1/13/12: Poloncarz Administration Announces Appointments of Key Officials Across County Government

Modified: January 22, 2015 1:12pm

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County Executive Names Department Leaders in Various Posts

ERIE COUNTY, NY— Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz today announced his appointees for leadership positions in 18 Erie County departments, including Parks, Workforce Development and others.

“I’m pleased to welcome such a diverse, experienced and dedicated group of individuals to my administration,” said Poloncarz. “Whether joining us from the private sector, being promoted from within or being retained in their current position, these talented men and women reflect my commitment to placing the best candidates in each position, those with proven records of success and accomplishment that will best serve Erie County.”

Poloncarz highlighted that many of the appointees are career civil servants who have served the County in civil service titles in their departments.

The new appointees are:

Director of Workforce Development – Heather Okoro is an experienced Human Resources professional whose background includes provision, delivery and support of HR services in a number of past positions. Her past experience includes consultation with UB Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine as well as holding the office of Vice-President of Human Resources with the Girl Scouts of Western New York.

First Assistant County Attorney – Michelle Parker brings vast legal experience to her post. Ms. Parker most recently worked as a partner at Anspach Meeks Ellenberger LLP, and is a member of the Defense Trial Lawyers Association of WNY.

Deputy Commissioner-Emergency Medical Services – John Adolf has served in the Erie County Department of Emergency Services since 1982. For the past 13 years, Mr. Adolf has coordinated Advanced Life Support (ALS) systems for that Department, and has worked closely in overseeing the management of the EMS division operations.

Director of Purchase – Vallie Ferraraccio brings 16 years of procurement experience to her      position. Ms. Ferraraccio, formerly Director of Purchase for Erie County, has expertise in Competitive Bidding, SAP implementation, Supplier Relations, Bid Process Development, and other areas that involve the Division of Purchase.

Deputy Commissioner-Planning and Economic Development – Thomas Dearing has served as Community Planning Coordinator in the Erie County Department of Environment and Planning for a number of years, where his duties included management of the Planning and Development division consisting of fifteen employees and an annual federal grant budget of $5 million. Mr. Dearing has extensive private sector experience as well.

Commissioner of Parks – Troy Schinzel returns to Erie County following lengthy service in Monmouth County New Jersey, where his responsibilities included roles in the Department of Public Works & Engineering as Superintendent of Fleet Services/Acting Superintendent of Bridges and Senior County Park Manager. He is experienced in supervising multiple divisions and budgets as well as oversight of personnel and vehicles.

Director of Central Data Processing (Deputy CIO) – Lori Stilwell has worked in the Erie County Division of Information and Support Services since 1990, most recently as a System Support Specialist. Ms. Stilwell also has experience as a Technical Specialist (Computers) and as an Assistant Information Systems Specialist, and brings a wide range of expertise to her position.

Deputy Commissioner of Civil Defense and Disaster Preparedness – Gregory Butcher is a NYS Certified Firefighter, holds numerous other certifications, and has served as the Emergency Services Coordinator for the Town of Grand Island since 1998.

Commissioner of Labor Relations – David Palmer brings 16 years of Labor Relations experience to his position. Mr. Palmer’s areas of expertise include Dispute Resolution and  Developing Effective Working Relationships as well as Contract Negotiations; he co-chaired the first Master Contract negotiations at Kaleida Health, combining 19 bargaining units and 3 unions.

Executive Director, Office for the Disabled – Frank Cammarata has had a long career with People, Inc., the largest non-profit human service provider in Western New York. As an assistant program director there, Mr. Cammarata was directly responsible for the operation of day programming, hiring & budgetary oversight, and numerous other duties related to his supervisory capacity.

Director of Equal Employment Opportunity – Jesse Burnette is a highly skilled equal employment opportunity manager and training specialist with experience working for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the Office of the Director, where Mr. Burnette provided direct EEO management for both the NIH Center for Scientific Review and the NIH Center for Information Technology.

Veterans Service Officer – Carlos Benitez has 32 years of military experience, retiring as a Major in the New York Army National Guard. A strong advocate for veterans and a retired logistics employee for UPS, Major Benitez also served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and is experienced in Information technology and Electronic Communications.

Deputy Director of Probation – Ysaias Feliz, a retired U.S. Army officer, has served in the Erie County Probation department as Principal Probation Officer and as Probation Supervisor. In those capacities, Mr. Feliz has developed procedures and fostered cooperative partnerships between County departments to deliver services more efficiently.

Commissioner of Public Works – John Loffredo returns to County service after serving as Commissioner of the Department of Public Works for nearly 12 years during the administration of former County Executive Dennis Gorski. Mr. Loffredo also served in the administration of former County Executive Joel Giambra as Commissioner in that administration’s last  2 years.

First Deputy Commissioner-Social Services – Judith Shanley brings a wealth of experience to her position. A health care lawyer with over 20 years of diversified experience, Ms. Shanley  served ten years as Executive Director of Southeast Works, a health and human services agency, has five years of managed care experience, and  has ten years of experience as an executive administrator in government mental  health care delivery.

Commissioner of Probation – Brian McLaughlin, a holdover appointment from the Collins administration, has served in the Erie County Probation Department as Director, Deputy Director, and Principal Probation Officer, among other titles. Mr. McLaughlin is also a U.S. Army veteran and has worked in the Erie County Department of Social Services.

Deputy Commissioner-Sewerage Management – Joseph Fiegl, another holdover appointment, has worked in the Erie County Department of Environment and Planning since 2006, as Deputy Commissioner-Division of Sewerage Management and as Assistant Deputy Commissioner. As Deputy Commissioner, Mr. Fiegl was involved in supervision of wastewater facilities within seven County sewer districts.

Deputy Commissioner-Youth Services – David Rust, a re-appointee, continues to serve the County in this position.  Mr. Rust manages a portfolio that includes multiple youth programs, supervises the implementation of detention programs serving 1,400 youths annually, and has worked as the director of the Youth Bureau as well. 

Deputy Commissioner-Buildings and Grounds – Daniel Rizzo has served the Department of Public Works as Asbestos/Indoor Air Quality Coordinator since 2010, with duties including management and maintenance of an asbestos program within County buildings. A career civil servant, Mr. Rizzo’s responsibilities also include supervision of all related projects, contractor consultations, and provision of budgetary assistance.

Deputy Director of Labor Relations – Mary Thomas Scott, Esq. has extensive experience in labor and employment law experience, including working with management to develop labor contract strategies and workforce strategic plans. Ms. Scott’s law firm was also involved in counseling private sector management on the National Labor Relations Act, Title VII and other federal and state employment laws. She is also a former trial attorney with the National Labor Relations Board.

Deputy Commissioner-Highways – David Boehm worked for the Department of Public Works for 35 years in a variety of civil service titles including Senior Highway Maintenance Engineer where he led a County highway district. For the past 2 years he worked for a private consulting firm where he advised the department of public Works on highway projects and improvements.

Pursuant to the Erie County Charter, several of the commissioner/department head positions require confirmation by the Erie County Legislature.