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Community Action Organization of WNY President and CEO L. Nathan Hare set to retire

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Wed, Sep 2nd 2020 11:35 am

Community Action Organization of Western New York President and CEO L. Nathan Hare has announced plans to retire after serving the antipoverty agency for 18 years. Hare will continue in his post until CAO’s board, led by the Hon. Craig D. Hannah, completes a national search for his successor. The board has retained Catapult Executive Consulting of Buffalo to assist with the search.

Hannah credits Hare for developing CAO into one of the largest social service agencies in the area and one of the nation’s most successful community action programs. 

“Nate has served our community with the utmost care and respect, often putting himself last,” Hannah said. “He has led the agency to tremendous financial success, with over 800 employees, and serving nearly 50,000 individuals each year. Nate is the true servant leader, activist and antipoverty leader our community deeply needs. We will miss him as the leader of CAO; however, I know his life’s work will continue beyond his current role.”

Hare is a lifelong resident of the City of Buffalo and has worked in youth employment, youth training and education, foster care, social services and juvenile justice for more than 40 years. He said he is proud of how far CAO has come since he became CEO in 2002, and attributed his success to his staff who join him in empowering people every day to improve their own circumstances.

“When you truly care about your community, you can move mountains and make an impact in people's lives,” Hare said. “Hurdles only become another obstacle to jump over. In this spirit, CAO will continue to fulfill its mission of working for those in need.”

Hare has served as the leader of CAO since 2002 – beginning his tenure at a time when the agency was in difficult fiscal circumstances and was struggling to avoid collapse. Under Hare’s leadership, the agency eliminated its operating deficit and erased its debt, converting that into annual surpluses and significant lines of credit. Between 2002 and the present, Hare also increased the agency’s operating revenue from under $20,000,000 to well over $40,000,000. He also brought the agency’s employee headcount from just over 300 to more than 800.

Hare expanded the number and quality of program offerings that were aimed more broadly at eliminating the root causes of poverty and the lack of opportunity in Western New York. CAO continues to combat poverty by promoting self-sufficiency while increasing its efforts to provide programs that empower the underserved community’s opportunities.

In 2011, after several years of planning, preparation and construction he led, Hare presided over the opening of St. Martin Village – a newly built, 60-unit affordable-housing development at the former German Roman Catholic Orphanage Home site. The St. Martin Village project turned a horrible blight on the community into an oasis of decent housing and opportunity for that East Side neighborhood.

A press release said, “Hare’s integrated approach to poverty alleviation by addressing its complex and interrelated causes has made him one of the most sought-after experts in New York state’s war on poverty. He has offered his profound perspective on public policy, poverty, youth development and the state of the economy. He has hosted multiple public affairs programs, including ‘Living Now with L. Nathan Hare’ on WUFO-AM Radio, ‘The World of Community Action’ on WBLK-FM Radio and Spectrum Cable, ‘Living 4 the People’ on 91.3FM WBNY Radio and ‘Think Again with L. Nathan Hare’ on WWKB-AM Radio.”

Hare will continue his work in the community as an antipoverty leader, activist and educator, and will continue to empower the vulnerable and unheard. He is hopeful for what the future will bring under new leadership at CAO.

About CAO of WNY

The Community Action Organization of WNY was created in 1965 as the official antipoverty agency for Erie County with a mission to serve the unmet needs of the low-income population. Today, CAO serves nearly 50,000 families and individuals within Erie and Niagara counties through various programs and services. Visit caowny.org for more information.

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