The History of the Council of Agency Executives
For many years, a Council of Social Service Agencies existed in Rochester to study community needs. In 1973, it merged with the Community Chest to become the United Community Chest of Greater Rochester, later called the United Way of Greater Rochester.
From that point, until sometime in the 1990’s, the United Way regularly convened executive directors from allocated agencies to discuss issues concerning community needs, United Way campaign needs, processes and procedures, and other items.
In the 1990’s, those meetings waned, yet there remained interest in improving efficiencies for nonprofit organizations, as well as managing collaborations, mergers and consolidations.
In 1998, Sue Costa of the Health Association and Julio Vázquez of the Ibero American Action League called together 12 of their peers to discuss starting an organization for nonprofit human service agency executives. They had several goals:
- To give voice to the human service agency management issues
- Serve as a forum for sharing best practices
- Lend support to chief executives of human service agencies
The group then invited about 30 additional human service agency executives to attend a meeting about this new organization. They brainstormed needs of nonprofits and issues they faced. They developed task forces to address their concerns. As this new organization structured itself in their first year, the original 14 served as a Steering Committee.
In the spring of 1999, the first Executive Committee was elected to govern the newly created Council of Agency Executives. Their charge was to plan programs and recruit new members. By 2003, there were more than 60 members, and the work was too extensive for this volunteer group. Joyce Strazzabosco, a retired executive director, was hired as the Council's first administrator. Joyce managed the group from 2003, until to her retirement in 2014, and was instrumental in growing the Council into what it is today.
Since 2015, Melinda Goldberg has been the Director. In 2016, the Council officially became a nonprofit. Members now include more than 130 organizations from a wide variety of nonprofit sectors.
The Original 14: From Council beginnings to today…
Jean Carroll retired in 2018 as the head of the YWCA of Rochester and Monroe County. She is now taking a pause, studying and consulting.
William (Bill) Clark retired in 2019 as the head of the Urban League. He was the last founding member who remained at the same organization as when the Council began.
Sue Costa left the Health Association in 2002, and passed away in 2007.
Jean Howard left Wilson Commencement Park to work in the Rochester Mayor Bob Duffy administration, and is now a consultant.
Deb Long left the Girls Scouts and the area in 1999 and now lives in Greenville, SC.
Bill McDonald retired in 2016 as head of Medical Motor Service and is now a program officer at the United Way of Greater Rochester, as well as a national transportation consultant.
James Norman retired as CEO of Action for a Better Community in early 2018. He is currently an adjunct faculty at MCC and at the U of R/Ramerman Group’s Leadership Coaching Certificate Program.
Nancy Padilla left Puerto Rican Youth Development which later merged with the Ibero-American Action League.
Carolyn Portanova retired from Catholic Family Center in 2012 and is enjoying her retirement.
Jim Sorrentino retired from East House in 2008 and is now a consultant.
Barry Stein left Jewish Family Service in 2007 and now heads Jewish Family Service of Greater Harrisburg, PA.
Julio Vázquez left the Ibero American Action League in 2006 to work in the Rochester Mayor Bob Duffy administration and, is now an education management professional.
Sherry Walker-Cowart led the merger of Eastside Community Center, Genesee Settlement House and Lewis Street Settlement House into The Community Place of Greater Rochester. In 2017, she retired as CEO of the Center for Dispute Settlement.
Fran Weisberg left Lifespan in 2005 for the Finger Lakes Health Systems. She later led the United Way of Greater Rochester and is now a consultant.