Meet Our Staff

The agency is proud of its incredibly dedicated employees. Not only are many of them personally touched by adoption, but the qualifications of the staff are impressive, including degrees in Social Work, Psychology, Education and other related field. Their combined expertise, training and passion is the secret to the success of Adoption STAR.

The agency invites you to get to know the staff personally by sending them an email, telephoning the agency or simply dropping by the office.

All
Executive Team
Florida
Main Office Client Support Staff
Marketing and Development
New York
Ohio
Relations, Compliance and Administrative Staff
Florida Program Director
Alice Kelly, BAFlorida Program Director

Alice Kelly provides counseling, education, and support to both adoptive parents and birth parents. Alice has over 25 years experience working with children and families in the private sector as a program director for a private adoption agency and also in emergency shelters for abused and neglected children. She was also the Program Director for a national company that provided group homes and residential facilities for emotionally disturbed children and adolescents. She received her Associate of Arts degree in Psychology from Western Oklahoma State College while serving in the United States Air Force. After her four-year enlistment, she completed her undergraduate work at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida, receiving her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology.

Alice was born in Bardstown, Kentucky. When she was two, her family moved to Florida where she has remained. Alice grew up in Fort Lauderdale, the youngest of four children. Her late father, a minister, and her mother, who was raised in an orphanage, instilled in Alice, her brothers and sister the importance of family and community. With these values, Alice has been an active volunteer, and has spent all of her professional career working with children and families. Alice is a strong advocate for the adoptive families and birth mothers she serves.

Adoption Assessor
Amy Deeds, MSEd., LPCCAdoption Assessor

Amy is a licensed Clinical Counselor as well as an Adoption Assessor. Amy has worked with foster and adoptive families for over 15 years.

She began her career working as a child welfare caseworker for Franklin County Children Services. During graduate school she was extremely fortunate to obtain a clinical residency at a private counseling practice that specialized in post adoption therapeutic services. It was at this time that she decided she would dedicate her career to adoptive families.

Amy works for Adoption STAR as an adoption assessor. Amy is also a clinician specializing in issues surrounding attachment and bonding. She has experience treating children and families affected by Reactive Attachment Disorder. Amy is very passionate about her work and she truly enjoys her role in finding families for children.

She understands the adoptive parents’ experience of creating a family through adoption as she has two children adopted from Korea.

Adoption Assessor
April Fong, MSW, LSWAdoption Assessor

April works directly with adoptive parents and birth parents. She conducts home studies, post placement, post adoption support and counseling.

April received her Bachelor’s degree in sociology and psychology from Case Western Reserve University prior to attending Washington University in St. Louis, where she earned her Master of Social Work. April was the Adoption STAR Ohio Program Director and now works on an as needed basis. Before joining Adoption STAR, April spent over six years working in the intake department through Butler County Children Services, where she assessed for child safety.

April resides in Cincinnati with her husband and children and enjoys spending time at local parks and attractions that the city has to offer.

Adoption Assessor
April Hughes, MSSW, LSWAdoption Assessor

April is a Licensed Social Worker and Adoption Assessor in the state of Ohio with over 19 years of experience working with children and families.

Her professional career has included many experiences including working with Child Welfare as well as working as an outpatient therapist with children and families. In addition to her work with Adoption STAR, April is currently working in schools as a mental health therapist. Her passions are introducing children to Play Therapy and assisting families in their adoption process.

April lives with her husband and two daughters. She loves to travel, quilt, and spend time with her family.

Adoption Social Worker
Becki Buck, MSW, LSWAdoption Social Worker

Becki is a licensed social worker in New York and New Jersey. She earned her master’s in social work degree from Rutgers University in Camden, New Jersey and earned her undergraduate degree in psychology from Houghton College in Houghton, New York. Becki and her family moved to western New York in March of 2012 after having lived and worked in the Philadelphia/New Jersey area for 20 years.
Becki has worked in the field of adoption since 1996. Most of her efforts have focused on special needs adoption, including finding homes for children in foster care who had emotional and behavioral challenges. Becki also worked with children adopted internationally, many having high medical needs.

Becki enjoys facilitating trainings for potential foster and adoptive families and sharing with them in their journey to grow their families.

Becki believes, “There is nothing as rewarding as witnessing a new family come together and knowing that you played a part in making that happen.”

Adoption Assessor
Carol Lamb, BSSW, LSWAdoption Assessor

Carol Lamb is a Licensed Social Worker and Adoption Assessor in the State of Ohio. Her professional experience includes working with families and children of all ages.

Carol received her Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. While working as a Family Services Worker in the child welfare system, she began to focus her career directly working with foster parents and foster children in the Greater Cincinnati area.

Carol lives in Cincinnati with her husband and three sons. In her spare time she enjoys outdoor activities with her sons, reading, and trying new restaurants.

Adoption Social Worker
Chinequia Williams, MSWAdoption Social Worker

Chinequia works per diem with adoptive parents writing home studies and conducting post placement visits. Chinequia received her Bachelor’s in Social Work from Daemen College and her Master’s in Social Work from the University at Albany. She has experience in Child Welfare, specifically Preventive and residential services. As an innovative and progressive professional, Chinequia enjoys helping others through life challenges. Her personal nature is nonjudgmental and “down to earth” as in her work ethic.
Working with Adoption STAR is a dream come true for Chinequia. She was a previous intern and worked with prospective adoptive. She strongly believes that adoption exemplifies hope, strength and courage and that we are able to experience what it feels like to live in an unselfish world.
When Chinequia is not working, you will find her traveling or spending time with family and friends.

Resource Associate Administrative Staff
Chris FancherResource Associate Administrative Staff

Chris provides administrative support to the main office including processing legal paperwork. He also manages post adoption correspondence and the Adoption STAR library and related resources.

Being a twin, Chris understands the importance of family in a child’s life and couldn’t be happier being part of an agency that creates many forever families.

Outside of STAR, Chris is pursuing a double degree in Classics and Business Administration at the University at Buffalo. Chris also participates in UB’s chapter of Colleges Against Cancer. Chris plans on attending Law School in the near future.

Adoption Assessor
Christi Scheid, BSAdoption Assessor

Christi Scheid works in Ohio as an Adoption STAR Adoption Assessor. She works with prospective adoptive parents as they begin their adoption journey.

Christi has worked for Butler County Children Services for the past 15 years, working with Kinship Caregivers.

Christi enjoys spending time with her husband and their three sons. She also enjoys walking, swimming, coaching soccer and watching her boys play sports

Adoption Counselor and Family Advocate
Erin Hutchison, LMHCAdoption Counselor and Family Advocate

Erin received her Bachelors Degree in Psychology from the University At Buffalo and her Masters Degree in Mental Health Counseling from Canisius College in 2011. Erin is also a Licensed Mental Health Counselor.

Prior to joining the Adoption STAR team, Erin worked as a senior counselor in both an inpatient and outpatient setting providing counseling to individuals with substance use and mental health disorders. For over seven years, Erin worked with individuals and their families throughout their treatment and recovery process.

Erin became interested in the counseling field as an undergraduate after completing an internship at the University At Buffalo’s Summer Treatment Program, which provided services and support to school age children with behavioral, emotional and/or learning barriers.

Erin values family relationships and finds assisting others in establishing their sense of family through the adoption process to be meaningful.

Counsel Emeritus
Flory Herman, Esq.Counsel Emeritus

Flory Herman is a former pharmacist with a doctorate degree in pharmacy from the University of Kentucky, 1982. She graduated law school from the New York Law School (1988 cum laude) and was admitted to the New York State bar in January 1989. Her prior experience includes medical malpractice litigation. In 1992, Flory founded one of the most successful private adoption law practices in Western New York and has been a fellow of the prestigious American Academy of Adoption Attorneys since 1995.

Flory joined forces with Adoption STAR, Inc. in 2006 when she helped develop the “agency assisted private adoption track,” serving as the Agency’s Private Adoption Consultant. In that position, Flory worked hard to implement up-to-date practices in assisting adoptive parents with effective networking and advertising, to enable them to make that special connection with prospective birth parents. Thereafter, Flory served as the Agency’s General Counsel from 2008 through 2010 and now as Counsel Emeritus, since January 2011.

Independent of her role at Adoption STAR, Flory also partnered with her brother, Alan Wishnoff, in Littlelamb Productions from 2006-2009, a video production company that created beautiful and compelling custom video versions of adoptive parent profiles.

Flory also executive produced and directed the documentary-style film “I Have Roots and Branches”… Personal Reflections on Adoption, which received a 2004 Film Advisory Board award of excellence, recognized world-wide for quality family/children’s entertainment.

Flory is always awed by the miracle of adoption, having experienced it both professionally for so many years, and personally. Flory’s focus is often on the “faces of adoption” i.e. the children, adoptive parents and birth families of adoption, promoting adoption reform and educating society to share her “celebration of adoption”. As she puts it, “We want children to know that if they were adopted, it is a wonderful lifelong journey. Let us all celebrate the roots from which they come and the branches that mold them into who they are and where they will go.”

Flory, a proud adoptive mom, lives in East Amherst, NY with her husband, two teenage children and two Italian Greyhounds. She loves to cook, watch foreign films and will take any good easy exercise class!

Adoption Social Worker
Frances Martin, LMSWAdoption Social Worker

Frances has worked in the field of social services for the past 15 years. She started her career straight out of college, working in the area of child welfare. In this capacity, Frances worked with children of all ages, their birth parents and foster parents. She provided support, concrete services, resources and advocacy. For six years, Frances assisted in managing various departments, first working with adolescents in foster care and then working with children who needed a higher level of therapeutic care. She is well versed in foster care and adoption policy. She has worked alongside the family court system to advocate for her families.

Currently, Frances has returned to direct practice, providing mental health counseling to patients of all ages.

Frances is experienced in writing home studies. In addition, she has experience in treatment planning and providing bi-lingual therapeutic services to children and adults. She has experience in providing parenting support and counseling, as well as in running a parenting group called The Parenting Journey.

Frances holds a Masters Degree in Social Work from Fordham University. She is a Licensed Master Social Worker in the State of New York. She was born and raised in Washington Heights, located in Upper Manhattan. She currently resides in Queens with her husband and son.

Internet Marketing Specialist Marketing & Development
Geoff FormanInternet Marketing Specialist Marketing & Development

Geoff handles the Internet Marketing for Adoption STAR. He creates and implements SEO/SEM campaigns and analyzes results as well as makes recommendations so Adoption STAR can be found by those who need or desire the services we offer.

Geoff has a dual B.A. in English and Integrative Media from Wilkes University, and a M.S. in Professional and Technical Communication from the New Jersey Institute of Technology. His educational and professional expertise includes search engine optimization, digital marketing strategies, technical and creative writing, and graphic design for print, digital, and video mediums.

Geoff currently resides in southern New Jersey. When not working, he spends his time in the gym, mountain biking, discovering the next adrenaline-pumping activity, or relaxing with friends and family. Adoption has played a prominent role in Geoff’s life, having grown up with several adopted cousins and, more recently, is an uncle to an adopted nephew.

Adoption Social Worker
Jessica Brumbaugh, LMSWAdoption Social Worker

Jessica is a licensed social worker, serving adoptive families in the Rochester area since 2004. In addition to completing home studies, Jessica also visits with families after a child is placed, providing support and completing the post-placement reports needed to finalize an adoption. Jessica also works in administration at the Society for the Protection and Care of Children (SPCC) in Rochester, providing oversight to a variety of child and family programs. In her work with Adoption STAR, Jessica counts it an honor to partner with families in helping them prepare for and welcome the precious gift of a child through adoption.

Adoption Social Worker
Joyce Morier, MSWAdoption Social Worker

Joyce attended Syracuse University where she received her master’s in social work with a concentration in health. Joyce has worked in various social service settings including working with Hospice, youth in foster care, addictions, and working with people with disabilities. Joyce works with prospective adoptive families through the home study and post placement process. In addition to being a social worker, Joyce is a mom and a grandma.

Adoption Social Worker
Kaitlin Incorvia, MSWAdoption Social Worker

Kaitlin provides pre and post adoption services including home studies and post placement supervision. . Kaitlin received her Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from Buffalo State College and her Master’s Degree from the University at Buffalo in the Advanced Standing Master’s of Social Work program. Prior to Kaitlin’s current position with Adoption STAR, she was an MSW Intern with the agency.

Additionally, Kaitlin is a Therapeutic Crisis Intervention and Trauma Informed Care Trainer for families. She has worked directly with families on re-unifying family members, strengthening family bonds, and teaching skills.

Kaitlin is excited to be a part of Adoption STAR! She values family and is looking forward to working with families as they expand theirs!

Adoption Social Worker
Kathleen Cores, MSW, LCSWAdoption Social Worker

Kathleen works with adoptive parents conducting home studies and post placement visits. In addition Kathy works as a school social worker for the Buffalo Public Schools. Kathy has worked with Adoption STAR since the agency’s inception. Kathy also mentors graduate student interns who work with the agency. She enjoys working with Adoption STAR clients and says that working with adoptive parents and seeing them with their new children is heartwarming and makes me feel that I am involved in a very worthwhile endeavor.

Director of Adoption
Kathy Crissey, MS, LMHCDirector of Adoption

Kathy has been affiliated with Adoption STAR for over a decade. As the Director of Adoption, she has overall responsibility for the management and administration of the agency’s adoption programs. This includes, but is not limited to: pre and post domestic and international adoption programs, adoptive family recruitment, assessment, training and case management. This position provides direct supervision to all employees related to the adoption programs including in multiple sub-office sites. Additionally, Kathy oversees the monitoring for quality and ensuring stability of adoptive placements.

Kathy is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor who has worked with adoption related issues in her private practice as well as providing general counseling services to children, adults and families. Kathy has provided mental health services to individuals who are struggling with HIV/AIDS since the early 1990’s. She also has experience in working with clients who have issues related to infertility and grief and loss.

Adoption has always been near and dear to Kathy’s heart both from a personal and professional perspective. Kathy is the adoptive mother to four children from China. As a mother to internationally adopted children it has been a goal to help her children retain their heritage and to foster a strong sense of pride in their culture of origin.

Adoption Assessor
Kathy Greenawalt-Cherry, LSW, MSEdAdoption Assessor

Kathy Greenawalt-Cherry, is a Licensed Social Worker, Certified Adoption Assessor, Certified Early Intervention Specialist and Certified Play and Language for Autistic Youngsters (P.L.A.Y. Project) Home Consultant. Kathy has a Master’s degree in Transdisciplinary Early Childhood Education with a concentration in Early Intervention. Much of Kathy’s career has been with a county board of Developmental Disabilities and Help Me Grow working with families who have children with developmental delays and disabilities.

Kathy lives in Dayton, OH with her husband Ron. Their son Taylore attends the University of North Carolina.

Florida Director of Operations and Legal Service
Katie JayFlorida Director of Operations and Legal Service

Katie is our Florida Director of Operations and Legal Services. As Director of Legal Services, Katie represents Adoption STAR in all Florida adoption matters and works closely with staff to ensure that best practices are followed. As Director of Operations, Katie develops and maintains partnerships with the community.

Before joining Adoption STAR, Katie represented the state of Florida as a senior prosecutor in Miami, where she prosecuted child abuse, abandonment and neglect cases. She oversaw and directed cases from initial removal of children to reunification or other permanent placements such as adoption.

Adoption is personal for Katie and her family, as they have adopted internationally and are licensed foster parents. Katie has written and spoken extensively on the geopolitics of international child welfare and the human rights of orphans. She has been published in the Wall Street Journal and the Chronicle for Social Change. Recognized by her law colleagues as a leader in developing and advocating for child-centered policies, Katie serves on national taskforces related to international adoption and foster care.

Katie earned her Bachelor of Arts in Government from the University of Texas and her Juris Doctor from Maurer School of Law at Indiana University.

Receptionist and Administrative Clerk
Kim BundyReceptionist and Administrative Clerk

As Adoption STAR’s receptionist and administrative clerk, Kimberly serves as the first face and voice clients and the community interacts with when they contact the Agency. In addition to her responsibilities maintaining the front desk, she also assists the staff with day-to-day tasks, including outreach and compliance preparations.

Prior to joining the Adoption STAR staff, Kim worked for many years in customer service, where she gained an appreciation for understanding the special circumstances and cultural differences of each of her clients. She worked to build relationships with everyone she came in contact with.
Currently, Kim is finishing her Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology, with a focus in Museum Studies. Following graduation she intends to pursue a master’s degree in Library and Information Science, focusing on developing systems of file and record organization.

In addition to pursuing her degree and working at the Agency, Kim provides cares to her mother and stepfather, younger sister, and nephew at home.

Development Associate
Kristin AckermanDevelopment Associate

Kristin is the Development Associate at Adoption STAR. As a part of the agency’s marketing/development team, Kristin assists with special events, fundraising and public relations. Kristin is also responsible for overseeing Adoption STAR’s volunteer program.

Kristin earned her associates degree in Business at Erie Community College. Her previous experience is in the Human Resource field.

Kristin resides in Lancaster, New York with her husband Scott, 2 parrots, Lennon and McCartney and rabbit, Sid. She also has a son, Ronald who is in the air force reserves. Kristin enjoys cooking and reading. She also enjoys swimming, cycling and running. She completed her first Ironman in Lake Placid, New York in July 2012

Compliance Associate
Lisa Geiger, MSCompliance Associate

Lisa Geiger, MS works with prospective adoptive clients on the collection, organization, and editing of home studies. She ensures each client file and home study is within compliance of state regulations as well as agency policies.

Lisa received her Master’s degree in Education from Canisius College. She has worked with children with special needs as well as adults in various settings. Lisa believes that education is paramount when beginning one’s journey to adoption. She believes that children who come from loving and supportive families are more likely to succeed.

Lisa embraces the agency’s philosophy of combining counseling and education for those who wish to adopt a child as well as those who are deciding whether or not to make an adoption plan for a child.

Lisa is thrilled to be a part of creating families and is honored to have a role in the adoption process. As the mother of five, Lisa knows first-hand the importance of family.

Lisa resides in E. Amherst, N.Y. with her children, Marissa, Michael, McKenna, Maren, Mailey, and their Yorkie, Presely. Most of her free time is spent at the soccer, lacrosse, football fields, and hockey rinks. When she does have time for herself, she enjoys exercising, movies, and traveling.

Executive Administrator
Lori Craig, BSExecutive Administrator

Lori is the Executive Administrator at Adoption STAR. She has been with the agency since 2006, first joining the staff as the Office Manager. As Executive Administrator, Lori provides administrative and operations management support to the agency.

Lori received her Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University at Buffalo and her previous experience includes working at Purdue University and UB. Lori greatly values family life and loved being a stay-at-home mom for 20 years before beginning her second career with Adoption STAR. While raising her two sons, she was a very active volunteer at their schools and continues to be passionate about family, education and the welfare of children.

Lori is proud to support the agency’s mission and holds great respect for birth mothers of the agency. She regularly volunteers at the agency’s events that honor birth mothers and enjoys the special connection she has made with several birth mothers and adoptive parents over the years.

Lori lives in East Amherst, NY with her husband, Tim. Lori enjoys reading, vacationing in Florida, spending time with friends and family, and staying connected across the miles with her two sons.

Adoption Social Worker
Lynlee Hochrad, LMSW, MPHAdoption Social Worker

Lynlee earned her Masters degree in Social Work as well as one in Public Health at the University at Buffalo. During her time earning her MSW Lynlee was Adoption STAR’s intern and now loves her time as a Home Study Social Worker.

Lynlee’s professional interests lie in the areas of Maternal and Child Health and would love to work surrounded by babies all day. As the oldest of four children, Lynlee has spent her life surrounded by a big family and is thrilled to assist in helping others have that experience.

Adoption Social Worker
Marie Dolfi, LCSWAdoption Social Worker

Marie works with adoptive parents writing home studies and conducting post placement visits. She has a private practice specializing in pre-and-post adoption issues for members of the adoption constellation in Albany, NY. She is on the board of the Adoptive Families of the Capital Region, Inc. and the Advisory Board of the Post Adoption Resource Center at Parsons Child & Family Center. Marie enjoys working with Adoption STAR clients because it gives her an opportunity to educate parents on the unique issues adoptive families’ experience. Marie feels fortunate to work with Adoption STAR clients in helping them build the forever families they have been dreaming of.

Adoption Social Worker
Mary-Jean Gianquinto, LMSWAdoption Social Worker

May-Jean is an adoption social worker specializing in domestic, second parent adoption, surrogacy adoption and international home studies. Mary-Jean is an excellent resource for families in need of guidance and support. Mary-Jean has been a practicing social worker for over twenty years guiding families in the adoption journey.

International Adoption Coordinator
Megan Montgomery, LMSWInternational Adoption Coordinator

Meg is a licensed master social worker in New York. She obtained her Master’s degree in Social Work from the State University of New York at Buffalo after completing her undergraduate degree in social work from the State University of New York at Fredonia.

Meg has worked within the adoption field for many years. Previously Meg was the Social Work Manager for an adoption agency in Massachusetts, specializing in adoptions from China. During her time there she was able to obtain her License as a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker in the state of Massachusetts.

Meg’s experience as a social worker also includes working with children with social emotional disorders and/or behavioral challenges and their families. Her volunteer work includes working to provide humanitarian aid to children living outside of family care.

Meg currently is our International Adoption Coordinator, working with all of our New York State families through their internatatonal adoption journey and overseeing our programs in OH and FL as well. She has also provided pre and post adoption counseling as well as home study and post placement services for Adoption STAR predominately in the Rochester, NY area.

Meg states, “I have worked in adoption for a number of years and have never found any other work more rewarding. I have been fortunate to work with families both pre and post adoption as well as provide adoptive parent education and other resources to assist families through their adoption journey. Two areas of significant focus for me have been special needs adoption and adopting an older child.”

Associate Director
Michael Hill, MSAssociate Director

Michael Hill is the Associate Director. He has been with Adoption STAR since 2009 when he joined the agency as the Project Lead for the federally-funded Infant Adoption Awareness Training Project (IAATP).

Michael holds a Master of Science degree in Human Services Administration from Buffalo State College and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Work from Luther College. In 1998, Michael started his professional career as a case manager at AIDS Community Services of Western New York, Inc. in 1999, Michael joined the Olmsted Center for Sight and held several positions with the organization, including Case Manager, Program Coordinator, Clinical Supervisor and Communications Specialist/Student Services Adviser. In 2005, Michael became the director of Development and Public Relations for St. Mary’s School for the Deaf, and in 2007 he joined Upstate New York Transplant Services as their Director of Education.

As Associate Director for Adoption STAR, Michael plans, organizes and directs the day-to-day operations of the Development Department. In addition he assists the CEO in the implementation of strategies and systems that insure that agency operations meet the highest standards of quality. Michael also establishes and maintains relationships with other agencies and organizations in the community.

His role as Associate Director enhances his original role as IAATP Project Lead by conducting and overseeing marketing and outreach related activities in an effort to arrange in-services and new partnerships within the community.

Michael is a strong and passionate speaker, and an enthusiastic advocate of permanency planning. As an adoptive father he treasures the fact that he can be a part of the adoption process.
Michael’s work is important to him and he is passionate about increasing the agency’s educational outreach within the community. “Pregnancy counseling and adoption education is so important today,” Michael said. “I am looking forward to introducing our curriculum and information to groups, organizations, medical facilities and schools.”

In addition to Michael’s professional work, he is a member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Buffalo, an active member of YMCA Buffalo/Niagara’s Independent Health Family Branch, and a member of the Human Rights Campaign (the largest LGBT civil rights advocacy group and political lobbying organization in the United States). Michael resides in Snyder, New York with his husband Scott and their sons Elijah and Seth. Michael’s favorite pastimes include singing, tennis, gardening and taking the boys for long walks at local parks or around their neighborhood.

Michele A. Kirsh, M.S. Ed.
Michele A. Kirsh, M.S. Ed.Michele A. Kirsh, M.S. Ed.

Michele is a New York State Certified School Psychologist with many years of experience in the field of special education. She is an adoptive mom to a wonderful boy and is the Vice President of the New York City Chapter of the Adoptive Parents Committee, an adoptive parent support group. Michele helps to coordinate programming for the annual APC Conference as well as for monthly support group meetings.

Michele conducts homestudies and post placement visits. She is honored to be able to help people create their families through adoption.

Founder & CEO
Michele Fried, BSFounder & CEO
michele

Michele Fried is the founder and CEO of Adoption STAR. Her foremost responsibilities are the implementation of strategic plans and agency growth/expansion, financial management, board partnerships and supervision of the staff. Michele has her hands full with these responsibilities as well as initiating marketing and public relation campaigns and executing and implementing policies developed by the Board of Directors.

Before starting Adoption STAR, Michele worked as an educator in Pennsylvania and then after she and her husband adopted their first child, she entered the field of adoption. In 1989 she founded an adoption agency licensed in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Michele’s own family began to grow and they chose to return home to Western New York. Michele began working locally as an Inclusion Coordinator for individuals with developmental disabilities.

As the years went by, Michele was inspired by the great need for a passionate, advocacy based, non-profit child-welfare agency in this area and so Adoption STAR was born in March of 2000! Michele is very proud of the work Adoption STAR has done and continues to do, and states she is touched by the incredible birth mothers that work with the agency.

The community-at-large has also noticed Michele and her agency. In 2003, Michele received a Business First 40 Under Forty Award and in 2004 WKBW-TV honored Michele by selecting her to be one of the community’s Everyday Heroes. The YWCA also honored Michele in 2005 by selecting her as one of twenty-six women making a difference in Western New York. In 2009, Michele was the recipient of a Business First Women of Influence Entrepreneur Award. On May 1, 2010 during the Dazzling Decade ~ A Night of Stars 10th Birthday Gala, Michele’s own agency presented her with the First Michele Fried Founder’s Award. In the future, this award will be ongoing and be given to an individual whose contributions, expertise, and dedication to adoption mirror Michele’s.

Michele carefully named the agency using the acronym STAR and was determined to utilize the words within the name to provide comprehensive services to all members of the adoption triad: Support, Training, Advocacy and Resources (STAR).

Michele believes in permanency planning and believes that every child deserves a forever family. She created Adoption STAR to operate on the belief that there is a family for every child.

Michele and her husband Chuck enjoy spending time with their children. In addition to their amazing kids, they are busy with Olive (a Chihuahua) and Abbey (a Maltese mix) who sometimes accompany Michele to work. Michele enjoys traveling, writing, reading, long walks, and movies — especially true stories and those with happy endings.

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Web Designer and Programming
Nicole TartagliaWeb Designer and Programming

Nicole Dyan Tartaglia is an artist, designer, and developer. She works as an UI/X and Visual designer for a large private company. Her freelance brand, nicoletartaglia.com, produces a wide variety of design and art projects including fine art production, branding and web design, art curation, and more. She graduated from Rutgers University in 2005, receiving a Bachelor of the Arts degree in Graphic Design and Computer Science. She served on the AIGA Philadelphia board as Interactive Director for 3 years curating an all QR code animation show and setting up many web workshops for the community. Her work has been exhibited in many galleries and events nationally. Nicole lives in Philadelphia, PA with her husband, two cats, and her baby daughter, Colette ‘Coco’.

Administrative Support
Nobie FriedAdministrative Support

Zenobia (Nobie) Fried is working on providing much-needed clerical, administrative, and data entry support. Whether she’s tracking statistical information, compiling agency intakes, scanning documents, or closing files, she’s ensuring that vital work is getting done while simultaneously allowing clinical staff to focus on providing support to their clients.

Nobie is a high school student and is actively involved in her local youth group as Communications Vice President.

Adoption Counselor
Nuala Campbell, M.S. Ed., N.C.C.Adoption Counselor

Nuala works with adoptive parents writing home studies and conducting post placement visits. She enjoys working with Adoption STAR clients because “being able to help people fulfill their dream of creating a family is an extraordinary privilege.”

Adoption Social Worker
Peter Winkler, LMSWAdoption Social Worker

Peter is an experienced social worker in the fields of adoption and foster care. For over twenty years, Peter worked for the NYS Department of Social Services where he directed the state adoption subsidy program and the Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children (ICPC). Peter currently conducts home study and post placements for clients in the Albany area.

Administrative Support
Quinn MoyerAdministrative Support

Quinn is a student at Williamsville North High School. She is working in the main office a couple times a week. Quinn spends most of her time scanning documents into the agency’s software assessment management system. In addition to being a Scan Clerk, Quinn assists the administrative team as needed. In her free time, Quinn enjoys cheerleading.

Adoptive Parent Social Worker and Family Advocate
Rachael Metz, LCSWAdoptive Parent Social Worker and Family Advocate

Rachael works in the Adoptive Parent Department as a Social Worker and Family Advocate providing support to adoptive families of Adoption STAR from their first steps of the process and throughout their adoption journey.

Rachael received her Masters Degree in Social Work from Case Western Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences and her Bachelors Degree in Social Work from Buffalo State College. She became a Licensed MSW in 2007 and a Licensed CSW in 2016.

Rachael joined New Alternatives for Children (NAC) in New York City in October 2007 ~ First as a Senior social worker and then as a Clinical Coordinator. Rachael worked within a nationally recognized program that trains, assists and strengthens the capacity of families who have adopted one or more children with special needs. Through pre and post adoption support and education, referral and advocacy, crisis intervention and counseling, Rachael helped to support and improve the wellbeing and functioning of adoptive families.

Rachael’s years of experience in the adoption field, her gentle nature, and her strong clinical skills assist individuals and couples as they navigate the many options and emotions involved in the adoption process.

Rachael believes adoption is a beautiful way to create a family and loves supporting families through their adoption journey.

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Adoption Social Worker
Rachel Edricks, LCSWAdoption Social Worker

Rachel greatly enjoys her work with Adoption STAR, providing both home study and birth family services to families in New York City. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from Brandeis University, and her Master’s Degree in Social Work from Columbia University. Full time, she works as a Therapist at a labor union for NYC employees.

Adoptive Parent Social Worker and Family Advocate
Shannon Boeheim, MSWAdoptive Parent Social Worker and Family Advocate

Shannon is as an Adoption Social Worker and Family Advocate in the Adoptive Parent Department. She works directly with prospective adoptive parents in the traditional domestic adoption program.

Shannon received her Master’s in Social Work from the University of Buffalo and her Bachelor’s in Social Work from Buffalo State College. She has experience in the field of foster care and adoption where she has seen first hand how adoption changes lives. Shannon also watched her brother and sister-in-law go through the adoption process and become adoptive parents, and is head over heels in love with her niece, an Adoption STAR baby! In addition to being touched by adoption, Shannon worked at St. Mary’s School for the Deaf providing school-age children with support by way of counseling, planning activities, coaching, and enhancing their communication skills. She is fluent in ASL (American Sign Language).

Prior to joining Adoption STAR on a full time basis, Shannon had been working with the Agency as an adoption social worker providing both pre and post adoption services to adoptive families and birth families.

Shannon is passionate about working in the adoption field. She enjoys working with adoptive families because it allows her to help make the dream of “becoming parents” a reality.

Adoption Counselor
Stephanie M. Shaw, M.S., C.R.C.Adoption Counselor

Stephanie has a Master’s degree in Rehabilitation counseling with 15 years experience working with people with severe mental illness, and in the chemical dependency and rehabilitation fields. Stephanie wanted to work at Adoption STAR, “Because my own adoption experiences were the lights at the ends of my tunnels! Adoption was the path to fulfilling my dreams of motherhood! I want to be one of the supportive, loving, teaching people along that path for other adoptive families. I think it’s my way of giving to the community and sharing my family in a fulfilling way.” Stephanie conducts home studies and post placement supervision as well as facilitates some of the educational classes for Adoption STAR. Stephanie has three children, two arrived by way of adoption and one by birth. Stephanie feels this has given her a unique perspective on parenting as well as the birth/adoptive parent/adoptee triad.

Adoption Counselor
Stephanie Meeker, MSAdoption Counselor

Stephanie has a Masters in Psychology and a Bachelors in Education. In addition to her work with Adoption STAR, she works for Farnham Family Services as a Student Assistance Counselor in the Prevention Program.

Stephanie is skilled in the areas of crisis intervention and providing one-on-one counseling and education. Stephanie’s additional experience includes classroom presentation, facilitating group sessions and family skills programming.

Born and raised in Oswego County, Stephanie enjoys giving back to her community. In her free time she loves to read, listen to music, write and do research on various topics close to her heart. Spending time with family is most important; including playing fetch with her two dogs on her farm, dinner with extended family, or just cuddling on the couch with her cats.

Intake Specialist, Adoption Social Worker
Stephanie Velez, MSWIntake Specialist, Adoption Social Worker

Stephanie’s job focuses on being the first point of contact for anyone inquiring about adoption on both the prospective adoptive parent spectrum as well as any expectant/birth families looking for information on making an adoption plan for their child. Stephanie provides scheduled and day to day support to families looking for any and all information on the adoption process through Adoption STAR’s services as well as providing resources and referrals to families.

Stephanie provides general information on adoption as well as targeted information on the adoption process with Adoption STAR’s Domestic and International Programs for prospective adoptive parents as well as information to expectant families on the birth parent services. Stephanie provides in person and over the phone/Skype conferences to better discuss information on the agencies services and programs as well as maintaining flexibility in her availability.

Stephanie is a graduate of the State University of New York at Buffalo, where as a part of unique five year program she secured both a Bachelor of Arts and a Masters in Social Work. Stephanie completed a yearlong internship at Adoption STAR securing full-time employment with the agency as the Birth Family Advocate. Stephanie is bilingual (English and Spanish) and enjoys applying this skill to intake discussions with prospective adoptive parents and expectant/birth families as well as with the community at large during community outreach and education.

Stephanie’s previous professional experience includes working in the Buffalo Public School District with the Committee of Special education (CSE) and the Student Support Teams (SST) at BPS 76 and BPS 45, which helps families children with support, assistance and referrals to both in and out-of-school services. Stephanie also led a bilingual Student Academic Instructional Group (SAIG) which focused on Anger management and Stress relief among children in grades 2-4.

Originally from Westchester County, Stephanie now resides in Buffalo with her two bengal/tabby kitties Madison and Noah. Stephanie is a proud daughter, older sister, younger sister and most importantly and recently an aunt to her niece and love of her life, Serena. Stephanie enjoys spending time with her friends and family and loves cooking, repurposing furniture and playing soccer.

Adoption Social Worker
Steven M. Baranowski, LMSWAdoption Social Worker

Steve works with Adoption STAR adoptive families for their home study and post placement needs. He received a Master’s of Social Work from Fordham University in 1995. As an adoptee, an adoption professional, and parent of two children, he is a strong advocate for building families through adoption. Steve has worked professionally in foster care and adoption since 1994, including the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute and Family Services of Westchester, Jewish Child Care Association, and Connecticut Adoption and Family Services. Steve is also a member of the Adoption Foster Care Therapist Network. Steve has been in reunion with his biological family since 2004 and lives with his wife and daughters in Westchester County, New York.

Senior Caseworker and Birth Family Advocate
Sue Shaw, BSSenior Caseworker and Birth Family Advocate

Sue Shaw has worked with birth families since she joined Adoption STAR in 2006. Sue states, “I have discovered a passion for the field of adoption and believe that it is my calling in life.” Sue works directly with expectant parents providing them counseling, referrals and support throughout their pregnancies. Expectant parents who select adoption will work with Sue to make an adoption plan that includes selecting an adoptive family.

In 2015, Adoption STAR honored Sue with the Michele Fried Founders Award as her above and beyond passion and commitment to the field is similar to that of the agency’s founder.

Sue has been an active member of CAFFA (Coalition of Adoption and Foster Family Agencies) and has participated on several CAFFA committees on behalf of Adoption STAR.

Sue and her husband live in Cheektowaga, NY with their 2 dogs and 1 cat. Sue is an animal lover, enjoys motorcycle riding, skiing and spending time with family and friends. Sue and her husband live in Cheektowaga, NY with their 2 dogs and 1 cat.

Adoptive Parent Mentor & Coach
Susan ReardonAdoptive Parent Mentor & Coach

Sue assists families who choose to pursue the Agency Assisted Private Track facilitating the training that is involved in the program and guides clients through the process. Sue also provides consultations and assists clients with preparation of the digital and hard copy profiles that prospective adoptive parents need when adopting domestically.

She also serves as the staff liaison for SOFIA, the Adoptive Family Support & Social Group and its many geographic locations.

Sue has been a friend to Adoption STAR and advocate for adoption since she and her husband began their own adoption journey in 2002. With the experience of being a three-time Adoption STAR adoptive mom and a background in Human Services, Sue has been a natural mentor to countless families.

Since a “mentor” is a trusted guide and a “coach” is someone who not only instructs but also demonstrates, then the title of Adoptive Parent Mentor and Coach truly describes Sue and her work for Adoption STAR.

Sue lives with her family in Lockport and enjoys photography in her spare time. She also has a passion for helping families navigate through the adoption process. She states, “I believe so strongly in adoption, because I have the honor of living it every day!”

Adoption Social Worker
Susan Roman, MSWAdoption Social Worker

Susan is a licensed social worker with a Master’s degree from Fordham University in New York. She has worked in the adoption field for many years conducting home studies and post-placement visits, as well as in foster care and prevention.

Before working in adoption she was Clinical Director of Midtown Community Court in New York City. She lives in Manhattan with her husband, two children and their dog named, Cricket.

Adoption Caseworker
Sylvia Appolon, MBA/HRD, CWCMAdoption Caseworker

Sylvia works with adoptive parents writing home studies and conducting post placement visits. Sylvia received her Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice with a minor in Women Studies at Florida Atlantic University and her Master’s in Business Administration with a concentration in Human Resource Development from Nova Southeastern University. Sylvia has experience has many years of experience in case management. She is a Certified Child Welfare Case Manager. Sylvia worked for a non-profit community based care agency in Broward County, FL as a Child Advocate, Adoption Specialist, and lastly as a Termination of Parental Rights Specialist. She enjoyed working with families and advocating on their behalf. Sylvia is well versed in the family court system and current family court laws. Sylvia was also part of several agency committee’s that would assist with employee retention strategies. Additionally, Sylvia has experience as a Foster Care Licensing Specialist, Foster Parent Recruiter and Trainer. As a passionate worker, Sylvia mentored all of her teen clients and still mentors them post aging out of the foster care system. Sylvia loves to help others to achieve their goals and is very supportive of her clients. Sylvia considers herself approachable, supportive, passionate, nonjudgmental, and caring. Sylvia loves laughter and making others laugh.

Office & Bookkeeping Manager
Theresa CushmanOffice & Bookkeeping Manager

Theresa’s responsibilities range from day to day operations and maintenance of the Agency’s financial records, payroll, invoicing, deposits, credit card reconciliations, facilities management, vendor relationships, supply inventory and ordering, travel planning, etc.

Prior to joining Adoption STAR, Theresa worked as an IT Invoice Analyst at First Niagara Financial Group and prior to that she worked as an Accounts Receivable/Payable Analyst for Advance 2000 where she worked for 14 years.

Theresa, her husband Justin and their daughter live in Lockport, NY. They have two cats, Sox and Pepper. They enjoy spending time with family, camping, 4-wheeling, and snowmobiling. They are huge Buffalo Bills football fans who love to tailgate in their Buffalo Bills zuba van!

Adoption Assessor
Tyla Dudley, MSW, LSWAdoption Assessor

Tyla received her Bachelors and Masters degrees from The University of Akron in Social Work. She is a licensed social worker in the state of Ohio. Tyla is an adoption assessor for Adoption STAR. Tyla also works for Akron Children’s Hospital since 2009. She is a pediatric social worker in the Emergency Department. Additionally, Tyla’s experience includes working with the Common Ground Family Services conducting supervised visitations for families who are mandated through the Domestic Relations court. Tyla’s passion is working with families as well as children and adults with special needs.

Tyla lives in Cuyahoga Falls, OH. She enjoys spending time with her large family of 11 siblings and 36 nieces and nephews!

Client Relations and Compliance Manager & Adult Adoptee Support Group Leader
Zack FriedClient Relations and Compliance Manager & Adult Adoptee Support Group Leader

Zack Fried is Adoption STAR’s CRM (Client Relationship Manager). Zack is often the first person someone will speak to when contacting the agency as he is responsible for taking the intakes of prospective clients. His welcoming persona and his adoption knowledge has enabled many seeking adoption information a comfortable atmosphere to ask questions and make plans to begin their adoption journey.

Zack will welcome clients to the agency, act as a resource when needed and will link them to their agency social worker who will be known as their Family Advocate.

Zack supervises the Administrative Department Staff, including the Administrative Assistant and Office support and post adoption correspondence staff.

As an adoptee, Zack feels a special connection to adoption and all the processes involved. He greatly enjoys sharing his story. Zack participates as a facilitator in home study classes and adoption orientation sessions. In addition, Zack is the facilitator of ACE (Adoptee Circle of Experience support group) providing support and search information for adult adoptees.

Outside of adoption, Zack has a variety of interests. He loves watching movies, getting caught up in a David Baldacci novel, eating, working out, and spending time with loved ones.