Board of Directors

Jeffrey Platt, President

Jeff_Platt@embracewny.org

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.

Judy Dumitru, Treasurer

Judy_dumitru@embracewny.org

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.

Jonvier Whittington, Secretary

jonvier.whitt@gmail.com

Jonvier Whittington is a Buffalo native and registered nurse with experience in psychiatry and geriatrics. Her primary work is that of a nursing professor to undergraduate students. Jonvier has been a volunteer for embrace WNY since 2018 and transitioned to the Board of Directors in 2021. She believes organizations such as embrace WNY are essential in today’s society because they provide opportunities for youth to find a sense of community and belonging.

Bryan Ball

Bryan_Ball@embracewny.org

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.

Jose Luis Garcia II

garciaj78@gmail.com

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.

Jeffrey Moyer

Jeffrey_Moyer@embracewny.org

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_Ranahan@embracewny.org

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.

Countess-Jai Richards

crichyrich6@gmail.com

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!

Harry Carter

hncarter84@gmail.com

Harry has always enjoyed the enriching and fulfilling experience of working in a team environment with professionals and others of diverse cultural backgrounds. Harry is a results-oriented administrator, motivated community educator and classroom teacher offering over 30 years of professional experience. He helped to develop, implement and facilitate student support groups, teacher training and parent/community workshops.
Harry has worked extensively with children from kindergarten to the collegiate level. He developed and implemented a required Drugs & Sports course for all students participating in a team sport, sports medicine or athletic training at Canisius College. Additionally he has worked with recovering adults through Jobs Training Partnership Act (JTPA) formerly Project Up-Grade. His experience as a vocational counselor with Project Up-Grade provided him an opportunity to collaborate with employers, unions and business leaders.
As an administrator and Drug Prevention Specialist Harry supervised, trained and scheduled a staff of Prevention Educators, Student Assistance/Prevention Counselors and agency support staff. As the Director of Programs he was involved with all aspects of agency management including: grant writing, development and implementation of agency mission and goals, as well as budget and personnel policies. Harry administered, reviewed and reported on grants with the Buffalo Public Schools, BOCES Non-Public Schools Consortium, the Erie County Department of Mental Health and the United Way of Buffalo. Under his supervision Harry’s teams created innovative support programs for youth, educators, employees and their families throughout Erie County.
On his creative side Harry enjoys drawing, painting, pottery and photography. He also worked as a jewelry designer for a company specializing in unique one of a kind designs before retiring.
Harry has served on the Buffalo Brunch Committee for the last several years as a committee member and co-chair before becoming a board member. He now looks forward to assisting embrace Western New York to meet the needs of the LGBTQ+ community.

Johnny Qiu

johnnyqi@buffalo.edu

Johnny Qiu was born and raised in New York City. He moved to Buffalo, NY in 2015 to attend D’Youville College where he quickly became one of the active voices in advocating for on campus student services. Johnny started the Transfer Student Association, was president of the Student Government Association and served as the Alliance Club’s Communications Director. In 2019 he received his Bachelors of Science in Biology, Bachelors of Arts in Psychology and Masters of Science in Anatomy. Johnny has been volunteering with embraceWNY since 2018 and has been active in raising funds and collecting donations for the Buffalo Brunch. Johnny is currently pursuing his MSW/JD at the University at Buffalo. Upon graduation he hopes to continue advocacy work and serve on coalition boards to advance policy reform. Johnny believes organizations like embraceWNY are vital in advancing opportunities for LGBTQ+ individuals. Education is a powerful tool and embraceWNY can be part of that journey for all.

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