Staff

Put Your Trust In Us!

Karen L. Nicolson, C.E.O. / CELJ
    Karen L. Nicolson has been CEO of Center for Elder Law & Justicew York,  for the past twelve years.  She was a staff attorney with the office since 1990 and, before that, worked briefly at the Legal Aid Bureau of Buffalo.  She is the past chair of the Board of Directors of the Western New York Law Center and Secretary of the Erie County Bar Foundation.  She is a past chair of the Erie County Bar Association’s Elder Law Committee and received the Special Services Award from the ECBA in 2004.  She is a member of the 2008 inaugural class of the Leadership Institute of the Bar Association of Erie County and serves on the New York State Bar Association’s Committee on Legal Aid, The Town of Amherst Senior Services Advisory Board, as well as the Governor’s Advisory Committee on Aging. She frequently lectures on elder abuse, pooled trust and elder law issues.  

Rhonda Frederick, C.E.O. / PEOPLE INC.    
   Rhonda Frederick, MPA, is the President and Chief Executive Officer of People Inc., a leading not-for-profit health and human services agency providing programs and services to more than 12,000 people with special needs, their families, and seniors throughout Western New York. With an operating budget of $143 million and 3,400 employees, People Inc. has assisted individuals to achieve greater degrees of independence and productivity since 1971.
    Rhonda joined the agency as a direct care staff member in 1980 and rose through the ranks to become chief operating officer in 2002. While in that role, the agency expanded into affordable and independent senior housing, improved outcomes, increased efficiency and achieved operational excellence. Frederick was also at the forefront of the agency’s commitment to person-centered solutions to improve the quality of life for individuals receiving supports and services. In recognition of her dedication and success, she became the agency’s president and CEO in October 2014.
    Rhonda currently serves as president of the Developmental Disabilities Alliance of Western New York (DDAWNY), an organization that fosters collaboration among agencies who support people with developmental disabilities and gives them a single voice in Albany. The recipient of several honors, Frederick received the Dr. Evan Calkins Meritorious Service Award from Network in Aging of Western New York for significant contributions to her field, was named Buffalo Business First Woman of Influence in 2009 and a winner of Buffalo Business First’s Health Care 50 in 2014.
    Rhonda earned her master’s degree in public administration from Canisius College and a bachelor’s degree in social work from the Rochester Institute of Technology.

 
Rachel Schepart, Paralegal / CELJ 

    Rachel Schepart is a Paralegal at Center for Elder Law and Justice. For the past three years she has worked in the Pooled Trust Unit. Her primary responsibilities included general intake, marketing, and outreach. Rachel travels around WNY presenting to different agencies about the trust as well as meeting with clients who will be joining. During her undergraduate studies she interned at various law firms and in the Consumer Fraud Department with the Attorney General’s office. Rachel graduated from SUNY @ Brockport in 2013 through an accelerated program with a degree in International Studies and a concentration in Business. 

Jessica Fields, Esq., CPA./ CELJ
    Jessica R. Fields, Esq., CPA, is the comptroller of Center for Elder Law & Justice. She is a graduate of University at Buffalo with a degree in Business Administration and a concentration in Accounting and Financial Analysis. She earned her Certified Public Accounting license while working at a large public accounting firm. Jessica then worked in private accounting before she graduated from SUNY Buffalo Law School.
     At CELJ, Jessica is responsible for all financial matters of the firm and contributes to the organization’s strategic goals by monitoring the firm’s financial management strategy. She prepares budgets and projections, and implements procedures to control costs and improve net income. She analyzes financial statements and reports and presents them to management and at Board meetings. Working together with People Inc., Jessica oversees the financial functions of the Pooled Trusts to ensure compliance with internal policies and external regulations.
     Jessica serves on the Buffalo Society of Natural Science as Board Member and Audit Committee Member. She is a former volunteer at LSED and earned the award “Volunteer of the Year” in 2013. 


Tracy S. Harrienger, Esq. / PEOPLE INC 
    Tracy S. Harrienger, Esq. is the general counsel and director of the legal department of People Inc. a leading not-for-profit health and human services agency providing programs and services to more than 12,000 people with special needs, their families, and seniors throughout Western New York.  Prior to joining People Inc., Tracy was in private practice with extensive regulatory, transactional, trial and appellate experience. He brings more than twenty years of related legal experience to People Inc. As general counsel and director of the legal department, he provides oversight, guidance and direction regarding legal advice on all matters arising within People Inc. and its many affiliated entities. In addition to many other areas of law, his practice includes overseeing People Inc.’s involvement with the Western New York Coalition Pooled Trusts. 
    Tracy received his juris doctor degree from the University at Buffalo and has a bachelor’s degree in public administration. He is a member of the New York State Bar Association, Erie County Bar Association and Niagara County Bar Association, and a member of many practice sections in those organizations. He is also a member of the Niagara Frontier Corporate Counsel Association, Inc. He has lectured on various topics at a number of law-related seminars. 
    Tracy is a member of the New York State Surrogate Decision-Making Committee with end of life decision training. 
He is a 2010 graduate of Leadership Buffalo and is Six Sigma Yellow Belt Certified.


Tracey Kosmoski, Paralegal / PEOPLE INC
    Tracey Kosmoski is a degreed Paralegal with over fifteen years of experience in the legal field.   Ms. Kosmoski is responsible for providing paralegal support functions related to all areas of law for People Inc. and the WNY Coalition Pooled Trust.  She brought her vast experience to People Inc., one of the area’s largest human service organizations over ten years ago.




 







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