Staff Member Bio's
Alison LaFerlita, Executive Director
Executive Director since September 2013
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Alison is the public voice and representative of Mom-mentum, speaking at and attending conferences, serving on leadership and advisory boards, and talking with the media. She works with the Mom-mentum Board of Trustees, Corporate Committee, and other volunteers to ensure that Mom-mentum serves its mission, and she’s actively involved in planning and hosting events. You’re likely to find her at our annual Womens Leadership Conference, the Mom-mentum Mile for Mothers Walk, and national Mom-mentum Conferences. Alison also writes grants, raises money, and manages our budget.
She comes to us with over 18 years’ experience in non-profit and association management where she implemented and developed innovative programs that enhanced member experience and support, grant support and empowerment opportunities for all communities she served. Her experience details a dynamic leader with a proven track record in organizational change, program integrity, operational effectiveness and fund development.
Alison’s leadership style demonstrates the following characteristics and skills which she models and demonstrates for her staff and the community at all times:
- Problem Solver
- Solution Focused
- Capacity Building
- Leads with Integrity
- Takes calculated risks
- Performance Driven
- Customer Focused
Her core values include accountability, responsibility, integrity, humility, dedication, creativity and fairness. Her experience has taught her that the organizational culture must permeate these values from top to bottom.
Alison holds a Bachelor’s degree of Fine Arts from Long Island University.
Prior to her working at Mom-mentum, Alison was a member of the Southwest Nassau and Long Beach Library Centers. She is married with two sons, ages two and four.
Things I do outside of work include travel, biking, hiking, photography, entertaining, reading, decorating and lots and lots of family time.
Kate Fineske, Assistant Executive Director
As Assistant Executive Director, Kate is responsible for supporting the Executive Director and the rest of the Mom-mentum staff in spreading our organization’s mission, values and vision. She oversees and assist in all internal and external communication, oversees all aspects of the organization’s Mothers’ Center Group initiatives and also works with the Executive Director, staff & consultants to develop new programming, expand membership and increase member benefits.
Kate's History with Mom-mentum
Kate joined the Mothers' Center of Greater Toledo in 2005. As a member of her Toledo's group she became highly involved as a local group leader. In 2009, she began participating in the NAMC (now known as Mom-mentum) webinar's and was highlighted as a guest webinar presenter discussing unique ways to successfully organize, maintain and pass the torch of leadership roles within the local Mothers' Center Organizations. In 2011 Kate joined the Mom-mentum staff as a writer for the Mom-mentum Blog. She moved on to become the blog's content manager and the Mom-mentum Mothers' Center Group Leadership Council Coordinator. Kate progressively took on more and more internal staff responsibilities, and in the Fall of 2014 excepted her current position of Assistant Executive Director.
I was born in Mansfield, Ohio and have always been a "creative type" - enjoying art, creative writing, and music. I graduated from the University of Toledo in Toledo, Ohio with a Bachelor of Arts and a personalized degree focusing on graphic design, advertising, marketing and communications while also concentrating in music by participating in the university's orchestra and jazz band as a string bassist and pianist.
After graduation, I landed an internship in London, England where I worked for a large soft-bank company doing web and print marketing. This time abroad (along with the many family vacation trips I took as a child!) helped to ignite my great love of travel. After returning to the states, I worked in the fast-paced industry of advertising design for a large mid-west advertising firm. In 2000 I married my husband and together, in 2002, we began what would become our current family of 3 children and 1 very loved (and patient!) Shitzu dog.
I also taught graphic design as an adjunct faculty member at a local community college for nearly 15 years and occasionally freelanced as a graphic artist. In my spare time, I enjoy traveling with my family, bike riding, reading and just relaxing at home.
Marianne Bujacich, Director of Administration and Finance
Director of Administration and Finance
Marianne provides financial and administrative support for Mom-mentum. She has worked in the financial world for most of her life starting in Banking and progressing to Accounting and Bookkeeping. Recently, Marianne has taken on additional responsibilities processing all memberships and assisting with Mom-mentum events.
Marianne’s History with Mom-mentum
Marianne joined Mom-mentum (formerly the National Association of Mothers' Centers) in 2010 as a Bookkeeper. She began her journey in the nonprofit community over 10 years ago and over time has developed a strong sense of devotion and appreciation towards the way nonprofit organizations continue to improve the quality of life for women and children. Marianne feels strongly that if you believe in yourself you can and will make a difference in the lives of others.
I am the mother to 3 grown children—2 sons and a daughter. As parents, my husband and I have cherished watching them grow into wonderful young adults. One of our sons is in the Navy, the other in Finance, and my daughter is on her way to becoming a Nurse. The time I spend with my family is the most precious to me. In addition to spending as much time as I can with my husband and children, I love cooking, watching cooking shows and gardening.
Amanda Ditchik, Event and Marketing Assistant
Event and Marketing Assistant
As our Events and Marketing Assistant, Amanda works to support Mom-mentum’s event, marketing, social media and communication needs.
Amanda's History with Mom-Mentum
Amanda’s first experience with Mom-mentum was in 2010 at the Midshore Mother’s Center, a year after the birth of her son. She participated in a discussion group, the healthy moms’ club, and other activities. Recently, she began the Mother’s Center Circle of Syosset after learning about the start-a-group initiative. She believes that Mother’s Center discussion groups move mothers past the small talk and into a healing experience.
I received my Journalism degree from Franciscan University and graduated from Fordham University with an MS in Adult Education. While studying and working at Fordham, I met my husband at a book signing in the city. When I was first married, my career involved employee training and human resources development at a hospital system. After the birth of my son, I spent six years as a stay-at-home mom.
During this time, I became certified as an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach with a goal to encourage healthy lifestyle choices in mothers. I found that self-care was an uphill battle during those first months and wanted to help new moms get on the right path. Now, I am able to help moms thrive by assisting with marketing and events for Mom-mentum and by facilitating a local discussion group.
I enjoy running, healthy living, being creative, photography, bike riding with my family, and spending time outdoors. My son is now in elementary school and his little sister is starting preschool. I also have a stepson who visits occasionally and adds a lot of fun (and some sanity) to our home. We’ve recently added a beautiful Goldendoodle to the mix who is very patient with the children, but keeps sending us to the shoe store.
Viviana Russell, Professional Development and Communications Manager
Professional Development and Communications Manager
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As the Professional Development and Communications Manager, Viviana coordinates, implements and maintains all Professional Development programs and partnerships with a specific focus on launching Mom-mentum’s Return-to-Work program. She also assists with office technology needs and in the organization’s internal and external communication needs.
Viviana’s History with Mom-mentum
Viviana got involved with the Unity Circle Mothers’ Center of Hempstead in 2004, after having her third child. Shortly thereafter she joined the Steering Committee.
- Co-founded the Unity Circle Mothers Center of New Cassel and served on the Steering Committee.
- Facilitated and coordinated center groups, events, and meetings.
- Came on board as a staff member of the NAMC (now known as Mom-mentum) in August 2007.
I was born and raised in East Elmhurst, New York and attended Jerome Hardeman Day Care, St. Gabriel’s Elementary School, Thomas A. Edison High School, Medgar Evers College and the College of New Rochelle where I received my B.A. in Social Science. I worked as a Human Resources Benefits Associate for 10 years at a major insurance company. I have also worked as a Constituent Liaison for the New York State Assembly, a Program Coordinator for a community revitalization non-profit organization, am a NYS Licensed Real Estate Agent and Notary Public.
I also hold the distinction of making history by being the first African American woman ever elected to the North Hempstead Town Board. Elected in November 2009, I serve as Councilwoman for New Cassel/Westbury, Carle Place and the Villages of Westbury and Old Westbury.
I’m heavily involved in the community and have an extensive background in community outreach. I’ve worked with the Unified New Cassel Community Revitalization Corporation, New Cassel Block Captains, and the Weed and Seed Coalition. I’ve advocated on behalf of community residents, supported local organizations, participated in the planning of annual events such as the International Festival, National Night Out Against Crime, tree lighting ceremony, financial seminars and others. Volunteering for community, faith-based, and youth initiatives are all important to me.
I enjoy dancing as a liturgical dancer and to all types of music. I love bike riding and recently obtained my motorcycle permit. I’m also a chaplain and an enthusiast. As a wife and the mother of three children, Gary Jr., Imani and Malachi I can testify that this is not an easy task, but I thank God for choosing me to be a mother.
Valerie Young, Public Policy Analyst
Public Policy Analyst
Valerie represents Mom-mentum as our Public Policy Analyst in Washington , D.C. She is an advocate for recognition of mothers’ contributions to our national welfare and a proponent of economic security and independence for those who care for family members. Valerie analyzes state and national legislative action through the lens of motherhood, educating policy makers and others who work on issues pertinent to women. Valerie advises our members on developments in the political arena, demystifying the political process and encouraging the personal activism of mothers and other family caregivers. In addition to writing the twice a month Mom-mentum Advocacy eNews, her work also appears in The Shriver Report, Brain/Child Magazine, and is frequently featured on BlogHer.com.
Valerie’s History with Mom-mentum
Trained as an attorney, Valerie realized that gender continued to constrain women's achievements and status after reading The Price of Motherhood by Ann Crittenden. Thus began a long inquiry into economic and political data regarding women generally, and mothers and other family caregivers in particular. Valerie now blogs about the effect of family carework on a woman's economic security and related issues at Your (Wo)Man in Washington, as well as spurring discussion among stakeholders via Facebook and Twitter. She also serves on the Advisory Council for the Caring Economy Campaign, as well as other collaborative efforts promoting women's empowerment.
I love living near Washington, D.C., and watching the exercise of power at all levels of government. The women in the U.S. House and Senate are tremendously inspiring, and I am so proud of what we as a group have achieved in this country. I want all women, and especially mothers who have such a huge stake in the future, to see themselves as essential actors and agents of change in the formation of public policy. This work is more fun and more interesting than being a lawyer ever was.
Brandi Walerius, Group Growth Manager
Group Growth Manager
As the Group Development Manager, Brandi works to expand our Mothers’ Center Groups and grow member benefits that particularly relate to our Mothers’ Center Group programming.
Brandi's History with Mom-mentum
Brandi has been a member of the Mothers' Center of Greater Toledo since 2013 and currently co-facilitates their Executive Momma's Group - a group set up for other their members to meet other working parents, network and learn from each other, while also getting support through the joys and frustrations of working and mothering.
Brandi lives in Ohio, has 2 young children and in addition to her consulting with Mom-mentum is a Human Resource and Business consultant and co-facilitates MC Toledo's Executive Mommas Group.
Christine Farrugia, Group Development Manager
Group Development Management
As the Group Development Manager, Christine coordinates and implements ideas and programs which will increase communication between Mom-mentum and our Mothers’ Center Groups. She also supports all Long Island initiatives to grow Mothers’ Center Groups including our Mothers’ Center Library Programs.
Christine’s History with Mom-mentum
Christine joined the Mothers’ Center Circle at the Middle Country Public Library in 2010. She took facilitator training and eventually became a group Facilitator. She currently facilitates two different library mothers’ center circles. She has been involved with the Leadership Council for the past two years.
Motherhood is the most rewarding journey I have ever embarked upon and having the opportunity to share it with other women through Mom-mentum is a gift. I believe strongly in the kinship, acceptance, compassion and strength that women find in our mothers’ center groups. I thank my four precious children for providing me with the opportunity to experience these gifts. A native Long Islander, I received my Bachelor of Arts in English and Journalism from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and my Master of Library Science from Queens College. I work as a librarian in a public library. Helping people, especially children, and my community is a priority for me and I fulfill it by serving as a Girl Scout leader, Cub Scout leader, religious education teacher and Board member of our school’s Parent Teacher Association. My three daughters and one son, as well as my husband, believe in the value of community service and sharing our time and energy with various organizations. Words are a vital part of my life and I nurture that passion by being both an avid reader and writer. I am a longtime member of a Book Discussion Group, love connecting with the natural world through hiking, camping and caring for my pets, and enjoy cooking and baking (both indoors and outdoors!).
Jan deQuillfeldt, Facilitator Training and Library Coordinator
Facilitator Training and Library Coordinator
As the Facilitator Training Coordinator, Jan is working to expand the reach of our Facilitator Training Initiative and to grow our pool of trained group facilitators. In her work as the Library Coordinator she acts as the official liaison and support between Mom-mentum and all our library locations.
Jan's History with Mom-mentum
Jan has been a member of Mom-mentum for 24 years and has held many leadership roles in the organization. She currently facilitates Mothers’ Center groups at the Sachem and Middle Country libraries. She also is the Social Work Consultant of the Midshore Mothers’ Center in Massapequa, New York.
Jan has two grown children and is a psychotherapist with a private practice on Long Island, New York. Her previous positions have included Information and Referral Coordinator of Response Crisis Hotline, Executive Director of the Displaced Homemakers Multiservice Center, and Administrative Assistant to the United Methodist Office at the Church Center for the United Nations.
Janice Gentles-Jones, Web Technology Consultant
Web Technology Consultant
As the Web Technology Consultant, Janice assists in managing the organization’s internal and external web technology needs and works with staff to strategize and advise on all web-based and social media needs.
Beverly Fortune, Conference Coordinator
Beverly is responsible for the planning, promotion, execution and follow through of the Executive Mothers Conference, including fundraising goals, registrants, sponsorships and leveraging key relationships and contacts for the event both locally and nationally.
Beverly’s History with Mom-mentum
Beverly has been a participant in former Work/Life Conferences as both a guest and supporter and in 2014 was a featured panelist on Mom-mentum’s’ Achieving Extraordinary Women’s Leadership Conference luncheon presentation: Voices of Work and Life—Courageous Conversations. This panel brought together highly successful professionals to openly discuss achieving business success while managing their personal lives. In the winter of 2016 Beverly was brought on to continue the development and success of Mom-mentum’s Executive Mothers Conference.
Beverly Fortune is currently the Chief Operating Officer of Syosset-based Morey Publishing LLC, a full service advertising agency that provides traditional and interactive solutions for its clients. Beverly oversees the day-to-day operations at the agency and heads the custom publishing division. As a female media executive, Beverly believed that there were accomplished local women who were underserved in the media. She began advocating for them through her highly regarded column, Fortune 52, honoring extraordinary Long Island women. The success of the Fortune 52 column and events has led several organizations to recognize Beverly as the person who gives a voice to women in the Long Island community who otherwise might not be recognized.