Quick Links to News

Literacy New York Buffalo-Niagara Appoints Executive Director

July 21st, 2014


Tara Vogel will serve as Literacy New York Buffalo-Niagara's Executive Director

Literacy New York Buffalo-Niagara is pleased to announce the appointment of Tara Vogel as Executive Director, effective July 14th. Ms. Vogel joins the LNYBN team from Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Buffalo, Inc., where she has served since 2005, most recently as the agency’s Vice President.

“Tara is a dynamic and visionary leader and a highly regarded non-profit professional in the Buffalo-Niagara community,” said Board Chair Scott Sackett. “She has a proven record of successful team-building, community collaboration, program implementation and strategic growth. We are thrilled to have her at the organization.”

As Executive Director, Ms. Vogel will oversee the agency’s operations and cultivate relationships in the business, government, and non-profit sectors. She is committed to advancing the organization’s mission and ensuring that Literacy New York Buffalo-Niagara is an integral partner in the region’s economic development.

“It is an honor and privilege to join Literacy NY Buffalo-Niagara,” she said. “Our mission of opening up pathways and opportunities for adult learners is inspiring and I look forward to contributing to the forward progress of this impressive Agency.”

Ms. Vogel holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the State University of New York at Brockport and a Master of Science in Executive Leadership and Change from Daemen College. She currently serves as Treasurer of the Women’s Taking Action in Politics Fund and is a member of the Oishei Leaders Program.

Literacy New York Buffalo-Niagara, Inc. is a result of the 2012 merger of Literacy Volunteers of Buffalo and Erie County and Literacy Volunteers of Niagara County. It was a collaboration of two strong organizations, joining to further their missions, be more effective, and attain sustainability. The agency is proud to be the region’s sole provider of free, one-on-one adult literacy services, as well as children’s programs, and provide reading and English language learning to anyone committed to improving their skills. We are pleased to provide individualized attention and development for 300 adult literacy learners in Erie and Niagara counties. Literacy New York Buffalo-Niagara recruits, trains and supports volunteer tutors and adult students and has offices in Buffalo, Niagara Falls and Lockport.


Kennedy, Peoples-Stokes Announce Funding Secured for Local Literacy Programs, Call for Increased Investment in Literacy Training to Support Workforce Development

July 8th, 2014

NYS Senator Kennedy and Assemblywoman Peoples-Stokes join LNYBN staff at the Central Library

Studies Show One in Three Residents of City of Buffalo are Functionally Illiterate; Kennedy and Peoples-Stokes are Urging More Investment in Literacy Programs to Combat Unemployment and Poverty in WNY.

Additional funding secured is enough to cover training costs for over 40 students

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Senator Tim Kennedy and Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes announced additional funding secured for Literacy New York-Buffalo Niagara, which provides vital literacy training to adults and youth in our community to help them attain higher levels of learning and pursue career opportunities. Kennedy and Peoples-Stokes helped secure an additional $25,000 for the organization – enough to cover the training costs of over 40 additional students.

While the new funding is an important first step, Kennedy and Peoples-Stokes believe much more needs to be done to raise literacy levels in order to support workforce development and combat unemployment and poverty in Western New York. Illiteracy is a key factor preventing many individuals from accessing educational or career opportunities. That’s why Kennedy and Peoples-Stokes are calling for increased investment in literacy programs to help area residents take advantage of the new jobs being created and opening up in our community.

“One in three Buffalo residents and one in five Erie County residents are functionally illiterate. Buffalo is a city on the move and our economy is in the midst of a rapid revitalization, but this is one of the lingering challenges that could bring the progress to a halt if we don’t address it head on,” said Senator Tim Kennedy. “Unfortunately, many hardworking men and women struggle to secure good-paying jobs or gain access job-training programs because of a lack of literacy skills, but we can overcome this obstacle if we invest in literacy training programs. Literacy is the key to unlocking the door to opportunity, and it’s critical that we increase our investment in effective programs, like those offered by Literacy New York Buffalo-Niagara, which help improve the lives of hundreds of Western New Yorkers and their families every single year.”

“Literacy is an integral part of everyday life – from following directions for recipes to prepare meals, to paying bills. With all of the existing and forthcoming job opportunities, people must be able to take advantage – and that only will happen if they can adequately read in order to fill out employment applications. Parents that can’t read are more likely to have children that can’t read well and are less likely to be able to finds jobs to provide a stable home for their families. These funds will help provide assistance to 40 students to bring their reading levels up to par to qualify them for additional job training services. Statistics show that over 70 percent of adults and juveniles incarcerated have the lowest possible levels of reading proficiency. We must break the cycle,” said Assemblywoman Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes.

“We are so grateful for the Legislature’s support; these funds allow us to further our mission to open pathways to expanded opportunities for adult learners and school children by enhancing their literacy skills and nurturing their well-being,” said Literacy New York Buffalo-Niagara’s Interim Chief Operations Officer Susan Shaft. “We thank Senator Kennedy and Assemblywoman Peoples-Stokes for continuing to raise awareness about the tremendous need for our services. They have been true champions of the vital work we do in the community.”

During this year’s legislative session, Kennedy and Peoples-Stokes helped lead the fight for investment in literacy training as part of their ongoing efforts to improve workforce-development opportunities in Western New York. The additional $25,000 secured this year for Literacy NY Buffalo-Niagara was part of the $1 million in additional funding directed to Literacy New York, the statewide organization that oversees Buffalo-Niagara and 34 other community-based affiliates.

Kennedy and Peoples-Stokes are now calling for a $10 million investment in Literacy New York, which under similar formulas would result in about $250,000 in funding for Literacy NY Buffalo-Niagara. This would help cover literacy training costs for nearly 425 additional students, who would be better geared with the skills they need to pursue employment and job training.

One very specific example of Literacy NY Buffalo-Niagara’s work to connect Western New Yorkers to good jobs is their partnership with the Buffalo Center for Arts & Technology. BCAT provides career education for medical coding and pharmacy technicians, but to be eligible for the program, candidates are required to be reading at the 12th grade level. Literacy NY Buffalo-Niagara provides pre-training literacy classes to help candidates achieve required literacy skills. Once candidates attain the 12th grade reading level, they gain access to BCAT’s training programs, which are offered at no cost to participants and include internships with organizations that are almost always hiring, including Erie County Medical Center, Catholic Health Systems and Kaleida Health.

Amber Dixon, Executive Director of the Buffalo Center for Arts and Technology, said, “Our partnership with Literacy New York Buffalo-Niagara is critical to making certain adults have the tools to take advantage of Buffalo Center for Arts and Technology’s training programs, and this support from Senator Kennedy, Assemblywoman Peoples-Stokes and our other local representatives will make a significant impact on this city.”

Local literacy statistics are sounding the alarm for increased investment in literacy training. In addition to the one in five Erie County residents and one in three Buffalo residents who are functionally illiterate, studies have shown that parents who don’t read well are not likely to raise children who read well. Illiteracy becomes a cycle that must be broken with adult and youth literacy training. At the same time, 61 percent of low-income homes have no books in them, with nearly 45 percent of adults with the lowest literacy skills living in poverty. Also, 60 percent of prison inmates are illiterate, while 85 percent of juvenile offenders struggle with reading.

Literacy NY Buffalo-Niagara – which provides the vast majority of its training programs with volunteer tutors – has been working to reverse those trends. They serve about 300 students annually, and they currently have 230 active volunteer tutors, who provided over 12,000 hours of tutoring and other volunteer work last year. Their programs have been proven effective – over 65 percent of students, who were tested before and after their training, showed sizable literacy gains. The increased funding secured this year – and the funding now under pursuit – will go a long way toward further strengthening this important and effective organization.

Literacy NY Buffalo-Niagara has also been a driving force in helping refugees and new immigrants learn the English language after settling in Buffalo. Approximately 55 percent of their students are English language learners.

“The literacy skills learned through their programs have helped ease refugees’ and new immigrants’ transition into a new country with a new language,” Kennedy said. “This gives English language learners the chance to contribute to Western New York’s economy.”

Literacy NY Buffalo-Niagara is the region’s sole provider of free, one-on-one adult literacy services, as well as children’s programs, and provides reading and English language learning to anyone committed to improving his or her literacy skills.


Literacy New York Buffalo-Niagara Announces Free Summer Program at Canalside

June 11th, 2014

History of Buffalo Graphic Novel Project will be open to all children

Buffalo, New York—June 11, 2014Literacy New York Buffalo-Niagara, Inc. is pleased to announce free children’s programming at Canalside this summer. Beginning in July, the local not-for-profit agency will host an enrichment program for school children, grades 3 through 12, which will focus on the role that the Erie Canal and Buffalo Harbor played in the history of the City, from the first permanent settlement of Buffalo in the 1790s to the completion of the Canal in 1825 to present day.

“Literacy New York Buffalo-Niagara is proud of our continued partnership with Canalside Buffalo,” said Interim Chief Operating Officer Susan Shaft. “Our History of Buffalo Graphic Novel Program was a huge success last summer, and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to provide free educational programming to local children again this year.”

The program centers on a history lesson, an exploration of the Erie Canal harbor site, and an experiential activity, which will allow students to recreate Buffalo’s rich story through their own eyes, with the creation of a graphic novel. Each week students will learn about a particular element of the Buffalo waterfront, see and examine what remain of the elements surrounding the event, and create one page, or chapter, of the graphic novel. All of the created pages throughout the summer will be combined to create the Story of the Buffalo Waterfront. Participants will each receive a copy of the completed graphic novel during a celebration at the program’s end.

Starting July 14th, the program will be held on Mondays from 11:00am-2:00pm, and will run through August 18th. Participants are welcome on any or all days.

Literacy New York Buffalo-Niagara, Inc. is a result of the 2012 merger of Literacy Volunteers of Buffalo and Erie County and Literacy Volunteers of Niagara County. It was a collaboration of two strong organizations, joining to further their missions, be more effective and impactful, and attain sustainability. The agency is proud to be the region’s sole provider of free, one-on-one adult literacy services, as well as children’s programs, and provides reading and English language learning to anyone committed to improving his or her skills.

For more information, please visit,, or call 876-8991.


Literacy New York Buffalo-Niagara Announces New Board Members

June 10th, 2014

Seven local professionals join organization’s Board of Directors

Buffalo, New York—June 10, 2014 – Literacy New York Buffalo-Niagara is pleased to announce the most recent additions to the organization’s Board of Directors. Seven local professionals have joined the agency’s governing body and represent public and private industry in both Erie and Niagara Counties.

“We who serve on the board of directors come from different disciplines and cultural backgrounds, but we have a shared understanding of the links between literacy and employment opportunities, healthy lifestyles, and safe neighborhoods,” said Board Chairman Scott Sackett.  “Erie and Niagara Counties are fortunate to have these community leaders dedicated to expanding literacy education for adult learners, school children, and non-native speakers of English.”


New Board members include:

City of North Tonawanda and Niagara County
Assistant Attorney

Katherine Alexander is a native of Buffalo and a graduate of North Tonawanda High School, St. Lawrence University and Albany Law School. She is an attorney admitted in New York and currently serves as the Assistant City Attorney for North Tonawanda. She also serves as an Assistant County Attorney for the County of Niagara. Her passion for public service extends beyond her employment where she is a member of the Board of Trustees for the United Way of the Tonawandas. In her free time, she enjoys reading, running and relaxing with her family.  Katherine lives in North Tonawanda.


Lippes Mathias Wexler Friedman, LLP
Marketing Director

Matt Chandler is the Marketing Director at Lippes Mathias Wexler Friedman, LLP, a full-service law firm based in Buffalo. He is also an author and freelance writer. Previous to his current position, he was the editor of the Buffalo Law Journal, and has written for Buffalo’s Business First, WNY Family Magazine, Sports & Leisure Magazine, the Springville Journal, Artvoice, and Bee Group newspapers. His passion for writing is tied to his love of storytelling. He has written a number of children’s books, and his daughter thinks the fact that she can go visit her school library and check out her dad’s book is about the coolest thing in the world. He is currently working on an adult non-fiction biography as well as another non-fiction children’s book. Matt enjoys visiting schools in the Western New York area to share his passion for writing with students.


Women’s Medicine of Niagara, PLLC

Donna Loghmanee Feldman is a native of Buffalo and graduate of the Nichols School, Oberlin College, the State University of New York at Buffalo and St. George’s University School of Medicine. She is a Board Certified Obstetrician and Gynecologist and a principal of Women’s Medicine of Niagara PLLC in Lewiston, New York.  She also serves as Chief of Robotic Surgery and Co-Chair of the OB/GYN department at Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center. She has dedicated her professional life to women’s health and her personal life to her family. She and her husband Matthew are raising a daughter and a son who continue to develop literacy in English, Spanish and Farsi and thrill their parents with their love of books. Her beliefs are founded in the principles of the Baha’i Faith which include universal education and the elimination of the extremes of wealth and poverty. In her free time, she enjoys tennis, skiing, reading books, and performing as a violinist in the Amherst Symphony.


Manager of Foundation Development

Martina Fern, a native of Kassel, Germany, has been a fundraising professional for 15 years. She is the Manager of Foundation Development of WNED|WBFO, the Buffalo/Toronto region’s public TV and radio stations. Her experience with major donors, annual and capital campaigns, foundations and underwriters enables her to develop and implement comprehensive fundraising strategies. She has a degree in English and political science, and her past volunteer experience includes tutoring students using the Laubach Method for literacy instruction. In her free time, she enjoys writing and traveling. Martina and her husband, Paul, live in Lewiston with their gaggle of pets.


Niagara University’s College of Education
Assistant Professor

Kathleen McGrath is an Assistant Professor in Niagara University’s College of Education, Department of Professional Studies, where she teaches graduate courses in primary and intermediate level literacy, diagnostic assessment and instruction, and children & adolescent literature. She is also the Faculty Director of the Family Literacy Center, responsible for the training of literacy specialist candidates in the Advanced Literacy Specialist program, as well as facilitating remedial reading programs for students, grades K-12. She taught both the primary and elementary grades in the Sweet Home School District from 1993-2006. In 1995, she directed the Preschool Program at the International School of Grenada. She also has worked in the clinical setting at the Center for Literacy and Reading Instruction, SUNY Buffalo and was responsible for the supervision of graduate level students during their clinical practicum.  Kathleen McGrath received a Bachelor of Arts in English and Elementary Education from Niagara University and a Master of Arts in Literacy from SUNY at Buffalo. She completed her doctoral studies at SUNY at Buffalo and received her Doctor of Philosophy in Literacy Education. Current research has focused on family literacy, struggling readers, and teacher training in diagnostic assessment and clinical instruction.


Department of Defense /107th Airlift Wing
Mission Support Group Commander

Colonel Donald V. McGuire is the Mission Support Group Commander for the107th Airlift Wing, New York Air National Guard, Niagara Falls, New York. He oversees operations for the Civil Engineer, Security Forces, Force Support, Communications, and Logistics Readiness Squadrons.  He served as the Senior Intelligence Officer from 2003 – 2006 and was the Comptroller Flight Commander for the 107 AW from 2006 – 2010 where he planned and directed all activities within the Comptroller functional area including budget, accounting and finance, entitlements pay, and quality assurance. Col. McGuire’s operational experience includes Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom, Noble Eagle, Joint Forge/Endeavor, and Task Force Sandy. He has a Bachelor of Arts in English, a Master of Arts in English, and he completed the Post-Graduate Intelligence Program at the Joint Military Intelligence College, Washington, D.C.  He is married with two children.


Buffalo State College
Diversity Program Coordinator

Jason Parker received his bachelor’s degree in recreation and leisure studies from Missouri State University and master’s degree in counseling from Missouri Baptist University. He served as the St. Louis Community College campus coordinator for the African American Male Initiative, a federally-funded program dedicated to recruiting and retaining African American male students. His work included community outreach to area middle and high schools to foster college pathways planning among minority students. He served on the boards of directors for the City Garden Montessori School and Midtown Community Services in St. Louis. He also served as a mentor for the St. Louis County Courts. He recently moved to Buffalo to fill the position of Diversity Program Coordinator at Buffalo State College. He is thrilled to be a part of the State University of New York environment and is enjoying discovering his new city and region.


Literacy New York Buffalo-Niagara, Inc. is a result of the 2012 merger of Literacy Volunteers of Buffalo and Erie County and Literacy Volunteers of Niagara County. It was a collaboration of two strong organizations, joining to further their missions, be more effective and impactful, and attain sustainability. The agency is proud to be the region’s sole provider of free, one-on-one adult literacy services, as well as children’s programs, and provides reading and English language learning to anyone committed to improving his or her skills.