Board of Directors
Nettie has served on the Safe Inc. Board for more than a decade. She is a retired educator, having worked as an English teacher and then librarian in the Schenectady City Schools. She graduated from North Carolina Central University, in Durham, where she received her bachelor’s degree; and later from the University at Albany where she received her Master's. Nettie is active with her church, Grace Fellowship, and the local chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. In 2015, for her leadership and service, she was recognized by the sorority’s 13,000-plus-membership in the North Atlantic Region, as their small chapter “President of the Year.” Long before her commitment to Safe Inc., Nettie previously served on two other local boards, the Schenectady YWCA and the SCCU Begley Library Advisory Board. In 2023 she was honored by the Schenectady NAACP and received “The Arthur Allen Educational Trailblazer Award.” Besides her family, sorority work, and her volunteerism at Safe Inc., Nettie's other great joy is vegetable gardening.
Connie has been a Safe Inc. Board of Directors member since 2018 and became Vice President in 2019.
She earned a B.S. from Hampton University, an M.A. from Teacher’s College, Columbia University, Reading Specialist Certification from SUNY @Albany and Administrative certification from Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.
Connie retired from the Schenectady City School District after 37 years of service working as a reading teacher, academic intervention supervisor, assistant principal and elementary school principal.
In retirement, she enjoys visiting the elderly, volunteering at City Mission and ushering at Proctors Theater. At Safe Inc., Connie hopes to make a difference.
Joanne is a retired Family and Consumer Science Teacher, and still enjoys substitute teaching. Joanne also loves to spend time outdoors.
An experienced entrepreneur with three successful technology ventures, Brian is currently the Vice President and General Manager of Deep Blue, A Comcast Business Company. Brian founded Deep Blue as a commercial Wi-Fi provider that evolved from the merger of WiFiFee and Deep Blue Wireless. In May of 2019, Deep Blue was acquired by Comcast Business. Previous to Deep Blue, Brian founded Vision Systems an IT Consulting Company that was sold to TAGSolutions and also Co-Founded Autotask, which is now part of Datto.
Brian serves on the boards of Passport for Good and Flowactive. He has received numerous awards and honors, including being elected President of Young Entrepreneurs Organization Albany Chapter, being selected to Capital District Business Review’s 40 Under 40 List, and being awarded Entrepreneur of the Year by the Albany Center for Economic Growth. In 2012, Brian officially became an inventor after receiving a patent on Deep Blue Communications’ Searchshaper™ technology. Brian received a BS in mechanical engineering from Union College.
Barbara is the immediate past president of Safe Inc. of Schenectady and served on the board since 2005. She earned her B.A. from Russell Sage College in 1974 and her M.S. in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages in 1997 from the University at Albany.
Barbara was the founder and President of English Perfect which provided her with the opportunity to teach professionals worldwide the necessary language skills to succeed in their fields of expertise. On a local level, she has mentored executives at the General Electric Company, SABIC and physicians at Ellis Hospital and Albany Medical Center. Not only did she teach foreign students at Union College, but she instructed professors from various disciplines regarding the necessary methodology to better support foreign students. She has prepared countless foreign students for their U.S. citizenship exam on a voluntary basis. Barbara earned an award from the American Society for Training and Development for her implementation of creative programming in the workplace.
Barbara has held leadership positions in the not-for-profit community, both locally and nationally. As a staunch advocate for religious freedom for all, she has served on the board of the National Interfaith Alliance in Washington, D.C. Locally she has been the recipient of of the “Voices that Challenge” award from the Interfaith Alliance of New York State. She received an award from the Muslim Community of the Capital District for her services as a long-term Jewish ally of the Muslim community, volunteer, interfaith activist and advocate for new immigrants. She has received a leadership award from the Capital District Palestinian Rights Committee for her organization of a Palestinian-Jewish dialogue group. Barbara has served on the Board of Directors of her synagogue, Congregation Ohav Shalom in Albany, NY, and on the Community Relations Committee of the Jewish Federation of Northeastern NY.
Barbara and her husband, Paul, are now retired and reside in Albany, NY. They have 2 adult children and one granddaughter.
Dr. Deidre Hill Butler
Dr. Deidre Hill Butler enjoys living in Schenectady. She is an Associate Professor of Sociology and Chief Academic Diversity Officer at Union College. Prof. Hill Butler is the former Director of the Africana Studies Program at Union College as well. She has made academic contributions to and received awards from multiple professional associations. She is on the leadership team for the Capital Region Anti-Racism Alliance and Cocoa house Inc. She is a member of the Duryee AME Zion Church in Schenectady; Delta Mu Omega Graduate Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.; the Greater Albany Chapter of Jack and Jill of America; the Schenectady Silhouettes; and the Schenectady Chapter of the NAACP. She is married to Alan Butler Sr. the bonus mother to four adults and birth mother to two teenagers who attend Schenectady public schools. She is grateful for the opportunity to serve on The Safe Inc. Board.
Jennifer L. Whitson, CMP, DES
Ms. Whitson is a Certified Meeting Professional and Digital Event Strategist with a diverse career background that spans over 20 years in public and private communications and meeting/event management.
Highlights of Ms. Whitson’s career include, serving as Deputy Communications Director for the United States House of Representatives, Committee on Ways and Means Democratic staff from 2001-2005. While a staffer for the Ways and Means Committee, Ms. Whitson had the opportunity to work closely with the office of the then Ranking Member, Charles B. Rangel (D-NY) on various Communications projects. After leaving Capitol Hill she went on to The Aspen Institute to serve as Communications Director for the bi-partisan Commission on No Child Left Behind.
Ms. Whitson would go on to transition to event production as a script writer for various events and conferences in the DC area including the Congressional Black Caucus Annual Legislative Conference and the Girl Scouts of America’s 100 Anniversary Celebration. Her event experience continued to grow when she joined the Conference department of The Potter’s House of Dallas/ T.D. Jakes Ministries in 2012. For over 4 years Ms. Whitson was part of the planning and logistics team behind countless meetings and conferences with attendees of 200 to 30,000+ in the Dallas/ Ft. Worth area, Orlando and Atlanta.
Since moving move back east in 2017, Ms. Whitson has worked for the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), Washington, DC; Buffalo Collegiate Charter School, Buffalo, NY and currently serves as the Secretary to the Superintendent of the City School District of Albany.
Ms. Whitson is a graduate of Buffalo State University. In addition to being a board member for Safe, Inc. of Schenectady, she is active in community service with Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated and is a member of the Board for the Pearls of the Capital Region Foundation.
Pamela is a lifelong resident of Schenectady, New York. She finds great value and fulfillment in serving the community by helping others. She loves being part of Safe Inc. because it provides vital services to at risk youth in a supportive and caring environment. Pamela is a vegan who loves reading, yoga, walking and being positive. Most importantly she is a proud mom and nana!
Bethany is a proud alum of Hampton University (BBA '16, MBA '18). She currently works for global consulting firm Protiviti in their Internal Audit/Financial Advisory solution. Prior to joining Protiviti, she worked at KPMG providing external audit services in the public accounting sector. She enjoys traveling and jogging, and outside of Safe Inc. she volunteers with Junior Achievement. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., the National Association of Black Accountants, and the Institute of Internal Auditors.
Devon Love Wimberly is the owner-proprietor of Wimberly Athletics and Training. His love for children can be seen daily as he works with student athletes from Schenectady, Albany, Niskayuna, Scotia, Burnt Hills, Clifton Park and Troy. He presently retains the position of Innovation, Equity and Engagement Specialist for the Schenectady City School District, while working as a Board Member at SAFE Inc., Cornell Cooperative Extension, Schenectady Community College Outreach Center, the Niskayuna D.E.I Task Force and the Capital District Youth Football League. He is a member of the Schenectady National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Friendship Baptist Church of lower Union Street Schenectady, Union Colleges Fighting Dutchmen Gridiron Club, a 2X Captain in football for Union College and The Albany Academy Athletic Hall of Fame. Devon was born in Albany, NY where In 2022 he received the distinguished honor, City of Albany's Merit in Recognition of Community Service. It has always been about serving others first for Mr. Wimberly.
Reverend Dr. Angela West
Rev. West has worked in service in areas of Foreign Mission, Jail Ministry, Women ministries, Substance Abuse, HIV AIDS, Schenectady City School District mentoring young girls, higher education, and has served on several community boards throughout Schenectady, New York.
Angela is currently a Grants Manager with the Small Business Administration, and an adjunct instructor at SUNY SCCC (10 plus years) in the Division of Liberal Arts teaching a variety of courses. Angela has worked in the area of Higher Education for nearly 15 years and was the former Director of the Educational Opportunity and Access Programs (EOP) at SUNY Schenectady County Community College for nearly 10 years. Angela is a former volunteer with Habitat for Humanity (Schenectady), and served as the Inaugural Chaplain, for the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW), North West Georgia Section.
Rev. West earned an Associate degree in Human Services from Schenectady County Community College, a Bachelors degree in Social Work from the College of Saint Rose, a Masters degree in Social Work, from the State University of New York at Albany, a Masters of Divinity Degree from Virginia Union University, Samuel DeWitt Proctor, School of Theology, and a Doctorate of Management and Administration from the University of Maryland University College.
Angela is a mother, and grandmother, and a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated.
Valerie Brooks is a Capital District native, raised in Niskayuna, NY and currently living in Albany,
She attended Hampton University, where she obtained her Doctorate of Pharmacy (PharmD).
During her tenure at Hampton University, Valerie led numerous community service and
mentorship initiatives. After graduating, Valerie completed a post-doctoral fellowship at Novo
Nordisk Inc. in Medical Information where she gained experience creating medical content for 2 blockbuster diabetes medications.
Currently, Valerie is a Medical Information Manager at Novo Nordisk Inc. and supports obesity related medical content. During her free time, Valerie enjoys traveling, trying new foods and pilates. She also mentors pharmacy students interested in non-traditional careers.
Valerie lives by the saying “we lift as we climb”, and is extremely passionate about giving back
to her community.
Peter Montesano is an accomplished Marketing and Business Development Manager with over 10 years of experience. He is known for his ability to cultivate strategic partnerships, generate revenue opportunities, and drive innovative programs.
In his role as an Advisor at TrophyCase Inc., Peter consults on investor relations, strategic partnerships, UX/UI and app development, marketing strategies, and user acquisition. He established an investor pipeline, securing $500,000 in investments. Peter attracts influencers, spearheads meetings with industry leaders, and executes marketing plans for app launches and activations at major sporting events.
As CEO of Vocasio Ventures, Peter attracted large-scale entertainment projects and collaborated with prominent companies such as Universal Music Group. He conducted a market analysis for a proposed $20M mixed-use development and raised $3M in pledges for a large-scale music event. Peter also secured $500,000 in seed funding, identified start-up opportunities, and maximized event and media opportunities.
As CEO of U IS, LLC, Peter launched and operated successful live music tours and events. He negotiated talent and venue agreements, implemented diverse marketing strategies, and attracted corporate sponsorships.
In his role as Business Development Coordinator at Excelsior Sports Group, Peter facilitated partnerships between clients and medical facilities, resulting in licensing approval for Next Gen DNA Diagnostics in New York State.
Peter Montesano's leadership, strategic acumen, and partnership-building skills have consistently driven success throughout his career, making him a valuable asset in marketing and business development.