JUNE FORUM ON PRIORITIES FOR MAKING OUR COMMUNITY A BETTER PLACE TO LIVE FOR ALL
On June 30 at 12:05 pm, FOCUS Greater Syracuse and Leadership Greater Syracuse have partnered with Onondaga County Executive J. Ryan McMahon, II and City of Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh for our June FOCUS Forum. They will be discussing their vision to make Syracuse and Onondaga County a better place to live for all.
Our County Executive and Mayor have aimed their priorities towards improving our community as restrictions are lifted and funds are made more widely available. In this Forum, the panelists speakers will each be given 10 minutes to discuss these priorities and plans; the remainder of the Forum will be open to questions and discussion with the public. This forum will allow those in attendance to learn about the visions of our County and City leaders for the Greater Syracuse area!
To learn more about the county and city’s plans and priorities going forward to make Syracuse and Onondaga County a better place to live for all, join our Forum on June 30th at 12:05 pm.
MAY FORUM ON WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT FOR THE INDIVIDUAL
On May 21st, FOCUS Greater Syracuse featured a free forum on Workforce Development with the Syracuse Community Center Collaborative. Equitable employment strengthens low-income families’ economic security and well-being, it also is the main path towards broad-based economic growth.
Collaborative members are united in strengthening Syracuse neighborhoods by helping neighbors access opportunities to build the lives they want to live; it benefits both potential workers find and maintain employment, as well as business owners looking for dedicated personnel. The Collaborative brings a neighborhood connection to city-wide programming through the Supported Employment Program, Work Train, and Greater Syracuse Works, consisting of the Westcott Community Center, Syracuse Northeast Community Center, Syracuse Community Connections, and Huntington Family Centers.
Panelists for the FOCUS Forum include Brian Fay, Executive Director, Syracuse Northeast Community Center; Joan Royle, Executive Director, Westcott Community Center; Maribel Arce, Director of Strategic Operations, Syracuse Community Center Collaborative and Chol-Awan Majok, Director of Workforce Development, Syracuse Northeast Community Center.
APRIL FORUMS ON EDUCATION
In April, we had two FOCUS Forums on education.
HIGHER EDUCATION IN A TIME OF COVID
The COVID 19 pandemic has presented immense challenges for education at all levels. LeMoyne College President Linda LeMura and Syracuse University Chancellor Kent Syverud were the panelists at our April FOCUS Forum on Higher Education. They discussed how their institutions have responded to the challenges of the pandemic and what to expect for the future of higher education.
The Friday Forum was preceded by a joint FOCUS Forum and Thursday Morning Roundtable on K-12 education in a time of COVID with the Syracuse City School District Superintendent Jaime Alicea.
K-12 EDUCATION IN COVID
The Thursday Morning Roundtable and FOCUS Greater Syracuse featured Syracuse City School District Superintendent Jaime Alicea as he discussed the impact of the pandemic on K-12 Education. Alicea spoke about his work with the school district and how it has adapted to meet public health guidelines. Learn more about the program at the link below.
MARCH FORUM ON BLUEPRINT 15
The free FOCUS Forum on March 19 featured discussion of the Blueprint 15 plan for housing and mixed use redevelopment in the East Adams neighborhood bordered by I-81. That virtual Forum is now on video at the link above.
Forum panelists explained some of the process in the reimagining of the neighborhood just south of Downtown Syracuse. They are Blueprint 15 Board Chair and Syracuse Deputy Mayor Sharon Owens, Purpose Built Communities Vice President Mikki Anderson, Syracuse Housing Authority Executive Director William Simmons, and Blueprint 15 Interim CEO Stephanie Pasquale, who also is Director of Neighborhood Advancement for the Allyn Family Foundation.
Registrants to Forums get a link to the Forum and can submit questions for the panelists. The next FOCUS Forum topic is Education in a time of COVID. There will be a joint Thursday Morning Roundtable – FOCUS Forum on K-12 Education on April 15. That will be followed by a Forum on Higher Education on April 16. Watch for the registration notice in your email or at this site.
FOCUS FORUM ON THE FUTURE
The FOCUS Forum Forum on the Future for 2021 was at noon on Friday, Feb., 19, 2021. This Forum followed up on the success of the January 2020 Forum and growing participation in virtual forums.
In light of all the changes of a pandemic year, FOCUS is taking a fresh look at the new virtual format and the topics and panelists for the year ahead. FOCUS will consider these ideas for Forums throughout the year.
A virtual series on COVID challenges
Resilience and Challenges of Our Immigrant and Refugee Community under COVID
Within hours of the COVID shutdown, Central New York agencies serving refugees and immigrants set up 24/7 hot lines in 20+ languages and launched aggressive outreach efforts to help the community understand the severity of the virus and protective steps needed.
Panelists for the Jan. 22, 2021, Forum were Haji Adan, Executive Director of Refugee and Immigrant Self-Empowerment (RISE); Marwah Alobaidi, Associate Director for Resettlement Services at Interfaith Works’ Center for New Americans; Felicia Castricone, Program Director of Refugee Resettlement Services for Catholic Charities of Onondaga County and Felicien Seruhungu, Case Manager at Interfaith Works. The Rev. James Mathews of St. Lucy’s Church, a FOCUS Wisdom Keeper, was moderator for the discussion.
Mental Health in a Time of COVID – Meeting the Moment
The topic of the free FOCUS Forum for December was mental health. Video will be available soon to let you hear from three experts as they discuss the impact the pandemic has had on the mental health of our community and share their thoughts on the short- and long-term effects on children and adults. The panel includes experts in the areas of family advocacy, counseling services, and community planning.
Onondaga County Commissioner of Adult and Long Term Care Services Lisa D. Alford; Clinical Director of Psychological Healthcare Ronald C. Fish, PhD; and the President of NAMI Syracuse Marla Byrnes offer their insights with Executive Director of Access CNY Paul Joslyn moderating.
This will also be an opportunity for the community to hear how service providers have adapted to meet the moment.
Links to the Forum are emailed to registrants the day before the Forum. You can register for the Zoom webinar by computer or call 315-448-8731 for FOCUS staff to register you. You can participate in the Forum by computer or phone. Free FOCUS Forums are open to all.
Funding Change in a Time of COVID
Leaders of four local philanthropies explain how their organizations have adapted to help meet needs in a time of COVID in the Friday Nov. 20, 2020, FOCUS Forum.
Arts Adapt in Time of COVID
Syracuse Stage, CNY Jazz Arts, and Point of Contact Gallery are three very different arts organizations and each evolved new ways of reaching their audience this year.
The combined virtual FOCUS Forum and Thursday Morning Roundtable was 8 a.m. Thursday Oct. 29, 2020. Bob Hupp and Jill Anderson from Syracuse Stage, Larry Luttinger from CNY Jazz Arts, and Sara Felice from Point of Contact Gallery spoke about their innovative programming during a pandemic. If you missed it, you can see the video at the link above.
The Oct. 16 FOCUS Forum was about maintaining community dialogue in a time of pandemic and change. This free virtual FOCUS Forum features a few experts on bringing people together in Central New York. You can see it now at the link above.
JahQuan Bey-Wright and Peter Willner from the El Hindi Center for Dialogue, and Asean Malik Bey and Geraldine Linares Esq. from the Peacemaking Team of the Center for Court Innovation were the featured presenters.
You can find brief bios of the presenters at this LINK.
The next FOCUS Forum will be a joint presentation with the Thursday Morning Roundtable from Syracuse University’s Office of Community Engagement at 8 a.m. on Thursday Oct. 29, 2020.
Housing in a time of COVID
The free virtual Forum for September provided insight into how the pandemic has affected housing in Central New York for buyers, sellers, renters, landlords and developers.
Three experts in the local housing market spoke about how COVID has changed the housing market and the pandemic effect going forward.
Home HeadQuarters Chief Executive Officer Kerry Quaglia, and Housing Visions Director of Community and Government Relations Mike La Flair, joined FM Realty President Don Radke to discuss recent changes in housing needs and supply.
Home HeadQuarters Inc. is a private not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting sustainable homeownership and neighborhood revitalization in Central New York. CEO Kerry Quaglia has more than 30 years experience in housing, lending and community development. During his tenure the organization has grown into one of the largest housing and community redevelopment organizations in Central and Upstate New York, providing affordable housing, home improvement loans, first mortgage financing, property development and planning, and education and counseling.
He earned a bachelor’s degree with honors from Syracuse University, studied with the masters of city planning curriculum at the University of Pennsylvania and received a juris doctor degree from the College of Law at Syracuse University. He was selected for the inaugural class of Achieving Excellence in Community Development from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He is a member of the Bar of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and a licensed real estate broker in New York State.
Michael La Flair, currently serves as the Director of Community and Government Relations at Housing Visions Unlimited, a nonprofit affordable housing developer located in 14 cities across NY and 1 in Pennsylvania.
Mike also serves on the Board of Directors as Treasurer for the Greater Syracuse Land Bank. He is the former Executive Director of North East Hawley Development Association.
He earned a bachelor of science degree in Business Administration, as well as a Master’s in Business Administration, with a focus on Leadership & Finance from Le Moyne College.
Michael is very involved in the local community, serving on several Boards and volunteering with local agencies. He brings a broad based and deep understanding of community, economic and property development having worked for many years in a variety of senior management roles in the private, nonprofit and government sectors.
Former SUNY ESF President Neil Murphy and Onondaga Environmental Institute President Ed Michalenko explore the opportunities and challenges for the environment in a new virtual FOCUS Forum.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked horrible tragedy, the resulting shutdown has provided some time to heal. This forum will touch on how the environment has improved, what policy changes we might make to sustain the improvements, and how the environment can be an asset in reducing future pandemics.
Registration for the Zoom webinar maxed out at more than 100, but you can view it online HERE. The free FOCUS Forum is open to all.
Cornelius “Neil” B. Murphy Jr., PhD, led the O’Brien & Gere technical services and engineering firm from 1982 until 2000. In 2000 he was chosen as President of State University of New York – College of Environmental Science and Forestry. He is widely credited with bringing environmental leadership to Central New York and new life to SUNY ESF, a post he left in 2013. He continues his work at SUNY as Senior Fellow for Environmental and Sustainable Systems. For a longer biographical sketch use this LINK.
In addition to his many leadership posts and honors in the community Dr. Murphy was named a FOCUS Wisdom Keeper in 2013.
Ed Michalenko, PhD, is the elected Supervisor of the Town of DeWitt and President of Onondaga Environmental Institute. The institute is a not-for-profit corporation dedicated to environmental education, research, planning and restoration.
In his leadership of OEI Dr. Michalenko has administered grant supported projects in Central New York and beyond for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and Onondaga County. For a longer biographical sketch use this LINK.
Social Distancing and Isolation Under COVID: Coping with Physical and Mental Health Challenges
The FOCUS Forum is now in a virtual format. The first virtual forum featured FOCUS Wisdom Keeper Sharon Brangman, MD, Chair of the Department of Geriatrics at SUNY Upstate Medical University and Tracey Musarra Marchese, Professor of Practice in Syracuse University’s School of Social Work.
Their topic is Social Distancing and Isolation Under COVID: Coping with Physical and Mental Health Challenges.
More than 100 people registered for this popular forum on June 25. Those who register for a forum receive an email before the forum with instructions on how to participate by phone or computer.
Since Central New Yorkers began sheltering at home life has changed in many ways. In the short term FOCUS is offering forums on the necessary changes made and the possibilities those changes open for improving quality of life.
Some of us have technology that allows us to continue to work, learn, get health care, play, and connect with friends and family in new ways. Many do not. Some live with family. Many live alone. Some have found ways to cope with loneliness, but as the days became weeks and months, there is increasing sadness, stress and frustration, if not more.
In the recorded forum two leading health experts talk about how social isolation affects the health and well-being of our community and offer strategies that can help keep us well for the months ahead.
Sharon Brangman, MD, is a Distinguished Service Professor and Chair of the Department of Geriatrics at SUNY Upstate Medical University and Director, Center of Excellence for Alzheimer’s Disease of CNY and the 2016 recipient of the FOCUS Wisdom Keeper honor. Dr. Brangman describes the experience of her older patients under COVID, the collateral damage being caused by social isolation and the challenges of telehealth.
Tracey Mursarra Marchese, MSW, LCSW-R, is a Professor of Practice with Syracuse University’s School of Social Work who specializes in mental health, mind-body wellness, trauma and PTSD. Ms. Marchese is an EMDR certified therapist and trainer who maintains a private practice as a Psychotherapist and Clinical Social Worker. She will discuss the impact of social isolation under COVID for people across age and demographic groups, how technology contributes to digital health divides, and steps we can take to maximize each of our well-being.
Syracuse role in pandemic response
FOCUS Greater Syracuse and residents of Central New York played a role in a 2007 CDC study of public response to pandemic flu containment measures. You can read about what people in Syracuse, Atlanta, Seattle, and Lincoln, NE, said back in 2007 at this LINK to a report on the study from the University of Nebraska. If you check out the study you’ll see a FOCUS presence in many of the photos and charts. The study provides graphic support for some of the measures being taken today.
FOCUS Forum on Housing
The March FOCUS Forum on housing is on hold. We hope to reschedule it in the future. A healthy housing market – one with enough safe comfortable homes to suit all needs and all budgets – is one of the topics requested by participants in the January forum.
Panelists for the now-delayed program were to be: Home Headquarters Chief Executive Officer Kerry Quaglia, FM Realty Group broker/owner Don Radke, and Mike LaFlair, Director of Community and Government Relations for Housing Visions, who also is on the board of the Greater Syracuse Land Bank.
Forums are free and open to the public.
Tell us what you’d like our future Forum topics to be in this SURVEY.
Managing Best to Avoid the Worst
Emergencies come in many different forms. Onondaga County Emergency Management Commissioner Dan Wears and Chris Gorman, Principal Program Manager for Community and Customer Management at National Grid, spoke about the coordinated work it takes to be prepared for anything whenever it may happen. They were the featured speakers in the February Forum.
Forum on the Future
FOCUS began 2020 with a Forum on the Future on Friday Jan. 31.
Attendance at FOCUS Forums roughly doubled year-over-year in 2019 driven by topics of vital interest to the community, coordination with like-minded organizations, and introductions to new leadership in city and county government, police, and broadcasting. Thank you to Syracuse University’s Office of Community Engagement and Thursday Morning Roundtable, WCNY, Leadership Greater Syracuse and National Grid, Onondaga Community College, Onondaga County, and the City of Syracuse for support and collaboration in these efforts.
FOCUS built on the momentum and energy from the Citizens Academy Class of 2019 with a Forum on the Future 8 a.m. Jan. 31, 2020, in the atrium of City Hall Commons, 201 East Washington St., Syracuse.
FOCUS, which is the independent not-for-profit Forging Our Community’s United Strength, invited anyone with an interest in improving the quality of life in the Greater Syracuse area to bring ideas and questions that need answers to this launch for the new decade of FOCUS and Forums.
There are so many opportunities open here and now that the challenge for Greater Syracuse will be setting priorities and continued devotion to the work at hand. Enterprises such as the regional STEAM School and Syracuse Surge, a new I-81, the Southside Campus for the New Economy, Blueprint 15, and regional mega-warehouses and a statewide canal trail and lake loop are about to become a reality. Building a more attractive welcoming, sustainable community and environmentally sound economy requires focus.
Renewable Energy Here and Now
The Sept. 12 FOCUS Forum with Thursday Morning Roundtable featured renewable energy projects going on in Central New York right now. An audio version airs 8 p.m. Sunday Sept. 15 on WCNY-FM and will be on the web at wcny.org
Chris Carrick of the Central New York Regional Planning and Development Board and Lindsay Speer with the Heatsmart Central New York project covered a lot of ground on energy projects and policy in New York State. The forum is always free and open to the public.
One component of energy efforts mentioned in the forum is electric vehicles. That includes a show and drive event with 10 electric vehicles also on Sunday Sept. 15 between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. in the parking lot at West Washington and South Clinton Streets in Syracuse. Learn more at www.cnyenergychallenge.org
Syracuse University Vice President for Community Engagement Bea Gonzalez also announced at the forum the new SU community events calendar that can be found at calendar.syracuse.edu
The Syracuse Surge
The Syracuse Surge was the topic of the July 19, 2019, FOCUS Forum.
Sam Edelstein, Chief Data Officer for Syracuse, spoke about the technology aspects of the Syracuse Surge and what it means to be New York’s Flagship Smart City. Inclusive Growth is the theme of the proposal that made Syracuse one of five out of 250 cities to win the JP Morgan Chase Advancing Cities Challenge award in 2019.
Juhanna Rogers, Director of Community Engagement and Empowerment for Centerstate CEO, discussed the human side of the Syracuse Surge and the role of the JP Morgan Chase Advancing Cities Challenge grant in the city’s strategy for inclusive growth.
This year Syracuse punches above its weight in the competition with 250 other municipalities. The four other Advancing Cities communities for 2019 are Chicago, Louisville, Miami, and San Diego. You can learn more about the Surge and the award at this LINK.
FOCUS Forums are free and open to all.
ReZone Syracuse Forum: June 21
The June FOCUS Forum featured the ReZone Syracuse project on Friday morning June 21. That included the final draft map and information about the illustrated zoning guidance text before it goes up for consideration by the Planning Commission and Syracuse Common Council. You can find the documents and maps at the
Owen Kerney, Deputy Director of Planning & Sustainability for Syracuse, answered questions and explained the effort undertaken to update a system for a city ready to surge.
The April 25, 2019, Forum featured the new CEO of WCNY Mitch Gelman
Mitch Gelman was named CEO of the region’s biggest public broadcasting station in January. He and WCNY are in the midst of a project to gain community input on what viewers and listeners want from their information sources.
Gelman comes to Central New York from Washington, D.C., where he led digital operations for the Newseum. His previous work includes leadership of online operations for CNN and Gannett. Before that he was part of a Pulitzer Prize winning news team at Newsday.
FOCUS Forums will continue through the summer and Thursday Morning Roundtable will resume in the fall. These events have a tradition of being free and open to all.
April 4 Forum: Housing the Homeless
The April 4 Forum with Thursday Morning Roundtable drew a crowd to learn more about the Rescue Mission Alliance and Housing and Homeless Coalition. Dan Sieberg of the Rescue Mission and Megan Stuart of the coalition spoke.
Dan Sieberg, chief executive of the Rescue Mission Alliance, and Megan Stuart, executive director of the Housing and Homeless Coalition of Central New York explained the efforts being made toward a providing a sheltering community. You can hear this and other TMR presentations on WCNY-FM Sundays at 8 p.m. Past roundtables are archived on the WCNY web site.
March 14 Forum: Citizens Review Board
Citizens Review Board Chair Peter McCarthy and Administrator Ranette Releford explained the history, structure and work of the board that reviews citizen concerns about police conduct in Syracuse. About 60 people attended.
February Forum: Meet the Police Chief
FOCUS FORUM and THURSDAY MORNING ROUND TABLE
Syracuse Police Chief Kenton Buckner
Syracuse’s new police chief adroitly addressed questions for a standing-room-only crowd at the Syracuse University Community Engagement Offices.
He offered a fresh point of view and covered the bases on this community and police strategies. Among the topics he addressed were adding officers, recruiting officers from all parts of the community, and assuring that those officers earn the respect of the community. But his message went much deeper than that. FOCUS and TMR have begun work toward more in-depth community follow-through on topics raised.
You can see the a short Spectrum News summary, or listen to the entire event on WCNY-FM radio 91.3 at 8 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 10, 2019. You also can hear this and broadcasts of the joint FOCUS Forum/TMR economic development presentations archived at WCNY-FM.
January 2019 Forum: Syracuse Mayor and Onondaga County Executive
The Special Evening Forum Thursday, Jan. 31., with Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh and Onondaga County Executive J. Ryan McMahon II drew a warm reception on a very cold day.
You can read coverage of the event HERE.
FOCUS and Leadership Greater Syracuse arranged the forum with support from National Grid.
J. Ryan McMahon II (left) and Ben Walsh
December 2018 Program: Veterans Services
FOCUS FORUM on VETERANS SERVICES
7:30 a.m. Dec. 7, 2018
FOCUS Greater Syracuse was back at the atrium of City Hall Commons at 7:30 a.m. on Friday Dec. 7, 2018, for a free public forum with veterans service groups. Participants in the free forum learned about services provided and volunteer opportunities and shared their knowledge and networks over morning coffee.
Jeff Bastable, a board member and Director of Philanthropy for Honor Flight Syracuse.
Jennifer Mennard, Outreach Coordinator for Veterans Administration Medical Center in Syracuse
Lynn Fox, Community Outreach Director for Clear Path for Veterans
You can find a list of contacts for these organizations and many more and some of the presentations HERE.
You can hear the WCNY-FM broadcast of the three community economic development forums at www.wcny.org/radio/shows/tmr/
COMMUNITY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
A Community Engagement & Outreach Project on the Challenges, Realities and Opportunities of Economic Development and Community Wealth Generation
SESSION 3: Nov. 1-2
For the third and final Forum of the series FOCUS invites four local leaders actively involved in our economic development plans and practices at the grassroots and community level.
Mark Olson, Village of Fayetteville Mayor; Carolyn Evans-Dean, South Avenue Business Corridor Revitalization Project Manager; Mark Venesky, Cicero Town Supervisor; Mike LaFlair, Housing Visions Director of Marketing and Community Relations
The second Forum of the series covered the challenges in maintaining and growing businesses and community wealth and the tools they can use to compete in the marketplace. The session will tackle “self-inflicted” obstacles to success.
PROGRAM SPEAKERS WERE…
Andrew Fish, Senior VP for Business Development at CenterState CEO
Nora Spillane, Syracuse Deputy Commissioner Dept. of Business Development
Laura Miller, General Manager, Darco Manufacturing, Inc.
Joe Russo, Economic Development Program Manager, National Grid
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT SESSION 1: Sept. 27
The series began Thursday Sept. 27 with three forums featuring national site-selection experts Chris Steele and Jim Damicis at the Nancy Cantor Warehouse, the NEW! New York State Fairgrounds Exposition Center; and at the South Side Innovation Center.
COMMUNITY BUILDING WITH THE PEACEMAKERS
The first FOCUS Forum of the month was Sept. 13 at La Casita Cultural Center, with Westside residents talking about the community-building efforts of Take Back The Streets and the Peacemaking Project.
The August FOCUS Forum was on Onondaga Lake
Onondaga County Director of Environmental Protection Travis Glazier and Honeywell Project Director John McAuliffe offered an update on the lake and surrounding projects. FOCUS presented some highlights from the 2017 community survey about Onondaga Lake waters. This Forum included great views of the lake from the Skydeck at Destiny USA.
The July Forum featured Onondaga Citizens League report on Community Engagement.
The June Forum brought a national speaker to Syracuse.
The June 15, 2018, FOCUS Forum featured Dr. Joe Selby, Executive Director of the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute in Washington, D.C., with Dr. Sharon Brangman of SUNY Upstate Medical University.
Dr. Selby’s visit is the result of years of work by the CNY-CAN collaboration of FOCUS Greater Syracuse, SUNY Upstate Medical University’s Division of Geriatrics – now Department of Geriatrics, Southwest Community Center, and HealtheConnections. CNY-CAN has been bringing together patients and caregivers with health professionals to share their experiences and identify the kinds of research needed to meet patient needs.
To learn more about CNY-CAN CLICK HERE. Note that Dr. Selby also was the featured speaker at the Grand Rounds at SUNY Upstate Medical University Thursday June 14 at Weiskotten Hall. You can hear an interview with the doctors at HEALTHLINK.
We thank PCORI, Loretto and the Health Foundation of Western & Central New York and SUNY Upstate Medical University for helping to make this visit possible.
Kim Parker – Founder & CEO of Parkerpower Corporation – Accounting & Finance Professional Talent Search, MATCH & Placement Specialists
Martin McDermott – Senior Vice President of JF Real Estate – Commercial Real Estate specializing in downtown office buildings and suburban retail properties
Nancy Watt – Real Estate Agent with Hunt Real Estate ERA – Residential Real Estate specializing in promoting Central New York to potential homebuyers as new hires or prospects for top employers
It was standing room only for the April 20 FOCUS Forum with Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh, Deputy Mayor Sharon Owens, and Director of Administration Christie Elliot.