A leading light in the human services field

Terese Scofidio.

When Terese Scofidio received her MBA in finance from the School of Management in 1984, she thought the banking industry would be the right place for her. But, after a few years, she found she didn’t enjoy it as much as she hoped.

An opening at the VA Western New York Healthcare System set her on a new path that eventually led to her current position as executive director of the Cantalician Center for Learning, a human services agency that works with children and adults with developmental disabilities.

She took a job as a budgetary analyst with the VA because her family was in health care, so she thought it would be a great fit. She eventually reached the position of chief fiscal officer before leaving in 1997 to join Summit Educational Resources (then known as The Language Development Program of Western New York) as chief administrative officer. Summit provides services to children with disabilities, so it was a job that held a lot of meaning for her.

“As a teen, I volunteered at Our Lady of Victory, working with kids with developmental disabilities, and I loved it,” Scofidio says. “I walked into Summit and felt right at home. I knew there was a chance for me to make a difference.”

And did she ever. During her 11 years there, Scofidio helped take Summit from a small $7 million agency to a thriving $20 million dollar operation with expanded facilities, services and funding sources. She directed the construction of a new 72,000-square-foot facility to house school-age programs and administrative offices.

After her successes at Summit, Scofidio knew she wanted to move on to an executive director’s position. That opportunity arose in 2008 at the Cantalician Center.

Established in 1955 by the Felician Sisters and under the direction of the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, the Cantalician Center was in need of someone with business expertise to restructure the organization in the face of aging facilities and major budgetary challenges.

Her first years were a definite struggle as the agency faced an embezzlement scandal and even the threat of closing. But Scofidio took her inspiration from the children they served and the staff who worked with them.

“I saw our staff perform nothing short of miracles with only their passion and belief,” she says. “I knew they deserved better facilities and support. That belief kept me going.”

To help turn her beliefs into realities, Scofidio produced Cantalician’s first strategic plan, along with mission, vision and value statements. She launched a capital campaign to fulfill project needs and increased their foundation endowment by 400%.

Cantalician is now in the midst of revamping the former St. Barnabas Church and school in Depew to serve as the main facility for its preschool and school-age programs. “I believe it will be a jewel in Western New York,” Scofidio says. The new facility and Cantalician’s increased enrollment will allow them to enhance staffing and offer more quality programs while decreasing operating costs by $300,000.

Scofidio is happy to credit her strong management team with helping her fulfill her dreams for Cantalician—a lesson she says she learned from Professor Frank Krzystofiak. “Frank had us do a lot of team projects and I found that who you have on your team is critical,” she says. “Surround yourself with a good team and you can get anything done.”

Written by Cathy Wilde