Lou Jean Fleron is director of Cornell University ILR Buffalo Co-Lab, a collaborative research, teaching, and public knowledge center for progressive economic development in Greater Buffalo. Working on the edge of the new economy, the Co-Lab draws on 75 years of ILR advancing the world of work in Western New York. A Cornell ILR extension faculty member since 1976, now emerita, Lou Jean formerly served ILR as statewide director of workforce, industry and economic development, founder and director of the Institute for Industry Studies, director of the Western Region, and director of labor programs. Her teaching and research fields are economic development, labor management relations, and public economic policy. Lou Jean is also co-founder and current board chair of Partnership for the Public Good, a community-based think-tank with over 290 affiliated partners that works closely with Buffalo Co-Lab to give the nonprofit community and citizens a stronger voice in public policy.
An attorney with years of policy advocacy experience, Megan joined Cornell in 2011 where she cultivates civically engaged and socially responsible students while supporting community-engaged learning and research. Prior to her role as Director of High Road Policy and Engaged Learning she held concurrent positions as the Associate Director of the High Road Fellowships and Director of Policy Advancement at Partnership for the Public Good. Admitted to practice in New York, Megan is a graduate of the University at Buffalo Law School. She previously worked at Neighborhood Legal Services in Buffalo, at the Youth Justice Project in South Bend, Indiana, and for the University at Buffalo’s Office of Civic Engagement and the Regional Institute. She believes that her own service experiences as an undergraduate at the University of Notre Dame helped to shape her values, interests and ultimately, her career path and she likes to provide similar transformative opportunities for students to engage with and learn from the community.
Kristin (Szczepaniec) Ksiazek is the Collaboration and Research Specialist at Cornell ILR, working to facilitate the network of researchers and partners on Buffalo-focused research and helping to disseminate this information in Buffalo Commons. She earned an MPA in Education Policy & American Indian Studies from Cornell University, holds a Master of Arts degree in Elementary Education form the University of New Mexico and a BA in Economics and Peace Studies from the University of Notre Dame. A native western New Yorker, she is Seneca, hawk clan and Polish. She worked with the NACA Inspired Schools Network on developing Indigenous Education Knowledge Management systems, supporting and developing community-designed and led schools for Native students. She served as the Director of Strategic Initiatives and Partnerships for Teach For America's Native Alliance Initiative, building a strong community of Native leaders focused on culturally responsive education and was a middle school math teacher in the Pueblo of Laguna.
Russell S. Weaver, PhD, is the Economic Geographer for ILR Buffalo Co-Lab contributing to research with spatial and data analysis with a focus on equality and sustainability. Russell has a M.A. in Economics and a Ph.D. in Geography from SUNY at Buffalo. He comes to Cornell ILR from Texas State University, where he has been an assistant professor of geography since 2014. Russell is the lead author of Shrinking Cities: Understanding Urban Decline in the United States (NY: Routledge, 2016) with S. Bagchi-Sen, J. Knight, and A. Frazier. His research portfolio includes 37 articles in refereed journals, including Applied Mathematics, Berkeley Planning Journal, New Urban Research, Ecological Economics, The Review of Regional Studies, Journal of Geography, Urban Science, and National Civic Review. He serves on the Review Board for the Journal of Extension.
Nicole Golias is the Communications and Program Support Specialist for ILR Buffalo Co-Lab providing communication, web, marketing, and design assistance as well as database, fiscal, and event management for the unit and its various initiatives. She earned her BS from Cornell University's College of Human Ecology in 2017 studying how to craft and implement effective policy with people at the forefront of decision making. Currently, she is pursuing her MPA at SUNY Buffalo State. Prior to joining the extension office, she taught middle school special education with Buffalo Public Schools. During her time at Cornell, Nicole conducted research as part of the Policy Analysis and Management Lab and was a Brand Ambassador for Teach For America.
Sam Magavern is the ILR Visiting Activist Scholar for the 2019-2020 academic year and senior policy fellow at the Partnership for the Public Good. In addition to teaching at Cornell University ILR School, Sam teaches at University at Buffalo School of Law. A graduate of Harvard University and the UCLA Law School, he serves as an attorney for the City of Buffalo Living Wage Commission and as a Niagara River Greenway Commissioner. His publications range from scholarly articles to comic books, including a non-fiction book (Primo Levi's Universe), a novel (Ooh La La), a movie (The Last Word), and a book of poetry (Noah’s Ark).
ILR Visiting Activist Scholar for the 2018-2019 academic year and co-founder of People United for Sustainable Housing (PUSH Buffalo), which mobilizes residents to create sustainable neighborhoods with quality affordable housing, green jobs and next generation infrastructure. In 2011, PUSH's Green Development Zone, which combines green housing, job training, stormwater management and urban agriculture in a district on Buffalo's West Side, was named the winner of the global Sustainable Housing competition sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation, the Brazilian Ministry of Cities and HUD. He is a graduate of Swarthmore College and Harvard Law School, where he co-founded the Harvard Living Wage Campaign. In 2011, Aaron was appointed by Governor Andrew Cuomo to the WNY Regional Economic Development Council, which is now charged with investing $1 billion in state funds to revitalize Buffalo's economy. Aaron writes columns on cities and community organizing at Huffington Post.
In his current capacity as the faculty advisor to ILR’s High Road Fellowship program, Ron has collaborated with ILR faculty in Buffalo to create courses designed to envelop students’ participation in engaged learning: both preparing students for their community immersion and deepening their critical reflections after their experience.