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Farewell Message from Former Executive Director, Susan Barlow

By June 21, 2022No Comments

In 1986, a group of parents who saw a critical need for advocacy, training, and support for parents/caregivers of children with disabilities established Parent Network of WNY (PNWNY). Shortly after receiving a grant through the U.S. Department of Education, PNWNY became a statewide organization.  In 1999, the organization temporarily closed its doors due to lost funding, and over the next 18 months, the board of directors developed a strategic plan to reopen the agency to address the critical need for services focused in WNY.

Through the work of the board, Parent Network of WNY secured funding through local foundations and was designated a New York State Department of Education Parent Center and the doors reopened 2001.  Max Donatelli was named Executive Director and Susan the Director of Parent Training.

As luck would have it, Every Person Influences Children (EPIC) was moving into their new home at 1000 Main Street and a shared space collaboration was born. PNWNY moved into its new office space in 2001.  

Parent trainers were hired, services began, and grants were awarded while Parent Network expanded providing services in the community.  

In January 2007, Susan was appointed Executive Director and rolled out additional programs such as Parent Leadership, Transitioning to Adulthood, Self-care for Families, with an increase in collaboration with other agencies.

In 2015, Parent Network began working with several other organizations to develop the Care Management Coalition.  This led to a shared space collaborative.  Following a search for location and then a capital campaign, construction started at in March 2020, at 1021 Broadway St in Buffalo. In October 2020, PNWNY moved into our new space along with 12 other organizations 

Susan states her favorite part of job is “…it has been awesome to hear our staff on the phone with families, listening to the way their lived experience can really support families in a way that other people can’t.”

Susan has been the recipient of numerous awards throughout her career at Parent Network of WNY and has had the honor of receiving awards on behalf of Parent Network of WNY.

Susan reflected, “Over the years, I have learned to give people the grace when they need it and recognize the different challenges we face every day. Being the leader doesn’t mean being the smartest person in the room.

“I’ve worked with amazing people throughout my career. I have valued trying to do services that are truly going to meet people’s needs, not based on what I think they need. I also have deeply valued the collaborations with other organizations, such as the Care Management Coalition of Western New York, the Developmental Disabilities Association of WNY board.  I value the developmental disabilities world and the colleagues who do what we do around the state and the country.

“I couldn’t be more thrilled knowing Kimberly will be taking over when I step down this summer and excited to see the new doors she will open with her skills and connections I truly look forward to watching Parent Network of WNY continuously grow and flourish.”

Former Executive Director, Susan Barlow and Current Executive Director, Kimberly Kadziolka
Former Executive Director, Susan Barlow and Current Executive Director, Kimberly Kadziolka