Leadership

Chapter President
Eric Guzman

Eric has been a career non-profit professional for more than nine years.  Today, Eric serves as Assistant Director of Development, specializing in Annual Fund, Events, and other donor relations activities.

Eric currently serves on the board of the local chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, where he has held roles in communications, conference planning, and other leadership initiatives.  Eric was named Outstanding Young Professional Fundraiser at the chapter’s National Philanthropy Day in November 2019.  He is currently serving as board president for the 2021 term.

Additionally, Eric has completed several professional development initiatives in the Capital region including graduating from the Rensselaer County Regional Chamber of Commerce Leadership Institute in 2019 as well as the Emerging Nonprofit Leadership Accelerator in 2020.

Eric earned his bachelor’s degree in Marketing/Management from Siena College.  Originally from Long Island, Eric now lives and works in Albany.


Treasurer & Advocacy Chair
Michael J. Buckley, CFRE


A career fundraiser, Michael J. Buckley, CFRE is a non-profit consultant, coach and speaker whose work focuses on small and medium-sized nonprofit organizations. He has assisted non-profits across a broad spectrum of focus areas increase dollars, exposure and capacity to support the work of their organization.  As the Founder and Managing Partner of The Killoe Group, Mike's extensive experience includes annual campaign audits and management, capital campaign leadership, feasibility studies, interim and ad-hoc program leadership, board governance, strategic planning and capacity building.

Mike is an effective and sought-after national level speaker and has been an invited presenter at an array of professional development opportunities including the National Association for Animal Welfare Advancement, the Northeast Annual Giving Conference, Mid-South Philanthropy Conference, among others.

He currently serves as a Member of the Board of Directors for the Association of Fundraising Professional’s Foundation, Past President and Treasurer of the AFP Hudson-Mohawk Chapter and President of the Board of Education for the Schools of the Albany Catholic Diocese. A native of Long Island, New York Mike now resides in Albany, New York with his wife Alison O’Brien Buckley.


Communications Chair & President-Elect
Nicole Babie


A Capital Region native and current Malta resident, Nicole Babie has been the Membership & Programs Director at the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation since 2015. Prior to joining the Foundation, she worked in administrative roles at Turner Construction Company and The Exhibition Alliance.

She completed her Master of Arts in Museum Studies from Johns Hopkins University where she focused in museum education and exhibition design, with a particular interest in creating accessible programs and exhibits for the public. Nicole is also a graduate of Hartwick College with a Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art, focus in painting and photography, and Art History. During her free time she freelances with small businesses to manage their social media marketing and enjoys spending time with her husband and toddler. Nicole currently serves as the Communications Chair and President-Elect for the Association of Fundraising Professionals Hudson-Mohawk Chapter.



Capital Region Fundraising Day Chair

Julie Brennan

Julie Brennan currently serves as the Vice President of Development & Marketing at Berkshire Farm Center & Youth Services.  She holds a Bachelor Degree in Social Work (Advanced Standing) from Siena College, as well as a Master’s Degree in Social Work with a concentration in Organizational Management from the State University of New York in Albany.  Additionally, Ms. Brennan has a Master’s Degree in Education from the College of Saint Rose.  She has over 23 years of experience in the human service/child welfare field. 

Ms. Brennan is a strong advocate for advanced education, social reform, and mentor programs.  In her free time, she is an active member of her community and serves as a mentor to youth. She is a member of The BRIDGE Network which is a grassroots initiative launched by the Capital Region business professionals to promote and advance inclusion, diversity and equity in the workplace and greater community. She serves as a board member for the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP). She is also known within the business district of the capital region and often provides free trainings and consultations for entrepreneurs interested in expanding their public relations and marketing efforts. 

Ms. Brennan currently resides in the Albany area with her husband and two sons.

 

Membership Chair
Lauren Agnello

Lauren is the Assistant Director of the Re-Igniting Our Faith Foundation where, in coordination with the Executive Director, she manages the Re-Igniting Our Faith Campaign. Prior to this, she held development positions at the Alliance for Music Performance in Troy and Springbrook NY, Inc. From prospect research and crafting appeals to migrating databases, Lauren has worked on a bit of everything.

She is passionate about enhancing donor relations and increasing stewardship—as an extrovert, Lauren loves engaging with new people and learning their story! She earned her Masters in Business Administration in Strategic Management at Niagara University as well as a Bachelors in Music, focusing on Music Education at SUNY Fredonia. Lauren also completed the Emerging Nonprofit Leadership Accelerator through the Institute of Nonprofit Leadership and Community Development. An active member of the AFP Hudson-Mohawk Chapter since 2017, she is excited to bring her unique background to the Membership Chair position.

Originally from Western New York, Lauren now lives in the Albany area and has been enjoying everything that the Capital Region has to offer. 



Program Chair
Jennifer L. Castellani, Ph.D.

As Chief Development Officer for Penny Appeal USA, a poverty relief and development non-profit, Jen is responsible for raising over $14M annually through marketing/communications, major gifts, events, donor relations, and volunteers. Working in the development field for over 14 years, Jen started her first fundraising position at her undergraduate alma and has served in leadership roles for several institutions of higher education (Skidmore College, Vassar College, Union College, and UAlbany). She also worked as fundraising consultant with CCS Fundraising where she assisted the Mount Sinai Health System and the New York Presbyterian Health System. 

Jen received a B.A. in Technical and Professional Communication, an M.A. in Mental Health Counseling, and a Ph.D. in Leadership--all of which blend together perfectly for a career in development where she continues to effectively communicate the mission of the organization to supporters, build relationships with donors that allows them to bring their philanthropic vision to life, and lead talented teams to the next level of success.

Because of her hard work and achievements, she has received many recognitions throughout her career, including the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education's (CASE) Excellence in Fundraising Award for Vassar College in 2019.

In her free time, you will find her playing the djembe, a West African drum, and ferociously reading 3-4 books at one time. 

 

IDEA Co-Chair
Kyla Schmidt


Kyla Schmidt is the Founder and Executive Director of Mom Starts Here- a nonprofit organization serving mothers and parents in need in Upstate New York. Kyla is driven by a desire to see positive life change for under-resourced parents, by coming alongside them and providing much needed support as they pursue their goals. She believes that there is spectacular power in parenting, and that the parents of today's generation deserve healing and support as they raise the generation to come. In addition to her primary job functions, Kyla is a DIY enthusiast and teaches vocal lessons. She lives with her husband, two children, two giant dogs, and cat.


Young Professionals Chair
Meghan Meyerson


After gaining experience in nonprofit program development and implementation, Meghan obtained her Masters in Social Work from the University at Albany. Upon graduation, Meghan joined St. Paul’s Center as the agency’s Manager of Organizational Growth and Development. In this role, Meghan has continued to develop her passion for marketing, communications and fund development. As a young professional herself, Meghan is looking forward to chairing the young professionals group and is excited to continue to grow with AFP in 2021.



Chapter Administrator
Alisa Brancatelli, LexisNexis

Alisa Brancatelli is a Senior Electronic Product Analyst with LexisNexis where she has worked since 1995.

Alisa earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from University at Albany with a major in English and double minor in Psychology and General Education studies. She continued her education at Sage Graduate College earning a Master of Science degree in School Counseling.

Raised in West Nyack, NY she now resides in Guilderland, NY with her husband and three children.  She volunteers heavily in her children’s classrooms and at various school events. In addition, her family serves their community by volunteering at the local food pantry and Ronald McDonald house.