Board of Directors

Jeffrey Platt, President

Jeff is one of the founding members of embrace Western New York and has served on the Buffalo Brunch organizing committee since 2002 (as chair or co-chair for many of those years). Jeff is a previous board member of AIDS Family Services and the Girl Scouts of Western New York.  Jeff is a volunteer for the Darwin D. Martin House and the WNY Network for Open and Affirming Congregations.  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). After over 30 years in higher education, Jeff accepted a position as Executive Director for InvisionHealth Foundation for one year.  In this role he brought the Foundation into compliance with federal and state regulations. He also developed programs to educate the community on the issues surrounding opioid uses and misuse.

Dale J. Bauman, Vice-President

Dale is an attorney with Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria LLP, who practices plaintiffs civil litigation in New York and Florida.  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 embraceWestern New York board, and looks forward to identifying ways that embrace can expand its reach to LGBTQ community members and their allies.

Thomas Daigler, Treasurer

Tom is a retired Tim Horton Franchise owner/operator. During his time with Tim Hortons he was involved with the Tim Horton Children’s Foundation which supports sending local, economically disadvantaged children to summer camp to teach leadership skills. Tom is an advocate for others who can’t advocate for themselves and is the Founder and President of the Our Lady of Peace Family Council in Lewiston which champions residents’ rights and quality of life issues at the Nursing Home. After volunteering for the Buffalo Brunch last year, Tom is excited to join the Board of Directors and is looking forward to complimenting the great work already being done by the Board in the LGBTQ community. Tom loves to cook and is an avid gardener. He likes renovation projects around the house and he and his partner have discovered traveling as a new and exciting hobby.

Judy Dumitru, Secretary

Judy loves working with students and families as an Assistant Director / Financial Aid Counselor at Rochester Institute of Technology. In addition to being a founding member of embrace Western New York, Judy has served on the Buffalo Brunch Committee for many years as committee member, co-chair and chair. Judy has also worked with several other local non-profits in Western New York and currently supports The Little Theatre, WXXI, the George Eastman Museum, The Landmark Society of WNY, Rails-to-Trails, and the Rochester Chapter of the Sierra Club.

Bryan Ball

A graduate of Buffalo State College, 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 WNY Regional Senate Office of then-U.S. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, until her appointment as U.S. Secretary of State. In 2010, he was elected to his first term as President of Stonewall Democrats of Western New York (SDWNY). In the ensuing years, Bryan has worked to help grow the organization to an active, engaged group of members active across WNY and partaken in successful legislative and electoral campaigns. Notable among these are the passage of Buffalo’s domestic partnership registry, the anti-bullying NYS Dignity for All Students Act, the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act and the NYS Marriage Equality Act. 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.

Douglas P. Charles

Douglas 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 WesternNewYork, served as a member of its first Board of Directors, and currently serves on the Buffalo Brunch Committee. 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.

Jose Luis Garcia II

Originally from San Diego, California, Jose started his first non-profit organization (L.O.C.O.S.) to help unite the Latino gay and straight communities while attending San Diego State University. After college Jose moved to Las Vegas, NV to begin his professional career in marketing at Caesars Entertainment. While in Las Vegas he served as co-chair of EQUAL an LGBTQ business resource for Caesars; he also was an active member of HRC Las Vegas and the Center. Jose has also served as chair of “Ya Es Hora” Las Vegas. After ten years in Las Vegas Jose moved back to California to be closer to family and become the Director of Marketing for Agua Caliente Casinos. He moved to Buffalo in early 2015 to work at Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino as the Director of Marketing. Jose loves to explore and meet new people so he travels as much as he can around the world.

Heather Gasiecki

Heather has been a member of the Board of Directors for embraceWNY and served on the Buffalo Brunch committee for the past five years. As a certified teacher with 20+ years in the profession, Heather has touched the lives of many schoolchildren with her compassion, kindness and enthusiasm. Education and advocacy for LGBTQ rights and equality are her passion. She is a mother of four and an ally to all.

Steve Jagord

Steve is a program manager for the Pride Center of Western New York where he oversees development and implementation of many of the center’s programs and services. He previously served the Pride Center as a field educator, delivering more than 200 LGBTQ cultural competency trainings to businesses, schools and other organizations in the area. He lives in Amherst with his husband, Patrick, and their dog, Dexter.

Jeffrey Moyer

Jeffrey recently became a board member after many years of supporting embraceWNY. He is on multiple committees for the Buffalo Brunch and is excited to make a difference in WNY’s LGBTQ community. Jeff is a Realtor with Gurney Becker and Bourne and a member of The Meredith Real Estate Team, having brought buyers and sellers of distinctive properties together for more than 9 years. He is member of the National Association of Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals (NAGLREP) whose goal is to make housing discrimination, based on sexual orientation and gender identity, illegal. Jeff is also a member of the Delta Tau Delta Housing Corporation, involved as an alumni advisor in chapter activities, and is a member of the fraternity’s affinity group – Delt Pride – for gay, bi-sexual, and transgender alumni/undergraduate members. Prior to real estate, Jeff was a broadcast journalist working at WGRZ-TV and WGR-AM. He holds a degree in Communications from Bethany College with continuing education work from West Virginia University.

Molly Ranahan

Molly is an urban planner by training and has been conducting community-based research in Western New York for the past decade. As a Research Assistant Professor with UB's Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Molly works with patients and health care providers to conduct research and develop educational programming to reduce regional health disparities. Previously, she has collaborated with the Silver Pride Project to raise awareness about aging experiences in the LGBTQ community and served on the Board of Directors of the Pride Center of Western New York. Molly is also an Adjunct Professor at UB and Buffalo State and greatly values the opportunity to work with and learn from her students.

Jonvier Whittington

Jonvier is a Buffalo native. She works as a registered nurse at Erie County Medical Center with experience in psychiatry and geriatrics. Jonvier received a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from D’Youville College in 2019. She will graduate with a Master’s in Nursing Education from D’Youville in August 2021. Upon graduation, she hopes to work in academia and teach undergraduate nursing students. Jonvier has been a volunteer for embrace WNY since 2018 and previously served as co-chair of Public Relations & Social Media for the Buffalo Brunch Committee. She believes organizations like embrace WNY are important in today’s society because they provide opportunities for youth to find a sense of community and belonging.

Countess-Jai Richards

CJ was born in Jamaica and raised in Brooklyn. She moved to Buffalo when she started at D’Youville College, where she earned her degree as a Doctor of Physical Therapy. CJ was a leader of the Alliance Club, the LGBTQ association at the college for several years. There she helped bring understanding, organize campus events, and support community service outreach. CJ has been a part of the embraceWNY community for almost 10 years. Starting as a volunteer, then becoming a member of the Buffalo Brunch Committee for the past several years before joining the Board this year, she has enjoyed meeting members of the LGBTQ+ community in Buffalo. CJ is currently working as a Physical Therapist where she aims to bring the best care while always trying to promote knowledge and understanding for the LGBTQ community. CJ recently married and she and her wife moved into their home together during the pandemic while she worked on the front lines with COVID patients. CJ looks forward to traveling again soon and expanding her family in the coming years, starting with rescuing a pup!

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