes M.Ed. In Adult Ed. from Buffalo State College, B.S. in Management from Houghton College, Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Instructional Design and E-Learning and A.S. from Erie Community College.

Currently, I serve as Training Coordinator for GreenForce Training Inc. GreenForce is a non-profit recruitment and training organization that was founded to assist companies recruit, train, and support their workforce. The GreenForce model was built to support companies and their employees by promoting open jobs within the community, assisting companies diversify their workforce, providing customized onboarding training specific to the employer’s operations, case management services for employees that need additional support, and retention services to ensure employees are supported during their first year of employment at a company and companies reduce the cost of turnover.

Previously, I served at Catholic Charities‚ Workforce & Education Services working several positions as a GED educator, job developer and program manager.  Also, I have served as Program Director of the Police Athletic League of Buffalo where I expanded programs available to the City of Buffalo youth including workforce development workshops.                   


Jake Moskal, Jewish Family Services of Western New York

Jake Moskal currently serves as Career Services Manager at Jewish Family Services of Western New York. In his role, he oversees the department and leads a team that is responsible for helping refugees in Buffalo become self-sufficient through gainful employment. The department also provides extended case management services, career development for individuals with disabilities, and career counseling for individuals in the community.

In his prior role at Jewish Family Services, he served as a Job Developer, where he developed and maintained relationships with employers, provided job placement services, and helped refugees achieve their goals of becoming self-sufficient.

Jake also has experience as a Job Coach at Community Services for Every1, where he helped individuals with disabilities enter the workforce and maintain their positions.

In his free time, Jake regularly volunteers at the Little Portion Friary Shelter and participates in community outreach events with the None Like You/We Care outreach organization.

He holds a BA in Economics and Philosophy from SUNY Albany, where he graduated Magna Cum Laude.


Jennifer Pauly, Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce

Jennifer Pauly has been fortunate to be able to work in the region she grew up in.  As President of the Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce she works for the communities in Niagara County, promoting businesses, civic organizations and community involvement.  Working alongside her staff and board of directors, Jennifer has grown the chamber‚ presence and programing over the past fourteen years.

Jennifer is a graduate of Leadership Niagara Class of 2011.  She is the Chairwomen of the Niagara Area Foundation and the Niagara County Peach Queen Program which awards scholarship funds to young women in Niagara County.  The program, with help from the Lewiston Kiwanis Club, fosters volunteering, civic pride, public speaking and personal growth in the young women of Niagara County.   Jennifer also serves on the Board of Directors of Destination Niagara Falls USA, Niagara Falls National Heritage Area and serves as an ex-officio member of the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, serving on several committees.  She is the recipient of the YWCA Emerging Leader Award in 2018 and Leadership Niagara 12 under 40 Inaugural Class in 2015.

Jennifer is a small business owner of The Music Box Lewiston, NY where she is a private music lesson instructor with twenty students, specializing in Violin and Piano. Jennifer and her husband Marty, have four daughters (Hannah, Ava, Elle and Emme) that keep them busy and involved in swim, dance training and school activities.


Jennifer Van Dusen, The Construction Exchange of Buffalo & WNY

Jennifer Van Dusen, the Workforce & Education Director for the Construction Exchange of Buffalo & WNY holds a Master’s degree in Curriculum & Instruction from Buffalo State College. She is responsible for increasing the construction industry’s workforce capacity by promoting careers within the industry and skilled trades to influencers (i.e., school officials, elected representatives, community groups), adult jobseekers and youth, building relationships with local workforce development training programs to create industry connections for those wishing to enter the industry, and finally engaging with industry members to understand its workforce needs and coordinate efforts to address them. Jenn is also in charge of managing and marketing the Construction Exchange University class calendar which provides industry specific education.


Jesana Gadley, M&T Bank | Tech Academy

Jesana Gadley is an advocate, analyst, and strategist based out of Buffalo, NY who lives by the motto‚ “Be the change you wish to see.”

Currently serving the Western New York region as the Community Engagement and Strategy Lead for the Tech Academy located within M&T Bank‚ Tech Hub, Jesana leads initiatives creating equitable pathways into the Tech Industry. Through this work, Jesana has supported WNYers with no tech experience pivot into tech careers and has engaged 600+ local youth in hands-on activities to make technical ideas relatable.

As a Buffalo native and proud Buffalo Public School graduate, Jesana is passionate about giving back to the Buffalo and Western New York communities and paying forward the many blessing that have been bestowed upon her.

Jesana began her career in the non-profit sector working with an education based non-profit. She holds a Bachelor of Science in International Business/International Relations and completed her Masters in Strategic Communications at American University.


Joseph Milazzo, Villa Maria College

Joseph Milazzo is an experienced Director of Workforce Development with a demonstrated history of designing Workforce Development Programs.  Joseph currently serves as the Director of Career Services at Villa Maria College where he oversees career readiness training and skill development for all college programs. Throughout his career, his goals have been to build partnerships and collaboration, reduce duplication of services, and streamline connections between education and the workforce to increase access for all adults. His design of the student support services model for the Northland Workforce Training Center serves as new standard in workforce development design.



Justin Rogers, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Niagara County

Justin is currently serving as the Executive Director for Cornell Cooperative Extension is Niagara County.  In this role he oversees county-wide educational programing in youth development, nutrition, agriculture & food systems, and the environment & natural resources.  He also serves as the Director for the Niagara County Fair.  Previously, Justin held leadership positions in the Admissions Offices for Canisius College and Hilbert College.  In addition to his professional roles, Justin has served on the Sweet Home Central District School Board and currently serves on the district-wide Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee.   Also, Justin serves on the Finance Committee for the WNY Land Conservancy.  Justin holds a M.S. and B.S. in Environmental Science from State University of New York College at Brockport.


Katie Pieri, Nonprofit Support Group

Katie Pieri is the Director of a funder working group focused on capacity building for nonprofit organizations in Western New York and Monroe County, the Nonprofit Support Group (NSG). She leads the design and oversight of the strategy for the NSG. In partnership with the group, she is setting the strategic vision, building networks in the community, and connecting nonprofits to existing resources. NSG in collaboration with partners has introduced new capacity building resources to the community such as Catchafire and Impact HQ. NSG has also supported initiatives such as the YWCA Equity through Development Program and the Institute for Nonprofit Practice.

Most recently, Katie served as the Director of Community Impact at the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, where she worked with a broad network of stakeholders to advance community initiatives such as the Community Lead Action Plan and the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative. She brings more than a decade of experience in nonprofits and local government, including the creation of a groundbreaking social service network across Cook County, Illinois focused on providing resources for individuals and families facing eviction.


Kristin Fields, Buffalo State University

Kristin Fields is the Director of the Continuing Professional Studies office at Buffalo State University. She serves as a bridge between community, academia, and industry, working to provide individuals the opportunity to flourish through the experience of education.

Previous to this role, Kristin served as a Training Director with Learning, Education and Development Services (LEADS). Here, she worked with the New York City Department of Social Services, where she trained trainers to authentically engage with their participants and placed humanity as the centerpiece of managerial development. Kristin has also worked privately as a consultant and strategic facilitator for over 20 years.

Kristin serves on the Industry Advisory Council for the Charter School of Applied Technologies and is a proud member of the Buffalo Executives Association, Amherst Chamber of Commerce, NYATEP and the Leadership Buffalo class of 2022. 

She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Speech Language Pathology and a Master of Science degree in Creativity and Change Leadership, both from Buffalo State University.  She is a born and raised Buffalonian, proud mother to Lincoln and Piper and caretaker of her super mutt, Boo Berry.


Kristine Bieniek, Buffalo Niagara Partnership

Kristine Bieniek, a Buffalo native, has been part of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership team since 2021 and is currently their Manager of Government Affairs & Workforce Development. In this role, she is actively engaged in various Employ Buffalo Niagara employer-led workforce development initiatives including their Talent Pipeline Management (TPM) efforts which focuses on working with regional employers to address their talent challenges, in part, by effectively collaborating with community-based organizations to address training needs. She previously served as a Deputy Director for a non-profit in Washington, DC who leads a national movement of people who believe in America and in bringing our leaders together to solve our toughest problems. Kristine also spent time working on Capitol Hill. She received her degree from the University at Buffalo in Political Science.


Lillian Kahris, Western New York Area Labor Federation, AFL-CIO

Lillian Kahris is the Project Director at the Western New York Area Labor Federation, AFL-CIO (WNYALF), a federation of affiliated public sector, private sector, and building trades unions throughout the WNY region representing over 140,000 workers. Her work involves conducting strategic research related to the organization‚ new initiatives and ensuring all programs are data-driven. Lillian is also a member of a research team at Poverty Solutions, a university-wide presidential initiative at the University of Michigan that partners with communities and policymakers to find new ways to prevent and alleviate poverty through action-based research.

Prior to joining the WNYALF team, Lillian completed a fellowship in qualitative research methods at the Stanford University Center on Poverty & Inequality, and served on a research team at Iowa State University‚ Public Science Collaborative investigating connections between substance use disorders and labor market outcomes. Lillian holds a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Michigan School of Social Work, specializing in policy and political social work, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University.


Michele Taylor, New York State Department of Labor

Michele Taylor is a Workforce Development Professional with over 13 years of experience providing career counseling, delivering services to businesses, planning and facilitating recruitment and job fair events, and forming partnerships with community organizations. Michele is currently an Employment Service Manager with the New York State Department of Labor where she manages four local Career Centers in the Buffalo/Niagara Region. In this role, she leads staff and partners with local businesses and organizations to support the business community and jobseekers. Michele is a member of two Workforce Boards and the Buffalo Niagara Human Resources Association.  She is committed to creating opportunities and finding resources to meet the needs for our ever-changing workforce. Her organization serves many underserved and underrepresented customers and helps connect jobseekers to employment and training opportunities, including apprenticeship programs and on the job training. Michele graduated from the University at Buffalo with a Master of Education Degree in School Counseling. She is a native Western New Yorker, is married, and has three daughters.



Mike LaBerta, Workforce Development Institute

Mike LaBerta has been with WDI since 2008 after graduating from John Carroll University in Ohio. In 2012 he was promoted to Western New York Regional Director and has since developed many relationships with a network of businesses, trainers, educators, and workforce professionals. 

Through visits, discussions, and program connectivity, he assists with workforce needs that serve a wide range of industries and sectors. Incumbent workforce needs and skills pipeline programs have been consistent areas of demand in the region, which entails developing creative solutions to meet employer needs.


Ondalee Horton, Service Collaborative

I am from Syracuse New York, where it could snow on Easter.

I am from a single father’s home, while learning to become a woman through a man’s eyes.

I am from a strong Christian background my faith is my strength.

I am from a love of cooking, with ten plus years of catering behind me.

I am from mothering two beautiful daughters now responsible young woman.

I am from the history of the Tuskegee Air Men.

I am from entrepreneur Special Events Coordinator‚ New Heights‚ founded in 2009.

I am from Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, School of Liberal Arts

I am from strength, compassion, loyalty, and reaching the height of all that you set your mind to and not giving up until you get there.

Prior to joining Buffalo Futures, Ondalee Horton worked for Catholic Charities of Onondaga County for more than 11 years specializing in Children and Family Services. Ondalee highly developed interpersonal skills have gained her the ability and experience to work with multicultural and multidisciplinary diverse populations. Her enthusiasm for community building and her dedication to service of those in need was demonstrated in her various roles throughout her 11-year tenure.

Ondalee is a community mentor and a certified parent educator, she instructed the Partners for a Healthy Baby/Lullaby League infant care class providing prenatal education to first time mom‚ and their partners, she facilitated and instructed the Incredible Years evidenced based parenting course, mentoring parents as they develop specific parenting skills that increase parents‚Äô ability. Ondalee role as Coordinator of the Parent Child Plus Program, helped Catholic Charities of Onondaga County develop and implement an evidence based Early Literacy School Readiness home visiting program within the community.

Before her work at Catholic Charities of Onondaga County, Ondalee was the Program Director for the Boys and Girls Club of Syracuse. She is an ambitious and driven individual having had valuable team building and leadership experiences. These characteristics have helped her achieve success in relationship building.

Ondalee current objective is to dedicate her talents and creative abilities and her personal drive to make a difference in Buffalo Futures.


Purnima Mohan, Westminster Economic Development Initiative (WEDI)

Purnima works at WEDI as the Economic Development Coordinator & Team Leader. Prior to WEDI, she worked for Rich Products Corporation and Coca Cola India. She currently works part time at the BNMC (Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus) as Food as Medicine Coordinator. She is also a facilitator at EPIC (Every Person Influences Children) where she facilitates parenting workshops. Purnima has volunteered with numerous nonprofits (Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper, Ronald McDonald house, etc.) and serves in the PTSA at Williamsville North High School and the Western Region PTA. She is the VP of Membership at Downtown Toastmasters and is on the Erie County Arts & Cultural Advisory Board. In her free time, she enjoys arts and crafts, singing, dancing, cooking, photography, and volunteering. She lives in Amherst with her husband and son. Purnima was named WEDI's Employee of the Month in January 2022.

Languages Spoken: English, Hindi, Tamil, Marathi

Connection to WEDI’s Mission: work with clients/business owners with diverse backgrounds at the West Side Bazaar. It's wonderful to see the passion in these business owners and it's a privilege to support WEDI’s clients and help them make their dreams a reality by providing training opportunities and guiding them through their incubation process. I love collaborating and working with different partners in the Community. 

Best Advice She Ever Received: When the going gets tough the tough get going!


Rob Leteste, Invest Buffalo Niagara 

Rob began his career during the Great Recession, which started a continuous thread of supporting our community to persevere and prosper. An Americorps term with the John R. Oishei Foundation’s Mobile Safety-Net Team provided Rob with a first-hand perspective on the great diversity of WNY’s economy and its people. Taking this foundational understanding of his community to higher education, Rob has worked with UB and SUNY Erie to create new economic opportunities for WNY, and to prepare our workforce to match our employers’ needs.

Rob has pursued extensive training in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. This education began with programming sponsored by the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, and was expanded upon with his participation in the national Education Pioneers fellowship. Rob spent most of 2020 in Chicago where he worked to guide future essential health care workers through short-term training programs. Drawn to Be In Buffalo, Rob returned to Buffalo Niagara to support yet another WNY perseverance story as the region kicked back in gear after the COVID pandemic.

With Invest Buffalo Niagara, Rob was the organization’s lead for WNY’s winning Build Back Better Regional Challenge grant.  As part of that award, Rob led InBN's 2022 Labor Market Assessment.



Roscoe Naguit, M&T Tech (M&T Bank)

Roscoe Naguit serves as Assistant Vice President of NextGen, a strategic operations component of M&T Tech (M&T Bank). His work with NextGen focuses on aligning the goals of various internal business partners and the those of M&T to formulate a sustainable strategy for recruitment and retention of tech talent. This approach encompasses establishing and cultivating various partnerships throughout industry and community to tell the story of M&T Tech and the various career pathways available throughout an evolving sector.

Prior to M&T, Roscoe held the role of Associate Director for Niagara University’s Niagara Global Tourism Institute (NGTI), responsible for connecting and collaborating through regional stakeholders to foster innovation and sustainability for the regional tourism industry. His work included the creation of a tourism and hospitality workforce program, a public Wi-Fi network in Niagara Falls’ tourism corridor, and TReC, a coworking and business incubation space in downtown Niagara Falls.

As a continuous community advocate, Roscoe serves on several boards across WNY, including Leadership Niagara, WNY National Academic Foundation (WNYNAF), Lewiston Porter Academy of Business & Finance, Niagara Alliance for Restorative Practices, and the Rotary Club of Niagara Falls.

Roscoe is a proud Purple Eagle, an alumnus of Niagara University (Finance & Economics).


Stephanie Bevacqua, Niagara University

Stephanie Bevacqua is the Operations Manager for Niagara University’s Levesque Institute for Civic Engagement. As the Levesque Institute is the University’s community outreach office, Stephanie works with both the campus community and various local leaders, policymakers, and service providers. She develops programming in areas such as childhood mental health, creates pathways to college for rising high school juniors and seniors living in underserved neighborhoods, coordinates professional development for early childhood providers, and  facilitates speaker series leading to impactful discussions on university community engagement and  diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Stephanie was formally trained as a public school teacher and holds New York State Teaching Licenses in Elementary Education and Literacy, as well as her School Building Leadership Advanced Certificate. She is an alumna of Buffalo State College, Medaille University, and Niagara University. Before working for Niagara University, Stephanie spent fourteen years serving as an adult literacy teacher for Orleans/Niagara BOCES and a New York State Education Department Distance Learning Trainer. In her free time, Stephanie enjoys going to her daughters’ karate practices, traveling to visit family around the country, and doing crafts.



Stephanie Peete, Say Yes Buffalo

Stephanie Peete is the Director of Workforce Development at Say Yes Buffalo, where she cultivates employer relationships, develops programming, leads antiracism initiatives, and contributes to strengthening the youth employment ecosystem in the Buffalo region.

Stephanie earned a Master’s in Public Administration from Hilbert College, and graduated from Canisius College with a dual Bachelor’s in Urban Studies and Sociology. Stephanie is passionate about racial equity, inclusion, and supporting young people in her community. She currently volunteers as a Say Yes Buffalo Mentor; serves on the Board of Directors for Theatre of Youth as Vice President; is an advisory board member of Women United through the United Way for Buffalo & Erie County; a co-chair for the Women of Color Summit; a 2021 recipient of the Bar Association of Erie County’s Liberty Bell Award, a 2022 Buffalo Business First IDEA Award recipient, and a 2023 ATHENA Young Professional Finalist.

Most recently, she and her mother launched Second Chapter Bookstore, which is a Black-owned small business operated in Buffalo, NY. They don't just sell books! As a mother-daughter duo, they combine their mutual passion for Black culture and love for reading to create spaces and events that cultivate joy, community, and shared learning while centering the Black experience.