CEO Stars

August 2020 CEO Star:

Kelly Berbrick- Community and Family Partnership Specialist

Kelly has gone above and beyond to make this school year a success. She has lent a hand to a variety of people this school year from helping out with our Homebase Programs during a transition or facilitating Parent Orientations for centers without Family Advocate Staff. Kelly does all this with the biggest and friendliest smile on her face. All that said, Kelly stills manages to say yes to helping anyone who asks for it from a new parent she is working with on transition to a manager that needs computer help. She truly embodies team work.

May 2020 CEO Star:

Pearl Higgins- Marketing & Communications Director
During challenging or difficult times there is always someone who stands out and rises to the occasion. Individuals who can be counted on to finalize a project or idea and “wrap it with a bow”.   They can take undeveloped thoughts and turn them into something that is creative and shines brightly. The Senior Administrative Team would collectively like to recognize one of our own, Pearl Higgins, for her support of all programs throughout the agency over the past year, but particularly during this period of closure.

She has been instrumental in spearheading multiple social media platforms that support and enhance recruitment and communication strategies at a level CEO has never seen. She keeps us virtually connected to parents, staff and the community.  She’s imaginative, artistic, skilled, knowledgeable, innovative and very committed to promoting the agency and all that we do.  One of a kind, a true gem. We say, Pearl is our Pearl!

Big kudos and high praise for all that she does daily to support the children, youth, seniors and her fan club (co workers)!

We thank her for all the hard work and creativity!

April 2020 CEO Star:

Peter Gaynor- IT Director 
“Peter has exceeded expectations and needs recently. He has been stepping up to fix problems and come up with solutions while staff are struggling with IT needs and new challenges with remote working. His timeliness and positive attitude are much appreciated.

In addition to this he has been working diligently on new IT initiatives such as providing Early Childhood Staff with updated laptops, IPads, and streamlining our inventory system onto Asset Panda Software, all while supporting the ever changing IT needs of the agency during this difficult time.”

March 2020 CEO Star:

“Junior” Agustin Mauras- Facilities Technician
“Junior has been working diligently the last month around CRC scrubbing down surfaces throughout the offices and building with bleach/disinfectant on a daily basis: chairs, light switches, door knobs, the elevator, the stairway, etc., trying to keep the germs at bay as much as possible. He’s been taking extra care in the bathrooms too. Singing all the while! We very much appreciate his efforts, hard work, and diligence!”

January 2020 CEO Star:

Nichole Perez- EHS Teacher LFRC
“Nichole is well organized and is consistently prepared for her day. She is always willing to help out her colleagues and provide support whenever needed. In December, she has demonstrated leadership and teamwork both in helping organize the CEO Holiday Party and with our LFRC Spirit Squad. Nichole is an experienced and knowledgeable teacher and we are fortunate to have her on our LFRC team!!”

November 2019 CEO Star:

Karen Sloan- Manager LFRC Early Head Start 
“Karen came into LFRC during a big transition period for all employees. There was a new structure set up with employees unsure of everything. Karen has come on board with high energy, positive outlook on things, and has helped the employees gain back confidence in themselves and int eh program. Thank you Karen for helping us gain our wings back.

August 2019 CEO Star:

Bernard Bennett – Family Advocate
Bernard’s kindness, patience, and understanding make him very accessible and welcoming to families. His attention to detail and the ability to ask for help make him an important part of the Lansingburgh Family Resource Center. His mission driven attitude and the respect he shows everyone makes him a CEO STAR.

June 2019 CEO Stars:

We have four CEO Stars for June:

Lorell Fitzsimmons – Child Development ManagerLorell is a June CEO Star for the enthusiasm she brought to Community Action Month and the development of a sensory path at Griswold Heights. This served to strengthen our relationship with the Troy Housing Authority and bring an exciting new feature to the children and families in that community.

Rachel Lassiter- Enrollment Coordinator

Rachel is a June CEO Star for the warmth and vibrancy she brings to her new role as enrollment coordinator. Rachel has developed new tracking systems and ensured that this very important area is running smoothly, all the while pitching in wherever else she is needed.

Carolyn Hopkins-Lewis-  Asst. Center Manager, LFRC

Carolyn is a June CEO Star because she has gone above and beyond to assure that the LFRC continues to run smoothly each and every day during a transitional period. Her positive attitude provides great comfort to staff and helps keep everything running smoothly.

Victoria Prentice, WIC Peer Counselor

Victoria does a great job supporting her moms with their breastfeeding goals and is extremely passionate about the work she does! One of Victoria’s moms brought her sister to the Baby Cafe and she ended up transferring from Albany WIC to CEO WIC because of the great help Victoria has been to her sister.

May 2019 CEO Stars:

Carol Marrero

May’s CEO STAR is Carol Marrero of Community Connections
Carol is extremely creative and has has gone out of her way to assist staff with different projects; most of the time without being asked. Carol brings so much to the committees and events she participates in. Her participation in the Community Action Month Committee has inspired two fantastic projects rehabbing Troy’s parks over the last two years. As the facilitator of the InfoShare meetings, Carol makes the events look effortless. The work she does with families looking for assistance is always done with care and warmth. Carol truly exemplifies what a CEO STAR represents.

April 2019 CEO Stars:

Kayla Jones

April’s second CEO STAR is Kayla Jones of the Foster Grandparent Program
Kayla is a hard worker and has such a magnetic and inviting personality with her co-workers and the people she serves. She is dependable and encouraging, and is always positive and upbeat, making sure that all people around her are comfortable and happy. Kayla knows all the ins and outs of each program, having been at CEO for three years. Kayla is a great team member for the Foster Grandparent Program, and is very good at talking to individuals and sharing her knowledge of the program to potential volunteers. Seeing her work with the grandparents is a joy, she is very compassionate when working with them hands-on. Kayla is a great example of the CEO values in action!

March 2019 CEO Stars:

Teresa Raso

April’s CEO STAR is Teresa Raso of the JB Community Resource Center

Teresa Raso embodies “work success” at CEO. She is at the hub of information and continuously looks for ways to improve the lives of her peers and the people who seek our services. Every morning you will meet Teresa greeting incoming parents and children with a huge smile. Every single interaction is positive and engaging. Throughout the course of a day, Teresa is regularly supporting HS/EHS and non-HS/EHS staff and clients. She is an absolute pleasure to work with and very deserving of the STAR recognition

March 2019 CEO Stars:

Melissa Fuss

March’s CEO STAR is Melissa Fuss of the Schodack Family Resource Center

Melissa has worked hard over the school year to bring life and excitement into every day, and every event held at the Schodack Family Resource Center. Melissa supports all staff tirelessly and is never afraid to work in the kitchen, cover a lunch break, or snow plow the walkway so families can safely enter the center. Melissa coordinated a staff fitness challenge and has organized multiple team building activities including card crafting, fitness group, and bagel breakfasts. She will do whatever it takes to make the center a wonderful place for children, families, and staff.

February 2019 CEO Stars:

Theresa McTague

February’s first CEO STAR is Theresa McTague of the Foster Grandparent Program

Theresa is warm and welcoming, and eager to go above and beyond. She never delivers mail without first asking everyone else in the Community Services Suite if they also have mail, and she has never left for the day without making everyone else laugh and smile. More importantly, her kind and warm demeanor extends to the customers she serves in the Foster Grandparent Program. Theresa was recently transporting a Foster Grandparent when she found out that she hadn’t eaten in a few days, Theresa made sure to stop and buy the grandparent lunch before bringing her home. Because of the ways that she goes above and beyond to extend her compassion to our whole community, Theresa is our first February CEO STAR.

January 2019 CEO Stars:

JoAnn Burns

JoAnn has been expanding her skill set to help impact all CEO customers. She recently completed the Safe Sleep Ambassador Training and is now a Safe Sleep Ambassador, helping to promote safe sleep for infants. Joann will use the training with her pregnant clients, as well other CEO and community customers. Way to go JoAnn!

Peter Gaynor

Peter Gaynor has continuously provided the agency with support throughout so many avenues. He goes the extra mile to ensure all needs are met, not only from the IT category but throughout the process of production. If you have ever had the opportunity to collaborate with Peter on a project, I am sure that he followed up with you to ask if you needed any additional assistance or how the project turned out. As the liaison for communication itself, Peter is the right choice for a CEO Star Award.

October 2018 CEO Stars:

The Facilities Department

Thank you to the Facilities Department for helping with all of the moves this past month or so. They have gone above and beyond to make sure everyone had what they needed, and things went smoothly!

Lindsey Jackson

“Lindsey has been a great addition to CEO. She consistently has a positive attitude and a smile to greet everyone who walks in the front door at CRC. Lindsey works to be sure she is providing information and referrals for those in need as well as redirecting customer inquiries to the proper people. She often makes herself available to help other programs, for example the Food Pantry when they have a delivery. It is wonderful to interact with such a positive, helpful, and consciences employee. Lindsey is a fantastic team player!”

September 2018 CEO Stars:

School 12 UPK Staff

“The school 12 UPK staff have exemplified team work, patience and cooperation at the start of 2018 school year. The site is understaffed and without their full time manager. Without compliant, and often without being asked, the staff have worked together to set up rooms and support new staff through initial trainings and orientations. Staff have changed rooms to ensure those without staff are covered and taken on extra responsibilities where needed. Most importantly, they have done all of this and still ensured an extremely successful start of year for the students. Already, the students are settled in and doing a terrific job.

To Family Advocate Lisa Brady. Classroom Staff; Priscilla Place, Melissa Moule, Lisa Gerling, Mariah Hebert, Rebecca Kress, Alyssa Jaquinto, Zully Suarez, Quamialla Simmons and Daphne Dary. And to Lorell Fitzsimmons, our education manager, who has been covering in a teaching role – all are truly a pleasure to work with and we could not be more proud. Thank you, school 12 staff, for all you do!”

August 2018 CEO Stars:

Heather Gallerie

“Heather Gallerie is worthy of a CEO Star for her unparalleled teamwork and collaborative work ethic. Heather is consistently a pleasure to work with, and frequently volunteers to take meeting minutes or notes during cross-program committee meetings. Her willingness to take on this task helps the committees run smoother and makes it easier to track and achieve goals as a team.”

The Finance Team

“The Finance Team, led by Mary O’Grady, embodies the spirit of community giving. Whether a new face is being on-boarded or a team member is departing on a new journey, the Finance Team ensures they’re there cheering them on. You can also spot them at any of our many community events, and consistently participating in toiletry drives and fundraising events. With all these wonderful qualities, they are surely deserving of a STAR!”

July 2018 CEO Star:

Nanzetta Webster, Nutrition Coordinator- Early Childhood

“Nanzetta Earned her CACFP Management Professionals Certification from the National CACFP Sponsors Association, awarded June 6. This certification is a special designation for those in the CACFP profession that are committed to continually learning best practices and keeping up with changing trends in the field. This is a great achievement and reflects upon Nanzetta’s dedication to upholding high standards in her professional growth here at CEO. Congratulations Nanzetta!”

April 2018 CEO Star:

Pearl Higgins, Marketing & Communications Director

“Pearl has continuously provided the Foster Grandparent Program with innovative strategic support. Her ability to translate thoughts and ideas into visual representations of intent is absolutely uncanny. We are truly appreciative of Pearl’s ‘Yes, Can do’ attitude and thank her for representing excellence.”

March 2018 CEO Star:

Jennifer Livingston, Youth Empowerment Coordinator/21st Century Program

“Jennifer Livingston has only been with CEO for a few months, and has quickly proven herself to be a remarkable asset. “Miss Jen,” as she is known, is a highly sought after resource, mentor, and ally not just to 21st Century participants, but also the student body at Troy Middle School. Jennifer’s passion and enthusiasm , together with her deep connection to the community and innate ability to connect with young people have been crucial in increasing the footprint and enhancing the impact of the redesigned 21st Century Program.

December 2017 CEO Star:

Jeffrey Raffensperger, Food Pantry Coordinator

Jeffrey is an asset to the Food Pantry and the CEO community. He has been a welcome addition and his positive attitude helps to run the pantry efficiently. Recently, he helped three customers to the car with their groceries and I could see how respectful he was to them. He definitely embodies our mission statement.

November 2017 CEO Star:

Melissa Sacco, WIC Program Manager

Melissa set a goal for herself to run the New York City Marathon, and accomplished her goal despite injury and rain.  Congratulations to Melissa!

October 2017 CEO Star:

Stephanie Senter, Healthy Lifestyles & Community Outreach Coordinator

“Stephanie planned and executed a very successful “Wellness with WIC” event on June 23, 2017. She put a lot of work and effort into making the event a success! She also played a huge role in WIC’s retention efforts by participating in the 2016 NYS WIC Learning Community, where she worked with co-workers to identify strategies to increase retention rates. The CEO WIC program is lucky to have her!”
March 2017 CEO Stars

June 2017 CEO Stars:

Jim Gardner, Educator/YouthBuild

“Jim is an excellent teacher who has the knowledge, skill, and patience to work with a wider range of students. YouthBuild serves young people who have not been successful in traditional school environments, who may be living with learning disabilities, emotional and behavioral challenges, and a lack of trust and optimism about education. Jim is able to gain the trust of students with a consistently caring attitude. He goes the extra mile to make sure students are prepared to take the TASC test for High School Equivalency, scheduling one-on-one tutoring sessions that sometimes last for years after a young person “graduates” the program. He is responsible for teaching all five subject areas – math, science, social studies, reading, and writing – and is able to maintain content knowledge to balance instruction in all those areas. He also makes sure that students have access to the test, which frequently is scheduled at inconvenient times; he will volunteer to come in at 6AM on weekends to transport students to test centers. YouthBuild members and graduates who work with Jim show a high level of improvement in literacy and numeracy gains as compared to their peers in other YouthBuild programs nationally. Jim is also a resource for less experienced educators on staff, assisting them in developing lesson plans and handling the stresses associated with the job.”

Katrina Solomon, Head Start Family Advocate

“She always goes above and beyond for coordinating events for families and the community. She juggles multiple responsibilities and still manages to give her all to all areas of work. She is the definition of a caring and compassionate employee with exceptional work ethics. She never wants to be recognized for all the hard work that she does.”
March 2017 CEO Stars

The CEO Facilities Team

“During each snow event this season, CEO parking lots and walkways have been clear, almost as if there was no snow there in the first place. The CEO Policy Council wishes to thank each person who has worked to make the clearing of snow possible. Thank you ALL for keeping us safe!”
October 2016 CEO Stars

Kimberly Burton, Operations Program Specialist

“Kimberly is a breath of fresh air, always willing to lend a helping hand. She works diligently to keep meetings, trainings, and other gatherings facilitated by Operations running smoothly. She is a pleasure to work with and puts her heart into everything she does.”

Zach Case, Custodian

“Zach is an excellent employee. He is always attentive to our department to ensure that everything is taken care of. No matter, a change in his schedule or job responsibilities, our offices are always well cleaned. Also, when we have special circumstances, such as fallen ceiling tiles or moving furniture, he is always willing to help us with a “can do” attitude.

He does all of this with a smile. We really appreciate his work ethic and positive attitude. We look forward to seeing him every day. There is a cloud when he is not around.”

Darixa Rivera, Toddler Teacher, CRC

“Darixa is very engaging with the children at all times, even while she is eating at the table. She makes the children in her classroom very excited about coming in knowing her and the other teacher are there with them. Every day they go outside, have water play, or walks, and sing.

Darixa is organized, helping the children become organized and self sufficient as well.

You see the bond and happiness in the room whenever you visit.”

September 2016 CEO Stars

Jamie Larson, Vendor Liaison, WIC VMA

“Jamie goes out of her way to help boost morale and keep a positive, inclusive, work environment. She is a great team player who exemplifies the WIC VMA #807 values. She always has a positive attitude and provides exceptional service to vendors.”

Keith Place, Weatherization Manager

“Where to start? Keith is our “go to” guy for Weatherization and Housing. He responds to our questions and requests with a positive attitude and a willingness to assist us, which makes our jobs much easier. He is very approachable and works well with each member of our department, which is not an easy task 🙂 !

He has an appreciation for deadlines and is always willing to assist us when the funding sources change their processes and/or requirements. The programs he manages are recognized for their stellar performance statewide and we believe this is attributable, in part, to Keith.

While his workload is extensive, he coordinates with us to ensure that the program and CEO goals are achieved.

He epitomizes the characteristics of a model team player and we are fortunate to have him on our team!”

Brandy Radley, Toddler Teacher, CRC

“Brandy is a toddler teacher in our CRC location. Her enthusiasm is wonderful. Every day she comes in the classroom with a contagious positive attitude which the children pick up on right away.

The staff also enjoy Brandy and work simultaneously with each other. The dynamics in the classroom is seamless and you feel it when you watch the classroom work.

Brandy is very creative with the children, never missing an opportunity to demonstrate science by looking at a spider web in the playground or taking an afternoon walk to feed the birds under the bridge.

We are lucky to have such a great person.”

August 2016 CEO Stars

Bernard Bennett, Family Advocate EHS/HS

“Bernard has worked very hard this summer getting families ready for Fall Enrollment. He has contacted over 100 families to enroll in our program in the Fall. Bernard never says “no” to any task that is asked of him. He covers classrooms for breaks, covers the front desk when asked, he meets with families on their terms where ever and when ever is needed. He is a great asset to CEO. He is dedicated and resourceful for families and CEO. Bernard is very helpful to all the staff and families. It has been a pleasure watching him grow in his professional career, what a difference a year makes!”

Augustine “Junior” Mauras, Custodian, Community Resource Center

“Jr. is always pleasant. I appreciate and look forward to his singing when he comes to the operations suite. Jr. takes it upon himself to clean out the microwave along with his many duties; I came in to work to find our carpet had been shampooed. He is gracious and an awesome addition to our staff.”

“Junior has gone above and beyond for our center. He comes in every day smiling and with such a positive attitude that it is hard for it not to be contagious. He is always there to help if anyone needs it, whether it is a coworker or a customer. The children absolutely love him, and they get so excited to give him a high five every day. I am sure I can speak for everyone when I say Junior is a joy to work with!”

Teresa Raso, CRC Center Manager

“It is very exciting to have Teresa on board as our CRC Center Manager. This is a unique center for Early Childhood services, as it is the hub of many of our Community Services programs. Teresa has done an exceptional job taking on a leadership role in this building. She is positive and interactive when dealing with customers that are not from Early Childhood and has made many efforts to reach out to the appropriate programs and staff members to locate resources for customers who come through the front door or call on the phone. Her calm nature and ability to work with others has helped diffuse situations in the building that could have easily escalated. She truly embodies CEO’s goal of changing lives and improving our community.”

July 2016 CEO Star

Penny Bashford, Program Manager, WIC Vendor Management

“Penny is a great program manager. She is constantly working rigorously around the clock to create and enhance her goals and ideas for the program. For example, she has created a WIC vendor training app which has been implemented throughout the entire state of New York. Penny’s hard work and determination was recognized when our VMA recently expanded and we’re excited to see the opportunities resulting from the new territory. Penny’s staff is extremely grateful for her commitment and enjoy working with her each and every day.”

June 2016 CEO Stars

Kelly Berbrick, Family Advocate, Schodack FRC

“Kelly exceeds above and beyond her job duties. She sustains a positive relationship with her peers and families. She continues to exhibit professional growth weekly and provides the center with leadership.”

Ashley Fuda, HS Teacher, Schodack FRC

“Ashley goes above and beyond creating a positive climate in her classroom. She is nurturing to each individual child in her classroom and builds positive relationships between them.”

Jessica Marsch, Teacher Assistant, Schodack FRC

“Jess has demonstrated exceptional performance throughout the year. She has gone above and beyond to sustain a positive climate in her classroom and has been flexible in her role to accommodate to each individual child’s needs.”

Elsie Ray, HS Teacher Assistant, Lansingburgh FRC

“Elsie has gone above and beyond for the program by filling in for class 7 during a period of staffing transition. She willingly took over the responsibilities of lead teacher and served as a mentor for the new teacher assistant. Elsie served as the consistent staff member to ensure that the classroom operated successfully!”

Jocelyn Ryan, Center Manager, Hoosick Falls FRC

“Jocelyn demonstrates a true passion for our children, families, and staff. She works to promote a center that is open, caring, and comfortable for staff. She is a very reflective leader that encourages herself and staff to do the best work they can.”

December 2015 CEO Stars

Jim Thurber, Custodian, Hoosick Falls FRC

“Jim continuously goes above and beyond to ensure the ongoing upkeep, health and safety needs of the Hoosick Falls Family Resource Center are met. Jim’s pride in all the he undertakes is evident and is appreciated!”

Donna Fowler, Mental Health Manager

“Donna continuously volunteers to enhance projects with the contribution of her creative talents. Her skills are many and varied, and appreciated tremendously by her colleagues.”

 Ann Sweener, Teacher, Hoosick Falls FRC

“Ann went above and beyond her role as an Early Head Start Teacher by helping out to cover the Hoosick Falls Family Resource Center while the Center Manager was in training this summer. Ann displayed the true qualities of a team player by pitching in and helping out to cover the center to ensure smooth programmatic operations.”

Elsie Ray, Teacher’s Assistant, Lansingburgh FRC

“We started the school year at Lansingburgh Family Resource Center without a UPK teacher, and as the Teacher’s Assistant in the room, Elsie stepped right up and took full ownership of the classroom. She set up the room and produced classroom rules, structure and consistency. Elsie met all required deadlines as if she were the classroom teacher. She directed the sub and fostered relationships with the parents. Elsie did an amazing job keeping the classroom running until a Teacher came in to the classroom in November.”

Karen Kable, Teacher’s Assistant, Troy FRC

“Karen goes above and beyond her job description to assist in the classroom.  She is very creative and a fabulous artist.  She creates birthday boards each month with a unique theme.  Karen is an asset to the program and is willing to help in different classrooms as needed.  She is always willing to help and loves the children.”

Ed Mainville, Facilities Technician

“Ed is an employee everyone wishes they had. He has worked his way up the ‘ladder’ by showing his determination and commitment to CEO through his work. Ed can always be counted on to go above and beyond his daily routine.”

Evelyn Diaz, Teacher’s Assistant, Lansingburgh FRC

“While Lansingburgh Family Resource Center was in the process of filling a Teacher position, Evelyn stepped up and fulfilled the Lead Teacher duties for her classroom. For the first six weeks of school, she completed all requirements of the position, including 45 day deadlines, home visits, screenings and more. I couldn’t be prouder of Evelyn for taking this on and not only meeting all requirements, but also for setting the classroom up for success for the rest of the school year.”

Leah Carroll, Development Manager

“Leah’s commitment to her work is unparalleled. Her execution of the recent Taste! fundraiser not only demonstrated her talent, but also her perseverance. She successfully raised $35,000 and entertained a group of more than 250 people. She is a CEO star!”

Kristi Miller, Grants Manager

“Kristi recently volunteered to represent CEO on a NYSCAA (New York State Community Action Association) committee to improve and formalize needs survey templates statewide. As a result of the success of the project, she has been selected to sit on a panel to education Community Action Executive Directors on the process and outcomes, and will present at the National Community Action Partnership conference in January. This is a demonstration of Kristi’s talent and success, and CEO is lucky to have her on our team.”