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.
Brianna attended Fredonia where she played rugby and studied sociology and psychology. She comes from a huge family and believes in the importance of healthy families, which is one of the reasons she was drawn to work at Family Promise. She lives in Tonawanda near the Niagara River where she walks with her daughter, her cat Salem and her dog Rooney.
Akela is in charge of keeping our building running smoothly! She wears many hats and manages everything from inventory to how to work the ice machine. She has been a dedicated member of our team and has even adopted a cat living outside our shelter!
After graduating from SUNY Fredonia with a Music Business degree, Susana has spent most of her career in marketing/communications; starting off in concert promotion, working at a number of advertising agencies as well as several firms in their in-house marketing departments. She decided it was time to use her skills for the greater good, serving the community and helping others in any way she can. She's extremely grateful to be a part of Family Promise.
Roberta has been on our team for over a year now! She helps keeping the shelter flowing smoothly.
Isohie (Soso)'s role is to support our graduated families and help keep them stable. She supports our families as they successfully transition out of shelter and into apartments and then continues to work with them on any unmet stability goals while housed. She also spearheads our PayDay and MoneyPeace program, working with our families on financial literacy.
Jenn (they/them or she/her) completed their undergraduate education at Canisius College, studying Art History, Anthropology, and Gender Studies. Jenn is passionate about social justice and working with youth, which has continued to draw them back to working in local communities of Buffalo at grassroots levels. Jenn is very excited to be working with the families we see here, and creating lasting relationships among the community through their role.
Hannah is native to Trinidad, having moved to the United States in the early 2000's. She has held many positions at Family Promise. As our Chef, Hannah brings her passion for cooking to the guests in our shelter. As someone who has lived through her own share of hard times, Hannah believes in the power of faith and staying positive in difficult situations and shares that outlook with our guests.
CJ is an International tax manager for a top 35 CPA firm, Aprio. She has been involved with Family Promise since 2015 and has a passion for helping people in the Buffalo community. CJ has lived in the Buffalo area for her entire life and currently lives in Hamburg with her husband Kyle and dog Gus.
Steve Blass is a Financial Service Representative for Vision Financial Group. 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.
Kaylei Nickerson, CPA is the Controller at Beyond Support Network (formerly The Cantalician Center and Learning Disabilities Association of WNY). After graduating from SUNY Fredonia with a degree in Public Accountancy, Kaylei relocated to Buffalo and is passionate about becoming involved in the local community. She is eager to use her professional experience to aid the mission of Family Promise and play a small role in making a lasting impact in the lives of others. Outside of work Kaylei enjoys hiking with her dog, cycling, kayaking and spending time with friends and family.
Dawn is the Director of Programs at Every Person Influences Children (EPIC), an agency offering parenting, family engagement, and professional development programming. Prior to EPIC, Dawn supervised a preventive services program for five years preventing children from foster care placement or assisting with their return back to their parent’s care. Dawn has been working with children and families for over 17 years in different capacities. Dawn has a Bachelors of Arts in health and human services from the University at Buffalo and a Master in Business Administration from Medaille College. She is a Buffalo native who has a strong passion for helping others and serving her community.
Matthew currently works for Verizon as the Senior Manager of Learning and Development. In this role, Matthew is responsible for overseeing the L&D needs for Verizon vendor partners from a national perspective. Matthew is a native of Buffalo, New York and currently resides in Amherst with his wife, Asia, and 2-year-old son, Matthew2. Matthew graduated from St John Fisher College with a degree in Business Management. Matthew is involved with serving with Buffalo Prep and is passionate about helping serve the city of Buffalo.
Marissa Desiderio is the Senior EAP Clinician & Training Coordinator with Child & Family Services of Erie County. Prior to Child & Family Services, Marissa was a Supervisor with Say Yes to Education Buffalo and Catholic Charities. She has been working with children and families for over 15 years in various capacities. Marissa is also a clinical social worker who maintains a small private practice.
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.
Melissa Keith is the Media Director at Abbey Mecca. Joining Abbey Mecca in 2006, Melissa has held various positions in the media department. In 2020, she was named to her current role as media director for the agency. She oversees and manages research, planning, buying & post-buy analysis for both traditional and digital advertising for agency clients. A Western New York native, Melissa has more than 15 years of experience in media management. Melissa recently graduated from the Leadership Buffalo Class of 2021 Rising Leaders.
Margot Knab is a senior associate at Colligan Law LLP, and her practice relates primarily to business law.
She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Legal Studies with minors in Political Science and Sociology from
the University at Buffalo in 2013 and earned her Juris Doctor from the University of Connecticut School
of Law in 2017. She is admitted to practice law in New York and Connecticut. She is a Buffalo native and
resides in North Buffalo.
Danielle Maurice is a Social worker in the Erie County Court System. Prior to working in the court system, she was a preventive case worker at Say Yes to Education Buffalo and Catholic Charities. Danielle has experience working with many marginalized populations and has worked in the child welfare system for over 10 years. Danielle believes "People appreciate and never forget that helping hand especially when times are tough." by Catherine Pulsifer.
Clara Moran is fundraising professional with more than 10 years of leading a multi-million-dollar annual campaign. Progressively taking on roles of increasing responsibility over the years, currently serving as the Development Officer at MMRI and previously as the Chief Development Officer at Catholic Charities of Buffalo. Recognizing Clara for her dynamic leadership, Clara has been nominated for the Athena Young Professional Leadership Award and is the graduate of the 2021 Leadership Buffalo Class. Clara’s involvement with the community extends to her service on multiple boards. She lives in Western New York with her husband and their two daughters.
Michael Murak serves as a Commercial Real Estate Financing Team Lead and Senior Relationship Manager for Evans Bank. He has been serving the WNY Community as a commercial banker for over 20 years and has been involved with multiple development projects that have helped reshape the Buffalo/ Niagara landscape. Michael achieved an MBA from the University of Buffalo and was a graduate of the Leadership Buffalo Program. In addition to receiving his undergraduate degree in accounting from Canisius College, he also received a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army. Michael resides in Amherst with his wife Dana (whom he “recruited” from Nashville, TN while on active duty) and their two daughters, Ava and Ella. Michael is passionate about his faith and family which is what instantly attracted him to serving the families that temporarily reside at Family Promise of WNY.
Jim Connolly is retired after a career working in management and finance in both the public and private sectors. Before his retirement, he held the position of the Hamburg Highway Superintendent for 12 years. He has served on various school boards and as a Councilmember of the Hamburg Town Board for 15 years. He currently serves as the Director of the Erie County Fiscal Stability Board and volunteers with Excalibur Leisure Skills Center, a nonprofit that works with the differently abled and the disadvantaged. As the father of four and grandfather of twelve, he truly appreciates the importance of family and is looking forward to helping continue and expand the important work of Family Promise!