Announcing New Members of our Board of Directors!

The Board of Believe in Syracuse oversee the advancement of our mission: To promote positive perceptions and improve the quality of life in the Greater Syracuse Area.

Christopher Hess, LMT

Owner of Camillus Massage Therapy, Christopher has a deep and broad passion for the Syracuse community. He brings Marketing, Sales, and Management expertise to our board. Christopher served on Active Duty in the U.S. Marine Corps. He grew up outside Auburn and came to Syracuse in 2001. Over the years, he has lived on Tipperary Hill, the Northside and other parts of the Greater Syracuse Area. He started Camillus Massage Therapy in 2014 and grew it into a four-location business with 16 employees. Christopher loves Syracuse’s festivals, historic architecture, parks, neighborhoods, varied dining options, and the local arts scene. He is continually inspired every time he sees the skyline of the city which fuels the flames of his passion for Syracuse.

Denise Baker

Denise is a HEDIS Operation Supervisor at Molina Healthcare and is very involved in her community. She is a Co-VP for Black Nurses Rock-Syracuse, a committee member with Youth Substance Abuse Prevention (YSAP), and has been elected to sit on the Liverpool Board of Trustees. She has been a member of Believe in Syracuse for more than two years. As a nurse, supporting activities that encourage the health and well being of our community members is important to her. Denise is passionate about ways Believe in Syracuse can support community growth and healing. She believes in how community engagement allows people to work together to invest in our joint success.


Patrick Taylor

Patrick is a Senior Accountant at Liftech Equipment Companies. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting from LeMoyne College. He holds over 30 years of experience in several industries. He has worked in Nonprofits as an employee and as a board member. Patrick has been a member of the board of Catholic Charities of Onondaga County and has served as that organization’s treasurer. He is especially skilled in accounts receivable, financial analysis, internal controls, financial statements, and Quickbooks Software. He attended high school at Bishop Ludden and has lived in CNY his whole life. He believes in Syracuse because he knows that Syracuse has a lot to offer for a city its size.

Andrew Schutt

Andrew Schutt is the owner of Elevated Web Marketing, a digital marketing agency focused on helping local businesses grow into local brands. Andrew started his business while in school at SUNY Oswego and currently resides in Baldwinsville with his girlfriend. He loves skiing, hiking, cooking, and just generally learning new things. Andrew Believes In Syracuse because it’s helped him personally jumpstart his business and professional career. He believes it's crucial that we crush this false notion that “Syracuse doesn’t have anything to offer.” He's living proof that it truly does have a lot to offer, and he's eager to open the eyes of everyone living here to see that as well.

Ahmeed H. Turner

Currently, the Syracuse Chapter Executive Director of Say Yes to Education, Ahmeed has worked in the Nonprofit sector for Vera House, City Year, St. Luke’s House, and Elmcrest Children’s Center. Ahmeed has a Bachelors Degree in Psychology from Cheyney University and a Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy from Syracuse University. He grew up here, went away for college and lived in Washington, DC. After coming back to CNY, he realized the many benefits to the Syracuse area. He now lives in the Salt Springs neighborhood on the east side of Syracuse.

These five new members were elected to join our existing five board members. To learn more about them visit

Forbes raves of Syracuse's renaissance, "one of the most underrated cities in the country"

I started Believe in Syracuse because CNY is a great place to live. Our problems are real. I see them first hand every day. The Believe in Syracuse office is in the South Side Innovation Center.

Spending time on the South Side of Syracuse I also see progress and hope every day as there are many people and organizations working hard to make our city stronger.

US News and World Report did research that shows that on average, we enjoy a quality of life and cost of living that rivals any city in the country. Where we lagged behind in that study is in net migration, an area we're passionate about. By promoting positive perceptions of Greater Syracuse, we are on a mission to help retain our best and brightest young people.

As Syracuseans, we can be our own biggest critics. However, I can't tell you how many people I've met who moved here from elsewhere and fell in love with Central New York. We consistently receive national recognition for the progress that happens here. We have been a city on the rise for nearly a decade and our city has turned a corner in a positive direction.

Today our advisory council hosted guest speaker Rob Simpson, President of CenterState CEO and he reminded us about this recent Forbes article that highlights Syracuse as "one of the most underrated cities in the country" and how Hotel Syracuse has risen from the dead.

We all need to be serious about improving our city for those in need but we also must celebrate ourselves. We should celebrate Providence Services of Syracuse for helping lift people out of poverty through their rides to work program. We should celebrate locally owned businesses like TCG Player, CH Insurance, AP Professionals and Wegmans for contributing to help grow our economy.

We should celebrate all of you. It's people like you who care about other people, who volunteer, who donate to charity, who are good neighbors and good citizens who make a difference. That's why you should join us in just about two weeks at Views Over Syracuse - a fall night out from the top floor of the iconic Crowne Plaza in Downtown Syracuse.

Views Over Syracuse is about celebrating our past, present and future, and what makes Syracuse a great place to live. Come to celebrate yourself and each other, because you deserve it. Click here to learn more and buy your tickets today!


Here's a sneak peek and some of the views you'll enjoy at the event:

John DeSantis
Believe in Syracuse


Event Supporting Writing Our Lives Youth Writing Program

Join Believe in Syracuse for a fall night out featuring Views Over Syracuse. Come out and focus your view in support of this year’s Writing Our Lives Youth Writing Conference. This year's conference theme is Visual Voices.  We intend to bring together middle, high school, and college youth writers to engage in writing workshops focused on the power of images and words.  We will invite Syracuse community writers, authors, and teaching artists to facilitate workshops that honor the legacy of Professor Stephen Mahan, the founder and director of the PAL (Photography and Literacy) Project.

Views Over Syracuse – Focus Your View

Crowne Plaza Top Floor Horizons Ballroom

Friday, September 28, 2018, from 6PM-10PM

Tickets- $55 (non-members) & $45 (members)

All are welcome to attend! Click here and buy your tickets today!

What is Writing Our Lives?

Writing Our Lives youth literacy program promotes writing in the lives of youth in and out of school and works with teachers and community groups to prepare better writers. Programming includes writing workshops, presentations, digital storytelling, youth publications, writer’s notebooks, promotion of cultural voices, and community events for young writers. Writing Our Lives, founded in 2009 by Dr. Marcelle Haddix, supports students in urban schools and community spaces.

Dr. Haddix describes Writing Our Lives: “It’s an opportunity to engage with community writers, poets, artists and educators who bring their talents and gifts to the conference to share with today’s youths. We are trying to foster and create a community of writers that is inclusive of adults and youth across backgrounds, race, class, gender, sexuality and religion. It really is to create a space for all of us who love to write and who have stories to share. It’s a way to tell those stories and learn how to listen, receive and bear witness to others’ stories.”

Esther Zorn

Board President

Believe in Syracuse

Introducing the 2018 Summer Fellows!

This summer, we've been lucky enough to take on our biggest Fellow class yet! Eight smart, passionate and talented young people have joined the Believe in Syracuse team.

Find out what drives them to help make Syracuse a better, more positive place to live.

Read more

Major Announcement: Views Over Syracuse!

I'm very excited to announce an upcoming Believe in Syracuse event: Views Over Syracuse - Focus Your View!


This will be an awesome party from the 20th floor Horizon Ballroom of the Downtown Crowne Plaza Hotel. The venue’s extensive view of the city skyline will take center stage in a night of dinner, drinks and music. The theme of the night is “Past, Present and Future." Information at the windows will be sure to evoke discussion about Syracuse’s rich history and current trajectory. 

Also, thanks to contributions made by our Platinum Event Sponsor, AP Professionals of Syracuse, the Crowne Plaza will be providing generous food stations. The menu will feature both food local to Syracuse and food from around the world, making this a substantial and bountiful cocktail party that you won't leave hungry from (provided food and cash bar). Thanks to our Gold Level Sponsor, Byrne Dairy, for sponsoring this event.

Here's a photo I took from the venue this winter. Still a great view, but the weather will definitely be better for the actual event!

All are welcome to attend! Tickets are $55 – proceeds support Believe in Syracuse and its mission to promote and strengthen our community. Click here for more information and to add your name to the guest list.

Looking forward to seeing you there!


John DeSantis

P.S. - Did you see the news out on Monday? Our Board of Directors elected a new board President, VP and other officers! To see who they are and learn more, click here.

Believe in Syracuse Board Elects New President, VP and Board Officers:

Believe in Syracuse Board Elects New President, VP and Board Officers:

For Immediate Release

Believe in Syracuse Contacts

John DeSantis, Executive Director, 315-657-7478

Esther Zorn, Board President, 315-430-4546

Newly elected Board President Esther Zorn believes, “We will rise by lifting others, and we as the new board of Believe in Syracuse are excited to work together and continue to lift Syracuse up as a great place to live and work. We are also well aware that through effective collaboration with other organizations and the city leadership more grassroots work can get done. Believe in Syracuse intends to work on retaining people in Syracuse while attracting new businesses so jobs will be plentiful and Syracuse can rise to the top of any list.”

President: Esther Zorn

Esther Zorn is a founding board member of Believe In Syracuse (2014) and is a long time resident of the city of Syracuse. She graduated from Syracuse University with a degree in Journalism and International Relations. Esther and her husband stayed in Syracuse and raised their 3 children, who have now all left the area.

Just some of the reasons why Esther and her husband have chosen to stay in Syracuse are: the beauty of the Central New York area, its easy access to so many other attractive metropolitan and natural areas, its affordable housing and its friendly people. Esther has contributed and continues to contribute to the Greater Syracuse area through her work and volunteer hours spent with everything from daycare boards, literacy organizations, coops, church to past President of WBOC (Women Business Opportunities and Connections) and now Board Member of Zonta, member of Rotary of Eastwood and recently chosen to be on the Agent Leadership Council for Keller Williams Realty Syracuse where she is continuing her 16+ career years as a Real Estate Associate Broker.

Vice President:

Jessica Bumpus

Jessica Bumpus has been a resident of the Syracuse area since 2004, moving from central Texas to pursue a Bachelor’s degree at SUNY ESF. After having her son in 2007, she decided to settle in the area. She currently works at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo as the Gift Shop Manager and Buyer, the Chair of the Conservation Committee, and member of the Education Committee. She is the Treasurer for the Rosamond Gifford Zoo chapter of American Association of Zoo Keepers (AAZK) and former Executive Board member of GreeningUSA. She recently moved to Lyncourt, has one son (aged 9), a wonderful husband, and a personal zoo (3 cats, 2 dogs, 1 guinea pig). In her spare time she enjoys reading, hiking, and running (both competitively and for fun). She is very interested in sustainability, civic engagement, and community organizing.


Matthew McArdle

Matthew is a member of the Board of Directors of Believe in Syracuse. Matthew graduated from Westhill High School and received a Bachelors of Science from Syracuse University where he studied accounting and finance. Matthew is a Certified Public Accountant and a Manager at DiMarco, Abiusi, & Pascarella CPA.


Mery Liranzo-Nieves

Mery is a 3 year resident of Syracuse, originally from South Jersey. She has a B.S. from Stockton University in NJ in Business Management. Mery is currently employed with the Social Security Administration.  She lives in Eastwood with her significant other and her 2 boys/kitties. She has always loved volunteering and giving a helping hand. Mery is excited to call Syracuse her home and loves everything that the wonderful city has to offer.

Sergeant of Arms:

Sally Sayles-Hannon

Sally is a diversity educator and active community organizer/advocate in Central New York. She has been an instructor at five U.S. universities and colleges. Currently, she holds an instructor position at Cayuga Community College in Auburn, New York in the School of Social Sciences and Education. She holds a B.A. in Liberal Studies from Grand Valley State University, an M.A. in Women’s Studies from Texas Woman’s University, and is a Ph.D. Candidate in Cultural Foundations of Education at Syracuse University. Sally is presently the Chair of the Community Service Committee.

Sally moved to Syracuse in August of 2008 from Dallas, Texas. Her love of Greater Syracuse, especially the community, has since made Syracuse her home. When she has the opportunity, she enjoys visiting family in Michigan, spending a good weekend in the outdoors, and listening to live music. She resides in Clay, New York with her significant other and two cats, Otto and Ollie.



Why does member Steve Thompson believe in Syracuse?

Pictured above: Integrity Cost Consulting logo

Q&A with Steve Thompson, Owner of Integrity Cost Consulting

Steve Thompson is a member of Believe in Syracuse and the owner of Integrity Cost Consulting – a Syracuse-based firm that “helps organizations improve their cash flow in 2-4 weeks for no cost and no increase in their expenses.” Originally from Ogdensburg, NY, Steve moved to Syracuse in 1999 after always aspiring to live here. He now resides in Liverpool with his wife, three sons and two dogs.

As someone who is passionate about helping local organizations manage their costs, Steve understands the challenges that come with operating a small business – find out why, in his opinion, Syracuse is a great place for business owners.


Read more

Syracuse Sizzles!

By Zach Snyder and Esther Zorn. Photos were taken by John DeSantis

It’s All Here! At Believe in Syracuse, we believe that SYRACUSE SIZZLES! in the summer. That’s why we’re launching a summer digital campaign, for our community and in conjunction with our community partners, to promote the fun opportunities  Syracuse offers in the summer.

Here are just some of our top picks for places to spend the summer in Syracuse:

Parks & Nature

The Beach at Green Lakes State Park

Pictured above: The beach at Green Lakes State Park 

One of the best parts of Syracuse Summer is all the parks and outdoor activities. Some of our favorites are:


Pictured above: Ice cream from Crave Dessert Studio at the Taste of Syracuse

An iconic part of Syracuse summers is our festivals. Wherever they are in Syracuse, they bring together communities for a fun time for all ages. A few of our favorites still coming up are:

And of course, it wouldn’t be right if we didn’t mention the greatest end to the Syracuse Summer: the Great New York State Fair. This year you’ll have even more chances to go since they expanded to 13 days! The fair runs from August 22nd - September 3rd. More details to come!

Arts & Culture

Pictured above: The AmeriCU Arts & Crafts Festival 

Another great part of Syracuse is the arts & culture. While many of these things you can do year-round in Syracuse, some are great things to do on a rainy day:

Food & Drink

Pictured Left: Beer from 315 Brewing. Pictured Right: Food and Beverages at Beer Belly Deli

There’s plenty of great places to enjoy summer in Syracuse and have a good meal. Some of the places our members like to go are:

Of course, we can’t forget about all the food trucks that pop up around Syracuse.

We hope you’ll be able to get out there and enjoy some of the things that we believe why

SYRACUSE SIZZLES! Watch on social media to see more positive things to do this summer.

Share the positive experiences you’re having with us at #SyracuseSizzles!  

Believe in Syracuse's Partners: Some of the Best of CNY

All throughout the month of May, Believe in Syracuse celebrated the first ever CNY Organization Month. We promoted all our sponsors and partners in the community that help enable us to do the work we do.

In total, our corporate sponsors employ thousands of people across CNY and contribute millions of dollars to our local economy. Nonprofits we partner with run local education programs for kids and help transition people out of poverty.

Do you know an organization that would like to partner with us? Click here for more info, reply to this email or give us a call at 315-657-7478.

BlueRock Energy is a proud supporter of Believe in Syracuse and the local community. For 15 years, BlueRock has been providing energy solutions for residents across the Northeast. Whether you’re a homeowner or renter, BlueRock Energy offers electricity and natural gas options for you. Switch to BlueRock today and lock in a low fixed energy rate by visiting


AP Professionals of Syracuse, a full-service search staffing agency, has become an outstanding solution to both clients and candidates when hiring or looking for new positions. AP Professionals places individuals who have Accounting, Finance, Human Resources, Legal and Administrative backgrounds both on a permanent and contract basis. Click here to check out their website:

Our mission is to help our clients achieve their personal, business, and financial goals. Our firm is dedicated to core legal competency in each of our legal practice areas, prompt client communication, tireless improvement, unwavering ethics, and zealous advocacy. We treat each client with respect and measure our success by our clients’ success. To check out their website, click here:

We’re not just another place to grab bar food before the game. At Beer Belly Deli & Pub, you’ll find a creative menu inspired by the traditions of gastropub fare, as well as a unique beer and wine menu that is sure to suit any occasion. Comfort food with a twist. Check out this spot in the heart of Westcott Street and visit their website for more info:

The Finger Lake's #1 Casino just a 40-minute drive from Downtown Syracuse! We have the hottest slots, the most-thrilling table games, marquee entertainers & a 4-star resort-style hotel—excitement at a whole new level. Proximity to regional attractions is part of what makes Syracuse great. Check out their website

Providence Services of Syracuse: If your company has trouble hiring or retaining employees due to lack of transportation, contact Providence Services @ their Shuttle To Work program. 315-415-0165 - Deborah Hundley, President

Making it in CNY: Yes, there's still manufacturing in Central New York... lots of it! Making it in Central New York is an open-source integrated marketing initiative. They encourage manufacturers, their service providers, workers and the general public to engage in and continue to develop and promote our story. Check them out on Facebook at

ChoicePay Payroll: We are a payroll company in Syracuse that offers businesses a local alternative to PayChex and ADP. They are an easy and affordable service, especially for small businesses. We recently spotlighted them on our blog. Click here to learn more.

Hill & Associates Financial Services: We founded our practice with the desire to help individuals and families develop personalized financial strategies that can grow with them over the years. With over 117 years of combined experience, our team is uniquely positioned to bring this level of experience to you. We are dedicated to serving our clients first, last, and always. Learn more at

Michael Sgro, LLC: Michael D. Sgro is a business owner, a certified coach, an advocate, a college success expert and creative leader. His mission is to inspire and nurture extraordinary leaders. He is hosting Seven Strangers at Dinner, a new networking experience at il salotto. Click here to learn more and RSVP.

Woodbine Hospitality Group: The management group for the beautiful, sustainable, and industry-leading hotels in Syracuse: The Genesee Grande Hotel, Hotel Skyler, and The Parkview Hotel

Wegmans: Our commitment to you is simple: Every Day You Get our Best. Our customers tell us they choose Wegmans for the helpful people in our stores, help with delicious meals from our chefs, and the freshest ingredients possible. Offering choice, quality and value in every aisle is how we hope to make your shopping experience a genuine pleasure.

The Landmark Theatre: The Landmark's 2018 Gala is your opportunity to enjoy a spectacular evening of live music, fine dining, and entertainment at the historic Landmark Theatre. As we celebrate our 90th anniversary this year, artwork created by local artists and inspired by the theatre will be available for silent auction, as well as priceless theatre memorabilia. The 2018 Gala will be Saturday, June 23rd, with cocktails beginning at 7 pm, dinner at 8 pm, and an after party from 10 pm – midnight. Get tickets at

MIC - McCormick Internet Consultants: We are a locally owned & run computer & network services business. We support MAC & Windows Systems, Wired & Wireless Networks, and Website Design/Hosting. We are offering free systems/network analysis for Believe in Syracuse supporters. To learn more and sign up for a free aanalysis click here.

Esther Zorn at Keller Williams Realty Syracuse: I am your premier real estate expert and I am here to provide you with all the resources and information you need to buy or sell real estate. I work with buyers and sellers in I have had extensive training in the latest real estate strategies. I am confident that I can offer you knowledge and tools most other agents can’t. Take a look at my website, to see some of the great tools I have to offer.

Simon's Agency: They offer Consumer and Commercial Collections for the modern age using the most advanced technology and allowing for easy client interface and placements. Their marketing director John Viggiano was recently highlighted in this blog post on our website.

It's About Childhood & Family: A Central New York Not-for-Profit Agency Providing Mental Health Services for Children & Families. "We believe that children should not be defined by labels, but instead by their strengths and character." To learn more visit their website:

Commonspace: Commonspace is a new way of living, working and making human connections. It is no less than revolutionary in its simplicity but perfectly aligned with the human spirit.  We are all social creatures, and the best versions of ourselves are expressed when we do so in a group. To learn more visit

CH Insurance: CH Insurance specializes in protecting your business and what’s important to you personally. Because our roots are right here in CNY, with owners on site, immediate and accurate decisions are made on your behalf. We’re personally involved and in your corner. Learn more at their website

Museum of Science & Technology - MOSTThe MOST is a preeminent science and technology institution, inspiring all generations through hands-on education and entertainment. For information on exhibits and upcoming events, visit

Acropolis Development: A Leading Real Estate Brokerage And Development Company In Syracuse. Learn more on their website:

Integrity Cost Consulting: We help organizations improve cash flow by verifying, recovering, and reducing their waste, telecom, and utility costs. We work on a performance-basis. Learn more on their website

Do you know an organization that would like to partner with us? Click here for more info, reply to this email or give us a call at 315-657-7478.


John from Simon's Agency Inspired by Syracuse


John Viggiano and his father Dan Viggiano, Jr. 

Q&A with John Viggiano, Marketing & Communications at Simon's Agency

Q: Tell me a little bit about yourself? 

I'm a lifelong resident of Syracuse and graduate of city schools. Born a Nort' sider and currently reside in Eastwood.

Q: What is your business and what does it do? 

I work for Simon's Agency, Inc. which helps organizations recover debts that are owed to them.

Q: Why did you go into this line of work? 

It found me! I was recruited by the owner when I was on summer break during my college years. It's a fascinating blend of analytics and psychology and has proven to be a challenging job from a marketing and communications perspective.

Q: Why do you believe in Syracuse? 

Because the community believes in itself and throughout my entire life has created positives in every way. The energy expended over the last three decades to make Syracuse great is impressive and inspiring.

Q: What do you love about living in Syracuse? 

In my opinion, it's one of the best natural beauties in America - the cleanest lakes and most pristine forests all within an hour of CNY. Pretty safe place from a geological and climate standpoint too.

Q: What makes Syracuse a great place for your business or organization? 

This part can be challenging but the people who work here are what makes it possible.

Q: How can readers learn more about your business and how can folks work with you/become a customer? 

Check out our website at and be sure to click on our blogs to learn more about our industry and our community involvement. From there fill out our contact form or give us a call!