Carolyn Eberhart, Executive Administrator
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.
Luann Brown, Board Member & Co-Founder
A fulltime mother to autism, and co-founder of Homesteads for Hope she brings 26 years of hard earned experience being isolated with her now adult, nonverbal, self-injurious behavioral son. She tirelessly is searching for help- a more desperate cry than just needing supports and services which are rare and not person centered. Her experience is crucial to the success of meaningful, efficient operation of the organization as she has the hands on experience to deal with the tough situations and the mothers love to get the job done right- the first time. Luann has been on board and is the Volunteer Farm School Director for the past 2 years.
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.
Kristin Merrick, Board Member
Kristin is a relative to the founding family and an aunt to a niece with cerebral palsy. Helping people is not only personal, but where she focuses her career as well. Kristin is an attorney with Faraci Lange, LLC and focuses her practice on helping wrongfully injured people in our community. She received her law degree from Syracuse University College of Law in 2011 and her bachelor’s degree from SUNY Geneseo in 2008. Prior to her work with Faraci Lange, LLC, Kristin served as an Assistant District Attorney for Monroe County. She is motivated to help people with all abilities have the opportunity to be fully inclusive in our community and to give the families of these individuals peace of mind that their loved ones are being given an opportunity to be included, cared for and a chance to make the most of their abilities. Kristin is one of our newer members on the board and oversees sponsorships.
Jeanne Ricigliano, Board Member
Jeanne has over 35 years of experience working in partnership with students with disabilities, their families, schools, community providers that stemmed from her own daughters diagnoses. Her career has focused on assuring all stakeholders are provided with the information they need to assist in preparing for the complex and exciting transition planning process. Jeanne has experience in teaching, consulting, program development, Person Centered Planning facilitation, and Person Centered Planning training. Jeanne holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Special Education with a concentration in Adolescent 7-12 from Robert Wesleyan College. She had created her own position at BOCES #1 as a Parent Partner providing family to family support, trainings and information and referral for up to 70 school districts within the New York State Education Department to advocate for and access services within the school and adult service system and in the communities in which people lived. Most recently Jeanne was teaching in a Community based classroom for students’ ages 18-21 preparing students and their families for the challenging and exciting move from school to life after high school. Jeanne believes students need to understand their gifts, strengths and abilities as well as how to find strategies to break down barriers. Ms. Ricigliano brings a board range of experience and credentials that make her an asset for proper transitioning skills for those Homesteads for Hope wishes to serve. She currently has been a board member for 2 years and our favorite devil’s advocate, bringing all viewpoints to the table.
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.
Austin Retzlaff - Marketing Intern
Andrew & Karen Gallina, President of Gallina Development
Andrea Lista, Executive Director of Cornell Cooperative Exstention
Charlie Hammerman, President of The Disability Opportunity Fund
Daniella "Dani" Polidor: ASID, Realtor and Owner of City Sense Roc
Jim Durfee: Architect with Bergman Associates
Natalie Anderson - President, Communicare Partners
Mike Baum, Trustee at Maxine Davidson Foundation
Tammy Pillsbury, Risk Advisor at Marshall & Sterling Insurance
Tim Dobbertin, Assistant Superintendant of Programs at Monroe 2-Orleans BOCES
Sue Piotrowski, President & Owner of Badfish Consulting, LLC