Brawdy Construction was founded in 1951 in Buffalo, New York by Thomas H. Brawdy. Jim Brawdy, a second-generation owner/operator, has spent a lifetime in the commercial and residential construction industry and is dedicated to providing customers with the highest quality building craftsmanship. Starting out as a full-time masonry laborer in 1975, Jim has worked his way up throughout the years. Now as the President of Brawdy Construction Inc., Jim is very proud that he has a lifetime of hands- on experience in the construction industry. Brawdy Construction has grown from a small family business into a thriving multi-million dollar corporation specializing in a wide range of quality commercial construction services. The company employs tradesmen and features eight distinct field crews, each with their own field superintendent. Commercial and residential construction services include earthwork, foundations, flatwork, and masonry.
Brawdy Construction has been in business for over half a century and has partnered with every major developer and general contractor throughout the Western New York Region. In addition, many out-of-town contractors have called on the expertise of Brawdy Construction based solely on our reputation. Brawdy Construction also works with retailers and owners on their projects to meet their specific needs. Brawdy Construction offers you a rare combination of expertise and leading edge technology to make sure your project is completed with the highest craftsmanship, on schedule, and within budget.
After graduating from Wheatland-Chili High School in June 2013, I attended the State University of New York College at Geneseo. I graduated from SUNY Geneseo in 2017 with degrees in History and Political Science. While at Geneseo, I successfully ran for a position on the Village Board of Geneseo, elected to the position of Trustee. With this election, I became just the second African-American elected official in the history of Livingston County while also becoming the second-youngest elected official in its history. After two years as a Trustee, I was appointed as Deputy Mayor for the Village of Geneseo. I currently work in Sales at Lineage Office Technologies in Amherst, NY. I hope to continue my educational journey in the Fall of 2020 and attend Law School at the University of Buffalo.
Why did you want to get involved with Be Your Own Hero?
Hailing from Rochester, NY is something that I am proud of every single day. However, the Rochester City School District is routinely ranked as one of the worst in the nation. In fact, when I was growing up the graduation rate at one point dipped to 39%. Students are often given the choice to graduate, go to prison, or die. I’d like to do everything in my power to change that. I want to be an advocate for students that don’t know just how many people are out there rooting for them to succeed, whether that be an academic or a career journey after high school. I want to always be on the team of teenagers and young adults and Be Your Own Hero wishes the same. After hearing of the organization, their mission, and the people they wish to impact, I was all in.
Caitlin was born and raised in Buffalo, NY. She attended Mercyhurst University where she obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. Upon graduation, she moved to Boston, MA, where she began her career in higher education. While working at Berklee College of Music she decided to continue her education and pursue a Master’s degree. Caitlin attended Suffolk University where she received a degree in Mental Health Counseling. After completing her Master’s degree, Caitlin relocated to New York City.
In continuing her passion for helping individuals overcome personal and professional barriers through counseling services, she accepted a position at Columbia University’s Center for Career Education. Working at the center provided Caitlin with the unique opportunity to hone in on her counseling skills and assist students with discovering their innate abilities and career interests. During her time in New York City, she worked at top universities including both New York University and Columbia University. Throughout her professional journey, Caitlin has always been motivated by opportunities to make a difference in the career life of young adults by providing tools that align with each person’s unique skill set.
She has seen first-hand throughout her experience how most youth suffer from lack of awareness as it relates to their career interests and values largely because they have little experience or exposure to the vast amount of exciting and rewarding positions that exist today and how education has expanded past the traditional structure. She hopes to be part of the career mind shift change by creating innovative programs where young people and members of the community that are un-employed or under-employed can meet employers and shadow potential jobs to gain direct knowledge so they can make more informed choices.
Sharing that vision with Be Your Own Hero, she joined the organization in 2018 where she serves as the Executive Director. Caitlin looks forward to leveraging her background to create a lasting impact on the Western New York community.
Born and raised in Kenmore, New York. Graduated from St. Josephs Collegiate Institute of Buffalo in 2005. Earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Architecture with a Minor in Environmental Design in 2010 and a Master’s Degree of Architecture in 2012, both from the State University of New York at Buffalo. Entered the Construction Industry full time as Project Engineer at LPCiminelli Inc. in 2013 was involved on construction projects in WNY and Central New York. Projects include Ralph Wilson Stadium Renovation (2013-2015), ADPRO Sports Training Facility Renovation (2015-2016), Patina 250 Restaurant (2015), ADPRO Training Room Renovation (2016-2017), Hotel Henry (2016), Resorts World Catskills (2017-2018). Upon completion of obligation to LPCiminelli in Central New York returned to WNY in the role of Project Manager for Arc Building Partners. Projects include New Era Field Club Renovation (2018), ADPRO Sports Performance and Science Addition (2018-2019) and ECMC Small Projects (2019-present.)
The impending workforce shortage and uniformed student population directly impacts the Construction Industry of which I am deeply devoted to. I felt my educational and professional experience could benefit Be Your Own Hero and help make a difference in this time of fluctuation in the Construction Industry.
St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute, Class of 2005
Canisius College, Class of 2009, B.A. in Political Science
Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Class of 2012, J.D.
I was very fortunate to have great mentors when I was making decisions about my career and hope that I can share that wisdom with our board to create a curriculum that helps students make informed decisions about their career choices.
I have a Bachelors of Science degree in Psychology, Masters degrees in School Counseling, Special Education, and General Education, and my Administration Certification. I currently work at Aspire of WNY, Inc. as the School-age Supervisor where I oversee 75 staff members and the K-12 education program.
To help students and young adults understand that there are other options for them out there besides college, and that there are people out there advocating for their success as well.
Growing up in Canada I followed my passion for helping people. As a graduate of Fanshawe College in London, Ontario and went on to work as a Youth Counselor for the first part of my career. I’m also a former business owner, passionate education advocate and I now work as a Job Developer with the re-entry population.
When I first learned about Be Your Own Hero I just knew I needed to get involved. Inspiring our youth to look into skilled trades as a viable career option is something I truly believe in. Not everyone is cut out for a 4 year college, but that does not mean one cannot have a lucrative and successful career on another path.
Caitlin currently works as the Business Manager for both APA Solutions and Prestige Designs. Prior to that she owned and operated an industrial distribution business and had responsibility for two major operational areas: Human Resources and Finance. Caitlin has a wealth of experience managing both personnel and cash flow to support the successful achievement of business goals.
She serves on a variety of boards and steering committees for WNY non-profits including Be Your Own Hero, Ride for Roswell and Empire State Ride.
Diane has been part of the RV Rhodes team since 2009, providing strategic solutions and simple tools to help employers achieve their workforce goals. As an author, speaker and facilitator, Diane translates her strategic thinking and business experience to help companies, government agencies, and nonprofits create more collaborate work environments which result in improved employee engagement, enhanced efficiencies, best practice processes, and a happier, more productive workforce.
Diane has co-facilitated Aspiring Executives, a leadership program which combines classroom training with individual coaching. Aspiring Executives was recognized by HR.com as one of the top ten executive coaching programs in the country (2015). Graduates include individuals from private and nonprofit sectors. Diane also serves as the Regional Manager for Edge Foundation. Edge works with school districts across the country to support children who struggle with impaired executive function due to ACEs (adverse childhood experiences) and ADHD.
Diane is a resident of Buffalo, NY, and attended SUNY Buffalo where she earned a degree in accounting and spent more than a decade in the world of commercial lending. Working closely with the management of so many businesses provided her with keen insights into various business cultures and management styles. She brings her financial expertise to every engagement, constantly striving to create a positive return on her clients’ people investment. She is certified in the use of psychometric assessments including DiSC, WorkPlace Big Five, Emotional Intelligence, and Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team. She is also certified in The Brain Story. Diane Serves on the board of Buffalo Niagara Association for Talent Development and Be Your Own Hero organization.
I graduated from Buffalo State College and lacked a career direction, so I used my network to land a receptionist job at a local plumbing company. I worked my way through their office, wearing many hats, for three years. I wanted more from my job, so I used the accounting knowledge I gained there to earn a Credit Analyst position at Ingram Micro. Just shy of a year later, I moved into Market Development where worked for four years to proactively grow revenue and partnership for one of Ingram Micro’s software security vendors. While on maternity leave with my first child in 2018, I was promoted to Vendor Business Manager in a brand new department where I now manage a multi-million dollar line of business. I’m over six years into my career with Ingram Micro and I can’t wait to see where this takes me!
Looking back at my high school and college self, I was lost. I went to college because it’s “what you’re supposed to do”, but I didn’t have any solid direction or perspective on what life would be like as an adult or what I wanted to be when I grew up. I remember how that felt. It was confusing and lonely. I wished I had guidance or someone to talk to at that time in my life. I can’t go back to help myself, but I can help kids going through that same situation. I can lend an ear, share my experiences and lessons learned over the years in hopes to shed light on what’s possible for them. You don’t need to know your destination to find joy in the journey. Be Your Own Hero is a platform built to arm students with the toolbelt they need to navigate the career world and the inspiration to encourage them to make it their own. I want to be a part of that.
I remember feeling left behind when I didn’t go to college right after high school. I didn’t have a path to go to college and I had no idea what I wanted to do anyways. I got into sales right after high school by starting in direct sales which I did for 10 years. I then changed to automotive sales and finally transitioned to sales in the software industry. I’ve held various roles both as an individual and management positions leading teams of 5-50. I currently am the Vice President of Sales for North America for a global software consulting firm headquartered in Chicago.
I wanted to get involved because I distinctly remember the feelings of career hopelessness in high school when most kids were talking about where they were going to school, applying for colleges, waiting for acceptance letters, etc. and I had not even applied to one college because there was no support from home that I could go. The first 2 years after high school I felt like I was left behind. I was fortunate enough to have a mentor who taught me the art of selling. 20 years later I can’t imagine doing anything else! I’ve since mentored many individuals and have a heart for the youth who aren’t on a college path (for whatever reason) as we live in a society that makes them feel inferior or incapable if you don’t go down the college path. The fact is, there are SO many careers that don’t rely on a college degree that allow individuals a great lifestyle.
Jean Filipiak is the Managing Partner and Vice President of the brain-based recruiting and consulting firm, APA Solutions & the revolutionary career coaching company, Career Reform. The brain-based methodology is the purposeful engagement of strategies that apply to how our brain works in the context of recruitment, retention & development.
Jean truly believes there is a place for everyone in this workplace. Her goal is help companies and employees thrive in today’s crazy work environment; Utilize their natural God-given strengths and weakness to impact their life both personally & professionally. Throughout the last decade, Jean has progressed as a leading executive recruiter, talent strategist, career coach & certified behavioral talent analyst. During each step of the hiring, retention and employee development process, she has consistently ensured client satisfaction through cutting edge candidate behavioral profiling and matching. Jean loves connecting with like minded people. She is also involved in several organizations including the SheCAN Network, Buffalo Niagara Society of Human Resources, the Buffalo Niagara Sales and Marketing Organization and Buffalo Niagara Human Resource Association. Additionally, she serve as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Buffalo, educating students on career development and interviewing techniques. Jean is also a graduate of the Canisius Women’s Leadership program.
Career Reform was launched in 2005 followed by the formation of Be Your Own Hero in 2009. Together Joan Graci and Jean Filipiak founded the non-profit organization to further follow their passions in guiding job seekers and employees, with a focus on young adults, to self-discovery and career success.
Joan Graci is the President and Owner of APA Solutions, one of the only brain-based organizations in the United States and Canada. As an advocate for leading with the brain in mind, Joan continues to engage her diverse client-base in utilizing her three-plus decades of experience within the professional development space by enhancing her training with the most cutting-edge neuroscience. She is an agile leader who customizes her learning sessions to make them as applicable as possible to the unprecedented times we are living in. The brain-based approach she takes to both her training and coaching has resulted in increased self-awareness and better stress management amongst all of her clients.
Social Media and Marketing Specialist
Throughout my whole life, I have known I wanted to tell stories – whether that be through a written or visual medium, I’ve always been passionate about bringing the stories in my head to life. I needed an outlet for my creativity, and working with Be Your Own Hero gave me the perfect opportunity to use my story-telling skills to inspire the next generation’s workforce. There’s nothing that brings my teammates and me more joy than seeing someone light up because they found their passion. I listen to the stories of students and young professionals who went on their passion-search with us, and broadcast them to the world in hopes that someone who may have been just as confused about their future will be inspired to come to us for guidance. You don’t have to go on this nerve-wracking journey alone, we are here to help you become your own hero!