Lu grew up here in Buffalo and left to pursue her undergraduate education at Georgetown University in D.C. Following that, she spent several years in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps on the Colville Reservation in Omak, Washington before continuing on to earn her M.A. from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. Lu returned to Buffalo and spent 12 years as a campus minister at Canisius College before becoming the Executive Director of Family Promise of WNY. She is motivated each and every day by the children and parents FPWNY serves to make this program better. She lives with her husband and two children on the West Side of Buffalo.
A graduate of D'Youville College with a B.S. in Business Administration. Denise’s diverse background includes experience in both the municipal and private sectors. However, she found her niche working in Human Services. Denise worked for Preventive Services within the Department of Social Services, providing assistance to families at risk of losing their children to Foster Care. She also spent six years with the Buffalo Board of Education as a Substitute Teacher for grades P-K through 12. She then went on to work for the Erie County Department of Youth Services as a Youth Detention Worker. Denise currently serves as the Case Manager of FPWNY, helping families experiencing homelessness regain stability.
Iris Applewhite grew up in Buffalo, New York before moving to Mississippi where she ran into Hurricane Katrina. Katrina is the only woman in the world that Iris is afraid of. Iris lived in Nashville for a few years where she outran a tornado. She decided to move home to Buffalo. Iris worked in medical insurance billing previous to joining the FPWNY team. She enjoys making people laugh, loves spending time with our families and helps keep our space organized. In fact, keeping things in order is kind of a big deal for Iris!
Grace is from the Appalachian valley of Roanoke, Virginia and moved to Buffalo to study biology and English at Canisius College. Inspired by her Jesuit Education to "stand with and for others," Grace is serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA and working as the volunteer coordinator at Family Promise. She believes in the power of giving back to a community - especially a community which she has been fortunate to call home. Grace loves to learnm watch documentaries, read and be outdoors. Hiking trails, walks in the park, swimming, and kayaking are a few ways she likes to soak up the sunshine. Grace is always happy to meet new people and explore new ideas, so feel free to stop by and chat.
Cordelia Gidney is our amazing van driver and housekeeper! She started with our team in the fall of 2018 and has become a beloved figure to our guests.
Christian Hoffman is the Director of Communication at Community Missions in Niagara County, the largest private provider of basic human needs and of mental health services in the area. Since joining the Mission in February 2013, Mr. Hoffman has garnered unprecedented media coverage for the agency, launched several new initiatives, and helped secure hundreds of thousands of dollars in grant funding. He resides in Cheektowaga with his wife, Toni, and two children, Elliana (6) and Jack (3). He has served on the Board of Family Promise of WNY since 2014.
CJ Van Note is an In-Charge Senior with BS&P CPA’s and Consultants working in all areas of taxation. CJ has been in the tax industry since she graduated from Niagara University with her MBA in 2012. CJ is passionate about helping the people in the City of Buffalo in any way she can including serving as treasurer of Family Promise of WNY, serving on the board of Dog Ears Bookstore and Café located in South Buffalo and volunteering with many organizations through her firm. CJ has been on the board of Family Promise since November of 2015 and currently resides in Lake View with her husband.
Lee Evans is an Attorney at Gerber Ciano Kelly Brady, LLP where he practices workers’ compensation defense law. Lee received his J.D. from the State University of New York at Buffalo’s School of Law, and his B.A. in Political Science and Government and Art History from Case Western Reserve University in Ohio. He has served on the Board of Trustees for Family Promise of WNY since 2012.
Kristen Luppino-Gholston is the Director of the Saffrin Center for Sustainability and Civic Engagement at Daemen College. Prior to moving to Daemen, she was at the WNY Women’s Foundation, Catholic Charities WIC, and Child and Family Services Haven House. She has been working with and for the women of Western New York for nearly 15 years. A community social worker by training, Kristen does macro-level work to promote safe and healthy WNY communities by building collaborations, increasing opportunities, educating, researching, and promoting justice. Kristen is a member of the SUNY at Buffalo Chapter of the Rho Kappa Social Work Honors Society and was named one of Buffalo Business First’s “40 Under 40” in 2017.
Clay is an attorney at Gerber Ciano Kelly Brady, LLP and as part of the firm’s Insurance Solutions Practice Group he concentrates principally on insurance coverage analysis and litigation. He has also handles various civil and commercial matters ranging from car accident injuries to multi-million dollar commercial disputes. Drawing from a background involving environmental, criminal and personal injury law, Clay brings an adaptable approach to insurance and general litigation matters. Clay grew up in Rochester, New York and has resided in Buffalo for the past 11 years. He was previously involved in fundraising for inner city schools and wants to focus on helping Family Promise of Western New York grow and help as many families as possible.
Michael Lynch, LMSW, is an assistant clinical professor for field education at the University at Buffalo School of Social Work. Lynch works with the field department connecting students to meaningful agency placements. He has spent a number of years working with the field department in various capacities, including as a faculty liaison and a field educator. Additionally, he brings experience working in a variety of social work settings including urban education, program development, child welfare and community collaborations. Michael lives on the west side of Buffalo with his wife, Meghan, and his son, Hugo. Michael has a strong commitment to social justice and equity and pursued helping at Family Promise after hearing about their mission and the impact the work is having on the community.
Kandy is a member of Crossroads Lutheran Church and a church council member for three years. As a graduate of the Cornell Hotel School and a Certified Club Manager, Kandy spent her early career in the hospitality industry and country club management in Minnesota, New York, and Pennsylvania. Her passion for ecology and the environment has led her to further studies at Erie Community College in Environmental Science. Currently, Kandy is an accomplished yoga instructor at the Himalayan Institute, Canterbury Woods Retirement Community, Maryvale Community Education and previously an adjunct yoga instructor at the University at Buffalo. Kandy embodies yoga philosophy throughout her daily life and is a passionate animal advocate, naturalist, and volunteer for numerous area non-profits including Family Promise, BuffaloNiagara Waterkeepers, Friends of Night People, and Second Chance Boxer Rescue.
Jamie Owens is self-employed in handyman and horticultural services and also serves as a construction manager for Fuller Center Disaster Relief. Jamie is an ordained elder in Presbyterian USA and a member of Orchard Park Presbyterian Church . Jamie hopes to be an asset to Family Promise drawing from his experience in construction, facility management and property maintenance. Jamie lives in Orchard Park with his wife Susana and their four dalmatians .
Steve Blass is a Field Agent for the Knights of Columbus where he sells Life Insurance. Annuities, Long Term Care Insurance, and Disability Insurance. Steve has a Bachelors of Science in Childhood and Special Education from Daemen College and a Masters of Arts in Organizational Leadership from Medaille College. Steve brings fundraising and development skills and knowledge from previous work experiences to the board. Steve has been helping Family Promise of WNY since 2014 and on the Board since 2017.
Annette Pecenco is the Director of Human Resources at The Buffalo Club and has been in the Human Resources field since 2001. She received a Bachelor of Science from SUNY Fredonia in Business Administration and has earned and maintains two professional certifications in Human Resources (PHR and SHRM-CP). Annette lives in Clarence with her husband David and her two teenage daughters, Molly and Megan.