embrace Western New York Board of Directors

Jeffrey Platt, President, is one of the founding members of embrace Western New York and has served on the Buffalo Brunch organizing committee since 2002 (chair or co-chair since 2003). Jeff is a previous board member of AIDS Family Services and the Girl Scout Council of Western New York (and served as a National Delegate). In addition, Jeff has been a long time active volunteer for the Women’s and Children’s Hospital Foundation. Recently, Jeff has joined the fundraising committee for the Darwin D. Martin House and fundraising activities for the American Red Cross. For the past several years Jeff has served Kenilworth United Church of Christ as Financial Secretary, Trustee, and currently Chair of the Trustees (not to mention ‘party planner’ and choir member). Jeff has been working at D’Youville College since 1984 and currently is the Associate Vice President for Student Affairs. Through his tenure at the college, Jeff has been able to initiate and participate in several community service projects throughout the West Side of Buffalo and the greater community with his peers and students.

Dale J. Bauman, Vice-President, is an attorney whose practice is limited to plaintiffs’ civil litigation in Western New York. In addition to his University at Buffalo law degree, Dale holds a Masters of Public Health from UB, with a focus on health delivery to underserved populations. Dale brings a strong interest and knowledge of not-for profit management to the embrace Western New York board, and looks forward to identifying ways that embrace can expand its reach to LGBTQ community members and their allies. Dale is a resident of Buffalo's Parkside neighborhood, and when not working with embrace, enjoys flying light aircraft and is dedicated to enjoying and supporting Buffalo's cultural organizations.

Judy Dumitru, Secretary, loves working with students as a Financial Aid Counselor at Rochester Institute of Technology. In addition to being a founding member of embrace Western New York and serving on the Buffalo Brunch Committee for several years as committee member, co-chair and chair, Judy has worked with other local non-profits including as chair of the Growth Task Force at Cleveland Heights Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), bringing the congregation through a positive process to become Open and Affirming; and as an ad hoc fundraising member of the Centennial Fund Committee for the Dunkirk Conference Center. At Kenilworth United Church of Christ, Judy chaired the O&A committee and worked in the kitchen for special gatherings. She also served as a member of the organizing team of the Network of WNY Open and Affirming Congregations. Judy is a long-time member of the Western New York Peace Center, supports public radio through her membership to WXXI, and is a Partner with the Human Rights Campaign.

Brian Mietlicki, Treasurer, is a founding member of embrace Western New York and also serves on the Buffalo Brunch Committee.  Brian is dedicated to equality and opportunity issues in the workplace.  He is Vice President and Chair of the Upstate New York Chapter of the HSBC Pride Network, the LGBT Employee Resource Group, at HSBC Bank where he works.  He has attended the National Out & Equal Summit, the pre-eminent national organization devoted to LGBT equality in the workplace.  Additionally, Brian lends his support to the following: Human Rights Campaign; Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper; Evergreen Health Services, Inc.; Family Justice Center of Erie Co. Inc.; The National Federation for Just Communities of WNY; The American Heart Association; and Buffalo Heart Walk.

Bryan Ball was born and raised in Buffalo, New York. A graduate of Buffalo State College with a Bachelor’s in English, Bryan was drawn to issue based activism and progressive political causes from a young age. After finding a passion in legislative government, Bryan worked in the Western New York Regional Senate Office of then-United States Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, until her appointment as US Secretary of State. In 2010, he was elected to his first term as President of Stonewall Democrats of Western New York (SDWNY), a position he currently holds. Since 1994, SDWNY has existed as the Democratic voice of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community of WNY, with a membership of community activists and concerned citizens, and representatives from local, state and federal government. Throughout his time with SDWNY, Bryan has worked to help grow the organization to an active, engaged group of members active across WNY—from Buffalo to Niagara Falls to Jamestown to Warsaw—and partaken in successful legislative and electoral campaigns. Notable among these campaigns are the passage of the City of Buffalo’s domestic partnership registry, the anti-bullying NYS Dignity for All Students Act and the NYS Marriage Equality Act. Bryan has worked to build bridges within our own community, and to educate and advocate for the LGBT community across all sides of the political aisle. Bryan works as an advocate for pro-equality candidates for elected office and legislation, and is currently focused on building on the progress the passage of Gov. Cuomo's executive orders and making the NYS Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) and the NYS anti-reparative therapy bill, and other much needed LGBT civil rights legislation law. In 2012, he helped found the Buffalo Niagara Chapter of Pride at Work, the national organization which works to mobilize support between organized labor and the LGBT community.




Beverly Barry, Beverly is employed at Empower Federal Credit Union, a non-profit organization offering financial products and services at lower costs than most conventional financial institutions. As a business development officer she meets with business owners who wish to offer this no cost, no commitment benefit to enhance the lives of their employees.  Her sales career spans over 25 years in print and electronic media in the Buffalo market. A lifelong member of the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in the Parkside Community,
Bev has served in leadership roles in the parish for more than 20 years including serving on capital campaigns, stewardship, finance, evangelism and other outreach and fundraising efforts. She recently joined embrace Western New York as a commitment to the equal treatment of all individuals which she has supported her entire life. But, also, Beverly carries on her nephew's commitment to the gay and lesbian community, the late Kerin Cadelle (Kevin Barry) who was an active member of the Imperial Court and was committed to giving back to youth thru GLYS and other charitable causes. She looks forward to making a difference in the lives of gay and lesbian students thru the scholarships that embrace Western New York provides.

Douglas P. Charles is a retired teacher / librarian with over 36 years of experience in the public school system.  A member of Pilgrim St. Luke's United Church of Christ, Doug first served on the Board of Trustees, then became Church Moderator (president of the congregation), and finally Church Treasurer.  He presently serves as a member of the Church and Ministry Committee of the Western Area United Churches of Christ.  Doug is a founding member of embrace Western New York, serves on the Brunch Committee and is a member of Stonewall Democrats.  As a grandfather, Doug spends one day a week babysitting his grandchildren, traveling from the Elmwood Village to Silver Creek, New York to do so.

Heather Gasiecki

Shari Kiesow has been a member of the embrace Western New York Board since 2013 and is dedicated to supporting the organization and the community it serves with the utmost commitment.  Shari is an experienced facilitator with several years under her Six Sigma Master Black Belt.  Shari’s Buffalo based business, Kiesow Consulting, focuses on developing business leaders.  Through structured training, she coaches professionals and their teams through a variety of essential skills necessary for success, focusing primarily on employee development and implementation of improved processes.  When she’s not traveling for work or fun, you can find Shari listening to NPR in her South Buffalo home or enjoying the local theater and art scene.

Michael Rizzo is the executive editor of Loop Magazine, Buffalo’s monthly in-print and online periodical for the LGBT community since November 2011. He is also owner of MyBuffaloPride, the parent company that publishes the magazine, as well as houses the city’s only pride shop and LGBT art gallery at its Allentown storefront office. Michael’s energies are focused on social justice for the queer community and greater collaboration among local LGBT community groups and organizations. He studied journalism at Buffalo State College, covered Niagara County public education in the Buffalo News for two years, and has been documenting LGBT experiences for various media outlets in New York and California since 2006.