Public Service Lecture Series

Our lectures are usually scheduled during undergraduate and graduate political science and public administration classes and are open to the public. Most take place on the SUNY Buffalo State University campus, a civic and community-engaged, urban campus.

Sponsored by the SUNY Buffalo State University's Political Science, Public Administration, and Planning Department.

2022-2023 Lectures

Academic year 2022-2023 lectures are scheduled to take place in undergraduate and graduate classes (PSC 225 Women in American Politics, PAD 607 City and County Management, and PLN 350 Planning for Sustainable Communities), and during the campus commemoration of U.S. Constitution Day.

"Challenges of Managing a Small City" (September 12)
Sam Teresi, MPA.  Mr. Teresi recently retired after been elected as Mayor, City of Jamestown in 1999.  He was reelected four times before retiring from political office. The City of Jamestown is a Class A City with a population of 31,146 maintaining 450 employees and a total annual budget in excess of $90 million. Prior to winning his first election for mayor in 1999, Mr. Teresi was Director of Development, City of Jamestown (1988-1999), Executive Director, Downtown Jamestown Development Corporatin (1986-1988), and Grants Coordinator, Jamestown Urban Renewal Agency (1984-1986).  He graduated summa cum laude with the MPA from the Nelson A. Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy, State University Of New York at Albany, summa cum laude with a BA in Political Science from the University at Buffalo - SUNY, and the Highest Honors A.A. Jamestown Community College.

"A Tectonic Shift at the U.S. Supreme Court:  A Conservative Majority Takes the Gloves Off"  (September 20)
Dr. Peter Yacobucci, SUNY Buffalo State - Department of Political Science & Public Administration

“Role of Preservation in Building a Strong City” (September 26)
Christiana Liminiatis, Director of Preservation Services, Preservation Buffalo Niagara attended Cornell University's Historic Preservation Planning program and have over 15 years of experience in historic preservation.

Bart Roberts (September 28)
Bart Roberts, Associate Director of Research and Faculty Engagement, UB Regional Institute. 
Bart managed the two-county regional sustainability planned titled One Region Forward and is overseeing its ongoing implementation. Will discuss the importance of regional planning, some of the impacts of ongoing growth and sprawl, and how the One Region Forward plan seeks to address challenges and opportunities.

"HOME's Role in Fighting Housing Discrimination in Buffalo" (October 3)
Scott Gehl, retired long time Executive Director of Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME) and former University District councilmember, will talk about the long history of housing discrimination in Buffalo and the work of HOME (working with local government) in attempting to end this discrimination.

Jason Yots (October 5)
Jason Yots, Principal, Common Bond Real Estate and Preservation Studios. Jason is a local developer and historic preservation expert who does a lot of work in historic rehab and housing. He will walk student through a project he is undertaking on Main Street (former Record Theater and an historic former Ford Dealership) and discuss how building reuse and preservation can play a role in sustainability, including through increasing density, material reuse, and limiting new construction.

Brian Kulpa (October 12)
Brian Kulpa, Supervisor Town of Amherst (former Williamsville Mayor) and Principal Architect/Planner with Clark Patterson Lee. Brian is a friend of mine and one of the regions most progressive political leaders, who has worked on the public and consulting side of planning. So he’s going to discuss the role of architecture, green buildings, and neo-traditional urban design on sustainability.

Eve Holberg (October 19)
Eve Holberg, Planner, Joy Kuebler Landscape Architects – Eve will discuss economic development as a key role of local governments and also the criticisms of the inequality and inequity that often derives from these policies.

Ashley Smith (October 26)
Ashley Smith, Deputy Director, GoBike Buffalo. Ashley will discuss the role and importance of non-motorized vehicle planning, with a focus on bike planning and the work GoBike does.

Joy Kuebler (November 2)
Joy Kuebler, Owner, Joy Kuebler Landscape Architects. Joy will discuss the importance of landscape architecture and trees/plants in addressing climate change, including water quality.

Panel Discussion (November 9)
Panel Discussion with Adam Bojak (tenant rights attorney), Harper S.E. Bishop (community activist and leader) and Elizabeth Meg Williams (community leader and educator) – they will collectively discuss the role of democracy in sustainability, from the rights of those who are housing or housing insecure to the role of residents in political life and action to the importance of working with neighbors and new residents (including immigrants).

Eric Walker (November 16)
Eric Walker, NYSERDA. Eric was a founding member of PUSH and has worked as the Sustainability Coordinator for Erie County. He will discuss the role of energy and weatherization of housing as it connects to social determinants of health, as well as touch on the importance of community activism, engagement, and action center on racial and social equity.

"NYS Senator Tim Kennedy: City-State relations especially with respect to financing city management and administration" (November 28)
NY State Senator Tim Kennedy (Democrat, Independence, Working Families parties) has been representing the NY State 63rd district which includes Buffalo, Cheektowaga, and Lackawanna since 2011. Tim is currently chair of the NY State Senate Transportation Committee. He is a graduate of D’Youville College (now university) with Bachelor and Master’s degrees in Occupational Therapy.

Monica Wallace

Monica Wallace (March 6)
Monica Wallace was elected in 2016 to represent the 143rd Assembly District, which includes the Erie County towns of Cheektowaga and Lancaster and the villages of Depew, Lancaster and Sloan. Monica learned early on the importance of hard work and education. Raised by a single mother who instilled these values in her, Monica became the first person in her family to earn a college degree. She worked her way through college and law school, earning her undergraduate degree with honors from SUNY Binghamton, and her J.D., cum laude, from SUNY Buffalo Law School. Monica understands that public service is a privilege and is honored to have earned the support of her constituents. Before her election to the Assembly, Monica spent much of her legal career as a law clerk in federal court, where she helped ensure that justice was served and that laws were applied equally to all parties appearing before the court. Monica also served on the faculty at her alma mater, SUNY Buffalo Law School, teaching students how the law can be used as a vehicle for positive social change. Monica is an active member of her community. She served as a local and state director for the Western New York Chapter of the Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York, an organization dedicated to advancing the status of women and children in New York. She also served as a member of the Lancaster YMCA Board and served on the Legal Writing Institute’s Bar Outreach Committee. Monica’s legislative priorities include strengthening public education, standing up for working families, creating jobs by supporting economic development, upgrading local infrastructure and restoring integrity to government. Monica lives in the town of Lancaster with her husband, John, and two children, Jack and Claire.

Legislator Baskin

Hon. April N.M. Baskin, Chair, Erie County Legislator, District 2 (April 5)
As a Buffalo native April N. McCants-Baskin is a devoted community advocate for equity and social justice. A graduate of Buffalo’s Academy for Visual and Performing Arts High School she attended Buffalo State College and holds a B.A. in Theatre Arts from SUNY Empire State College. She is also a proud mother of two. 

In 2017 April was elected to represent District 2 of the Erie County Legislature. District 2 is the most diverse district in Erie County, as it contains the region’s wealthiest and poorest neighborhoods, as well as being home to immigrants and refugees from dozens of nations from around the world. 

Immediately upon taking office Baskin was selected to serve as the Majority Leader. A year later, her colleagues elected her Chairperson of the Legislature in spring 2019, making her the youngest person and the first freshman to serve as Chairperson in the history of the Erie County Legislature. She was re-elected to serve as Chairwoman in 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023.

As Legislative Chair, Baskin has worked diligently to reform the county’s jail system, has led initiatives to implement body cameras for Erie County Sheriff Deputies, as well as increased the number of surveillance cameras in the county’s detention facilities. She created the Erie County Corrections Specialist Advisory Board which enables members of the public to provide input and oversight into the management of Erie County’s jails. Under her leadership Baskin spearheaded a successful campaign to end the shackling of youth detainees in Family Court, and most recently, she worked with the Sheriff’s Office and the Department of Health and Department of Mental Health to implement a new Medically Assisted Treatment program for detainees who are struggling with drug addiction. 

Baskin worked with specialists from the University at Buffalo to implement the County’s Department of Health “Lead it Go” program, which expands services for children who have been poisoned by lead. 

Chairwoman Baskin was the chief coordinator and lead sponsor of the Office of Health Equity Act, a new County office whose sole focus will be on the social determinants of health, while developing programs and policies to address racial inequities in healthcare. 

In 2019 Baskin established the annual Urban Initiatives which secures funding for communities in the urban core during the county’s budget process.

Baskin reformed the county’s outdated Minority and Women’s Business Enterprise policies. She passed the 2021 MWBE Modernization Act which increases set-aside percentages, helping to level the playing field for minority and women entrepreneurs in underrepresented communities. She partnered with leaders in the private sector to develop community initiatives which empower Black and Minority Owned Businesses to receive capital, resources, and mentoring. 

Chairwoman Baskin led the charge in a statewide advocacy campaign for a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) to be attached to the new stadium deal between Erie County, New York State and the Buffalo Bills NFL team. Her leadership and advocacy during the negotiations of this deal, landed Erie County residents their first ever National Football League Community Benefits Agreement, which includes a community investment of $100 million dollars.

Catherine R. Connolly

Dr. Catherine Connolly (April 12)
Dr. Cathy Connolly is a recently retired Professor in the School of Culture, Gender and Social Justice at the University of Wyoming and a former member of the Wyoming House of Representatives.  Dr. Connolly earned a PhD in sociology (1992) and a law degree (1992, cum laude) from UB and a B.S. from SUNY Buffalo State in Information Systems Analysis (1984).  She co-authored “Outlaw Women:  Prison, Rural Violence and Poverty in the American West” and published numerous studies and reports on the wage gap between Wyoming’s men and women (one of the worst in the nation). She was elected to seven terms in the Wyoming legislature (2009-22) representing a portion of Laramie, Wyoming and by her peers to serve as the Minority Floor Leader. As a legislator, Representative Connolly served on numerous committees including positions as vice-chair of both the Education and Revenue committees, and on the powerful Appropriations committee.  She sponsored and co-sponsored numerous successful bills including Wyoming’s anti-human trafficking statute.  She was a tireless advocate for expanding Medicaid to address the needs of those in poverty as well as to support local hospitals, and revisions to the tax code for equity.  As Wyoming’s first openly LGBTQ legislator, Connolly sponsored numerous bills for recognition of human rights.   You can read about some of Dr. Connolly's legislative initiatives "In Conservative Wyoming, Signs of a Thaw on Same-Sex Marriage" (The New York Times, June 13, 2013).  Dr. Connolly is depicted in The Laramie Project, the 2000 play by Moisés Kaufman (made into an HBO feature film in 2022) about the reaction of Laramie residents to the 1998 savage murder of gay University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming.   

Crystal Rodriguez-Dabney

Deputy Mayor and Chief of Staff Crystal Rodriguez-Dabney, Esq. (April 26)  

4:30-5:45 p.m.
Caudell Hall 123

Deputy Mayor Crystal Rodriguez-Dabney is a lifelong resident of Buffalo. She holds an Advanced Certification in Diversity and Inclusion from Cornell University, a Master of Laws and a Juris Doctorate from the University at Buffalo Law School. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences from California State University in San Marcos. Since 2018, she served as the Chief of Staff to Katherine S. Conway-Turner, Ph.D., President of Buffalo State College, where she oversaw the day-to-day operations of the President’s office, among other duties. She also served as Chief Diversity Officer, where she oversaw the College’s Equity and Campus Diversity program.

Rodriguez-Dabney is a longstanding public servant and community volunteer who has also served on a number of boards, including Read to Succeed Buffalo, Buffalo Prep Alumni Council, and UB’s Law School Alumni Association as co-chair of its Social Justice Committee. She also served as a Former Chair of the Miss Borinquen Leadership Development program and is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

Kaitlyn Marinelli

Kaitlyn Marinelli, Legal Aid Bureau of Buffalo (May 3)
4:30-5:45 p.m.
Caudell Hall 123

Kaitlyn Marinelli is currently a criminal defense attorney with the Legal Aid Bureau of Buffalo, Inc. She holds a Juris Doctorate from New England Law | Boston (2017). She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Buffalo State University as well as minors in Legal Studies and History (2014, cum laude). She served as a member of Pi Sigma Alpha Honors Society, Buffalo State Mock Trial Association (2011-2014) and SUNY Model European Union Simulation (2013-2014).

Kaitlyn’s passion for criminal law began with her participation in the American Mock Trial Association while at SUNY Buffalo State. While in law school, Kaitlyn was an active member of the Criminal Justice Project. This Project pursues litigation, legislation, education and policy reform to make the criminal justice system fairer for low-income individuals. Kaitlyn was involved in the Criminal Community Outreach Program (CCOP) and Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) program. The CCOP program included teaching juvenile detainees trial skills and how to prepare for a criminal trial. Learning about the criminal justice process helped to teach basic evidence and criminal procedure concepts. Kaitlyn also participated in CORI Initiative. Thousands of individuals in the Boston area carried criminal records, which can prevent individuals from obtaining employment, housing and financial services. The Criminal Offender Record Information (“CORI”) program assists individuals with sealing their criminal record. Kaitlyn was able to provide invaluable opportunities to clients for better employment, obtaining housing and positively progress into society.

As a lifelong resident of Buffalo, Ms. Marinelli is dedicated defending those in her community. She joined Legal Aid Bureau in 2019 and is responsible for representing indigent persons charged with offenses in the City of Buffalo. She works diligently to ensure that constitutional and legal rights for her clients are protected.