Board of Directors

President - Najja Bouldin

Najja is Founder & Principal at Phoenix Innovation Group, LLC, where he serves customers and community with Innovation Coaching, Leadership & Entrepreneurial Development, as well as Community Engagement. He is a consultant driven by curiosity and the belief in the capacity of every person to achieve their fullest potential. Najja has a B.A. in Psychology from University at Buffalo and a Master of Science in Creativity and Change Leadership from the State University of New York, Buffalo State, where he is now an Adjunct Lecturer. He is a decorated disabled veteran of the United States Air Force, where he honorably served in Operation Enduring Freedom. In addition to working with scientists around the world, Najja works with Buffaloʼs local youth. He has an uncanny ability to get moody teenagers to care about creativity and entrepreneurship. His greatest inspiration for integrity, service and enterprising excellence is being a father to his marvelous son, and steward of culture.

Vice President - Andrew Schwartz

Andy is Director of Marketing for Ciminelli Real Estate Corporation. He has over 25 years of experience delivering corporate messages and ideas through presentations, print, broadcast, transit & digital advertising, social media, direct mail, special events, & grassroots programs. Prior to Ciminelli, Mr. Schwartz served as Director of Marketing for Snyder Corp., where he was responsible for the coordination of marketing and PR related to businesses including E.B. Green’s Steakhouse, Beaver Hollow Conference Center, and Buffalo Conference Center. His professional and community activities include: Leadership Buffalo Essentials, Dale Carnegie Leadership Training & Skills For Success and board member for the Sandy Beach Park Club. Mr. Schwartz holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Media Communications from Medaille College in Buffalo, NY.

Secretary - Kevin Zanner

Kevin is a partner at Hurwitz & Fine, P.C. He leads the firm’s economic development practice group and is a member of the firm’s management team. Kevin is a Buffalo native and a graduate of SUNY Geneseo and the University at Buffalo Law School.

Treasurer - Scott Cassety

Scott has 30+ years of experience in general business and financial management. He is owner and manager of Advanced Storage, Inc and has been extremely involved in the WNY entrepreneurial community through Launch NY, Buffalo Angels, and WNYVA among other things. He holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering and Economics and has past experience serving as treasurer in other non-profit organizations.

Member - Gregory Cherry Jr.

Born and raised in Buffalo, NY, Greg has spent over 15 years immersing himself in the ever-evolving technology industry as a skilled Software Engineer. Fueling his love for both technology and sports, he played a pivotal role in establishing SOLID Foundation Prep, a non-profit birthed in 2015. This innovative organization utilizes the power of sports to introduce underprivileged children to a plethora of diverse careers and life-altering opportunities. Presently, you can find Greg continuing his journey as a Software Engineer at M&T Bank and as A firm believer in the ethos of lifelong learning, he passionately dedicates time to constant improvement and generously extends his knowledge and guidance to aspiring minds through mentoring.

Member - Matt Lehner

Matt works for CoachMePlus and volunteers with the makerspace and youth programming at the organization. He is actively engaged in the STEAM programming at The Foundry and assists with any technological problems the organization may have.

Member - Lauren Pratt

Lauren currently works as the Director of People Operations at Tapestry Charter School and has experience in compliance and HR management for over 200 employees.

Member - Joseph Smidt 

Joseph is currently Senior Audit Manager at Freed Maxick CPAs, P.C. He is certified in New York State, with a demonstrated history of working in the accounting industry. Skilled in Financial Accounting, Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), Transaction Advisory Services, Management, and Income Taxes. He is a strong accounting professional who received an MBA from the State University of New York at Buffalo - School of Management.

Member - David Stebbins

David has many years of experience and education in Environmental Science, Environmental Design and City and Regional Planning. He is currently enjoying retirement after serving as the Executive Vice President for the Buffalo Urban Development Corporation and teaching at the University of Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning.


Page Updated 3/2024