Please Meet Our Board of Directors
Adoption STAR is incredibly thankful to its Board of Directors. We appreciate the professional volunteerism each member provides as well as the generosity of their time and personal financial gifts that many of them have made throughout the years.
The board is made up of community professionals experienced in a broad range of fields including family law, education, fundraising, business, etc. Many of our board members are personally touched by adoption.
Christine Gray Tinnesz, Ph.D. is currently the President of the Board at Adoption STAR. She has been a board member for several years and has enjoyed every moment of it. Christine worked at the University at Buffalo for thirteen years where she taught critical thinking skills to college students. Currently, she shares her teaching time between Medaille College and Buffalo State College. Some of her classes include Educational Psychology and Explorations in Diversity. She has conducted workshops throughout the United States and presented at numerous conferences nationally and internationally. In 2012, the students nominated Christine “Professor of the Year” at Medaille College.
In 2002 and 2003, Christine and her husband, Dylan, adopted two beautiful girls, Ellie and Casey, through Adoption STAR. Christine believes Adoption STAR has been truly wonderful throughout the years in providing support to her family and birth families. They feel incredibly grateful for this fabulous agency in our community.
Michael Benzin is currently Vice President of Adoption STAR Board of Directors. Mike is managing partner of Mike Benzin Developments, a private practice that provides fundraising & marketing counsel and support to mission-driven organizations. He has more than 25 years of experience working with non-profit organizations, including Big Brothers Big Sisters, Read to Succeed Buffalo, Aspire of WNY, Sisters Hospital Foundation and the University at Buffalo. An active community volunteer, Mike is a past chair of the Taste of Buffalo and currently holds volunteer leadership positions with the East Aurora Cooperative Market and the FBI Buffalo Citizens Academy Alumni Association. He is also a Leadership Buffalo graduate and 40 Under Forty honoree.
Mike and his wife, Julie, are proud forever parents of Sophia and Charlie, both adopted through Adoption STAR. One of the many attractive qualities they found in Adoption STAR is the agency’s placing as high a priority on the pre- and post-adoption needs of the birth mother as they do with the adoptive parents. They also appreciate the agency’s attention to quality and are grateful for the passionate and caring staff for their support.
Hon. Alec Haniford Deull is a Buffalo native who is very happy to be living on the Niagara Frontier again after an absence of over twenty years. Alec brings to Adoption STAR the lessons of his more than fifteen years of child welfare experience in Washington, D.C. Before serving as a Magistrate Judge of the Family Court of the District of Columbia, Alec provided legal representation to children and families in the Washington, D.C. child abuse and neglect system for over a decade. Much of the case work in both of these roles involved representing all members of the adoption triad – children of varying ages, birth parents, and adoptive parents. Alec currently serves as a Special Assistant to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
Chuck is a serial entrepreneur, having founded a number of successful Information Technology firms over several decades. He is the current owner of TxMQ, an IT Solutions company, and Premier IBM Business Partner, which he joined as a consultant, only to rise through the ranks, eventually as a partner, and finally as an owner, buying out his partners in 2005.
The company operates in both the US and Canada, working primarily with large companies across a wide variety of industries. TxMQ’s clients include banks, government agencies, health care firms, software companies, manufacturers, and airlines.
TxMQ’s services are primarily related to enterprise solutions, including the delivery of enterprise IT services, mostly in the middleware, data architecture, and ERP space. Specialties include SAP, MQ, WebSphere, DB2, Data Warehousing and BI, Oracle, and SQL database administration, and configuration, and related ETL projects.
He and his wife Michele have been married since 1986, and have ten wonderful children, and several furry pets.
Dr. Raghu Ram is a devoted husband and father, and an experienced family physician in the WNY community. The Ram family adopted their two daughters from India with the help of Adoption STAR. In addition to their daughters, Raghu and his wife Pavani have a young adult son, Suneel. Raghu has lived in WNY for over 30 years, and with his family now lives in Clarence. Raghu is the Regional Medical Director for a team of health care providers at Landmark Health which delivers care at home for frail elderly patients in WNY. The work of Raghu and his team helps to keep these vulnerable patients safe and remain living in their home. Raghu joined the Adoption STAR board in 2015 because he is passionate about the importance of adoption to our society and because of his gratitude to Adoption STAR for the supportive guidance the entire STAR team provided during the family’s two adoption experiences.
A bio? Well, I’ll start with family. Married, two kids. You know them. Carolyn and I were married in October 2004. Julius was born October 17, 2009. Garnet was born July 15, 2011. (Both are adopted.) I grew up on Grand Island and have lived there again since ’04.
Attended Grand Island High School and St. John Fisher College in Rochester, the latter of which I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Communications/Journalism. I loved in Rochester from my college years until October 2000, holding various jobs in media. I wrote feature articles for the Democrat and Chronicle and was also at different times a sports copy editor there. I shifted into radio in 1998 and began hosting a sports-talk show there then. I took a job in Buffalo radio in 2000 and have worked at my current job, afternoon talk-show host on WGR Sportsradio 550, since July 1, 2002.
I like to play golf and tennis, and I like to swim. I am an avid card collector and have been hosting a second show on WGR called “The Hobby” on that subject since 2008. It airs Saturday mornings at 8. I like to learn about American history, particularly in the 20th century, and I am an obsessive amateur psychologist and self-analyst. I like to think about thinking.
More than anything, I have loved being Daddy to my young kids.
Courtney Williams is an attorney in the Western New York area. She graduated from Canisius College in 2008 with a degree in Political Science and received her law degree from SUNY Buffalo Law School in 2014. Courtney became involved with Adoption STAR in the Spring of 2007 and was so impressed with the values of the agency and the compassion and dedication of the staff, she has been connected ever since.
Once the opportunity became available, Courtney jumped at the chance to join the Board of Directors. Courtney is committed to advocating for and informing the adoption community about the birth parent perspective. Courtney hopes her contributions will enable Adoption STAR to continue to grow and prosper.
In 2005, Sharon became a volunteer with Adoption STAR and served on the Shining Star fundraising committee. In 2006, Sharon became chair of that committee. In 2007, she joined the board of directors. Sharon served as the President of the Board from 2008 through 2011.
Sharon’s journey with Adoption started many years ago when she and her husband adopted their now adult son Brian, when he was an infant, creating their ”forever family”.
Sharon has always enjoyed helping others which is a direct reflection in her career. The agency appreciates Sharon’s years of dedication and service.
Wendy Guyker, Ph.D., is a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University at Buffalo and a RYT-200 yoga teacher. She researches and teaches in the areas of positive embodiment, yoga, mindfulness and self-care, with an emphasis on practical applications in both clinical and community populations. As a teacher and a psychologist, Wendy strives to embody and grow in others the qualities of compassion, self-awareness, and loving-kindness. Service is critical in the fields of education and psychology; yet to Wendy, it does not feel like a responsibility, it feels more like being whole. She currently also serves on the Board of Directors for Yogis in Service, where she helps to bring yoga’s many qualities and tools to others in the WNY community. As a transracial adoptee herself, she is a longtime volunteer at Adoption STAR and is honored and excited to serve on the Board of Directors.