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Staff

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Kyla Schmidt

Executive Director

Kyla Schmidt is the Founder and Executive Director of Mom Starts Here, a nonprofit organization established in 2016. Inspired by personal experiences as a young parent navigating resources and seeking support, Kyla is committed to leading the organization to continue providing material support for parents and building a supportive community through Mom Starts Here. As a Master Certified Life Coach specializing in parenting, and holding a bachelor's degree in Community and Human Services, Kyla brings a strong foundation in serving others and a deep understanding of the needs of families.

In addition to leading Mom Starts Here, Kyla serves on the board of directors for multiple organizations and is committed to community involvement and advocacy.

As a wife and mother of three, Kyla understands the challenges and joys of parenthood firsthand. Currently pursuing a Ph.D. in social and personality psychology with a focus on studying parenting behaviors, particularly in supporting parents facing financial burdens, Kyla is passionate about advancing knowledge in this area and positively impacting families over generations.

Through her dedication to supporting parents and creating a welcoming environment for all, Kyla strives to ensure that no one has to navigate the journey of parenthood alone.

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Damaris Daniels

Maternal Care CHW

Damaris Daniels is a Maternal Care Community Health Worker at Mom Starts Here, stationed at Hometown Health Center. She has a certificate in Health Studies and holds an Associate degree in Human Services from Schenectady County Community College. Damaris has always felt that something everyone in the world needs more of, are chances. Chances to grow, to thrive, and to make things better for themselves, regardless of where they started or where they want to end up. Damaris believes community outreach is one of the best ways to achieve this goal, and is excited to be able to empower individuals and families on a daily basis through her work at Mom Starts Here.

 Board of Directors

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Laurie Ballard

Board Chair

Laurie Ballard is the Founder/President of LMB Development Consulting, LLC, a women owned consulting company that assists nonprofit organizations in identifying, developing, and implementing short- and long-term strategies that promote growth and build long-term sustainability. Laurie has worked in the nonprofit sector for over 25 years. She is a member of the Capital Region Chamber, Steering Committee Member of the Chamber’s Women’s Business Council, and member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. But most importantly, Laurie is a wife, a mother, daughter, sister, friend, and advocate for women and families. And she is obsessed with her two dogs, Gracie and Huxley.

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Maureen 
Nicholson

Treasurer

Maureen is. a Member Service Leader at Broadview Federal Credit Union, currently leading 4 branches. She has always felt the power of community. Nicholson knows that when we gather to share ideas and support each other, we are stronger. The proverb, “it takes a village to raise a child” has always resonated deeply with her. Nicholson knows first hand the importance of having that supportive village and is committed to serving the community and acting as a member of that essential village. She is an avid volunteer and founding board member at Mom Starts Here. She lives in the city of Albany with her son Quentin, and daughter, Rihannon.

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Annie

Finn

Annie is a member of the Field Marketing and Community Partnerships team at MVP Health Care. With over a decade of marketing and event experience, she currently utilizes her skillset to support the mission of fostering healthier, more vibrant communities. She has an unwavering passion for uniting people, building high-value relationships, and the transformative power that community can hold. As a native of Troy, she takes great pride in contributing to the mission of Mom Starts Here.

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Angelica
De La Cruz

De La Cruz embodies the multifaceted role of a mother, displaying nurturing qualities essential for the well-being of her family. As a professional Child Caregiver for over a decade, she brings expertise in providing attentive and skillful care to children, ensuring their safety and development.

In her capacity as a STEAM instructor, she leverages her knowledge across science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics to facilitate engaging and educational experiences for both families and classrooms. Creating lesson plans and instruction sheets for the children to follow along and bring home. This demonstrates her commitment to fostering a holistic learning environment. She pushes for the involvement of underprivileged children in order to showcase the possibilities of a future in STEAM careers.

Functioning as a Virtual Assistant, she excels in managing tasks efficiently, utilizing digital tools, and maintaining organized workflows. Her role extends to being a social media manager, where she strategically crafts and disseminates content, fostering online presence and engagement. Moreover, her proficiency as a visual graphic designer showcases her creativity and ability to communicate visually. Through compelling designs, she contributes to conveying messages effectively, whether for personal or professional purposes.

In essence, De La Cruz seamlessly integrates diverse skills, demonstrating adaptability, creativity, and a strong commitment to both familial and professional responsibilities. While also bringing her unique experience as a mother on the receiving end of the Mom Starts Here program she hopes to keep the voices of the community loud and strong within the board

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Victoria Hostig

Vice Chair

Victoria Hostig is the Founder and President of Blueprint Strategies & Consulting.

In her most previous role, Victoria served as the Director of Community Relations and Executive Director of CDPHP The Foundation. In these roles, she was responsible for the coordination and execution of charitable giving for CDPHP and The Foundation, as well as acting as a community liaison for the organization.

Victoria earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre from Russell Sage College and a Master of Science in Organizational Management from The Sage Colleges.

She is a 2012 graduate of the Rensselaer County Regional Chamber of Commerce Leadership Institute and Chair of the 2018 class, a 2016 recipient of the Girls, Inc. Fuel Her Fire Emerging Leader Award, a 2017 40 Under 40 honoree, a 2019 Capital Regional Chamber Women of Excellence winner, a 2019 City & State 100 Responsible People honoree, and the recipient of the 2020-2021 TWILL Social Impact award from the Northeast Kidney Foundation.

Victoria volunteers her time with several local not-for-profits, including Unity House, Mom Starts Here, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Capital Region.

In her spare time, Victoria enjoys running, playing golf, and spending time with her husband, Dave, and three daughters: Eleanor, 15, Charlotte, 12, and Amelia, 3.

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Yolanda

Kirby

Yolanda Kirby, a dedicated health care professional in Albany, NY, embodies Maya Angelou's wisdom: "Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better." Committed to improving health equity and fostering community collaboration, Yolanda's diverse background enhances health care access, education, and equity, making her invaluable. In her role with the United Way of the Greater Capital Region’s Community Impact team, she facilitates government grants, ensures efficient data collection, and strengthens multi-sectoral partnerships in the social justice philanthropic space. Past contributions involved facilitating relationships, addressing Social Determinants of Health needs. Yolanda's leadership extends to co-founding an Employee Resource Group, promoting equity and inclusion. Her expertise in data analysis and coordination, combined with a diverse skill set, underscores her commitment to healthcare efficiency and equity. Yolanda's talent for convening and connecting with people, passion for improving women's health care, commitment to diversity and inclusion and her empathetic nature reflect her dedication to making healthcare more equitable. Beyond her professional life, she enjoys nurturing her faith, exploring new adventures and watching sports. Known for her active listening skills, she provides a supportive environment for all.

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Jennifer

Massey

Jennifer L. Massey, SPHR, SHRM SCP, EA-CS™, Certified in DiSC® and Mental Health First Aid Integra HR, LLC Founder & CEO

With more than 30 years of executive experience, Jennifer is an entrepreneur, innovator and strategic visionary transforming client cultures and their employees by focusing on the “Aha” moments and doing what is right even when it is hard. Jennifer’s genuine passion for helping others along with grit,perseverance, and knowledge has given her company, Integra HR, the foundation needed to experience an impressive trajectory of expansion and growth over the last several years. During Jennifer’s vast career, she spent ten years working in human services where she reconnected with her true purpose by giving back and serving her community. In fact, Jennifer formed Integra’s Give Back & Impact program thathas benefited numerous agencies and schools serving our most vulnerable populations.

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Alissa

Ballard

Alissa Ballard is the Grant Coordinator at Early Care & Learning Council. Alissa is a social worker by day and music teacher by night. She became a social worker out of her passion for being an advocate for marginalized populations and began her career in the anti-violence field. Alissa believes in the power of women and our ability to learn from each other, including sharing our strengths and resilience. She lives in Schenectady with her two orange cats.

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