Board of Directors
*Jennyrae Brongo, Board President & Founder
A sister to autism and the founder of Homesteads for Hope she was tired of waiting for the supports and services she needed for her brother and her family. After her father’s unexpected death becoming head of the household she took control and got into the driver’s seat. She is an ambitious entrepreneur, women in construction being sole owner of a Gravel Pit business and is an active member in her community. She received a B.S from Alfred State in Construction Management Engineering graduating in 2011, receiving the first Outstanding Young Alumni Award in 2015. She created a partnership with her local career and technical school and donates her land for the school to operate a course she had once taken: the Heavy Equipment Operation & Maintenance program. She participates in their advisory council, providing internships and summer employment to students. She is an active member of the local chapter of NAWIC; National Association of Women in Construction and an advocating member of the Coalition of Community Choice that supports initiatives for the long term care for the I/D disabled. Ms. Brongo in just 4 short years sitting in the driver’s seat and has built a strong professional network that she utilizes for the good of the people and is not afraid to get her hands dirty for the causes she believes in. She founded Homesteads for Hope not lightly but strategically as all her endeavors can come together to create this opportunity and a sustainable future for her greater community.
*Olena Lylak, Board Vice President
A professional and mother to a daughter with significant developmental disabilities, she brings an outstanding amount of experience to the organization. She holds a Master’s in Education for Curriculum Development, Individualized Instruction and a Post Graduate Certification in School District Administration. She has worked in schools and education for 40 years with student’s grades 7-12 and refugees and migrant populations teaching history and English as a second language. She has worked both here in the states and abroad. She held position as School Principal for two local Rochester schools and sat on many committees, boards and still continues to teach workshops and writes grants for nonprofits. Currently she is an Independent Broker for OPWDD; Office for People with Developmental Disabilities waiver services providing person centered planning for those with intellectual & developmental disabilities. She even has experience owning and operating a flower shop so she could provide her daughter and others with needs a meaningful work opportunity. Mrs. Lylak brings a strong foundation for Homesteads for Hope, sitting on the board for 2 years and will be directing the grant writing and curriculum development for programs.
*Kathy Meskill, Board Member
Kathy Meskill is an education professional and devoted mother to a beautiful adult daughter with autism. As a mom new to autism now 30 years ago, she did as much research as she could at the time with what was available then to make the best of all situations. She has lived through the great triumphs of watching the community learn to accept the capabilities of children who have become adults with disabilities but realizes there needs to be more. Kathy has an Associate’s Degree in Business and served many years as a teacher aide to students of all abilities, including a 1:1 to a young boy with autism and a couple of years in the Business and Marketing vocational class at BOCES. Her greatest professional accomplishment is her 17 years as a teacher’s aide in the Heavy Equipment Operations & Maintenance Program offered through WEMOCO BOCES 2. As Jennyrae Brongo, a former Heavy Equipment student she has now spent the last few years helping as much as she could with Homesteads for Hope. She is confident that this Community Farm experience will become one of the best places for people with all abilities to learn, work, live and grow for the future with sustainability in mind. She has watched as a parent the tremendous growth and finally jumped on board as she seen there is more to come to become its ever dreamed to be. Among other incredible things, Kathy has just recently received a life changing double lung transplant in August 2018 and has a wonderful husband (who also volunteers at H4H) and 5 beautiful children, by her side. She enjoys living in Spencerport, NY while enjoying walking, being with her children, riding motorcycles, and overall the beauty and miracle that life provides.
*Paul Montanarello, Board Member
As a retired educator from the RCSD with thirty years of experience, Paul has had countless interactions with students, families, staff, district personnel and community member. Those diverse interactions allowed him to cultivate dynamic partnerships, understand school and district initiatives and support the goal and mission of educating Rochester’s youth. His desire to serve others led him to meeting the Brongo Family and learning about (H4H) Homesteads for Hope. Having been an honorary member of Rotary, a member of Lions and currently a member of Kiwanis, Paul has a working knowledge of what it takes to care, love, give, help and harvest meaningful opportunities with and for others. Being a father of two adult sons with different strengths and abilities, allows him to see the world through a variety of lenses. His oldest, a mechanical engineer, is successfully organizing the world around him. His youngest, diagnosed with autism at the age of thirteen months, is continuing to develop his own personal strengths and stratagems. Each demonstrates outstanding, complex abilities and promise. Seeing the dream become reality at (H4H) goes beyond the desire for his youngest son to work and/or live on the farm. Paul’s commitment is to complete the dream and beyond; To pay it forward so others may be able to fulfill their dreams, needs and abilities, too! As a member of the board, he is proud of the work already completed by the team, the farm staff and the vast number of gifted volunteers. His pledge is to work diligently in supporting all educational efforts and to contribute with any physical labor and/or cognitive duties required of him so that H4H will become an inclusive farming community, a sustainable place to work, live and grow while serving all individuals without distinction.
Stephanie Clinton, Board Member
Stephanie comes to Homesteads for Hope with 20 years experience in the intellectual and developmental disabilities field, serving the last 18 years at Catholic Charities Community Services. She began as a Direct Support Professional, spent many years in Medicaid Service Coordination and now oversees Self-Directed Services program which encompasses both brokerage and Fiscal Intermediary. She played an integral part in successfully growing the program over the last three years. Stephanie has and continues to present at conferences, both at the State and local level, regarding Self-Direction and Person-Centered Planning. The individuals served and her team are her biggest motivation. Stephanie is a Spencerport native and currently lives with her husband, two children and two dogs in Chili. She loves to camp, grow her own vegetables, garden and photograph flowers. Stephanie also enjoys scouring flea markets to turn trash to treasures, giving new purpose to discarded items.
Brian Brase, Board Member
Brian comes to Homesteads for Hope with a lifetime (50+ years) of agricultural experience. He grew up on a diversified farm in Iowa with animals (cattle, hogs, sheep, and chickens), crops, and a very big garden. Brian holds a B.S. degree in agribusiness and a M.S. degree in agricultural economics, both from Iowa State University. His professional career was 30 years with respected agricultural entities (Iowa State University, Cornell University, Farm Credit Administration, Doane Agricultural Services, and ADM), conducting research and analysis to give advice to clients (farmers, commodity brokers, and management). Brian chose to retire to become a stay-at-home dad for his four children and hardworking wife. As the kids have started transitioning to college, Brian is changing his focus to volunteering and advising at Homesteads for Hope.
*Board Members with a child with I/D Disabilities
Andrew & Karen Gallina, President of Gallina Development
Andrea Lista, Executive Director of Cornell Cooperative Extension
Charlie Hammerman, President of The Disability Opportunity Fund
Daniella Polidor: Rochester Design Center
Linda Lovejoy: Wegmans Food Markets, Inc.
Mike Baum, Trustee at Maxine Davidson Foundation
Natalie Anderson - President, Communicare Partners
Pat McGrath: President, Great Tie Consulting
Tim Dobbertin, Assistant Superintendent of Programs at Monroe 2-Orleans BOCES
Trisha Marsherall, Owner of Marsherall Partners, LLC.
Sue Piotrowski, President & Owner of Badfish Consulting, LLC
New members to be listed coming soon!
New members to be listed coming soon!