Administration Cabinet & Senior Staff

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Deputy Mayor and Chief of Staff Crystal Rodriguez-Dabney, Esq.  

Deputy Mayor Crystal Rodriguez-Dabney is a lifelong resident of Buffalo. She holds an Advanced Certification in Diversity and Inclusion from Cornell University, a Master of Laws and a Juris Doctorate from the University at Buffalo Law School. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences from California State University in San Marcos. Since 2018, she served as the Chief of Staff to Katherine S. Conway-Turner, Ph.D., President of Buffalo State College, where she oversaw the day-to-day operations of the President’s office, among other duties. She also served as Chief Diversity Officer, where she oversaw the College’s Equity and Campus Diversity program.

Rodriguez-Dabney is a longstanding public servant and community volunteer who has also served on a number of boards, including Read to Succeed Buffalo, Buffalo Prep Alumni Council, and UB’s Law School Alumni Association as co-chair of its Social Justice Committee. She also served as a Former Chair of the Miss Borinquen Leadership Development program and is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

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Deputy Mayor Ellen E. Grant, PhD, LCSW-R

Dr. Ellen Grant, a Buffalo native, returns as a Deputy Mayor, bringing over 25 years of experience in government, the non-profit sector and academia. After leaving the Brown Administration in 2015, she served as the Senior Vice President for Chapter Programming for Say Yes to Education. Dr. Grant, who began her career as a nurse, was also the first African American to be appointed Erie County Mental Health Commissioner. During that tenure, she made history as the first African American President of the New York State Association of Counties. Dr. Grant is the recipient of numerous honors, including an inductee into the Western New York Women’s Hall of Fame. She continues to serve as a volunteer, emeritus on the State University of NY at Buffalo Foundation.

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Commissioner Otis Barker, Sr., Community Services & Recreational Programming

Otis Barker has over 24 years of results-oriented experience in staff management, project management, budgeting and planning, and product/market research. In 2018, he was appointed to Commissioner of Community Services and Recreational Programming, where he manages the daily operations of Contract Administration and Compliance, the Division of Senior Services, the Commission on Citizen’s Rights and Community Relations, Recreational Programming, the Division for Youth Services and the Division for Workforce Employment Training. Commissioner Barker served as the District Office Chief of Staff to the former Deputy Speaker of the New York State Assembly, Arthur O. Eve from 1996-2002. Following his time in the State Assembly, he served as Director of Community Relations for State Senator Byron W. Brown, where he oversaw constituent services. In 2006, Barker was appointed by Mayor Brown to the position of Director of the Division for Youth.

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Commissioner Donna Estrich, Administration, Finance, Policy & Urban Affairs

Donna Estrich is a 22-year City of Buffalo veteran, who has held a number of senior positions including audit inspector, budget analyst, principal management analyst, and director of budget, administration and finance. In 2013, she was appointed to the position of Commissioner of Administration and Finance. Commissioner Estrich holds a Bachelor of Science and a Masters in Public Administration from the State University of New York at Buffalo. She serves on various ministries within her church and numerous community organizations.

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Commissioner Gladys "G.G." Herndon-Hill, Human Resources

Mayor Byron W. Brown appointed Gladys Herndon-Hill Commissioner of the Department of Human Resources in December 2014. Commissioner Herndon-Hill began her City service in 1996 as the Administrative Director of Civil Service and also served as the Director of Personnel. In her current role, she oversees all business and operational facets in the Administration of New York Civil Service Law and Local Civil Service Rules, Personnel Administration, as well as Compensation & Benefits divisions. Commissioner Herndon-Hill graduated from The State University of New York at Binghamton.

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Executive Director Brendan Mehaffy, Office of Strategic Planning

Brendan Mehaffy was appointed Executive Director of the Office of Strategic Planning in March 2010. Mehaffy's appointment was a central part of the city's economic development reorganization effort, which Mayor Brown announced during his 2009 State of the City Address, resulting in over $6 billion in economic development. Mehaffy began working for the City of Buffalo's an attorney in the city's Law Department, where he was the point person on several high profile projects, including negotiating with the county on the return of the operation and management of city parks. Prior to working for the city, he worked in private practice and was focused on land use, environmental and small business development issues. This included working with municipalities across the country to revise and update their zoning codes. He holds a B.A. in economics from SUNY Binghamton, a Masters degree in urban regional planning from the London School of Economics and a J.D. in law from the University at Buffalo.

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Director Oswaldo Mestre, Citizen Services

Oswaldo Mestre Jr. is the Director of Citizen Services and is the city's first Chief Service Officer. Appointed in 2006 by Mayor Brown, Director Mestre was tasked with developing the 311 Call and Resolution Center. He also oversees a number of ancillary services to educate and further engage city residents, including the Citizen’s Participation Academy, Urban Fellows program, the Community Crime Prevention Initiative, the Anti-Graffiti & Clean City Program, the Open Data initiative, and the highly effective Operation Clean Sweep program. Director Mestre is a graduate of the University at Buffalo through the Equal Opportunity Program (EOP), he also serves on a number of Committees and Boards and is the recipient of many awards and recognitions, most recently named one of GovTech Magazine’s 25 Doers, Dreamers, and Drivers of 2017 and one of Computerworld’s 2016 Premier 100 Technology Leaders.

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Commissioner William Renaldo, Buffalo Fire Department

Fire Commissioner Renaldo is a 30 year veteran of the Buffalo Fire Department and a former Buffalo Fire Battalion Chief, employed from 1982-2012. He served on active duty in the United States Army for four years (1975-1979), before serving in the United States Army Reserve until 2014. During his tenure as Battalion Chief, he distinguished himself with hard work, dedication to duty and a strong record of performing complex emergency service and administrative work with a broad range of responsibilities from the direction of emergency operations, to review of administrative reports and payroll to ensure accuracy and completeness, to the coordination of overall training, including all aspects of emergency response, disaster planning and fire prevention and education.During his military career, Renaldo has received numerous individual awards and decorations for meritorious acts of bravery, including a Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, Combat Action Badge (CAB), Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and many more. Renaldo has a B.S. in Criminal Justice, as well as a Graduate Certificate in Public Management from the State University of New York at Buffalo.