Buffalo, N.Y. —The Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo is pleased to announce that Maria Whyte has joined the organization as Chief Community Impact Officer and Chief of Staff. In this role, she leads the Community Impact team, which promotes the Community Foundation’s goals of: promoting economic mobility through educational achievement, workforce readiness and access to family sustaining jobs for residents living in low-income households; achieving racial/ethnic equity; stewarding significant environmental resources in the context of climate resilience; and promoting regional vibrancy through architecture, arts and culture. Additionally, Maria oversees the development and application of approaches for advancing collective action, with a focus on community leadership through systems change. She also supports talent development inside the organization.
“Maria has deep knowledge of our community and proven experience in bringing together cross-sector partners to create change and we are excited to have her join the collaborative, transformative work the Community Foundation does on behalf of our clients,” said Betsy Constantine, President and CEO of the Community Foundation.
Prior to working at the Community Foundation, Maria was the Deputy County Executive (DCE) in Erie County, New York, where she was the first female in a generation to hold the title and a founding member of the Greater Buffalo Racial Equity Roundtable. As DCE, Maria advanced the County’s most significant economic development projects, including the redevelopment of the former Bethlehem Steel site, and provided strategic operational support for the County’s departments. Maria earned her B.A. in International Relations with Honors from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University and has a Certificate in Equitable Community Change from Cornell University.
The Community Foundation is also pleased to announce the following promotions:
- Felicia Beard has been promoted to Associate Vice President, Racial Equity Initiatives, where she is responsible for developing, supporting and advancing the Community Foundation’s commitment to racial/ethnic equity. Felicia joined the Community Foundation in 2016 and most recently was the Senior Director of Racial Equity Initiatives. She also manages the work of the Greater Buffalo Racial Equity Roundtable, comprised of more than 350 community partners working together to advance racial equity and achieve an expanded, inclusive economy.
- Alicia Dziak has been promoted to Director, Communications, where she manages marketing and public relations efforts aimed to raise awareness about the Foundation and its mission of connecting people, ideas and resources to improve lives in Western New York. Alicia joined the Community Foundation in 2018 as Communications Content Manager.
- Nora Kennon has been promoted to Stewardship Officer, where she proactively engages the Community Foundation’s legacy, designated fund and scholarship fund clients to ensure ongoing relationships. Nora joined the Community Foundation in 2019 as Giving Strategies Associate.
- Mary Sheehan has been promoted to Accounting Manager and is responsible for all disbursements for operating expenses, grants and scholarships, and handling accounting and reconciliations for outside investor accounts. Mary joined the Community Foundation as an Accountant in 2015 and was promoted to Senior Accountant in 2020.
- Megan Sommerfeldt has been promoted to Associate Director, Gift Planning and is dedicated to working with individuals, families and organizations interested in establishing a legacy or charitable fund by understanding their charitable goals and identifying customized solutions reflective of their unique values and wishes. Megan joined the Community Foundation as Giving Strategies Specialist in 2019.
- Allie Urbanski has been promoted to Senior Program Officer, where she works with the Community Impact team to advance the Community Foundation’s four community goals, assists with grantmaking, and supports the Foundation’s leadership and policy work. Allie joined the Community Foundation in 2015 as Program Officer.
About the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo
For more than a century, the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo has enhanced and encouraged long-term philanthropy in the Western New York community. A 501 (c)(3) organization, the Community Foundation’s mission is: Connecting people, ideas and resources to improve lives in Western New York. Established in 1919, the Community Foundation has made the most of the generosity of individuals, families, foundations and organizations who entrust charitable assets to the Community Foundation’s care. Learn more at cfgb.org.