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- Who We Are
The Youth Bureau Advisory Board is composed of volunteer community leaders who serve to advise the Youth Bureau and the agencies it supports. Youth Advisory Board members dedicate many hours of work on a volunteer basis and are an invaluable resource to the Bureau and its staff. Board Members are appointed by the County Executive with the approval of the County Legislature. They each serve two year terms.
- Michael Ballman
- Amy Barok
- Rose Ann Convertino**
- Steve Gigliotti
- Tom Giruzzi
- Dan Griffiths
- Elaine Hage
- Gary Harvey
- Gary Heenan
- Julia Hobika*
- Bruce Karam
- Ralph Leo
- Brian Miller**
- David O'Brien
- Lee Pavlot
- Jolene Vanderhoof
- Todd Stokes
- Natale Schirripa*
- Patrick Sullivan
*Denotes Youth Members
**Denotes County Legislator
Michael Ballman - Mike graduated from Wells Central School, Wells, NY. Houghton College, Houghton, NY with a BA in International Studies/Political Science, Dallas Theological Seminary with a Master of Theology, Th.M. Mike currently serves as the Pastor of Cornerstone Community Church and Plymouth Bethessda UCC and as the director of the Oneida Square Project. The mission of all three organizations is to revitalize the Oneida Square Neighborhood by creating a more vibrant and just community through family support, youth and children's programs, housing rehabilitation, and economic development. He and his wife, Pam and son, Noah live in Utica.
Amy Barok - Amy is a lifelong resident of Oneida County. She was born in Rome, New York, attended Rome City Schools, graduating from Rome Free Academy in 1995 and she currently lives in Rome with her husband and son. Amy graduated from SUNY Oswego with a Bachelor’s Degree in Secondary Education with minors in history and economics. She has a Master’s Degree in Social Studies Education from Syracuse University. Amy teaches eleventh grade US History at T.R.Proctor High School in Utica, New York. She is and has involved herself in many aspects of teaching and serving the community. She is an advisor to the T.R.Proctor High School Key Club. She is a representative for the Utica Teachers Association and a NYSUT delegate, where she takes pride in being an advocate for legislation to provide quality education for all students.
Rose Ann Convertino - Rose Ann is an Oneida County Legislator and serves in an ex-officio capacity.
Steve Gigliotti- Steve resides in Utica, New York and is a former Oneida County legislator whom was and is a strong advocate for youth. He currently works helping senior citizens find employment. He is a member of the Kiwanis, the Knights of Columbus and the Sons of Italy. He is married with four children and six grandchildren.
Tom Giruzzi - Tom was named STOP DWI Coordinator in November of 2012. Prior to his current position, Tom was the Youth Program Director for the Oneida County Youth Bureau. Tom spent 12+ years as Youth Program Director. He is an umpire with the Mohawk Valley Umpires Association and a referee with the Utica Soccer Board. Tom’s work history with youth is extensive.
Dan Griffiths - Dan is an Oneida County Probation officer, who has coached in numerous youth leagues. He resides in Clinton, NY with his wife Laurie and three children.
Elaine Hage- Elaine resides in Utica, New York and is a retired Physical Education teacher, having spent 35 years in the Utica City School District. Elaine has always had a passion for motivating youth towards healthy, positive activities, through fitness and community activities. She is the owner of Elaine's Fitness studio and also works as a coordinator at the Potato Hill Farm Outdoor Educational Center. Elaine and her husband Paul have a daughter Marie, who is a senior at Proctor High School.
Gary Harvey - Gary was born and raised in Utica, New York. He is married to Lisa (Arthur) Harvey and has a teenage daughter, Kierra Arthur. Gary has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Speech Communication/Dramatic Arts from Utica College, graduating in 1982. He is a site coordinator for the Youth Construction Initiative Program (YCIP) at T.R. Proctor High School, where he graduated from in 1978. Gary gives motivational speeches to schools, organizations, agencies and the community at large He serves as a minister for the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Gary Heenan- Gary resides in Westmoreland, New York and is the Head Men's Hockey coach at Utica College. Since becoming head coach in 2000, Gary has led the pioneers to five ECAC playoff appearances, two appearances in the ECAC Championship game, and one ECAC regular season Championship. He was named coach of the year in 2005. Gary's enthusiasm and competitive program has captivated the Utica area, as is evident by the record setting home attendance of 2,781 fans per game in 2007. Gary is a 1997 graduate of Hamilton college and has his own hockey school company called "Heenan's Hockey Systems". He and his wife Jodi have a daughter Riley.
Julia Hobika - Julia is a sophomore at T. R. Proctor High School. Julia is a well-rounded student. She is the Treasurer for the Student Council, participates in the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program and Please Stand Up. She is a member of the Junior Varsity Volleyball Team and the Varsity Golf Team. Julia also is a member of the National Junior Honor Society. Julia is interested in working in the medical field after graduation from high school, college and graduate school.
Bruce Karam - Bruce Karam is a lifelong Utica resident. He was educated in Utica Schools and a graduate of Notre Dame High School and of Utica College of Syracuse University with a Bachelors of Science Degree in Accounting. He then pursued a Master’s Degree in business from the State University of New York. Following several successful years in the accounting field, he pursued a Master’s Degree in Education from the College of St. Rose. His love of teaching and enjoyment in working with students helped him to decide to pursue an Administrative Degree from SUNY Cortland which allowed him to have an influence on even more area youth.
As a result, Mr. Karam spent several years as a teacher in the Utica City School District. He served two Assistant Principalships, one at the Middle School level; and the other at Thomas R. Proctor High School. He was one of the first principals to oversee the Night School Program at Proctor High School – an innovative approach designed to keep At-Risk students in school. Prior to being named Principal at John F. Kennedy Middle School in North Utica, Mr. Karam also served as Summer School Principal for several years. As Principal of John F. Kennedy Middle School, the school was nationally recognized and selected as one of nine Middle Schools across the nation for its high performance on Regents Examinations and the New York State Assessments. The University of Texas, sponsored by the United States Department of Education, performed a case study on best practices of high performing schools. These findings, using JFK as a model for best practices, were published nationally to assist other middle schools nationwide. A resulting PBS documentary aired in November, 2004.
Under his leadership, John F. Kennedy Middle School was placed on the New York State’s list for most improved and high performing schools. JFK was recognized by the New York State School Board’s Association as one of the top 20 Middle Schools in the State. In 2003, John F. Kennedy Middle School was selected as a National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, D.C. This is a highly selective award bestowed on only the highest performing schools throughout all 50 states in the U.S. The high standards and great achievements were the highlights that set JFK apart from other schools. These were largely due to the highest standards Mr. Karam set for himself, his students, and his staff. He believed then, and continues to believe now, that the youth of our area are our greatest asset and deserve only the best. The Blue Ribbon Award designated JFK Middle School as a national model for academic excellence and best practices.
The School Administrators Association of New York State and the National Association of Secondary School Principals named Bruce Karam, Principal at John F. Kennedy Middle School in Utica, as the 2006 New York State Middle Level Principal of the Year. This award is given annually to the Middle School Principal who has distinguished himself at the Middle School level and has been a Principal for at least five years. The nominee sets the pace, character, and quality of education for children in the school, is committed to excellence, and has made a commitment to parents and community.
Mr. Karam has served as a School Administrator for 19 years in Utica; five years as Director of Secondary Education, ten years as Principal at John F. Kennedy Middle School, and four years as Assistant Principal at Thomas R. Proctor High School. In addition to his many degrees, Mr. Karam holds New York State certifications as a School District Administrator, School Administrator Supervision, Special Education K-12, and Elementary Education. He has received numerous awards including the No Child Left Behind National Blue Ribbon Award in 2003, the 2006 New York State Principal of the Year Award, the New York State Assembly Certificate of Special Recognition for Achievement in 2003, the SUNY Institute of Technology Award, and the New York State School Boards Association and the Business Council of New York State, Inc., recognized him for continuing high achievement and outstanding educational improvement from 1999-2005. Also, Mr. Karam has been honored twice by the Utica City School District Board of Education as Educator of the Month and Distinguished Service Award.
Currently, Mr. Karam is the Superintendent of the Utica City School District.
Ralph Leo- Ralph resides in Sauquoit, New York and is in his 41st year as an educator in the Utica School district, where he also served as the Boy's Varsity Basketball coach at Proctor High School for many years. He is currently the Athletic Sports Manager at Proctor. He is a member of the Utica Sports Hall of Fame and actively involved in the Special Olympics. He and his wife Barbara have four children and six grandchildren.
Brian Miller- Brian is an Oneida County Legislator and serves in an ex-officio capacity.
David O'Brien- Dave resides in Waterville, New York where he has served as the Mayor, for three terms from 1996-2002. A familiar face in the village he calls home, David spent 33 years as a teacher and athletic coach in the Waterville School District. His service as the district's football coach earned him Central New York Football Coach of the Year honors in 1980. While retired from professional life, David continues an active volunteer life. He serves as the Program Director for the highly regarded Boys' State. The program, run by the American Legion, offers young men from around New York State the opportunity to see first hand how public service works. He has volunteered for Boys' State for 25 years. David and his wife are the proud parents of two children and grandparents to five.
Lee Pavlot - Lee is retired from the New York State Police. He was a Uniform Trooper for 9 years and a BCI Investigator for 24 years. After his retirement from the New York State Police, Lee worked with the US Marshal’s Service as a federal court Officer for 9 years. Lee has been a Boys’ Basketball Official for 48 years, currently serving as the New York State Boys’ Basketball Rules Interpreter as well as the rules interpreter and trainer for the Utica Board of Boys’ Basketball Officials. He has been involved with Little League Baseball for 35 years, serving as coach and manager and for the past 25 years, President of the Tri-County Little League.
Jolene Vanderhoof - Jolene is an English teacher at VVS High School in Verona. She is the advisor in the INTERACT club, which is sponsored by the Sherrill Rotary. Joleen and her student members are very active with-in the VVS community with community service, including the Youth Bureau sponsored clean-ups.
Todd Stokes - Todd is Program Coordinator for the Oneida County Office for the Aging and Continuing Care (OFA). He has worked for OFA for over 3 years. Prior to working for OFA, Todd was Director of Senior Services for the YMCA of the Greater Tri-Valley for 6 years. He has been involved with the elderly population and individuals with disabilities for over 15 years. Todd began his career with the ARC of Onondaga County. Todd enjoys working with populations where he can make the most difference in the lives of the individuals he serves.
Natale Schirripa - Natale is a freshman at T.R. Proctor High School. Prior to attending T.R. Proctor High School, Natale graduated from John F. Kennedy Middle School where he achieved many academic honors and awards highlighted by being the recipient of the Optimist Student of the Year Award from the East Utica Optimist Club. Additionally, Natale was the President of the National Junior Honor Society and hosted the yearly Talent Show for three consecutive years. At T.R. Proctor, Natale applies himself tirelessly in his studies as well as many after school activities. He is a member of the Student Council, Key Club and the Career and College Ready Program. Natale is eager and enthusiastic in volunteering his time to help others and he works diligently at his local parish.
Patrick Sullivan - Pat resides in Utica, New York and works with the Vesid program through the New York State Education Department. He has a BS degree from Ithaca College and a Masters degree in Rehabilitation from Syracuse University. He and his wife Jodi are the parents of two daughters.