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Catholic Charities Press Release

Catholic Charities announces Appeal 2021 Leadership Team

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BUFFALO, N.Y., Jan. 27, 2021 – Catholic Charities of Buffalo has announced the members of its Appeal 2021 leadership team, which include Richard Cronin as general chair, Thomas Beecher, Jr. and Nancy Nielsen, M.D., Ph.D. as vice chairs, Adam Sumlin, Ph.D. as parish chair, C. Kevin Brayer and Daniel Mecca as chairs of the corporate division, and Laurie Brown-Croyts-Alford as community division chair.

With a goal of $10 million, the annual Appeal kicked off Jan. 19 and runs through June 30. The patron saint for Appeal 2021 is St. Ignatius Loyola.

Cronin is serving as chair of the annual Appeal for the second year in a row. He previously served as parish division chair for seven years. He is an active member of St. Margaret Church in Buffalo and has served as the parish’s Appeal chair since 1993. Formerly with the Social Security Administration before his retirement, Cronin has held leadership roles for St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute’s Annual Giving Fund campaign and the Alumni Association board of directors. He is also a member of the Signum Fidei Society of distinguished alumni. Cronin and his wife, JoEllen, reside in the Town of Tonawanda.

Beecher is chairman of the board of Barrantys LLC and has more than 60 years of law practice as counsel to Phillips Lytle LLP. He volunteers his time with organizations focused on healthcare, education and the care and feeding of the poor. Beecher serves as chairman emeritus of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, secretary of The Jacobs Institute, founder and director of The BISON Children’s Scholarship Fund and is a former chairman of the board of Canisius High School. Additionally, he served on the Foundation of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo as a trustee and is a former chairman of the investment committee for the diocese. He is co-chair of Upon This Rock, diocesan capital drive. A Buffalo resident, Beecher and his family attend St. Louis Roman Catholic Church in Buffalo.

Dr. Nielsen is an internist and infectious diseases physician who is senior associate dean for health policy at the University at Buffalo. She has long been active in medical associations at the county, state and national levels and is a past president of the American Medical Association. A resident of Orchard Park, Dr. Nielsen is a member of Nativity of Our Lord Parish, where she is a lector, Eucharistic minister and member of the parish advisory council. She is also active in the Movement to Restore Trust in the Diocese of Buffalo and recently completed a two-year program, “Forest Dwelling: Spirituality for our Wisdom Years,” at the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio. 

In his new role as parish chair, Dr. Sumlin will help to inform and motivate the parish Appeal teams which represent 170 parishes within the eight counties of the diocese. He has served as the parish Appeal chair for St. Martin de Porres Church for 10 years. Dr. Sumlin is an assistant professor of oncology with Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center and focuses his research on the development of innovative biomarkers for the early detection of prostate cancer. He resides with his family in Getzville.

Corporate Division Chairs Brayer and Mecca will direct the team of volunteer business leaders and develop strategies for seeking contributions from the area’s corporations and small businesses.

A marketing professor and administrator for the graduate programs at St. Bonaventure University before his retirement, Brayer is a long-standing parishioner of St. Louis Church where he currently serves as the business manager and has served as usher, Eucharistic minister, sacristan, parish council member and president of the parish council. Brayer also serves on the Bishop’s Council of the Laity, the board of directors for the Ronald McDonald House and has volunteered with the Appeal’s corporate division for the past five years. He resides with his family in Buffalo.

Mecca is president and managing creative director for Abbey Mecca, a Buffalo-based branding, advertising and digital marketing firm. He currently serves as chairman of the board for Buffalo Hearing & Speech Center, is a member of the board of directors of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, a director of the Buffalo Renaissance Foundation, and a director of the Regional Traffic Alliance. Mecca first become involved with the Appeal corporate team nearly 20 years ago. A resident of Williamsville, he is a member of the St. Joseph University Parish community.

Community Division Chair Brown-Croyts-Alford will work with Catholic schools, parish societies and other local organizations throughout the Appeal. A member of St. Martin de Porres Catholic Church, she serves on the women’s guild and the compassion ministry. Brown-Croyts-Alford is a nurse practitioner and has a research background in pharmacology. She lives with her family in Buffalo.

Richard Cronin (top row), Thomas Beecher, Jr., Nancy Nielsen, Adam Sumlin (bottom row) C. Kevin Brayer, Daniel Mecca and Laurie Brown-Croyts-Alford

Funds raised during Appeal 2021 will support Catholic Charities’ 57 programs across 80 sites in the eight counties of Western New York, along with a number of diocesan ministries through the Fund for the Faith. More than 149,000 people of all faiths were served by Catholic Charities over the past year. For more information or to donate to Appeal 2021, visit ccwny.org/donation.

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