Cornell in Buffalo supports applied research, teaching, and policy development by the Cornell ILR School, Cornell Cooperative Extension, and The Partnership for the Public Good.  Based in Buffalo, NY, staff conduct programs for Western New York community partners and practitioners, Cornell students, faculty, and staff.

Cornell Cooperative Extension

Photo: Diane Held

Diane Held
(716) 652-5400

Diane Held has been the Executive Director of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Erie County (CCE Erie) since late 2013. She and a staff of nineteen, use the resources and research based solutions generated through the land grant system at Cornell University to develop local programs and engage county residents in the areas of nutrition, education, agriculture, 4-H youth development, and consumer horticulture. Prior to working for CCE Erie, Diane worked for American Farmland Trust for 10 years collaborating with farmers, local governments, land trusts, and other organizations to protect New York State farmland. Diane also has a dairy farm background, as well as a Master’s Degree in Environmental Studies from the University of Buffalo, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Agriculture from Cornell University.

Photo: Sara Jablonski

Sara Jablonski
(716) 652-5400 x142

Sara has worked at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Erie County since October 2013. She conducts youth development programming in Buffalo and Lackawanna, primarily doing civic engagement work with teenagers. She has an MS in community food systems from Michigan State University, through which she studied how to intentionally engage communities to address food system challenges. Previously, she served in the Peace Corps in Guatemala where she worked with women and elementary school students to build gardens using sustainable methods.

ILR Buffalo Co-Lab 

Photo: Lou Jean Fleron

Lou Jean Fleron
(716) 852-4192

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.

Photo: Kristin Szczepaniec

Kristin Ksiazek
(716) 246-1711

Kristin Szczepaniec 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 Knoweldge 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.

If you are interested in a research project, have Buffalo-focused research, or just want to learn more about Buffalo Commons, reach out to: 

Photo: Sam Magavern

Sam Magavern
(716) 852-4191 x117

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).

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Aaron Bartley
(716) 852-4191 x125

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.

Russell Weaver

Rusty Weaver
(716)852-4191 X112

Russell Weaver, PhD, is a quantitative geographer and Director of Research at the Cornell ILR Buffalo Co-Lab. He was previously an Associate Professor (with tenure) in the Texas State University Department of Geography, where he taught courses in community geography, community development, urban planning, geographic thought, and quantitative data analysis. His research programs are aimed at understanding pathways for context-sensitive, sustainable, and equitable community economic development. He is the lead author of Shrinking Cities: Understanding Urban Decline in the United States, and his work appears in such journals as The Annals of the American Association of Geographers, Ecological Economics, Applied Geography, and Community Development. Weaver holds a master’s degree in Economics and a PhD in Geography from SUNY Buffalo.

The Worker Institute 

Photo: Art Wheaton

Art Wheaton

Art Wheaton is the Director of the Western NY Labor and Environmental Programs. Art manages the online Labor Leadership Skills (non-credit) course and the Labor Studies undergraduate (credit) certificate program. He also is the treasurer and general board member for the Western New York Environmental Alliance and teaches the EPA RRP Initial and Refresher Lead Based Paint Programs. Art graduated from Michigan State University with a Masters in Labor Relations and Human Resources.

Photo: Nellie Brown

Nellie Brown
(716) 852-1444 x111

Nellie Brown is the Director of the Workplace Health and Safety Program, a statewide program of the Worker Institute at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations. A certified industrial hygienist, biologist, and chemist, Nellie has over thirty years of experience providing on-site training and technical assistance services in a wide range of occupational safety and health matters. These efforts include: workplace exposure to chemicals, biological agents, ergonomics, occupational stress, shift-work and long hours of work, crisis and violence prevention, hazard analysis techniques, and indoor air quality for employers, labor unions, and the public. Nellie also provides industrial hygiene services for the Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine at the Erie County Medical Center, a NYSDOH-funded clinic for diagnosis and treatment of occupational injuries and illnesses for five counties of Western New York.


Veronica Moore
(716) 852-8256

Veronica Moore is the Administrative Manager at Cornell University’s ILR extension office in Buffalo, New York. She oversees the extensions operations and also serves as a senior training programs assistant for the Workplace Health and Safety, and Labor and Environmental Training Programs.  Veronica is a graduate of Bryant and Stratton College and a Notary Public for the County of Erie, State of New York.