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Diane Baehre becomes first female executive director at Empower


Wed, May 11th 2022 03:40 pm

First woman to lead organization in disability service provider’s 68-year history

The Empower board of directors has selected Diane Baehre as the next executive director of Empower, making her the first woman to lead the disability service provider since its incorporation as United Cerebral Palsy Association of Niagara County in 1954.

Baehre began her career as a direct support professional and went on to hold positions in social work and quality assurance with such organizations as People Inc., Aspire of Western New York, and Geneva B. Scruggs Community Health Center. She has led Empower’s quality assurance department since joining the agency in 1998. Since 2014, she has been second in command of Empower, and in 2020 she was named chief quality officer.

A press release noted, “The transition team at Empower conducted an extensive search that yielded an array of truly impressive candidates.”

“We met some talented and capable people,” said Tom Caserta, president of Empower’s board of directors. “In the end, we concluded that the answer was in front of us.”

The press release added, “Under Baerhe's leadership in the quality assurance department, Empower has created a thorough and meticulous quality assurance and quality improvement framework. During the initial accreditation visit from the Council on Quality and Leadership in 2018, CQL representatives praised her efforts and noted that other providers across the country could learn a thing or two from Baehre.”

Baehre begins her new role on May 16, taking over from outgoing Executive Director Jeff Paterson, who, after seven years at Empower, will become CEO of sasi in Western New York.

“It is my honor and pleasure to continue Empower’s leadership in providing supports and services to people with disabilities,” Baehre said.

Licensed by the New York State Office of People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) and the New York State Education Department, Empower is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization that provides programming and direct services through a comprehensive system of services that includes educational and children’s services, job training, day services and community housing. 

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