Board Members

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Chris Holdridge, Pastor & Founder of New City Fellowship Beechwood, Beechwood Resident

Chris was born and raised in Rochester and attended #28 School and East High School. He holds an MA in Secondary Education and English from St. John Fisher College, an MA in Literature from SUNY Brockport, and an MA in Biblical Studies from Reformed Theological Seminary. After returning to and teaching at East High for 8 years, Chris changed his career focus and in 2012 was instrumental in launching a neighborhood outreach ministry on Parsells Avenue in Beechwood: 441 Ministries. In 2016, Chris founded New City Fellowship Beechwood, a local church grown and cultivated through the work of 441 Ministries.

Chris has served on the board the Beechwood Neighborhood Coalition since 2012. He and his family are committed to local cross-cultural and cross-socio-economic relationship building in order to solve problems and grow in their knowledge and understanding of our neighborhood. The Holdridges are book nerds, and enjoy spending time in the woods, discovering and studying Rochester history, hanging out with their neighbors, and the immersion of their lives in the life of their local church and neighborhood.

Hollis S. Budd, Executive Director, Max and Marian Farash Charitable Foundation

Hollis S. Budd is the first Executive Director of the Max and Marian Farash Charitable Foundation (Rochester, N.Y.), one of the largest private foundations in upstate New York. The foundation is dedicated to the civic and religious communities of its founders, who believed in the importance of education in all of its aspects and knew the power of entrepreneurial creativity. Ms. Budd joined the Farash Foundation on January 1, 2011 after a thirty-one-year career at the University of Rochester. Her most recent position at the university was as Associate Dean for MBA Administration and External Relations at the William E. Simon Graduate School of Business Administration. During her tenure at the university, she also served as the institution’s first female vice president.

Ms. Budd served as a trustee of the Farash Foundation from 2007 until her appointment as Executive Director in 2011. Her present and past board affiliations include Connected Communities, Inc., Simon School’s Dean’s Forum, charitySTRONG, Rochester Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative Steering Committee, 2020 MicroClinic Initiative, Jewish Community Center, Jewish Family Service, Memorial Art Gallery, Friends of School of the Arts, Junior Achievement, Friends of Strong Memorial Hospital, Golisano Children’s Hospital, and the Consortium for Graduate Studies in Management. 

A Chicago native and a graduate of Rush Medical College in Chicago, she also completed graduate work at the University of Rochester and work at the Center for Creative Leadership. She and her husband, Dr. James Budd, are residents of Rochester, N.Y., and are the parents of two adult daughters and have three grandchildren.

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Reverend Dr. Cynthia Cole, CRPA-P

Reverend Dr. Cole is a life-long learner, grass roots educator, activist, community advocate, Minister of the Gospel, and resident of the EMMA neighborhood. Dr. Cole is a native of North Carolina and a 32-year resident of Brooklyn, New York where she graduated from Brooklyn College with a BA in Sociology and an Education Minor.  In 1972 Rev. Cole owned and operated her first 501(c)3 business, The United Creative Cultural Company, and was first ordained in ministry in 1982. She has received accolades and awards for service and has held Executive Board positions on numerous local, regional, national and international churches and organizations. Her arrival in Rochester in 1997 and marriage to her deceased husband occurred after retirement from NY, State service at SUNY Health Science Center (Downstate Medical) Inpatient Psychiatric Unit. In Rochester, NY, Dr. Cole was ordained in 2001, by Bishop John Marks, at TiLC Ministries, in 2004 by Bishop Dr. James H. Evans, Jr founder of St. Luke Tabernacle Community Church, and in 2014 at the present church where she serves, In Christ New Hope Ministries by founder and Pastor Roger Breedlove. Having received the Doctorate in Ministry in 2015 from Masters International School of Divinity, it is her extensive experience in Not for Profit, Private Industry, Faith Based and Human Services coupled with her studies in Black Church Leadership Studies (CRCDS –Colgate Rochester Crozier Divinity-Thurman-King); Monroe Community, College-Alcohol and Chemical Dependency; Jail and Prison Ministry-13 years; Certified Recovery Peer Advocacy, Seniors Ministries; Grief Counseling and strong community ties in the founding and support of EMMA-Neighborhood & Business Association that bring her to the tables convened by Connected Communities, in continuation of a life-long work.

Kyle Crandall, Faculty Member, Varsity Basketball Coach, East High School - Vice Chair

Kyle and his wife Ginger have been residents of the Beechwood community since purchasing their first home in 1999. Serving in multiple capacities at the neighborhood level, Kyle and Ginger share a strong commitment to their neighborhood. Together, they are raising their three children in Beechwood and working hard to ensure that all of their neighbors can also raise their families in a safe community.

Kyle has been elected as President of the Beechwood Neighborhood Coalition multiple times. He is committed to working together with all citizens, good businesses, community organizations, and City government to see the Beechwood and EMMA neighborhoods become a safe and desirable community for families to live.

Kyle is a respected teacher at East High School. He also coaches Varsity Baseball at East and Varsity Basketball at North East College Prep. Kyle and his family worship at Bethel Christian Fellowship.

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Wanda Cooper, Regional Executive Director - Hillside Work Scholarship Connection

 Wanda has more than 20 years of experience and an extensive background in the non-profit sector. She has a Bachelor’s in Community and Human Services from SUNY Empire State College and is currently pursuing her Master’s in Business Administration at St. John Fisher College. Wanda has earned several community and academic awards and has served many boards and committees. She currently serves as the Regional Executive Director for the Rochester and Buffalo Regions at Hillside Work Scholarship Connection.

 Wanda has participated in several initiatives that work towards empowering Latina women and young girls.  By sharing her story of how she overcame the perils of domestic violence, she has influenced numerous women to pursue better personal relationships, career paths, and educational goals.

 Wanda understands the importance of respecting all people, which is of the utmost importance for our society - where families are experiencing significant losses, difficulties, poverty, etc. She believes that the best and only approach to serving our community is to meet each individual with the utmost respect, and with the focus of partnering with those in need to find the best way to help. 

George Moses, Executive Director, NEAD - Board Secretary

George Moses serves as Executive Director of North East Area Development, Inc. (NEAD) and Group 14621 Community Association Inc. Both organizations are members of the Neighborhood Preservation Coalition of New York State. George brings over 30 years of experience in grass roots community development to NEAD. He has a proven history of leadership, guidance, and service, evidenced by his strong commitment and involvement at all levels of his community. NEAD’s mission is to improve the quality of life for residents in the northeast areas of the City of Rochester. George is a graduate of the Rochester City School District and Monroe Community College. In addition, he proudly served his country in the United States Navy.

George has served as a contributor to the Democrat and Chronicles’ Editorial Board, and as President of the Parent Teacher Organization at John James Audubon School #33. George has received numerous awards including the 2003 Monroe County Democratic Committee Volunteer of the Year, ABC’s Lena Gantt Distinguished Community Service Award, MCC Alumni Making A Difference in the Community Award, Beechwood Neighborhood Coalition Leadership Award, and City of Rochester Unsung Heroes Award.

George feels strongly that community development is rooted in the 4 P's: People- our number one assets; Place - based strategies that develop & renovate current neighborhoods; Partnerships- alliances are key to survival; and Policies- to achieve systemic change. George is a lifelong resident of Rochester NY. He and his wife currently reside in the Beechwood neighborhood where they are raising their five children together. 

Leonard Brock, Ed.D, Director, Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative

Dr. Leonard M. Brock, Director for the Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative at United Way, is a certified leadership coach, scholar-practitioner, consultant, business owner and non-profit executive. 

In May 2011, Dr. Brock completed the Leadership Coaching Certificate Program at the University of Rochester and McArdle Ramerman Co. Dr. Brock earned his Doctorate of Education in Executive Leadership from St. John Fisher College in August 2009. In addition, Dr. Brock holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Communication Studies and a Master’s of Public Administration, both obtained from the State University of New York College at Brockport.

Dr. Brock has extensive experience working with inner-city youth and young adults in non-profit, government and collegiate settings. Dr. Brock is a nationally recognized scholar-practitioner, having worked in various states throughout the country to advance education reform and black male achievement.

Dr. Brock is recognized for his many contributions to the Rochester community with numerous awards and accolades including: Democrat and Chronicle Emerging African American Leaders Under 40, Author O. Eve Opportunity for Higher Education Program Alumni of the Year Award at the State University of New York College at Brockport, Top African American Leaders Under 40, New York State TRIO Achiever award, Rochester Business Journal Top Forty Under 40 Award, and Black Men ROC Awards.

 

Jeremy Cooney, Principal, Red Thread Strategies - Governance Committee Chair

Jeremy Cooney is the founder of Red Thread Strategies. He serves as a strategist and advisor to companies and non-profit organizations looking to partner with government in the pursuit of public good.

As an attorney, Jeremy has worked at all levels of government—from the U.S. Congress, to the New York State Capitol, to Rochester City Hall.  Most recently, he worked as a vice president at Mercury Public Affairs in New York City. Prior to that he served as senior director of community relations for Empire State Development, focusing on downstate economic development initiatives under the administration of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. Before moving to New York City, he served as chief of staff to Rochester Mayor Lovely A. Warren. 

Jeremy is a graduate of Albany Law School and resides in downtown Rochester. In 2011, the Rochester Business Journal named him to its “40 Under 40” list of young professionals. He is an advocate for supporting the next generation of civic leaders in Upstate New York.

Kim Russell, VP, Home Leasing - Strategic Planning Committee Chair

Kimberly Russell joined the development team at Home Leasing in early 2015.  Kim’s responsibilities include new business generation and developing strategic partnerships. Prior to joining the company, she was an attorney in private practice for over 20 years, focusing on all areas of residential and commercial real estate.  Over the course of her 20+ years of practice, she remained active in the professional community serving on the board of the Greater Rochester Association of REALTORS, chairing the REALTORS Charitable Foundation, and as president of the local chapter of the Women’s Council of REALTORS. Kim has been a proud downtown homeowner residing in the Grove Place neighborhood since 1997. 

Kim’s passion for creating affordable housing and communities where every resident can thrive led her to Connected Communities.  She played an instrumental role in the launch of the organization as a founding board member and currently chairs the Strategic Planning Committee and is a member of the Housing Committee. 

Education: J.D., State University of New York at Buffalo magna cum laude; B.A., University of Delaware, Political Science (major), Business Administration (minor) summa cum laude.

Affiliations: Episcopal Senior Life Communities, Board Secretary, member Governance and Housing committees; Monroe County Bar Association; New York Bar Association; New York State Association for Affordable Housing; Grove Place Association;Connected Communities, Inc. board member, Housing and Strategic Development committees.

Peter G. Robinson, Vice President & Chief Operating Officer; Vice President, Government and Community Relations, URMC - Board Member

Mr. Robinson is the Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the University of Rochester Medical Center and Vice President, Government and Community Relations for the University.  He has responsibility for the University’s role in economic development.  He is a voting member of the New York State Public Health & Health Planning Council, the Chairman of the Board of High Technology of Rochester, Inc. (HTR), Excell Partners, Inc., and a past Chairman for New YorkBIO and Greater Rochester Enterprise (GRE).  He serves on the boards of several private and public community agencies.  He earned his bachelor’s degree from the City College of New York and Master’s degrees from the New School for Social Research and Columbia University. 

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Shaun Nelms, EdD, Superintendent, East High School

Dr. Shaun Nelms is superintendent of East Upper and Lower Schools and director of the Center for Urban Education Success at the University of Rochester Warner School of Education, where he also serves as an associate professor. He became East’s superintendent in 2015, when the University of Rochester, as the Educational Partnership Organization (EPO), assumed full management for East. Under his leadership, Dr. Nelms is committed to creating a positive and successful educational experience for students and is working to create a replicable reform model for urban secondary schools.  Before becoming East’s superintendent, he served as a district administrator and principal in other suburban, urban and high-need districts. Some of his career highlights include improving student achievement and closing equity gaps. Dr. Nelms earned a doctorate in K-12 school leadership from the University of Rochester, where he also earned his master’s in education, and a bachelor’s in education from SUNY Fredonia.
 

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Joe Wesley, Director of Strategic Workforce Development, Wegmans Food Markets

Joe has 31 years of service at Wegmans Food Markets with a very diverse background covering such areas of the company as Accounting, Store Management, Construction, Procurement, Bakery Manufacturing, and currently works in the Legal Department aligning Community workforce efforts with attention around Middle Skill jobs. Joe is part of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Council for the Finger Lakes region and Co-Chairs the Pathways to Prosperity workgroup to promote job growth for both youth and adults as well as efforts to reduce poverty in the region. The workgroup is made up of representatives from business, organized labor, government, not for profits and academic institutions. Joe is also a member of the Workforce Investment Board for Monroe County, and sits on several other boards supporting poverty reduction and job skill development. He also holds a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certification.

 

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Henry Fitts, Director of Mayor's Office of Innovation and Strategic Initiatives

Henry Fitts serves as the Director of the Mayor’s Office of Innovation and Strategic Initiatives at the City of Rochester. This new research and strategy team helps research issues, design initiatives, conduct program evaluation, and inform decision making. Currently the Office is focused on developing and evaluating new anti-poverty strategies in formal partnership with the Rochester Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative. Henry helped found the team by securing a grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies, enabling the City to hire 4 additional full-time analysts. Previously Henry worked with the City’s Department of Neighborhood and Business Development on downtown and special projects, and served as City Council liaison for the department. A native of Rochester, Henry has a degree in Sociology and Urban Studies from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut.

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Dr. Kevin Railey, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs St. John Fisher College

As provost and vice president for academic affairs at St. John Fisher College, Dr. Kevin Railey is responsible for academic leadership and administration in the areas of planning, developing, implementing, and assessing all academic programs and services. He provides leadership and supervision for the College’s School of Arts and Sciences; School of Business; Wegmans School of Nursing; Wegmans School of Pharmacy; the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. School of Education; Lavery Library; and numerous areas of academic affairs. In addition, he is a member of the President’s Cabinet and the Senior Staff.

Before joining Fisher, Dr. Railey served as associate provost and dean of the Graduate School at Buffalo State College, a role he had been in since 2007.  In that role, he guided the College’s efforts by leading initiatives to advance scholarly and creative pursuits; led and coordinated initiatives to accomplish strategic and academic goals; served as administrative liaison and organized efforts for the application to achieve the Carnegie Classification for Community Engagement; and managed a comprehensive professional development program for campus constituents, among other responsibilities.  In addition, as graduate dean, he worked with the deans of the four schools to advance the vision of graduate education at Buffalo State.

He has received several awards for his work including the President’s Award for Excellence in the Advancement of Equity and Diversity in 2003, the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities in 2005, and the Muriel A. Howard Award for Service Leadership in 2016.

Dr. Railey received a bachelor’s degree in English from the State University of New York at Albany and went on to earn a master’s degree and Ph.D. in English from the State University of New York at Stony Brook.  

Joshua Gewolb, Attorney, Harter, Secrest, and Emery - Counsel to the Board of Directors

Josh Gewolb is an attorney at Harter, Secrest and Emery LLP. He focuses his practice on tax and non-profit matters.  Josh is pro bono counsel to Connected Communities, Inc.