These highly-respected representatives from various community sectors will join us as we move forward in our mission to Create a Culture of Character in WNY.

These ambassadors will foster the growth and development of WNY’s character initiative by:

  • Striving to maintain and demonstrate a high standard of personal character excellence;
  • Striving to model ethical principles, thereby inspiring good character in others;
  • Becoming a visible and vocal advocate for the Character Council and WNY’s character initiative.


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Dr. Bret Apthorpe, Superintendent Frontier Central School District

Bret is a native of western New York. Bret attended the University of Buffalo, SUNY College at Fredonia and earned a doctorate degree in educational leadership at the University of Rochester.  Bret has been a social studies teacher, 5 sport varsity coach, building administrator, technology director, curriculum leader, professional development coordinator and is presently the Superintendent of the Frontier Central School District.

Bret has almost 30 years of promoting children being connected to community, service, and charity, . Early in his career Bret was part of a pioneering group of teachers, counselors, and parents who established a summer leadership development retreat program for high school students who represented diverse socio-economic elements of schools and who demonstrated leadership potential.  Bret has facilitated public school students working with community service groups like the Lions Club, Kiwanis, and Rotary clubs.  This has included the establishment of several permanent community service projects involving students.

Bret is married to Tracy Apthorpe and has three children.  Tracy is a 2nd grade teacher at a public school.  His son Jake attends Norwich University in Vermont majoring in Engineering and is in the Air Force ROTC program.  Daughter Hannah attends SUNY College at Fredonia majoring in Biology.  Youngest daughter Jessica is a senior in high school.

Character Reflection (Click to View)

Character defines my life’s legacy. For me, I do not want my legacy to be one of fame, money, or achievements. I want to be remembered in such a way as I remember the most important people in my life.

These people always sought to help the less fortunate. One such person named Jim, who just passed away, was a man with very little means and drove an old 1980’s rusty truck wearing the same clothes every day. Yet Jim would grow a garden and once a week he would drive his rusty truck containing harvest bounty to an inner city homeless shelter.

Other important people taught me to cherish family and the community. Family is always first. Family also includes all of those people whom you love. Serving in Rotary and other service organizations allows me to give back to the community. For me, benevolence and character are interchangeable.

For me, character makes life’s difficult choices easier. I would never compromise my moral principles, thanks to the special people in my life who modeled for me good character.

Bret Apthorpe, Ed.D.

Frontier Central School District

Superintendent of Schools



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Michael Cornell, Superintendent, Hamburg Central School District

Michael Cornell currently serves as Superintendent of Schools for the Hamburg Central School District, where his colleagues, the students, and the school community have come to know him as a collaborative, positive, highly visible, articulate, and child-centered leader.   The Hamburg Central School district educates 3700 students each day in four elementary schools, one middle school and one high school.

Prior to working in Hamburg, Mr. Cornell served as the Principal of Amherst Middle School from 2010 – 2015. With more than 30% of the students at Amherst Middle School qualifying for Free/Reduced Lunch, Mr. Cornell was able to maintain the school’s status as one of the highest performing middle schools in Western New York, ranking 7th in overall academic performance out of more than 100 public middle schools. He also served his administrative colleagues as president of the Amherst Administrator’s Association.

Mr. Cornell was recognized by the School Administrators Association of New York State (SAANYS) as the 2013 Middle School Principal of the Year for Western New York, and by Phi Delta Kappa as the 2014 Middle School Principal of the Year.

He began his administrative career in 2006 as an Assistant Principal at Lancaster High School.

Mr. Cornell was a social studies teacher at Kenmore West High School in the Kenmore Town of Tonawanda Union Free School District from 1995 – 2006, where he also served as a Department Chairman, Chairman of the Kenmore Staff Development Center Policy Board, and 2nd Vice President of the Kenmore Teacher’s Association.

Also active in public affairs outside of education, Mr. Cornell was appointed by then-Governor George Pataki to serve on the Niagara River Greenway Commission in 2004, and was appointed to the Niagara County Redistricting Commission in 2011.

Character Reflection (Click to View)

Character, Integrity and Community

My personal character, integrity and commitment to community form the foundation for my life at home and drive my work on behalf of the young people of Hamburg.   Focus on those qualities helps me to build positive relationships based on honesty and sincere appreciation for the perspective of others, as well as to find opportunity in challenge and encourage those around me to do the same.

Character at home means being a good husband and father and making sure that my family knows that they are the most important people in my life. Good character in my public life means letting people know that I am listening carefully to them. I listen intently to people as a way of treating them with respect and kindness. Good character has often meant having the hard conversation with a colleague for whom I have great respect, not granting favors to those who feel entitled to special consideration, adhering to stated policy and recognized best practice in the face of criticism, or taking the blame when things don’t go well.

Good character helps me lead with integrity. Eisenhower said it best. He said, “The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible.”


Photo_Oct_2013 David Esposito, Managing Partner, Harvest Time Partners, Inc.

David is a combat veteran, business executive, husband, father, and creator of character-building resources that help individuals, families, and businesses reach their full potential in an uncertain world. He launched his business career as a sales representative achieving success through a sharp focus on understanding customer desires, tailoring solutions for unique client needs, and continually delivering results far above conventional expectations. His leadership skills and ability to seize opportunities enabled him to quickly rise through the ranks of corporate America advancing to become the president of a $100-million-plus medical diagnostics company. Under David’s management, his teams drove results well above established expectations for growth in sales, customer retention, and employee engagement.

During his undergraduate years at West Point and by way of subsequent leadership assignments in the US Army Infantry, David’s character and leadership skills were cultivated and nurtured. As an airborne ranger infantry officer, David led a rifle platoon of 39 men with the 101st Airborne Division through several combat operations in the Gulf War. He was recognized with a Bronze Star for combat operations in February 1991.

David, his wife Tracy, and their four children have enjoyed the good fortune to live in many different parts of the United States and to meet all types of people. David and Tracy have focused much of their energy on developing programs and resources designed to strengthen the character of individuals and to build and sustain healthy relationships among marriages and families. This includes Character Creates Opportunity®, an initiative that was specifically designed to improve the character development of children, adolescents, and adults. They also established and sponsor the Harvest Time Partners Foundation, a charitable organization that supports children and young adults in the pursuit of character-building opportunities.

In addition, David and Tracy are the creators of a patented, award-winning conversation game, Abundant Harvest®, that continues to be especially embraced by families, schools, counseling programs, and faith-based organizations worldwide. The game’s popularity is based on its ability to open the door to more productive dialogue and encourage decision making based on principles such as honesty, loyalty, and commitment. Reinforcing the law of the harvest, the game’s primary takeaway is the age-old adage that you will always reap what you sow.

David balances a fast-paced work schedule with his family life and activities such as coaching sports, enjoying the outdoors, and doing charitable work. He holds an MBA from Syracuse University and a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from West Point. David has appeared on CBS, NPR, and PBS and has been featured by many other news outlets.

Character Reflection (Click to View)

Our world continues to grow in complexity, intensity, and uncertainty.  Through the ages, there have been various “experts”, cultural trends, and fashionable “quick fixes” offered to help each one of us become more effective in dealing with the challenges of our world and achieving our hopes and dreams.  The latest trend or technique may provide a short-lived positive outcome, but it is our character that is the foundation of any sustained success in accomplishing our hopes and dreams.

Character, is our internal sense, or compass, that directs our thoughts, decisions, and actions.  Our character is built and strengthened by thoughts, decisions, and actions based on principles or qualities, such as loyalty, responsibility, and determination.

During times of uncertainty, the choice to remain steadfast on making decisions and taking actions based on universal, timeless, and self-evident principles, such as loyalty, responsibility, and determination, is critical to ensure lasting success for individuals, families, and organizations. Success, built on a foundation of character, is defined as achieving near term goals in a manner that enables the achievement of even greater goals in the future.

Our choice to make decisions and take actions based on principles, develops and strengthens our character, and Character Creates Opportunity® to achieve lasting success regardless of the situation.

I am honored to serve as one of the Champions of Character and I look forward to working with the Character Council in having a positive impact on the character development of individuals and the positive impact that can have on our community and our world.


Elizabeth Bradley, Ed.D.   

Elizabeth Maess Bradley was born, raised and attended college and university in Western New York. She and her husband Archie have been married for 41 years and are the proud parents of Bridgette and Daniel.  They have four wonderful grandchildren.

Elizabeth Bradley, Ed.D. was the Assistant Superintendent for Instruction of the Frontier Central School District in Hamburg, New York.  In the 23 years Dr. Bradley was with the Frontier School District, there were significant gains in student achievement.  Frontier was rated very highly by Business First newspaper and the University of Buffalo’s Study of Effective Schools.  Dr. Bradley earned her doctorate at the State University of New York at Buffalo. Her work in curriculum and staff development and accountability models has been commended. She is currently the president and senior consultant of E J Bradley & Associates.

As consultant for school districts, her focus has been on creating cultures of accountability and respect. Dr. Bradley has experience handling complaints of employee misconduct, boundary-crossing behavior and sexual harassment.  She has consulted and conducted training for over 40,000 educators for school districts across New York State, Massachusetts, and Arizona on the topics of creating a culture of respect, professional behavior, harassment prevention, and handling allegations of misconduct.  Dr. Bradley was a featured speaker at New York State School Boards state conference. She served as the 2012 seminar presenter for Utica National Insurance on Preventing Misconduct and Dealing Effectively with Allegations. She has served as an expert witness in civil and employee discipline cases in New York, Indiana and Florida.

As a trainer in the private sector, she has received outstanding reviews from corporate managers and supervisors on the Leadership Skills and Effective Teams courses she developed and teaches. As a certified Franklin Covey 7 Habits and Trust Building trainer, Dr. Bradley has worked with educators, school boards and leadership teams.

Dr. Bradley received the Distinguished Service Award from the New York State Health Educators Association, Administrator of the Year Award from the Western New York Women in Administration Group, the Path Finders Award from the New York State Women in Administration Association, and the Distinguished Dissertation Award from the National Association of Secondary School Principals and the Path Finders award from Business First News.

Character Reflection (Click to View)

Does society value competence more than character? Think of the politicians, business executives and athletes whom we admire for their skill only to be surprised when serious character flaws surface.  At a time when there are differences of opinion on many issues, the value and importance of good character remains UNIVERSAL.  As an educator, I understand that that my responsibility is to teach more than content and skills. Competency is essential and important.  However it is character, along with competency, that makes someone the person that you want to have on your team, do business with, vote for, hire, work for and live with. In my work with both school and corporate leaders and employees, the importance of focusing on character and building a culture where each individual exhibits behavior that builds trust is often what is needed for continued improvement and excellence. The most successful schools and corporations develop a culture where leaders model exemplary behavior and everyone knows that honest, respectful, accountable, and trustworthy behavior is expected.

Members of my family have been fortunate to be recognized for some academic and athletic accomplishments, but the recognition I was the most proud of was an honor my granddaughter earned in preschool,  “The Kindest Heart Award”.

We need to teach, recognize and honor those character traits that are universally accepted as valuable.  Of course academic achievements and athletic accomplishments are worthy of recognition, and sales records and bottom lines are important indicators of success.  But it is time we recognize that it is character, as well as competency, that we must teach, model, recognize and honor.


IMG_9573_Lo_ResVincent J. Coppola, Ed.D.

Dr. Vincent J. Coppola, after serving seven years as the Executive Director of the Western New York Educational Service Council at the North Campus of the University at Buffalo, now serves the Council as a full-time Search Consultant.  The Western New York Educational Service Council has been in existence since 1949 and was chartered by the Board of Regents in 1966.  The Council provides educational consulting services to public and private schools throughout the Northeastern part of the United States.  The Council staff has completed approximately 400 searches for the position of school superintendent since 1966.

After spending 40 years working in the public schools as an English teacher, guidance counselor, assistant high school principal, principal of a middle school, Director of Personnel, and Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Coppola retired as Superintendent of the Corning City School District in July 1998.

Dr. Coppola has taught graduate courses in administration and counselor education at Canisius College and the University at Buffalo.

Vince  has been a keynote speaker at several state-wide conferences and has participated in presenting educational seminars at the national level.  He was honored to be selected by the Executive Educator Journal as one of the top 100 administrators in North America.  He received the Top Educator Award from Phi Delta Kappa and was selected by the West Seneca Chamber of Commerce to receive the Educator of the Year Award.  He is also the recipient of the Dean’s Service Award as well as the Distinguished Alumni Award from the Graduate School of Education at the University at Buffalo.

Dr. Coppola’s most recent honor was his selection as one of the five educators in New York State and one of 24 in the United States to receive the Excellence in Educational Leadership Award presented by the University Council for Educational Administration.

Character Reflection (Click to View)
 School classrooms, hallways, and board conference rooms, frequently have framed mission statements hanging on their walls. Those mission statements generally do not vary greatly in wording from district to district. References to student achievement or acquiring 21st century skills are often included. After all, education is all about developing intelligent human beings who can think independently and critically.

While we continue to debate what students should know and do when they graduate, we seem to give short shrift to how we can generate outcomes that address student responsibility, moral character and a caring attitude toward others.

As educators, parents and others who have a stake in the welfare of the future generation, we should recognize there is more to what we want in our graduates than to excel in the core academic subjects. Many mission statements usually end with something similar to “developing productive and caring members of our community.” Are we satisfied that we are succeeding in developing students with a strong sense of right and wrong?

With all the emphasis on testing, how do we find time or even care to find the time to address issues related to instilling positive character traits in our young people? Every day, newspaper articles and television news stories continually point out failings in adults who hold leadership responsibilities in our community, state and country; individuals who betray the public trust with actions that defy our sense of morality. It is clear from all of these adult failings that we have not spent enough time in developing our young with a better moral compass.

We have often heard that “It takes a village to raise a child.” If that is true, then we need better role models for our children than what we are experiencing in our society right now. We applaud those adults who set good examples but we must not leave to chance the hope that we will find individuals with good character in our communities. By taking deliberate steps to incorporate character education in our schools, we can be more assured that our community, state and country will have productive and caring citizens who know how to do the “right thing” even when no one is looking. For this reason, I choose to be a Champion for Character in Western New York….


Andrew P. Fleming, Esq.

Andrew P. Fleming was admitted to practice in New York State in 1986. He is a graduate of SUNY at Buffalo Law School and a 1979 graduate of Pace University where he received his B.A. cum laude. Mr. Fleming served three years on active duty with the Marine Corps as an Infantry Officer before attending law school.

Mr. Fleming is a member of Chiacchia & Fleming, L.L.P. where his practice is concentrated in personal injury and labor and employment law. He represents businesses and individuals in wrongful termination litigation, including claims of sexual harassment, race and sex discrimination and breach of contract. The firm represents claimants in personal injury cases.

Mr. Fleming is an active member of the Bar Association of Erie County and its Labor Law Committee; from 1995 through 1998, he was elected to and served a three-year term on the Board of Directors of the 3,500+ member Bar Association. He served a two-year term as Chair of the Bar Association’s Labor and Employment Law Committee.

Elected in 2006, Mr. Fleming is also the Village Judge of the Village of Hamburg. Mr. Fleming has lectured extensively on the issues of sexual harassment, reverse discrimination and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Mr. Fleming, a 1975 graduate of Hamburg High School, was a charter member of the Hamburg School Foundation Board of Directors and has served for seven consecutive years. He is also on the Board of Directors of the “Friends of St. Luke’s” Mission of Mercy, a Corporate Roundtable member for Buffalo City Mission, and an active participant with Churches in Action of Hamburg.

Character Reflection (Click to View)
On the question of Character….

A dear friend of mine once said, “Half of life’s success can be attributed to just showing up.” Any reflection on character must include the concept of diligence. Diligence means persevering, caring, making the effort, i.e. showing up.

We are not called by our Creator to solve all of the world’s problems or to lead every parade. But, we are to work at doing the right thing. To be a person of character one must garner the discipline to do this work. Be it something as modest as taking a moment to help a friend or neighbor, or something more difficult, such as going out of one’s way to travel to a nursing home to visit a lonely relative, we are called to at least show up.

And, for those to whom much is given, much is expected in return. A greater effort is due. It can be difficult. Yet, it takes so little time to make the effort. A quick call to help with a fundraiser for a worthy charity is an example. Joining a committee at a place of worship is another. Donating to a worthy cause helps, of course, but offering one’s time to actually assist with the cause takes more character.

The Character Council is succeeding because it is educating Western New Yorkers, especially young people, on the intrinsic value of caring about doing the right thing. I am pleased to be a part of it and honored to serve as one of the “Champions for Character”. 

Gerald P. Glose Ed.D

Gerry was born and bred in Western New York. He grew up in Amherst and attended St. Benedict’s elementary school and Canisius High School. After receiving his BS in Mathematics from LeMoyne College, he completed his Masters of Education in Mathematics at SUNYAB. For five years he taught math and coached basketball at Cleveland Hill High School and then returned to SUNAB to receive his Masters of Architecture in Building Systems Design and his Doctorate in Educational Administration. Possessing teaching experience and having the necessary educational degrees and certifications, Gerry spent the rest of his professional career in the realm of public education. In 2000 he retired as Superintendent of Schools from the Frontier Central School District.

Since his retirement he continues to keep his hand in educational issues by consulting on a variety of topics ranging from school district consolidation studies to recommendations on facilities, finances, staffing and enrollment forecasts for individual school districts. He has also served on the Board of Trustees at Canisius High School and Immaculta Academy.

Gerry has been and continues to be involved in a number of volunteer activities. He has served as an active member and past chair of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Board, the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce Board, the Hamburg Youth Services Consortium, the Our Lady of Perpetual Help/Blessed John Paul II Parish Leadership Team and Parish Finance Committee. He has also served on the Town of Hamburg Youth Advisory Board, the Hamburg Development Corporation Board of Directors, the Parent Child Connection Advisory Board and was a Little Cagers Basketball Coach in the Town of Hamburg. He is a licensed presenter for the Franklin Covey “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”.

For the last 20 years Gerry has resided in Lakeview with his wife, Maureen. He has three children—Eric, Martin and Matthew.

Character Reflection (Click to View)
“What you are shouts so loudly in my ears, I cannot hear what you say.” To me this quote epitomizes the importance of good character. We are judged by what we do rather than what we say. Show me someone that exhibits dependability, compassion, determination, perseverance, tolerance, loyalty and integrity and I will show you someone that you will respect and want to be around. People that display good character are people that you can count on. A fellow administrator at Frontier would always ask the question when judging a potential employee “Is that someone you would want in the foxhole with you when the enemy is charging?” In a situation like that would you rather have someone with a good personality and lots of material possessions or someone that is decisive, dependable, loyal, resourceful and under control? Building trust in our relationships with others is much more than being honest; it is a matter of showing personal integrity and a commitment to being a person of high moral character. Doing the right thing and always taking the high road allows an individual to look into the mirror and like what he or she sees. Frank Outlaw describes the importance of good character when he says “Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.” 


Russ Gugino

Born and raised on Buffalo’s West Side as one of 4 children to Italian-American working class parents, Russ attended Buffalo Public Schools. After graduating from Riverside High School, Russ matriculated to SUNY Binghamton where he not only earned a B.A. in Political Science, but he also met his future wife Jileen with whom they have shared 40 years of blissful marriage and 5 wonderfully gifted children. He is also very proud of his 2 beautiful grandchildren with another one due in May 2012.

Russ’s first professional position was as Assistant to SUNY Chancellor Ernest L.Boyer where he helped coordinate and improve communication with student leaders throughout the State; this was followed by other positions in SUNY dealing with government and labor relations. While serving on the NYS management negotiating team , Russ was contacted by Congressman Jack Kemp and was asked to serve as the Congressman’s District administrative Administrative Assistant. For seven years, Russ ran the Congressman’s District Offices and forged important contacts with the Buffalo business and civic leaders.

In 1985, Russ was appointed Senior Vice President of Community and Government Relations at Children’s Hospital of Buffalo where he assumed responsibilities for fundraising and public relations. After leaving Children’s to start his own consulting business, Russ entered the telecom field and worked with a number of regional and national firms selling telecom equipment as well as voice and data services.

He now serves as a Territory Account Executive with Time Warner Business Class Service where he develops and implements IT solutions for businesses throughout Western New York. Russ lives in Hamburg, New York with his wife Jileen and attends the Wesleyan Church of Hamburg as well as St. Peter and Paul Catholic Church.

Character Reflection (Click to View)
Would you agree with me that everyone wants to be successful in life? Before you answer that question, let me ask you this: How would you define success? For some people it’s a number-perhaps how much money is in your bank account or 401K. For others, it’s a job or position of stature which generates a feeling of recognition and pride among one’s peers. John Wooden, the legendary basketball coach for the UCLA Bruins had his own definition of success which he espoused in his famous book: ‘The Pyramid of Success”.

Wooden wrote: “Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.”

In his book, Coach Wooden goes to great length is exploring and examining the components of his so called success pyramid as being comprised of “building blocks” such as Industriousness, loyalty and enthusiasm bound together by the “mortar” of qualities such as faith, integrity and reliability. What makes Wooten’s analysis so engaging is that he integrates Bible verses with each character trait to make his point that in creating us, our Heavenly Father also placed within each human being the seeds for our own success and the mechanism to bring those seeds to fruition through the development of our character.

While there may be many components to achieving success but we should always be mindful that the source of those character traits come from our Almighty and Merciful Father from whom we were given the precious gift of life and the character to live life fully and abundantly. By merging your will with the will of the Almighty, you ensure that you can become”…the best that you are capable of being”.

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Patrick Heraty, Professor, Hilbert College
President, Heraty Management Services

Patrick Heraty is a native of Chicago, Illinois, the son of Irish immigrants and the second youngest of 7 children.

Heraty attended elementary and secondary school in Chicago, and then was awarded a Chick Evans Scholarship to Marquette University in Milwaukee. After earning a degree in Finance, he joined the Jesuit Volunteer Corps and was assigned to work at the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation in Hays, Montana. There he met Ann Bellanti, his wife-to-be, who had grown up in Buffalo and was also assigned to Fort Belknap as a member of the JVC. Ann and Patrick have two sons, Jonathan and David, who are both graduates of Hilbert College. Jon is principal in a partnership that owns and manages nursing homes. David is an Assistant District Attorney in Erie County. Ann and Patrick are also blessed with a beautiful daughter-in-law, Molly, and grandsons Jack and Ryan.

Heraty has worked at Hilbert College in Hamburg, NY since 1978, where he has held a variety of academic and administrative positions. He has served as Associate Academic Dean, Director of Computer Services, Vice President for Business and Finance, and Interim Vice President for Student Life. He is currently a professor of business at Hilbert and teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in Strategic Planning, Leadership, and Management.

Heraty was awarded Hilbert’s President’s Medal, in 1989. He has also received the award for Outstanding Contribution to Student Life at Hilbert, as well as the award for Excellence in Service to Hilbert College and the community. In fall of 2008 he was selected by Hilbert College alumni for the first “Lifetime Achievement” award, given to a faculty or staff member who reflects the core values of Hilbert.

Heraty earned a Master’s Degree in Business Administration (MBA) and a Master’s Degree in Business Education (MS) and earned a certificate in the Executive Leadership Program through Cornell University. He is a certified trainer-facilitator for Emotional Intelligence, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Additionally, he has Six Sigma Black Belt certification. Heraty has served as a trainer and organizational development consultant in the manufacturing, service, energy, and retail sectors. In the role of corporate consultant, Heraty has worked with the leadership of both management and labor, and has done leadership training for executives, middle management, and first-line supervisors. For his contributions to the training and development program at Buffalo Ford Stamping Plant, Heraty received the Western New York Professional Recognition Award in 1994. He is the president of Heraty Management Services, a management training and consulting firm.

Heraty has served on the Board of Examiners for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award and the executive committee of the Board of Trustees for Immaculata Academy. He was treasurer of the Board of Directors of the Buffalo Citizens’ Academy Foundation, a community outreach organization of the Buffalo FBI. Heraty has served as vice-chair of the Village of Hamburg Economic Development Committee and served on the administrative team for the “Main Street Grants” program. The Heratys are active members of St. Bernadette Parish in Orchard Park.

Character Reflection (Click to View)

I am honored and humbled to be selected as a “Champion for Character” by the Character Council of Western New York (CCWNY). It has been my good fortune to have been surrounded by people of high character my whole life. From the beginning of my work life as a caddy and paper boy, I was told of the importance of dealing honestly with people. That message was constantly reinforced during my 12 years of Catholic education and in college ethics classes. I witnessed the message through daily family interactions and decisions.

Unfortunately, not everyone has the advantage of observing good character in their every-day lives. In many cases, examples of good character are rare, and often outweighed by bad actions. In my opinion, that is the best reason why we need organizations like the CCWNY. Character training and recognition are vehicles for delivering the message that character counts.


Jerry Lauria, MD

Jerry loves to call Western New York “home”. While growing up in North Buffalo in a loving family headed by a hard-working collision man, he attended St. Rose of Lima parochial school and Canisius High School. He then attended Georgetown University where he obtained a BS degree in Chemistry and Physics. Jerry’s medical training began at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, NY. He was finally able to come home and he completed his residency training in Pediatrics at The Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo. For the last 27 years, Jerry has been a Pediatrician at Western New York Pediatric Associates. He is married to Jennifer and they have two children, Mark (17) and Catherine (14). Jerry’s interests include reading, the Adirondacks, and baseball history… particularly that of the Yankees! He is actively involved at the Wesleyan Church of Hamburg. He has served on mission teams to El Salvador, Honduras, Rwanda and the Congo.

Character Reflection (Click to View)
Without good character, there would be chaos. Think of it. If we all did whatever we wanted to do, whenever we wanted to do it, guided by whatever impulse we were feeling at the moment, there would be no order to our society whatsoever. When we strive to do the “right thing” in all situations, we contribute to the betterment of our loved ones and everyone else around us. It is often said, and my kids have been taught at school, “Character is what you do when no one is watching.” I believe it goes deeper than that. By the tenets of my Christian faith, I know that God is watching. And as difficult as it can be sometimes, I know that loving behavior, as reflected by Him, is always expected. Yes, when we exhibit good character it is an act of love. It ultimately uplifts and empowers everyone in our sphere of influence

Thomas J. Moses, Mayor

Hamburg Village Mayor Thomas J. Moses Sr. was born in Bradford, Pennsylvania. However, he can be considered a native of Hamburg because he has lived here since 1954. His Alma Maters include Saints Peter and Paul Elementary School and Hamburg High School.

Tom has dedicated much of his life in service to the Hamburg community. He began working for the village in 1967. He held the position of Recreation Supervisor from 1970-2002. Under his leadership, many building and renovation projects were completed. Among these were the development of Glen Meadows Park, the updating of the Village Swim Center, and major improvements to the Community Center Park and the village playgrounds.

Tom’s community involvement exceeded the bounds of his job. He became very active in the Hamburg Schools, serving on the Health Council and Grounds Committee. He was one of the founders of the High School EMT Program. His dedication to the youth of our town and village has been demonstrated throughout his career.

Tom’s concern for others is further evidenced by his long tenure with the Hamburg Volunteer Fire Department. He has been the Assistant Village Disaster Coordinator and a member of the Board of Directors of the Hamburg Counseling Center.

A strong family man, Tom has been married to his wife, Mary Lou, for forty years. They have two sons, six grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. Tom and Mary Lou are active members of Saint Bernadette Parish.

As Mayor of the Village of Hamburg since 2006, Tom has continued to support character development and education. He is easily accessible, always ready to help with any problem or concern. His commitment to the welfare of others is the hallmark of his administration and has been the motivating force of his life.

Character Reflection (Click to View)
The dictionary describes the word character as “the most inherent complex of attributes that determines a person’s moral and ethical actions and reactions.”

A diversity of attributes, whether positive or negative, is inherent in all of us. Because we tend to become a product of our environment, the way we are raised and the people around us enhance the characteristics that make us the person we become. The more positive attributes that we are exposed to the more we will tend to posses these attributes. However, not everyone is fortunate enough to be exposed to positive attributes. That doesn’t mean that an individual can’t find the connection to become more aware of how the small choices that you make everyday affect you, your community and the world around you. When you make positive changes you connect with the truth of who you are and why you do what you do.

I personally find truthfulness to be among the highest of ideals. But we must also be careful not to confuse our point of view with the truth. Author, Nischalo Joy Devi says, “You have to have integrity and humility to realize that the truth may be bigger than you.”.


Sr. Edmunette Paczesny FSSJ

Sister Edmunette Paczesny was born in Milwaukee,Wisconsin on October 13, 1933, the eldest of four children. Her father was a laborer and her mother, a stay-at-home mom. She attended both Catholic elementary and high schools and graduated from Marquette University. Entering the Franciscan Sisters of Saint Joseph, Hamburg, New York, in 1955, she was given the opportunity to attend Fordham University where she earned a Master’s degree and a Ph.D. in Educational Administration and Supervision. When she returned to Hamburg, she was assigned as an instructor at Hilbert College (then known as Immaculata College) and has served there ever since in various capacities. Among these were Registrar, Chair of the Liberal Arts Department, and Academic Dean. In 1974, she assumed the Presidency, a position from which she retired in 2006. Hilbert experienced tremendous growth under her visionary guidance, progressing from a two-year to a four-year college offering a variety of Associates and Bachelors degrees. Presently she is a member of the Institutional Advancement office staff in a volunteer capacity.

Sister Edmunette served on the leadership team of her religious congregation from 1980-1984 and has continued to be active on numerous committees with the Franciscan Sisters of Saint Joseph. She makes regular visits to the sisters in the FSSJ Health Care Center. Statewide, she has served as a trustee on the Commission of Independent Colleges and Universities and the New York State Vocational Education Advisory Council. Sister has also been active in the local community, serving on the Board of Trustees of Saint Francis High School, Hopevale School, Saint Joseph’s Hospital, Our Lady of Victory/Mercy Hospital. Presently she is a trustee of Meals on Wheels for Western New York and the Miguel/Nativity Middle School of Buffalo. She is a charter member of the Rotary Club of Hamburg/Sunrise. Her retirement has also afforded her the opportunity to return to reading, handwork and enjoying God’s creation more fully.

Sister Edmunette has accomplished much and has received many accolades in her remarkable career, but her legacy will be the manner in which she has demonstrated and fostered Franciscan values, which she holds dear, in every aspect of her life. Her commitment to service, compassion, integrity, and joy continues to have a lasting impact in and beyond the Hamburg community.

Character Reflection (Click to View)
Today’s society emphasizes (and often over-emphasizes) concerns for our physical fitness/perfection, our exercise routines and healthful eating habits. Granted all of these are important to us as we assume the responsibility of caring for our bodies. However, this focus sometimes completely ignores that aspect of the person that references our life-giving source—the soul. And that is where character and its development come into play.

To me character is that which marks us as the person we are rather than the person we seem to be: the genuine person who knows who she/he really is and tries seriously to understand her/his relationship with God and her/his fellow beings.

As we reflect on who we are, we are accepting of our giftedness and are grateful for our abilities and talents. We express those gifts with humility, knowing that they are God-given and present for service to others. We are also well aware of our limitations and those of others and accept them with patience. In our words and deeds we are truthful in spite of the consequences.

We try our best to be understanding of others and recognize that their abilities are different from ours that they complement what is lacking in us. We express compassion for them in their need and respond willingly to meet those needs. We acknowledge that the common good must supersede that which is a personal desire.

We do not develop our character easily or in isolation. Its development requires sacrifice, a good work ethic and perseverance as well as reliance upon our God and upon those with whom we live. Indeed its development is a life-long endeavor.


 rodriguez-low-resCasimiro D. Rodriguez Sr.
President, Hispanic Heritage Council of WNY

Casimiro was born and raised in WNY. He has lived a lifetime of advocacy for Buffalo’s Latino Community in different areas of education, health, social and economic equality.  He earned a BA in American Government from University at Buffalo and also studied management from the General Motors Institute. After 34 years of dutiful service he retired from GM.

He is passionate for community progress and envisions what can be accomplished in the future of Buffalo’s community built on the strengths of everyone working together for the benefit of all.

Casimiro is driven by social justice where you can find the core of his dedication to today’s community and tomorrow’s leaders. He is a catalyst for revival and progress bringing people of different faiths and races together for a common goal.

Bio courtesy of Hispanic Heritage Council of WNY 
Character Reflection (Pending)


Welcome to our newest Champions.

Pastor Becci Wood

Sue Santandreu

Bios and Reflection pending
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