Administration Cabinet & Senior Staff
Deputy Mayor and Chief of Staff Betsey Ball
Betsey Ball is a seasoned government professional who brings over two decades of strong public sector experience and a commitment to progressive and effective leadership to her role as Deputy Mayor/Chief of Staff of the City of Buffalo Office of the Mayor. Before joining the Brown administration in 2015, Deputy Mayor Ball served for more than four years in the New York State Executive Chamber, where she was appointed Director of Legislative Affairs by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. As a Senior Staff member, Ball worked to achieve legislative support for the Governor’s agenda, and helped to guide the Administration’s programs and policies through the legislative process. She also previously served as a Chief of Staff in the NYS Senate and NYS Assembly, as well as Senior Advisor to two Speakers of the New York City Council.
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.
Commissioner Jim Comerford, Permit & Inspection Services
Jim Comerford began his career in city government in 1979 as a Building Inspector and worked his way through the ranks – as Supervisor of Field Inspections, Director of Building Inspections, Commissioner of Inspections and Community Revitalization and Vice President of the Buffalo Enterprise Development Corporation (BEDC). In this position, Comerford was Project Coordinator for the Pilot Field Construction project from start to conclusion. Upon completion of Pilot Field, Comerford oversaw a number of new City of Buffalo construction projects until he left for the private sector in June of 1994. Thirteen years later, he returned to Buffalo City Hall in August of 2007 as Deputy Commissioner of Economic Development, Permit and Inspection Services. Comerford has been Commissioner of the reconfigured Permit and Inspection Services.
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.
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.
Commissioner Kevin Helfer, Parking
In 1994, Commissioner Helfer began his career in public service when he was elected to the Common Council representing the University District. He was the minority leader, served on all of the legislative committees, and was a board member of the Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency. He also has served in county government. In 2000, Helfer was appointed the Director of Contract Compliance for the County of Erie. In 2005, he became the Commissioner of the Department of Social Services. From 2006 to 2010, Helfer was the Executive Director for Buffalo Civic Auto Ramps, Inc., a private company that managed 7,500 parking spaces at nine different locations and with an over $10.5 million budget. Mayor Byron W. Brown appointed Kevin Helfer Commissioner of Parking, a new City of Buffalo department created in July 2010.
Commissioner Martin Kennedy, Assessment & Taxation
Martin F. Kennedy has worked in the Department of Assessment and Taxation for the past 27 years and was appointed Commissioner of the Department in July 2007. He had 21 years of real estate experience in the private sector prior to joining the City of Buffalo. Commissioner Kennedy is a graduate of Bishop Timon – St. Jude High School, Bryant & Stratton Business School and has also completed courses at Erie Community College and the University at Buffalo. Kennedy is a Vietnam era Veteran, having served in the United States Army in Germany.
Commissioner Byron Lockwood, Buffalo Police Department
Byron C. Lockwood is a 34-year veteran of the Buffalo Police Department who currently serves as Police Commissioner. He joined the force as a police officer in 1984 and rose through the ranks to detective, followed by detective sergeant where he served in the Intelligence Unit, Street Crime Unit, Narcotics, Vice and Homicide. In 2006, Lockwood was appointed to Deputy Police Commissioner of Operations, overseeing all administrative and labor-related matters. In 2010, he was appointed to the position of First Deputy Police Commissioner, supervising the School Resource Officers, Housing and Intelligence Units. As Police Commissioner, Lockwood brings a strong track record in fighting crime, making neighborhoods safer, and deepening bonds between police and the community by continuing to revolutionize community-based policing. He continues to play a major role in numerous collaborative efforts with other law enforcement agencies and partnerships, like Buffalo Peacemakers, that continue to result in successful arrests and convictions and an overall crime rate that has declined by 40% since 2006.
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.
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.
Commissioner Vincent Muscarella, Buffalo Fire Department
Fire Commissioner Vincent V. Muscarella is a 27-year veteran of fire service, the last 21 of which he spent with the City of Buffalo. He was appointed to firefighter in 1996 and graduated from the recruit academy later that year. Muscarella was promoted to Lieutenant in 2009, and Captain in 2013. In July of 2016, after an extensive search process, Mayor Byron W. Brown appointed then Captain Muscarella to Deputy Commissioner of Buffalo Fire Operations, a position in which he faithfully and successfully served since such time. In 2018, Muscarella was appointed to Commissioner of the BFD. In furtherance of his management and leadership skills, Commissioner Muscarella has become a New York State certified fire instructor and a Master Instructor with the International Association of Firefighters. His place as a preeminent instructor was solidified this year when he was selected to teach at the Fire Department Instructor Conference (FDIC) in Indianapolis, Indiana. Mayor Brown charged Muscarella with ensuring the safety of Buffalo’s residents and firefighters, increasing diversity among the ranks, and maintaining the department’s commitment to swift response times in neighborhoods across the city.
Chief Diversity Officer Crystal Rodriguez
Crystal J. Rodriguez was named the City of Buffalo's first Chief Diversity Officer in February of 2016 as part of Mayor Byron W. Brown’s Buffalo Opportunity Agenda. As Chief Diversity Officer, Ms. Rodriguez spearheads efforts to promote and advance Mayor Brown’s Opportunity Agenda, which focuses on fostering a City of equity, inclusion and diversity. She also ensures that these key principles are reflected within all City policy and procedures, and provides leadership and strategic direction as it relates to the recruitment and retention of employees from underrepresented groups. Ms. Rodriguez is a former Executive Director of the Commission on Citizens' Rights and Community Relations, where she spearheaded highly visible campaigns such as 'Buffalo Bulldozes Bullying’ and the City of Buffalo Opportunity Pledge initiative. Ms. Rodriguez holds a Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences from California State University San Marcos, and both a Juris Doctor and Master of Laws Degree from the University at Buffalo School of Law.
Corporation Counsel Timothy Ball, Law Department
Timothy A. Ball earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Urban Studies from Canisius College’s All-College Honors Program, graduating Summa Cum Laude and being awarded the Dillon Award for the highest Grade Point Average of any Political Science Major in his graduating class of 2001. He then attended the University at Buffalo School of Law, where he graduated Cum Laude and earned his Juris Doctor in May of 2004. Corporation Counsel Ball began working as a Law Clerk in the City Law Department in February of 2003 and became an Assistant Corporation Counsel on March 3, 2005, the same day he was admitted to practice law in the Courts of the State of New York. On February 7, 2012, Ball became the City’s youngest modern-day Corporation Counsel, when his appointment was unanimously confirmed by the Common Council of the City of Buffalo. Ball was unanimously reconfirmed as Corporation Counsel in December of 2013 and in January of 2018. He is admitted to practice law in all of the Courts of the State of New York, in the United States District Court: Western District of New York, United States Bankruptcy Court: Western District of New York, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which covers New York, Connecticut, and Vermont.
Commissioner Steven Stepniak, Public Works, Parks & Streets
Commissioner Steven Stepniak has supervised the Department of Public Works, Parks and Streets (DPW), comprised of 850 employees, since 2007. He started his career in DPW as a laborer under Mayor James Griffin and rose through the ranks to serve in a number of senior level supervisory positions including the Senior Engineer for the City of Buffalo Division of Engineering and Director of Street Cleaning and Snow Removal. As DPW Commissioner, he has developed a strong and professional team in all areas of the DPW, from streets and sanitation, to parks and community facilities to building maintenance. Growing up on Buffalo's East Side, Commissioner Stepniak is proud of his Buffalo roots. He graduated from McKinley High School and majored in Communications at Canisius College. He also has specialized training in Risk and Technical Management, Hazard Communications, and Engineering.
Chief Information Officer Luis Taveras PhD, Management Information Systems
Dr. Luis Taveras brings 35 years of high level management experience within information technology and operations to the City of Buffalo with a proven ability to contribute to an organization's mission and vision in a distinctive and meaningful way. Dr. Taveras holds decades of experience in IT management including the development of appropriate governance models and organizational structures that contribute to the creation of high performance operations. His highly inclusive and engaging management style is based on ten key principles of leadership which he attributes to much of his success. Dr. Taveras has been among the 100 global cross industry CIO's who have served as advisors to the Wall Street Journal and is frequently sought by financial analyst firms for information on various aspects of the information technology industry. Dr. Taveras earned his Ph.D. at the University of Sarasota, his MBA from Rutgers University in New Jersey and a Bachelor of Science from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut.