When I was a child, my single-parent immigrant family lived through two realities in our nation. One dealt with poverty, racism, and inequality. The other dealt with people who believe that if an individual or family works hard enough, they can lift themselves out of the plight of socioeconomic disadvantage. Some have said our family is a testimony to “abundant opportunity that exists” because we seem to have achieved what some may perceive as the American Dream. The reality is quite different. We struggled to put food on the table, and my single mother was stuck in low-income, below-standard-living-wage jobs.
Our story would have been entirely different if it had not been for the churches, community organizations, and mentors coming alongside us and providing the guidance, support, opportunities, and resources to lift us up.
CAO’s mission to promote opportunities for low-income individuals, families, and communities to achieve and sustain self-sufficiency is not just a statement; it is a value system and a mindset shared by all of us working for CAO.
As we enter this new phase, I am inspired to build on CAO’s deeply rooted history and accomplishments. We aim to reach even more communities by strengthening the organization financially, operationally, and strategically.
Our work will focus on creating a collaborative vision to transform low-income neighborhoods into healthy communities where a system of integrated support services exists right where individuals and families live and work.
We will lead the effort of creating affordable housing while incorporating key support programs like early childhood education through Head Start/Early Head Start, youth programs, vocational and entrepreneurship initiatives within these neighborhoods.
In this process of creating a brighter future for all, we invite the dreamers and the doers. We are seeking collaboration with federally qualified health centers, educational and cultural institutions, law enforcement personnel, police-community engagement teams, business owners, and executives to engage in our vision of creating a better future for low-income communities not only in our region but beyond.
Through creativity and innovation, let’s be the beacon of hope in our local communities and a national model for others to follow.
President & CEO, CAO of WNY
Executive VP/Chief of Education
Chief People Officer
VP of Youth Services
VP of Adult Services