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Press Release: CAO Board Demonstrates that it has Repaired Damage Done by Prior Board Leadership


Media Contact:

L. Nathan Hare

CEO/Executive Director

Community Action Organization


CAO Board Demonstrates that it has Repaired Damage Done by Prior Board Leadership

Board now meeting funder and government regulatory requirements

BUFFALO, NY May 8, 2019 – The Community Action Organization of Western New York met Monday, May 6, and demonstrated that it has moved quickly to re-constitute the board’s membership and committees in keeping with state and federal regulations and its bylaws.

Starting about 18 months ago, former directors tried to take over CAO governance and agency operations by illegally removing board members, holding illegal secret meetings, and by attempting to oust its CEO, L. Nathan Hare. Those illegal acts included a steady effort over months to deliberately reduce the number of board members and false claims that those actions were directed by New York State, placing the board at odds with state and federal regulatory guidelines.  Former board leadership deliberately caused attrition down to only 9 active members of the 18 authorized by the bylaws. The bylaws require that several important actions require 10 affirmative votes.  Accordingly, a number of actions were not legitimately taken by former board leadership.  In addition, several meetings were orchestrated by the former leadership without notifying all members, without taking any minutes, and with several other serious legal errors.  All such improper practices have been terminated by legitimate actions of the full board after proper notification was given to all members and new distinguished members were elected to the board.

When the board met Monday, now chaired by Chief City Court Judge Hon. Craig D. Hannah, representatives of the New York Department of State were also present as they are for most CAO board meetings.

The board, which is required to represent the community, as well has have city, county and national appointees now has 15 members.

“The board is re-constituted as required by our bylaws and our regulatory agencies,” said Judge Hannah. “The agency is functioning at a high level and we are pleased to see its effective governance restored.”

Judge Hannah, who was elected to the CAO board in Nov. 2018, has been on City Court since 2006 and was named chief judge late last month. He also presided over the nation’s first Opiate Crisis Intervention Court. He served as an Erie County assistant district attorney and then moved to the city’s Corporation Counsel’s Office before becoming a judge.

Among other items of business at Monday’s meeting, a letter from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the federal authority that regulates Head Start and Early Head Start programs at the CAO, was entered into the record. It gave both early-education programs a clean bill of health following an inspection dated Feb. 6, 2019.

The report, from the HHS’s Administration for Children and Families, Office of Head Start in Washington, shows the CAO’s programs are not only operating fully and properly. It also affirms that past, routine issues faced by many similar programs nationwide, were corrected.

“Based on the information gathered during our review, we have closed the previously identified findings. Accordingly, no corrective action is required at this time,” said a letter about the review, signed by Dr. Deborah Bergeron, director at the federal Office of Head Start.  The letter notes that 2,183 children are enrolled in CAO Head Start programs and 535 children in Early Head Start.

“Despite some erroneous and biased reports to the contrary, fomented by the same former board members who tried to run our organization aground, the CAO is functioning at a high level, providing the key services our families in need seek from us,” said Hare.

The board also reviewed audited financial statements showing the CAO has an existing $500,000 line of credit taken out in 2013 and, according to the current year’s notes to the financial statements, has no outstanding balance. CAO owns an affordable housing project, St. Martin Village, and the property serves as security for the mortgage. The audit also found the CAO has managed and reduced significantly its pension obligation.

In the last year, the CAO helped 46,490 people, utilized 117,258 volunteer hours, operated in 238 partnerships and found non-agency jobs for 341 people.

More about the Community Action Organization of Western New York

The CAO’s mission is to promote opportunities for low-income individuals, families and communities to achieve and sustain self-sufficiency through advocacy, partnerships, access to services and low-to-moderate income housing development. The agency uses a five-pronged approach to fight poverty. These are community health, economic empowerment, educational advancement, neighborhood revitalization and workforce development. For more information go to and to find the agency’s latest Form 990, go to