YIMBY is excited to announce Pat Whalen as our Keynote Speaker! Pat is a vocal advocate for collaboration and has a unique perspective on leveraging WNY’s many assets through his experience as COO of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus from 2008 – 2015 before signing on as Director of the Niagara Global Tourism Institute.

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Partnership for the Public Good

Sam Magavern co-directs the Partnership for the Public Good and teaches at the SUNY Buffalo Law School and the Cornell University ILR School.  A graduate of Harvard University and UCLA Law School, he practiced law with the Legal Aid Society of Minneapolis before returning to Buffalo in 2004.  Magavern is a volunteer attorney for the City of Buffalo Living Wage Commission and serves on the Niagara River Greenway Commission and the Open Buffalo Advisory Board.  He hosts a weekly radio show, the Public Good, on WUFO AM 1080.  He has published many works, ranging from scholarly articles to comic books, including a non-fiction book, Primo Levi’s Universe, a movie, The Last Word, a novel, Ooh La La, and a book of poems, Noah’s Ark.


Panel Discussions

Engage City Hall

Come learn more about the daily interactions between the City of Buffalo and its citizens directly from City officials on topics ranging from Community Policing to the Buffalo Arts Commission. Each panelist will provide a brief overview of their work and then be open to questions from participants.

  • Panelists
  • Oswaldo Mestre, Jr. – Director, The Division of Citizen Services/Chief Service Officer       Oswaldo Mestre, Jr.  has a strong background in human services, developing program systems and community development initiatives in not-for-profit and governmental organizations. Since 1997, Oswaldo has headed the Buffalo Weed and Seed Program, which was awarded the New York State Attorney General’s Neighborhood Watch Award of Excellence in 2003. Oswaldo began his human service career in 1991 as a Senior Youth Counselor at St. Augustine’s Center, Inc. Oswaldo has studied in Public Policy and Administration at the University at Buffalo.
  • Rashied McDuffie, Esq. ­­­– Assistant Corporation Counsel, City of Buffalo Legal Department    Rashied McDuffie has been serving in the City of Buffalo legal department since 2014 where he concentrates his practice in timeshare contract renewal and modifications, residential and commercial real property closings, contract drafting and modifications and IRS tax and penalty abatements. He previously served as the Attorney for the City of Buffalo Commission on Citizen’s Rights and Community Relations and Executive Director to Committee on Environmental Conservation, along with several other positions in various governments.
  • Captain Steve Nichols – Buffalo Police Department     Captain Steve Nichols directs the Community Policing Program that liaises between the Buffalo Police Department and the community at large. In this role, he works with the Board of Block Clubs, Clean Sweep, Neighborhood Watch, and the new American communities. , Prior to taking over the Community Police program 4 years ago, spent 10+ years as a Patrol Lieutenant in C District.  Captain Nichols has served in the Buffalo Police Department in this role since 2013; he has over 20 years of experience in law enforcement.
  • Emerson Barr III – Executive Director, Buffalo Arts Commission       Emerson Barr III began working for then-Council Member Byron W. Brown in 1998.  After becoming an ex-patriot to re-patriot he has been the Executive Director of the Buffalo Arts Commission since 2008. Emerson is also the Mayor’s Liaison to Sister Cities International – an organization that fosters understanding and community between Buffalo and other cities around the world.
  • Lou Petrucci – Assistant Director, City of Buffalo Department of Permit and Inspection Services     Lou Petrucci has over 25 years of government experience concentrating on housing issues. He presently serves as the Assistant Director of Permits and Inspection Services. Petrucci serves on various committees working on topics such as lead, open government, updates to the Green Code and more.


Go Green, Save Green

Our esteemed panel of experts will focus on informing you on the many ways that you can be more sustainable in your everyday life at home and how adopting simple strategies are not only good for the planet and your community,  but can save you money!

  • Panelists
  • Julie Barrett O’Neill, Esq. – General Counsel /Buffalo Sewer Authority     Julie Barrett O’Neill serves as General Counsel for the Buffalo Sewer Authority. In addition to legal work, Julie oversees the implementation of the Authority’s $93 million green infrastructure combined sewer overflow reduction program. Julie also assists the City of Buffalo Mayor’s Office of Strategic Planning team in the City’s Energy Plan and Local Waterfront Revitalization Program. Julie previously served as the Executive Director and Riverkeeper for the Buffalo Niagara RIVERKEEPER.
  • Dennis Elsenbeck –National Grid/ Retired Regional Director     Dennis Elsenbeck is the recently Retired Regional Executive for National Grid’s Western Division and was responsible for representing the Company in public affairs, community relations and network alignment, as well as, the region’s large commercial and industrial customers in terms of energy sales, reliability, service and strategic energy planning.  He held previous positions as Marketing and Sales Director, Regional Manager of the Mohawk Valley Region and Business Services Vice President.  Dennis was been employed at National Grid for more than twenty five years.
  • Susan Attridge– Director, Dept. of Public Works, Parks and Streets/ Refuse and Recycling     Susan Attridge received her bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science from SUNY College of Environmental Sciences and Forestry and an associates degree in Ecology from Paul Smith’s College. She served as Erie County’s recycling coordinator for seven years and has been in her current position since May of 2013.
  • Melanie McMahan–CIR Electrical Construction Corp./ Business Development, Technical Sales, Green Building Consulting,     Melanie McMahan has a Bachelors in Environmental Design BA and a Masters in Urban and Regional Planning MUP from SUNY UB. She has organized large and small scale events including the Buffalo Niagara Green Expo which showcased 120+ local, green and sustainable businesses, non-profits and agencies and serves on the US Green Building Council Upstate Chapter Market Advisory Board.
  • Luana (Lou) DeJesus – PUSH Green/ Program Director     Luana DeJesus is a transplant to Buffalo from Western Massachusetts. Her background is in theater, dance, music, and promotions with a focus on social justice issues. After 3 years of volunteer work with the National Fuel Accountability Coalition, Luana was thrilled to join the PUSH Green team and be part of reviving the community by keeping more people in their homes.


Short Talks will be presented by the following Individuals and Organizations:

Buffalo Architecture Foundation

Gerald Erion, Medaille College

Verve Dance Studio

Alexandra Grisanti, Growing Mushrooms

Coalition for Positively Charged People

The Foundry

University Heights Tool Library

Zaw Win, WEDI/ WASH Project/ West Side Value Redemption

Juweria Dahir, Project MOVE Buffalo AmeriCorps VISTA

Brianna Lanoye, Buffalo Public School Student Teacher

Jocelyn Tejeda & Xiao Chen, International Center for Studies in Creativity