Structure of the Board

The Self-Advocacy Association Board of Directors is made up of people with developmental, or other, disabilities. SANYS Board members speak up for you and the region that you live in. They are your voice.

There are up to 18 Board members from around New York State.

The State is divided into six regions: Western, Central, Capital District, Hudson Valley, New York City, Long Island.

Board members are elected by you, other self-advocates.

Executive Committee

BJ Stasio


Western Region, Buffalo
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I have been involved for self advocacy Association one way or another for almost 20 years my first experience with SANYS started when I was searching for a way to get married and keep my benefits so I reached out to the self advocacy Association for help and I ended up joining the self advocacy AmeriCorps project our experience is the best teacher and that is definitely changed my life for the better.

Self advocacy as help me realize that when I advocate something I want and need my advocacy might not only help me but someone else might be going through the same struggles that I am I have definitely learned that advocacy takes many not just a few
What does it mean to you to serve as a SANYS Officer (President, Vice President, Treasurer, Secretary).

It is an honor to currently be self advocacy Pres. I have learned a lot from my fellow members and the people that I represent in Western region Buffalo I will always be grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the voices of change instead of always being on the sidelines my hope that through this experience many will see they can be leaders in their own life instead of always instead of always following the crowd.

Michelle Rosenberger

Co-Vice President

Upper Hudson Valley, Capital
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I love serving on the board. Being a part of self-advocacy makes me feel good. Self advocacy helps me be a great person inside and outside grow each day to better myself.

Robert Baums

Co-Vice President

Central Region, Binghamton
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My name is Robert I have been involved in SANYS for 5+ years. Self advocacy means a lot to me because I believe individuals with developmental disabilities should have the same rights as all people and that they should stick up for their rights.

I am honored to be Vice President and hope to help as many people as I can.

Matt Hofele


Long Island, Suffolk
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Serving as the secretary of SANYS has been an honor so far. It has been letting me become more involved with the group as well.In addition to helping SANYS, I also enjoy helping others get what they deserve...what we all deserve, and that is to be treated equal. Advocating for everyone has also been very rewarding to me because I enjoy helping others.

Coleen Mackin

Immediate Past-President

Long Island, Nassau
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A little over ten years ago I was living in a group home. Then one day I went to the SANYS Long Island regional conference. What I learned that day helped me change my life. I learned to start speaking up for what I wanted. I started advocating to move out of the group home I was living in.

Now, ten years later, a lot has changed. I live in an apartment with one other person instead of a group home. I have 2 jobs which I love and am President of SANYS.

As President, I have spoken at a lot of public events. I have met with self-advocates, parents, legislators and all kinds of people. I used to be shy but now I believe in myself and am proud to speak up for people and be an example to others. One thing I wasn’t to tell self-advocates is that you can do everything I have done. You can help yourself and others get a better life.

One of my favorite things I have done with SANYS is visiting students in schools here on Long Island. We go in and teach them about self-advocacy. I love helping them and their parents understand that people have to take risks or they will never learn or get what they want out of life.

Bernarda Rivera-Valez


NYC, Staten Island
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Hi my name is Bernarda Rivera I started participating in Self-Advocacy in 2015 and was elected to the SANYS Board of Directors in 2017.  Serving as a board member gave me a chance to work with many other self-advocates in my region.   In 2020 I became the treasurer on the board I am proud to say that I love working in my region of Staten Island.  I enjoy helping others by teaching about self-advocacy and speaking in meetings and events.  I love doing what I do it makes me happy.

Self Advocacy has changed my life by encouraging me to use my voice in a way that improves my life . It also helps me to be treated the way i want to be treated.


Tony Phillips

NYC, Manhattan

Kasheena Oatman

NYC, Bronx

Thomas Kernehan

NYC, Queens

Chris Wiseman

Central, Northern

Michael Brooks

Upper Hudson Valley, Capital

Esther Dygert

Central Region

Tamisha Martinez

NYC Westchester Region

Carl Grayson

Western/Finger Lakes

Robert Terry

Lower Hudson Valley

Mikayla Hoskins

Upper Hudson Valley

Harvey Pacht

NYC, Brooklyn


LaRenz Pickens

Ann Hardiman

Chester Finn

Jason Signorelli

Tom McKluskey

Be on the Board

Elections for board members are held at SANYS Regional Conferences. Board positions last 3-years.


Board members at SANYS have a wide range of responsibilities. Below are three core responsibilities.

A board member is asked to attend four (4) board meetings a year. These meetings are two-three (2-3) days long. They are held in the Albany area.

SANYS board members are expected to represent their regions. Board Members attend regional self-advocacy meetings to hear from the self-advocates that they represent.

Board members speak in public and attend other regional or statewide events as necessary.

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