2023 Women In Leadership Honorees

May 2023 Honoree

Katie JoyceKate Joyce, Executive Director
Family Help Center

Kate is an accomplished grant writer, creator of special events and a community educator. She received her masters degree in social work from Syracuse University and has spent the past 40-plus years devoted to the social work field and engaged in social justice reforms and human rights. Always concerned about the welfare of families and the impact of trauma she is considered a true pioneer in the field of domestic violence/family violence and began her work in that field long before services were mainstream and available. She has been a faculty member at Niagara University, D’Youville University, Medaille College, Villa Maria College as well as Teacher Education Centers in public school districts. Kate served as a founding member of a special professional theater group formed to educate the public about contemporary social problems and is a former radio talk show host.

Creating and bridging cultural connections is another passion and Kate and her family served as a host site for over a dozen students from all over the globe who came to the U.S. for school immersion experiences. She is actively involved in many volunteer activities, often focused on raising funds for a special cause. She is the recipient of many community awards and a past board member of numerous organizations.

Kate Joyce has served as the executive director at the Family Help Center for the past seven years. Family Help Center is a community based, non-profit, niche agency committed to the prevention of child abuse and assisting families who may be experiencing various life challenges. Because of the amazing and diverse team of social workers, counselors, teachers and support staff the organization serves over 3,000 people annually and provides a safety net for parents in need. Over her tenure with the agency Kate has expanded the portfolio of services and is especially excited about a new initiative she is spearheading. New programming will start this summer to respond to an emerging demographic trend specifically designed to assist grandparents (and/or elder relatives) who have received custody of their grandchildren. In New York State, 310,876 children live with their grandparents (7.2% of children in NYS) and another 128,778 live with other senior age relatives (3% of children in NYS) – no doubt these statistics are actually an undercount since many children in such circumstances are not being officially “counted.”

Kate began her career at People, Inc. and the Cantalician Center and following graduation joined the team at Family and Children’s Service (FACS) in Niagara County. She was charged with creating their “Passage Program” to provide residential and nonresidential services to victims of family violence with a special component to assist persons impacted by elder abuse. Following her tenure at FACS, she transitioned to Child and Family Services of Erie County and served as the director of Haven House for 30 years. She led the program through a time of rapid growth, innovative collaborations and residential and nonresidential program expansion. Several of her program designs have been replicated in other programs throughout New York State, such as embedding domestic violence advocates in hospitals, social service departments and with law enforcement personnel. Kate was specifically committed (as part of her personal goal) to create a unique space for children and adults and led the team that resulted in the construction of a 35,000 square foot facility in Buffalo where all levels of care from emergency shelter and long term housing to a full continuum of counseling and advocacy services are on-site and available on a 24/7 basis. Kate recalls realizing her vision by first designing a schematic of the new dream-facility on the back of a placemat when she was out to dinner one evening! The original schematic was used by the members of the architectural team she hired. She was instrumental in working on the capital campaign that raised $5 million to cover all costs and ensure the facility was mortgage free. She was at the construction site every day and knows where every nail, screw and bolt was put to create the state-of-the-art facility. The project came in on time and under budget and Kate was able to have award winning singer and Grammy nominee, Martina McBride come to the center for a special visit to commemorate the opening. Kate then served as a consultant for other programs throughout the country who were trying to build their own facility.

She also served as vice president of the Restorative Justice Division at Child and Family Services, responsible for the administrative oversight of the Center for Resolution and Justice, the Sex Offense Management Program, the Anger Management Program, First Offender Program and the School Violence Prevention and Bullying Prevention Program.

Kate is credited with initiating a domestic violence awareness campaign for the Buffalo Niagara region. The concept has been replicated throughout New York State during Domestic Violence Awareness Month and was formally recognized by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

February 2023 HonoreeNakiea

Nakiea Cook, CEO/founder
NC Accounting & Consulting Solutions

BNC member Nakiea Cook is the CEO and founder of Everythingkiea, LLC and owner of NC Accounting and Consulting Solutions. NCACS provides financial services for small businesses and corporate packages. Nakiea also hosts financial webinars, training, and workshops. It is a priority for her to impart the importance of setting financial goals and understanding personal cash flow to alter inter-generational patterns of poverty.

Nakiea volunteers with a wide range of organizations including the National Black MBA Association, Western New York Chapter, VP Operations 2020 - present; National Association of Women Business Owners Buffalo Niagara (NAWBO), treasurer 2021 - present; Alleyway Theatre Inc., treasurer 2021 - present; Big Brothers Big Sisters of Erie, Niagara and the Southern Tier/Be-A-Friend Program, committee treasurer 2021 - present; JA Worldwide, volunteer for career success; Association for Talent Development Buffalo, VP of Finance 2022; and she is also a member of the Civil Rights and Social Action Committee of SheCAN! 2020 - 2021 and a SCORE small business mentor.

She was honored with the Ignite Award 2022 by Women’s Business Center at Canisius College and as an Emerging Leader 2018 by Open Buffalo. Nakiea has a bachelor of science in accounting from D’Youville University and a master’s degree in entrepreneurship/entrepreneurial studies from DeVry University. She is an accountant/auditor, speaker, author, mentor, certified financial educator and financial coach.

Her accounting career includes employment with M&T Bank, GreenHomes America, Sodexo, and as an auditor with the United States Department of Defense. She is an adjunct professor at Erie Community College and a consultant for the Women’s Business Center at Canisius College COVID Recovery Program.