Collective Impact Leadership

Working collectively with Buffalo based institutions is perhaps the most crucial element of the Say Yes approach. Our partners from the Buffalo Public Schools, City of Buffalo, Erie County, New York State, unions, parents, students, philanthropy, institutes of higher education, businesses, and the larger religious community share our vision of more high school graduates, post-secondary graduates, economic mobility, and fulfilling professional employment for graduates of Buffalo public and charter schools.

The Say Yes Buffalo Partnership recognizes that the only way to dramatically expand access to opportunity for Buffalo’s young people is by working together towards this common goal.

Community Leadership Council

Composed of more than 60 elected officials, business leaders, educators, parents, District officials, community leaders and faith leaders, the Community Leadership Council is charged with monitoring and facilitating the progress of Say Yes Buffalo. The Council meets 3 times per year, and all meetings are open to the public.

Sharon Belton-Cottman

President, Buffalo Board of Education

Hon. Byron Brown

Mayor, City of Buffalo

Dr. Catherine Collins

Member, 8th Judicial District, New York State Board of Regents

Steve Swift

Chair, Say Yes Buffalo Scholarship Board

Hon. Tim Kennedy

New York State Senator for District 63

Hon. Crystal Peoples-Stokes

New York State Assemblymember for District 141

Lisa Chimera

Deputy Erie County Executive

Operating Committee

The Say Yes Buffalo Operating Committee meets monthly to review progress, challenges and opportunities related to Say Yes Buffalo and its work.

Dr. Callie Johnson

Deputy Commissioner, City of Buffalo

Sharon Belton-Cottman

President, Buffalo Board of Education

Mark Boyd

Chief of Staff, Office of NY Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes

Marie Cannon

Commissioner of Social Services, Erie County

Dr. Catherine Collins

New York State Board of Regents

Betsy Constantine

President/CEO Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo

Jody Covington

President Buffalo Council of School Supervisors and Administrators

Dr. Nathan Daun-Barnett

Education Leadership & Police Department Chair, University at Buffalo

Dr. Matthew Giordano

President, Villa Maria College

Dr. Kate Haq

Curriculum Chair, Buffalo Parent Teacher Organization

Molly Hirschbeck

Communications Director, Office of Senator Tim Kennedy

Dr. Will Keresztes

Chief of Intergovernmental Affairs, Planning, & Community Engagement, Buffalo Public Schools

Blythe T. Merrill

Senior Vice President for Programs, The John R. Oishei Foundation

Marc Mueller

Assistant Commissioner, Department of Social Services, Erie County

Rich Nigro

President, Buffalo Teachers Federation

Ed Speidel

President, District Parent Coordinating Council

Dr. Adiam Tsegai

Officer in Charge, SUNY Erie

Dr. Tonja Williams

Superintendent, Buffalo Public Schools

Emmanuel Wright

Student Representative

Board of Directors

Funding for Say Yes Buffalo Scholarships is provided by private individuals, families, businesses and organizations who live in or care about Western New York. The Say Yes Buffalo Board of Directors determines eligibility for Say Yes Buffalo scholarships and advocates on behalf of the program.


Stephen Swift, Chair
Bill Gisel, Vice Chair
Brigid Doherty, Treasurer
Dr. Yvonne Minor-Ragan, Secretary


Melissa Baumgart
Kendra Brim
Trina Burruss
Betsy Constantine
Temara Cross
Brigid Doherty
Dr. Michael J. Edbauer
Michelle-Marie Gant
Gretchen Geitter
William Gisel, Jr.
Kenya H. Hobbs
Gary Quenneville
Dr. Yvonne Minor Ragan
Katie Schneider
Marsha Sullivan
Stephen Swift
Dr. Francisco M. Vasquez
Jack Walsh

Board Members Emeritus:

Nancy Davis
Clotilde Perez-Bode Dedecker
Dr. Danis J. Gehl
Roger Hungerford
Jeremy Jacobs, III
William Joyce
Daniel Lewis
Gary Quenneville
Rev. Rachelle Robinson
Hugh Russ, III
Nick Sinatra
Alphonso O’Neil-White

In Loving Memory:

Hon. Hugh Scott

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