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Who is Involved in ESPRI?

Utica Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative (ESPRI)

Who is Involved?

Most importantly, we held twelve Focus Groups and conducted one-on-one surveys to gather the voices of individuals at or below the poverty level, for a total of 475 residents of the City of Utica.

The people that conducted these Focus Groups and surveys were our Facilitators, Cultural Brokers and other volunteers, who included: Amy Lamitie (OHM BOCES), Melissa Wines (Consultant), Kevin Alexander (United Way), Betty-Joan Beaudry (United Way), Robin Robinson (United Way), Maria Saenz (Hamilton College Intern) and Americorps from the Utica Municipal Housing Authority.

Chart A

Next, we held eight Workgroups and collected another 151 voices of Utica residents, with 67% of them living at or below the poverty rate (see Chart A).

The sixteen ESPRI Workgroups Co-Chairs included:

  • Housing: Denise Cavanaugh (Catholic Charities of Oneida Madison Counties), Rev. Ursula Meier (Johnson Park Center)
  • Child Care: Jane Domingue (Thea Bowman House) and Sandra Soroka (The Neighborhood Center)
  • Health & Wellness: Cassandra Sheets (Center for Family Life and Recovery) and Wil Murtaugh (ACR Health)
  • Education: Zvia McCormick (Resource Center for Independent Living) and Amy Turner (Mohawk Valley Community Action Agency)
  • Workforce Development: Shelly Callahan (Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees) and Sarah Lam (Mohawk Valley Community College)
  • Justice System: Mark Leuthauser (The Peacemaker Program) and Paul Lupia, Esq. (Legal Aid Society of Mid-York)
  • Transportation: Kelly Walters (The Parkway Center) and Dianne Stancato (YWCA Mohawk Valley)
  • Safe Neighborhoods: Anne Lansing (Safe Schools MV) and Dianne DiMeo (Regional Primary Care Network, Utica Health Clinic)

The Facilitators, Cultural Brokers and United Way staff that oversaw these Workgroups included: Caroline Williams (CCE/R2G/Community Foundation), Diane Shoemaker (R2G), Dietra Harvey (NAACP), Brenda Episcopo (United Way), Betty-Joan Beaudry (United Way), Robin Robinson (United Way), Melissa Arcuri (United Way), Ke’Airah Parker (Temporary United Way), and Jill Conley (United Way).

Other key participants in the direct Utica ESPRI work include: Richard Duque (SUNY POLY Sociology Professor and ESPRI Operations Report Writer), Brain Frank (Foster Martin and ESPRI Marketing Firm), Sandra Hoyland (United Way), Dawn Potter (United Way), and Heidi Nolette (United Way)

The Core Utica ESPRI Executive Team includes:

  • Robert Palmieri Mayor, City of Utica
  • Anthony Brindisi, NYS Assemblyman, 119th Assembly District
  • Anthony Picente, County Executive, Oneida County
  • Brenda Episcopo, CEO, United Way of the Valley and Greater Utica Area
  • Robin Robinson, Administrator of Initiatives and Grants, United Way of the Valley and Greater Utica Area
  • Charles Greco, Chief of Staff, City of Utica
  • Sarah Bormann, Director of Constituent and Support Services, 119th Assembly District
  • Caroline Williams, The Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida Counties, Inc.
  • Diane Shoemaker, R2G, City of Utica
  • John Swann, The Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida Counties, Inc.
  • James Genovese
  • Morgan Mielnicki, The Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida Counties, Inc.
  • Alicia Dicks, CEO, The Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida Counties, Inc.

Steering Committee: 

  • Brian Thomas, Commissioner, City of Utica-Urban & Economic Development
  • Howard Mettleman, Superintendent, OHM BOCES
  • Tim Birnie, President, Birnie Bus
  • Calla Perrilloux Financial Manager, Birnie Bus
  • Lucille Soldato Commissioner, Oneida County Department of Social Services
  • Dave Mathis, Director, Oneida County Workforce Development
  • Phyllis Ellis, Director, Public Health
  • Dave Tomidy, Director, Oneida County Probation
  • Kevin Green, Director, Oneida County Youth Bureau
  • Bernard Hyman, Assistant District Attorney, Oneida County District Attorney's Office
  • Dawn Laguerre, Media & Marketing Director, Landmarks Society
  • Cassi Kail, Rabbi, Temple Emanu-El
  • Kathleen Rinaldo, Director of Adult Education, MO BOCES
  • Tim Giarrusso President, Human Technologies Corporation
  • Steve Darman, Chair, MV Housing and Homeless Coalition
  • Laura Cohen, Project Manager, MVEDGE
  • Michael Reese, Empire State Development
  • Laura Cueva, Owner, Interior Innovations
  • Kim VanDuren, Principal, UCSD/MLK
  • Richelle Singer, Director of Child Care Council, CCE
  • Hannah Burgess, Chief Executive Officer, Vision to Plant
  • Dietra Harvey, Civil Service Commission
  • Lilly Beuno, Expert, Global Solutions
  • Alice Savino, Executive Director, Workforce Investment Board
  • Diane DiMeo, Practice Transformation Lead, Regional Primary Care Network
  • Allison Nowak, Regional Empire State Development Council

Other partners: MVCAA, RCIL, JPC, CFLR, Thea Bowmen, MHA, Refugee Center, Utica Boiler Makers, Cornhill Center, MVCC, SUNY POLY, CNY Business Services, Irwin’s, Foster Martin