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MISSION & PURPOSE

Feminists Choosing Life of New York is a human rights coalition that educates on the impacts and root causes of publicly sanctioned lethal violence, including violent military action, abortion, assisted suicide and capital punishment. 

 

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.   

 

 

 

POSITION PAPERS

FCLNY LEADERSHIP

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MICHELE STERLACE, JD, LLM

Executive Director

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.

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EMILY
CAPPELLO,
BS

Operations Manager /
Outreach Coordinator

Emily is proud to call Western New York her home and was born in raised in Orchard Park. She began her involvement with FCLNY as a policy intern during the summer of 2021 and the passion and purpose behind the movement has stuck with her since. 

 

Emily earned her Bachelor of Science in Marketing with a minor in Communication Arts from Franciscan University of Steubenville. She graduated magna cum laude in with the senior departmental award after 2 years of serving as officer and one year as president of the university’s business academic chapter. 

 

Post-graduation, Emily spent many months in Orlando, FL working for Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom attractions and entertainment. However, she missed the Buffalo snow so much that she moved back up north and began serving full time with FCLNY. 

 

Emily has always been passionately pro-life, growing up with a family of 8 and being born at 25 weeks herself.. She believes strongly in the consistent life ethic and especially the work of FCLNY. 

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Marie Blair, BA
Chief Financial Officer

Marie Blair graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration, from Empire State University. She has been seated on several non-profit boards and has worked with Pro-life Charities for the past 20 years.

Marie is the mother of four children, eleven grandchildren and seven great grandchildren. Family is a major part of her life

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Pamela Bernardi, BS
Database Support

Pamela grew up in the suburbs and southern tier of Western New York and moved to Rochester in 2015.  She began her involvement with FCLNY in December of 2021.

 

Pamela earned a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice in 1998 and a Bachelor of Science in Accounting in 2009 from Hilbert College in Hamburg, NY.  She has been working in the accounting profession since 2003.

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Carol Crossed
President
Brighton, NY

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 of South Jersey.  She has 6 children and 17 grandchildren.

Carrie Perham, BA

Secretary
Rochester
, NY

Carrie Perham is a dedicated pro-life community activist and strategist in Rochester, NY. Originally from Chicago, IL, Carrie moved to Rochester mid-pandemic in 2020 to begin her career in activism as assistant to the President of Feminists Choosing Life of New York. She has a professional background in digital marketing, publishing, and content creation from her experience serving as Marketing Specialist for a nationwide family-owned lighting company based in Gurnee, IL. 

 

Carrie received her Bachelor of Science Degree in International Business at Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2019. She was privileged to spend her semester studying abroad in Austria visiting international companies where she got first-hand multicultural experience in business management. For her Senior Thesis, Carrie chose to work with a local pregnancy center where she led career development seminars for poverty-stricken mothers. While serving as Senior Senator, she also contributed to a proposal emphasizing the need for a major geared towards Human Life Studies. 

 

Carrie is involved with several pro-life organizations where she leads local campaigns aimed towards preventing the expansion of abortion facilities. She is a talented graphic designer, writer, and technical coordinator. Her passion is driven by her experiences as a child raised by a single mother of three and growing up in a small trailer of 4 girls. Her mother worked jobs day and night to support her family, and so Carrie's experience resonates with her understanding of true, real feminism. 

 

Carrie got married in 2022 and enjoys city life with her husband. She loves to travel, write poetry, and craft. She looks forward to starting her family in the near future.

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Clianda Florence, MS
Rochester, NY

Clianda Florence is a mother of three children Brianda, Ian and Malachi. She resides in Rochester, New York. She currently is an educator within the Greece Public Schools.  She has served within the field of education since 2004. She is the founder of Strength 2 Say where she offers classes, book studies and professional development opportunities. She currently writes curriculum with the Rochester Science Museum and the Take It Down Team on anti-racist programming to schools’ grades 3rd -College,. She also offers classes to empower women to see their God given beauty and the Strength 2 walk in their Boldness.

 

Clianda holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology from Bennett College for Women, Master of Education grades 1st – 6th from Nazareth, and an advanced Master’s Degree in Education Administration from Brockport College, currently accepted to University of Rochester to obtain her Doctorate of Teaching & Curriculum with a focus on Literacy.  Clianda has coined the term Let’s Get L.I.T. ( Liberating Individuals Through Literary Texts). She is a member of Central Church of Christ, the NAACP, serves as a board member of Feminist Choosing Life NY (FCLNY) , F.I.G.H.T. ,and The Reentry & Community Development Center of Rochester NY. Clianda is the host of the Let's Get L.I.T. Podcast on WDKX. She believes that writing opens the door to wonder and a deeper level of communication. 

Amy Crossed, MA
Rochester, NY

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 holds a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish for International Service from Catholic University of America and a Master's Degree in Liberal Studies from SUNY Brockport. 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.

Cecelia Lester, BFA
VP & Social Media Director 
Ro
chester, NY

Cecelia Lester is an art educator, designer and content creator for FCLNY and a working artist with a particular interest in textiles.  She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Illustration from the Rochester Institute of Technology.   

 

Cecelia is happily married and currently raising children.   She is committed to creating a culture of life in NYS.  Cecelia also serves on the board of the Margaret Home, a residential program for pregnant women and mothers facing homelessness.    

 

Cecelia enjoys spending time with her children and husband, reading about the consistent life ethic and sewing her own clothes.  

Jessica Shanahan, MS, MA
Treasurer
Rochester, NY

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, BA
Irondeqouit, NY

Sarah Mullen graduated from Catholic University of America with a Bachelor's 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 children.

Candice Lee Renaldo, AS
Buffalo, NY

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.

Dr. Alisia G. Chase, PH.D
Rochester, NY

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. Dr. Chase is FCLNY's "RESIDENT FEMINIST SCHOLAR."

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Kartina Wilson, MBA
Henrietta, NY

Kartina Wilson earned a 4 year degree in Business Administration from North Carolina Central University and a Masters in Business Administration from St. John Fisher University. She has worked in several fields including banking, teaching, and now human services. Kartina is a caseworker for Monroe County Department of Human Services in Child Protective Services.  She is committed to servicing the community by protecting our children from abuse, domestic violence, and educating families to promote minimum degree of care for their children. Kartina has been married for almost 26 years and they have two children.

ADVISORY BOARD MEMBERS

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Katheryne Uhl PH.D
Wayland, NY

Katheryne graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biology 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.

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Maura Dewandler, MSA, APRN
Buffalo, NY

Maura graduated from Cornell University with a Bachelor of Science in International Agriculture.  She became passionate about sustainable development and world hunger relief after volunteering with Heifer Project International as a teenager.  Her interest in public service and caregiving on a smaller scale led her to pursue nursing degrees from University of Rochester (BSN) and University of Texas Health Science Center (MSN).  She now works as a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner and her experience in a variety of settings (inpatient, outpatient, consult liaison psychiatry, geriatric home care, and college mental health) has only reinforced the intrinsic value of every human life.  Her work with marginalized, underserved, and vulnerable populations has informed her pursuit of a consistent life ethic which is the basis of her life’s work in general and involvement in FCLNY in particular. 

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Kelly Vincent-Brunacini, MS
Rush, NY

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 earned a Bachelor of Science in Education from  Keuka College and a Master of Science in Early Childhood Education from Nazareth College.


She is a founding board member of the Susan B. Anthony Birthplace Museum and current treasurer, former board member of FCLNY and former executive director of Feminists for Nonviolent Choices. Kelly lives in Rochester with her husband and children. 

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Dr. Desjamebra Robinson, M. DIV

Rochester, NY

Dr. Desjamebra Robinson is a single mother and passionate public servant. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Organizational Management form Roberts Wesleyan College. In 2003, She matriculated earning 12 credits in Black Church Studies at Colgate Rochester Crozier Divinity (P.E.A.R.L program). 

 

Dr. Robinson continued her post graduate studies at Northeastern Seminary, where she earned a Master of Arts in Theology.  She later received her Master of Divinity and her Doctorate of Ministry in Transformational Leadership at Colgate Rochester Crozier Divinity School.

 

Dr. Robinson is the organizer, founder, and facilitator of The Preachers’ Platform Ministry, a para ministry that works with local churches to cultivate the calling of leaders. She is a Myer-Briggs certified Personal & Leadership Development Coach in areas of cultivating spiritual awareness. Dr. Robinson authored the book “I Hope this Helped Someone: A Womanist Response to Spiritual and Psychological Trauma.”

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Irene DeMarco, BA
Rochester, NY

Irene joined the FCLNY team in 2020. She has a Masters of Arts in Cultural Anthropology from the University at Buffalo, and a Bachelor of Arts 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!

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Kirstyn Smith, MAT
Rochester, NY

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.

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Autumn Cramer, BS

Autumn was born and raised in Michigan and moved to New York in 2019 to attend Cornell University. While she was there, she founded the university's pro-life club and worked with Students for Life of America's Abortion Free Cities campaign as a Community Organizer in Rochester where she first became involved with FCLNY. She led doorknocking efforts, counter-protests, and frequently spoke at Town Board Meetings to stop the addition of another Brighton Planned Parenthood.

After graduating in 2022 with a Bachelor of Science in Industrial and Labor Relations, she moved to central Oregon where she works in HR at an aerospace manufacturing company and explores the mountains and rivers with her dog, Daisy. She is very excited to contribute to making Oregon pro-life!

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Imani Ackerman, BA

Teaneck, NJ

Imani Ackerman is a proficient grant writer and consultant with a focus on education, career, and business development for organizations serving women and Black Indigenous People of Color. Imani graduated with a Bachelor of Art in English from St. John’s University with honors after starting her college journey while pregnant. She is passionate about helping women believe they can have it all and that unplanned pregnancy and motherhood are not hindrances to a successful career and life.

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Jessica Levinson

Atlanta, NY

Jessica Levinson is a mother of six children and grandmother to one. She is a survivor of domestic minor sex trafficking, wife, author, small business owner, and founder of Leah's Place: maternal safe housing project. Jessica is a full time animal therapy advocate, a very successful animal foster mom, and a marginal gardener. She appreciates life, life's complexities, and the world we share.  

HONORARY BOARD MEMBER

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Award winning actor of stage and screen

 

Margaret Colin, born in Brooklyn, is a multi award-winning actor of film, stage, and television. Her acting career spans decades and includes an extensive number of performances in a vast variety of venues.  Margaret has performed in major motion pictures, including Independence Day, Unfaithful, Three Men and a Baby, Deception, Something Wild, Pretty in Pink, First Daughter and Equity. Her stage credits include Broadway’s A Day in the Death of Joe Egg, The Columnist, Old Acquaintance, Arcadia and Jackie, as well as numerous off Broadway and regional theatre productions. She has guest starred in many popular prime time television shows including, The Good Wife, Madam Secretary, Royal Pains, Blue Bloods, Gotham, Law and Order,  and The Enemy Within.  Her reoccurring roles include Jane McCabe on the Emmy Award winning HBO series Veep, for which she also received a SAG Award, Eleanor Waldorf-Rose in Gossip Girl, Margo Hughes in As The World Turns and Linda Wozniak in Shades of Blue. Margaret's activism and acting most magnificently enmeshed when she played actor Andy Garcia's wife in the CBS movie, Swing Vote, a film about the reversal of Roe v. Wade. 

 

Margaret is the paradigm of pro-life feminism. In addition to her extensive acting career, she has served as a zealous advocate for women and vulnerable populations throughout her adult life. A few of her activist roles include presenting testimony before the U.S. Congress on both abortion and human cloning and her articulate opposition to the passage of NY’s Reproductive Health Act (RHA). 

REGIONAL COORDINATOR

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Erin Ortega

Erin Ortega has spent the last 5 years working at MyChoice Pregnancy Center empowering women considering abortion to choose life in New York. She is also finishing a Bachelor of Arts degree by December, 2023 in Psychology online from SUNY Empire, hoping to continue in the field of Maternal Mental Health. She currently serves as a regional coordinator for Feminists Choosing Life of New York and sits on the national Whole Life Committee at the AND Campaign. She is a pastor’s wife at a multi-site church in update New York, where she lives with her husband, 1 dog, 2 cats, and two girls, one of whom was unplanned. 

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