Believe in Syracuse Board of Directors

Believe in Syracuse is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and is governed by its Board of Directors. 



Esther Zorn - President of the Board

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.



Yvonne Scott-Younis, MBA - Board Member

Yvonne is a newly-minted graduate of the Gifford Foundation's Nourishing Tomorrow's Leaders Board Development Program.  She also chairs our Special Events Team. Yvonne holds an M.B.A. from Syracuse University Martin J. Whitman School of Management and earned a Certificate in Digital Marketing and a Certificate in Professional Fundraising from Boston University. She comes to BIS with a wealth of experience in the non-profit arena in various director roles, and corporate America in senior product management roles, responsible for full P&Ls for multi-million dollar product portfolios globally.


rosalyn.jpgRosalyn Peterson - Board Member

Rosalyn is a member of the Board of Directors of Believe in Syracuse. Rosalyn studied Marketing at Nichols College and received a degree in Communications and Rhetorical Studies from Syracuse University. She was employed as a Senior Administrator at Syracuse University. Rosalyn is the owner of a catering business called Comfort Foods and a Grocery Delivery business called The Basics. Rosalyn lives in the Salt Springs neighborhood in the City of Syracuse.

Mery Liranzo Nieves - Board Secretary

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. 




MarkAvery Claridge - Board Member

MarkAvery was born and raised in the Syracuse Area. He is a Navy veteran and returned to Syracuse to complete his Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Neuroscience at Syracuse University. He is pursuing a Masters of Arts in Public Relations online while working as a stay at home dad. He also is developing City Connect, a business that promotes small business, community, and growth in the Syracuse area. MarkAvery is happy to be part of Believe in Syracuse and honored to be part of the Board and Chair of the Membership & Marketing Committee.


Jessica_Bumpus.jpgJessica Bumpus - Vice President of the Board

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.



Sally_Photo.jpgSally Sayles-Hannon - Sergeant at Arms

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.

Believe in Syracuse Staff


john.jpgJohn DeSantis - Executive Director

As Executive Director, John is responsible for day to day operations of the organization. John is the founder of Believe in Syracuse. He received his Bachelor of Science Degree from Syracuse University in 2008. From 2009 until 2012 John was employed by the Obama Campaign working in grassroots field organizing, first as a Field Organizer and then as Regional Field Director. John grew up in DeWitt and is a graduate of Jamesville-DeWitt High School. John and his wife Abby live in Eastwood.

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