Our Team

WRI Solutions’ staff represent a range of skills and experience across many fields, working hard as a team to be creative, nimble, and productive partners in your important work. The staff share a deep commitment to treating colleagues and the public with respect and humility.

staff photo of executive director darlene ward
Darlene Ward
Executive Director

Darlene (she/her) has been the Executive Director of WRI since 2017. Prior to WRI, she was the Assistant Coordinator of the Child Welfare Court Improvement Project within the NYS Unified Court System. She has also served as the Executive Director for Court Appointed Special Advocates of New York State, as a project director at the Mental Health Association in NYS, and worked in both journalism and public relations. Darlene holds bachelors and master’s degrees in English from the University at Albany and a master’s degree in Community Psychology from Russell Sage College Graduate School.

staff photo larry poitras cfo and director of operations
Lawrence Poitras
CFO and Director of Operations

Lawrence oversees all agency financial transactions, as well as human resources, and has been with WRI since 2012. He prepares monthly internal financial reporting as well as financial reporting to stakeholders and the Board of Directors. He has provided fiscal expertise to several non-profits in the area for over 30 years. Lawrence holds a bachelor of science in accounting, summa cum laude from The Sage Colleges of Albany.

staff photo elizabeth carivan director of financial support programs
Elizabeth Carivan
Director of Financial Support Programs

Elizabeth (she/her) implements and oversees application programs, involving an award of financial assistance to those in need. Over the years, she has also played a large role in the management of award payment processes as well as other related fiscal responsibilities for these programs. Elizabeth has worked at education and not-for-profit organizations over the past 30 years where she has gained extensive experience in management and accounting.

image lisa casciotti publications and events
Lisa Casciotti
Director of Events and Publications

Lisa is responsible for the design and production of print and digital deliverables on WRI projects. These deliverables include publications, logos, posters, promotions for events, and web development. As Event Manager, she oversees each phase of virtual and in-person events. Lisa has a bachelor's of fine arts in graphic design from Buffalo State College and a bachelors degree in fine art with a minor in business administration from the University of San Diego.

staff photo michele fox administrative coordinator
Michele Fox
Administrative Coordinator

Michele provides administrative support to the managerial and fiscal staff and office management, as well as serving as project manager for various endeavors. Prior to joining WRI, Michele worked for the State of New York for 37 years at the University at Albany. Her last position held at SUNY Albany, before retiring, was as Dean’s Secretary in the School of Criminal Justice.

staff photo alexa paulus executive assistant
Alexa Paulus
Executive Assistant

Alexa (she/her) assists the Executive Director in daily tasks related to the organization. She also provides assistance with multiple projects where needed. Alexa has several years’ experience in non-profit organizations supporting individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities. Alexa holds a bachelor’s of science in management from Siena College.

staff photo jean skanes associate manager of events
Jean Skanes
Associate Manager of Events

Jean is a member of the WRI event team and organizes in-person and online conferences and training events for several clients, as well as providing support on other projects. Having worked for many years for non-profits, she has extensive experience in planning and implementing events, including fundraising galas, sports tournaments, community events, and strategic planning retreats. Jean holds a bachelor of science in psychology from the University of Massachusetts.

staff photo kerri barglof msw project manager
Kerri Barglof, MSW
Project Manager

Kerri (she/her) leads a team of youth with lived experience in foster care in gathering information from recipients of awards through the Chafee Funds Program of New York State.  She has more than a decade of experience advocating for affordable housing and social justice. Kerri holds a bachelor’s degree in social work from Boise State University and a master’s degree in social work with an emphasis in mental health from Northwest Nazarene University. Kerri is also a certified professional mediator.

image marissa italiano msw program specialst
Marissa Italiano, MSW
Program Manager

Marissa (she/her) currently manages multiple evaluation and consulting projects for key stakeholders in the mental health community. She has several years experience in the mental health community providing trauma-informed direct support to adults and children with mental health concerns and/or developmental disabilities that are also impacted by physical health concerns, homelessness, substance use disorders, and/or foster-care. Marissa holds a master of arts in Criminal Justice and a Masters of Social Work (MSW) from the University at Albany.

staff photo amanda maloney program specialist
Amanda Maloney, MSW
Program Manager

Amanda (she/her) supports several evaluation and consulting projects for WRI including the Chafee Data Outreach and Impact Program. Amanda has several years of experience in mental health community services. Throughout the pandemic, Amanda developed and implemented multiple housing subsidy programs for homeless and housing-insecure persons through Emergency Solutions Grants. She holds both bachelors and master’s degrees in social work from the University at Albany.

staff photo liz roberts msw project manager
Liz Roberts, MSW
Program Manager

Liz (she/her) works as NYS Citizen Review Panel Coordinator and Program Manager on the Quick Guides: Tools for Independence project, funded by the NYS Development Disabilities Planning Council. Liz holds both undergraduate and graduate degrees in social work (Nazareth College, University at Albany. Liz enjoys being involved with her local community by volunteering for a climate-focused nonprofit advocating for environmental justice.

image evelyn butler program specialist
Evelyn Butler
Program Specialist

Evelyn works on the NYS Education and Training Voucher program. She assists the Program Manager with the various aspects of the application process. Evelyn’s work experience has been in the federal, banking and education sectors. She has earned an associate of arts in business administration.

staff photo heather ditch program specialist
Heather Ditch
Program Associate

Heather (she/her) assists with administrative tasks and provides support on multiple projects. Prior to joining WRI, she served as a school specialist for the New York State COVID-19 Contact Tracing Initiative and as a child protective services caseworker for Jefferson County Department of Social Services. Heather holds a bachelors of arts in English from California University of Pennsylvania.

staff photo of smita iyengar program associate
Smita Iyengar
Program Associate

Smita currently works as Program Specialist on the Education and Training Voucher Program on a part-time basis. Her primary focus is in the area of data analysis. She also enjoys programming routine tasks to achieve more efficient and accurate outcomes. She has completed graduate studies in electrical engineering from Syracuse University.

staff photo of felicia laclair
Felicia LaClair
Program Associate

Felicia (she/her) is a consultant with WRI, focusing on administrative services for the Citizen’s Review Panel and the Quick Guides: Tools for Independence project. She additionally assists the events team as needed.  She has worked and volunteered in the non-profit sector for over 10 years and holds the vice president position for her local elementary school parent teachers organization. She focused her school and work efforts in social media, marketing, and development, and has also facilitated many events.

image edad mercier program associate
Edad Mercier
Program Associate

Edad provides research assistance on the Implicit Bias project with Casey Family Programs and the NYS Unified Court System, as well as the Chafee Funds Program of NYS. Prior to joining WRI, she worked with the International Rescue Committee in New York as an Instructor. Edad holds a master of science degree and a master of laws degree. She also holds multiple licenses, including one for training in school violence prevention, and one for training and intervention in the needs of students with autism.

staff photo heather merle program associate
Heather Merle
Program Associate

Heather (she/her) works on projects related to awarding financial assistance to qualifying applicants. She is responsible for financial tasks related to applicant payments, as well as application review and auditing. Heather joined WRI in 2020 to assist with both the Chafee Funds Program of NYS and the NYS Education and Training Voucher program. Prior to joining the WRI team, she worked in financial and customer services.

staff photo kaylana mittleman program associate
Kaylana Mittleman
Program Associate

Kaylana (she/her) is currently working on the NYS Chafee Funds Program and the New York State Education and Training Voucher program. She has a diverse background of work experience, mainly in administrative, financial and customer service industries.

image angela silecchia program associate
Angela Silecchia
Program Associate

Angela's bio

staff photo sierra snoddy program associate
Sierra Snoddy
Program Associate

Sierra assists in the planning and implementation of various online events and in the analyzing and reporting of award data for the Chafee Funds Program of NYS. She also does data tracking, analysis and reporting. Sierra has worked in the non-profit sector for several years, focusing on grant oversight, data tracking and reporting, and event coordination. She holds a bachelor of science in public health from University at Albany and an associate’s degree in business administration.

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