MISSION & VISION
Feminists Choosing Life of New York, Inc. is a human rights organization that raises awareness about and helps address the root causes and impacts of publicly sanctioned lethal violence including abortion, capital punishment, war and assisted dying, in addition to other forms of violence such as poverty, racism, and human trafficking.
Like the early feminist suffragists, FCLNY engages in grassroots activism and embraces the core principles of non-violence and non-discrimination.
We promote the consistent life ethic and whole-life feminism.
MICHELE STERLACE, JD, LLM
Just married! Last name, formerly Sterlace-Accorsi
Michele Sterlace-Accorsi grew up experiencing poverty and, at times, homelessness. She quit high school when she was 17. She later earned her GED and graduated magna cum laude from New York University, while working full-time. While a mother of four young children, at age 37, Michele’s experiences inspired her to advocate for vulnerable populations. She completed her Juris Doctor degree from the University at Buffalo School of Law.
Michele began her legal career as a trial attorney for those seeking custody of abused and neglected children. She continued this work at the Children’s Legal Center in Buffalo, serving as a children’s attorney. Seeing the needs of the community, Michele advanced her studies by attending the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution at Pepperdine Law School. While a student at Pepperdine, she worked in the U.S. District Court. She assisted the mediation program director with prisoner rights cases and other civil litigation for the disenfranchised.
In 2017 she completed her studies and her youngest child, born during her first semester of law school, stood proudly by her, as she graduated with a Masters of Law in Dispute Resolution from the Straus Institute.
Michele is the paradigm of a pro-life feminist, a role model for equal opportunities for the poor, for women and their children, born and unborn.
ABIGAIL HYLAND, BS.
Assistant to the Executive Director
Abigail Hyland earned her Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Grove City College in 2018, and is currently earning her Master of Social Work degree from the University of Buffalo. Abby is the Assistant to the Executive Director at Feminists Choosing Life of New York, and also works full-time at Hillside Children’s Center.In her free time, Abby enjoys reading, playing tennis, and skiing. Abby is a pro-life feminist because she believes that women deserve better than abortion!
GRACE NIEBOER, BS., MA.
Assistant to the Executive Director
Grace is in her final year at SUNY Brockport where she is finishing her Master’s in Public Administration with a concentration in Health Care. She obtained her Bachelor of Science in Health Science from SUNY Brockport. She will always be proud to call Rochester, New York her hometown. Grace enjoys music, ocean air, and black coffee. She has a passion for people and would ultimately like to see the health care system revolutionize to meet the needs of populations across demographics and cultures. Grace is pro-life and pro-woman.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Carol Crossed has played a leading role in the American Indian movement, (promoting relations between native North American and Latin American indigenous peoples); in the Developing Countries Visiting Journalist Program; the Women’s Peace Encampment; the World Health Conference on Women and Children, and Bread for the World. Carol has spoken before the US Senate Judiciary on nonviolent civil disobedience; was awarded the World Food Day Stamp for the Food for People Network, and appears on the Women’s Wall of Fame in Seneca Falls, NY.
She is currently on the Board of Directors of Consistent Life International, Inc. (formerly The Seamless Garment Network) a federation of over 200 organizations that support the consistent life ethic and oppose war, abortion, capital punishment, euthanasia, economic injustice, and racism. Carol was a founding member of the Network in 1988 and was its Executive Director from 1992-1998. In 1999, she co-founded Democrats for Life of America.
She is currently owner and president of the Susan B Anthony Birthplace Museum in Adams, MA. In 2009, she received the Woman of Achievement Award from the Berkshires Business Professional Women’s Association. In 2020, Crossed was a founder of the Harriet Tubman Museum in Cape May, NJ. She has 6 children and 17 grandchildren.
Carrie Perham recently moved from her hometown, Chicago, to Rochester and began her career in pro-life activism when she took on the role as Secretary of FCLNY. She also currently serves on the board for the Susan B. Anthony Birthplace Museum in Adams, MA. She has a bachelor’s degree in International Business from Franciscan University of Steubenville and 2+ years of experience in business marketing. Her dream is to one day own her own business.
Carrie has always been pro-life, but didn’t truly tap into the meaning until college. She’s been on the March for Life, contributed to baby-bottle fundraisers, and did her college thesis on career development for women associated with a crisis women’s pregnancy center. She passionately takes on the label of a pro-life feminist and won’t stop until pro-life movement is won.
Clianda Yarde- Florence
Clianda Yarde-Florence is a leader in educational reform. She is currently an elementary school teacher for the Buffalo Public School District and has also been a teacher for the Rochester School District. She has 13+ years of experience in developing student-focused environments to maximize learning experiences. She is the granddaughter of Minister Franklin D. Roosevelt Florence, a well known civil rights activist in Rochester, and daughter of Minister Clifford Florence Sr..
Amy Crossed currently teaches Spanish and is a diversity officer in the Fairport, New York, School District. Before coming to Rochester, New York, she worked at The SHARE Foundation (Salvadoran Help and Research Education), assisting with Central American Refugee relocation. Amy is on the Board of Children Awaiting Parents. She has three adult children and when she is not correcting student papers, you will find her on the tennis court.
(On Temporary Leave of Absence)
Emma Bennett is a Senior at Cornell University. She is a Nutritional Science major with the goal of one day becoming a doctor. Throughout high school, Emma volunteered extensively with the Leo Club, devoting her time to prepare meals at the Ronald McDonald House, assist students at the Batavia School for the Blind, and raising money for the Relay for Life. She also promoted literacy by being a Book Buddy at her local library, and participated in the Unified Basketball Program, sharing her love of basketball, while serving as a mentor to athletes with disabilities. During high school, Emma also held many leadership positions including; class Vice President, Treasurer of the National Honor Society, and Captain of her soccer team. At Cornell, she is the social chairman of the Women’s Club Soccer Team, as well as a member of the Hall Council. Throughout her leadership and volunteer endeavors, Emma has always tried to promote her consistent life views but has been eager to get involved with an organization that fully embraced her pro-life feminist views. She has found such an organization with Feminists Choosing Life!
VP & Social Media Director
Cecelia Hayes is former art educator, illustrator, and professional crafter. Her crafting and entrepreneurial spirit have combined, resulting in the sale of products online, through regional crafting showing and within brick-and-mortar stores located in Chicago and Toronto. She enjoys coffee, sewing clothes for her kids, running outdoors and laughing with her husband.
Cecelia's children and family inspire her in all she does, in all she creates, and to seek a world of peace. Cecelia currently lives in Rochester NY with her husband and children.
Jessica Shanahan graduated with a dual major at St. Joseph University, a Master’s in Higher Education from American University, and a Master’s degree in Hospital Administration from Rochester Institute of Technology.
Jessica has dedicated her life as a community activist and volunteer, serving on numerous non-profit Committees and Boards. Her commitment to women and consistent life issues is revealed through her involvement as a founding Board Member of Feminist Choosing Life of America, Women’s Care Center Board member, Feminists For Life of NY Board President, and volunteer at Focus Pregnancy Center and Embracing Options.
Sarah Mullen graduated from The Catholic University of America with a Bachelors degree in Media Studies. Currently, she works in HR for a Rochester based small business and is working towards becoming a Certified Records Manager.
Sarah’s passion for pro-life advocacy began at an early age, spending many of her Birthdays attending the March for Life in Washington, DC. Sarah enjoys lively discussions, reading, watching movies and spending time with her large extended family. Sarah lives in Rochester with her husband and daughter.
Candice Olin-Renaldo is currently a project manager for Guideline Concrete, an award-winning independent video producer and mother of three. She lives in Buffalo NY with her husband and children. After nearly a decade of living and working in Sweden as a journalist, entrepreneur, activist, and businesswoman, she has moved back to the United States with a passion for women, children, and family rights. Candice graduated from Full Sail University with a degree in Film and Video and is currently enrolled in the University of the People working towards a Master’s in Business Administration. She has served on multiple boards through the years and is an active member of groups like Women’s Business Center at Canisius and Churches in Action.
Caroline Bennett graduated from Cornell University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Policy. She also received minors in Demography; Law and Society; and Crime, Prisons, Education, and Justice. She recently received her Master’s Degree in Urban Education and her certification in Teaching English to Speakers Other than English (TESOL). She now teaches English as a New Language to sixth graders in Buffalo, NY. When she’s not teaching, she remains active in organizing and participating in events that promote the Consistent Life ethic. Ms. Bennett has spoken at numerous pro-woman and pro-life events in Rochester, Philadelphia, Cornell, and the March for Life in Washington, DC. Her passion for social justice and focus on human dignity is evident in all that she does. Caroline is from Rochester, NY and now resides in Buffalo, NY with her boyfriend, Eddie, and cat, Indy.
ADVISORY BOARD MEMBERS
Katheryne Hassman, PhD
Katheryne graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science from D’Youville College in Buffalo, NY and a Doctorate of Pharmacy from LECOM in Erie, PA. With an extensive background in multiple pharmacy disciplines, she is the current Director of Pharmacy (and only staff pharmacist) at a Southern Tier hospital. She has always fought for the sanctity of life, and is proud to be a pro-life feminist. When not at work, Katheryne enjoys being involved in multiple community service organizations and at-home hobbies.
Maura Dewandler, MSN, APRN
Maura was born & raised in Rochester but left for Austin, TX in 2005 after swearing off WNY winters forever. The joke was on her, however, and 15 years, 3 states, and 2 children later, she now calls Buffalo home. She is a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner and has worked in a variety of settings including inpatient, outpatient, and consult liaison psychiatry. She now enjoys working with geriatric patients in their homes or nursing facilities and has a special interest in palliative care and hospice. The COVID pandemic has thrown into relief the intrinsic value of human life particularly among vulnerable populations. Maura’s passion for and pursuit of a consistent life ethic is the basis of her life’s work in general and involvement in FCLNY in particular.
Kelly Vincent Brunacini is a longstanding supporter of FCLNY, with over 10 years experience educating legislators on pro-life feminist topics, as well as advocating for pro-woman, pro-life policy in New York State.
She is a founding board member of the Susan B. Anthony Birthplace Museum, former board member of FCLNY and former executive director of Feminists for Nonviolent Choices. Kelly lives in Rochester with her husband and children.
Dr. Alisia G. Chase, PhD
Dr. Alisia G. Chase is Associate Professor of Art History, Visual Culture, and Media Studies at SUNY Brockport. She has been awarded the SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching and was chosen to be one of her college's first two SUNY Online Teaching Ambassadors. Her widely published research focuses on cinema, comics, and contemporary art, and has always been women- and womb-centric. She is happily married and has two wonderful children, whose births helped convert her from a prochoice to a prolife feminist.
Irene DeMarco, BA.
Irene joined the FCLNY team in 2020. She has an MA in Cultural Anthropology from the University at Buffalo, and a BA in Sociology from Niagara University. Her passion for studying people and cultures has taken her all over the world, and placed her in various health and human service agencies throughout her professional career. Irene's areas of expertise are in Cultural Competence and Health Literacy (CCHL) and Trauma Informed Care (especially as it pertains to racism, human trafficking and domestic violence). Irene is passionate about supporting pro-life organizations (for both humans and animals!) in the Rochester community. Irene also serves on the Board of Directors for Angels of Mercy, which is where she currently works. Irene is a nature and animal lover, flower and gardening enthusiast, artist, and wife and mother!
Kiki Smith is the founder of Rochester Area Blind Athletes and a board member of Miracle Field of Greater Rochester and the Women’s Care Center. Kiki’s life-threatening immune disease as an infant and subsequent blindness have rooted her in the belief that all life is sacred and of value. Her work with the physically and developmentally challenged communities celebrates and supports parents’ sometimes difficult choices to welcome the lives of their disabled children. Watching the joy and zest for life in her blind peers and Miracle Field participants drive Kiki to embrace the mission of FCLNY.