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CAO of WNY makes key promotions within leadership team


Mon, Mar 8th 2021 11:10 am

The Community Action Organization of Western New York has announced key leadership changes.

Chelsea White is promoted to executive vice president and chief of education from recently serving as early childhood administrator. White will serve directly under CAO’s new president and CEO, Thomas Kim.

JoAnna Rozier-Johnson has advanced from director of youth services’ role to vice president of youth services and will work closely with White.

Both changes are part of CAO’s organizational realignment process, where educational services are poised to provide cohesive services throughout a child’s educational journey.

White has more than 27 years of experience working in early childhood and human services with CAO. She graduated from Empire State College with a B.S. in community and human services with a minor in early childhood education and holds MA in organizational leadership degrees from Medaille College.

A press release stated, “White has displayed exceptional leadership and strategic planning in her career, remaining agile amidst change and implementing its mission. Her most recent accomplishments include securing approximately $500,000 in annual New York state education funds to provide universal pre-K services to 51 children in collaboration with a local school district. And amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, she secured approximately $1.9 million in CARES Act funding to support the Head Start and Early Head Start budget.”

Kim said he is impressed by White’s ability to collect and analyze data to make viable decisions, and forward to working with her on the community impact strategy for CAO.

“I am blessed to have a partner in Ms. White who will be laser-focused on executing CAO’s mission with innovation, integrity, and humility,” he said. “She is a hands-on leader who values teamwork to reach CAO’s goals. Together, we will prioritize leveraging a continuum of vital integrated educational services to support communities in need.”

White said, “I am excited to continue this journey with Mr. Kim and our leadership team as the services we provide to the community play a vital part in educating children, transitioning families towards self-sufficiency. I will work with Mr. Kim to continue building a culture of compassion, empathy and respect to improve productivity within our organization.”

The release said, “Rozier-Johnson’s promotion comes from her steadfast commitment to CAO’s youth services department over the past 13 years. Her character, competence and leadership style promote learning experiences with enthusiasm, competence and creativity. She has led the youth services team’s training, implementing interactive and enriching programming for K-12 students in multiple out-of-school time programs.

Rozier-Johnson said her passion for seeing CAO’s programming thrive comes from being a product of CAO: “As a child, my mother, the late Dr. Florence Flakes-Rozier, worked at CAO and ensured my siblings and I were students in the youth initiatives. As an education task force scholarship recipient, CAO helped me see myself and my education as an investment in my community. When I graduated from Canisius College, CAO Youth Services gave me the part-time employment I needed to work my way up to my current position. I am excited about this next step and feel proud to work on the executive team.”

CAO’s leadership realignment process has also resulted in Deanne Montgomery’s title changing from VP of finance to chief financial officer. Tonya Kohlman-Hargrove will now serve as chief people officer, changing her previous VP of human resources title to reflect the position's human resource and culture-building responsibilities.

The Community Action Organization of WNY was incorporated in 1965 and operates antipoverty programs in Erie and Niagara counties. Annually, CAO serves more than 50,000 families and individuals in Western New York through various programs and services. Visit caowny.org for more information.

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