Meet the Board Members!

Judy Porto- Fiorella was born and raised on the West Side of Buffalo. She attended Annunciation grammar school and is a graduate of Lafayette High School class of 1985. During her years at Lafayette, she served as class president and was a member of the volleyball, softball, and basketball teams. Very active in the West Side sports, she played softball for West Side Little League for 10 years and was a cheerleader for the same leagues football team for 12 years. After graduating high school Judy went on to earn a two-year associates degree from Bryant & Stratton College.

A member of the Italian Sons & Daughters of America Amici Lodge #255, she has served as secretary of the lodge for over 16 years. In addition, Judy has served as National Councilor and National Representative for the ISDA WNY District. Judy is passionate about her Italian heritage and is also a member of the Federation of Italian American Societies, and Vice President for the Italian Festival.

Judy is a member for the Hertel Business Association where she currently serves as their President for the past 5 years. Also was a board member for the West Side Business & Taxpayers Association for 3 years, North Buffalo Community Center for 2 years, and was treasurer for Middle Early College High School PTO.   She also volumeters for Little Smiles of WNY (non-for-profit) that brings supplies and gifts to area hospitals that need to help children to cope with what they have going on. 

She has been employed by the City of Buffalo for 22 years where she started with the Buffalo Sewer Authority and the last 19 years with the Department of Licensing.

Active in the community, she has served as an advisor for the Buffalo Police Explorers, and a member of the campaign committee for the Honorable Joseph Fiorella.

Judy is a resident of North Buffalo for the past 20 years In her spare time Judy likes to spend time with her husband of 2 years Joey & her 2 children, son-in-law and 2 grandchildren at her family’s country home in Franklinville, going four wheeling, walking, spending time with friends, cooking & baking.

 

I am Salvatore Dentico, a North Buffalo born and raised resident. I reside in the home I was born in and am a lifelong member of our community. I live, work and entertain on the streets of North Buffalo. I am the block club president of my street for 7yrs, I am a real estate agent at 716 Realty Group here on Hertel Ave and have been a member of the HBA for 6 years now. 

Over the years, The HBA has worked hard to bring Hertel back to a thriving destination for our neighbors and visitors to enjoy and I feel we have done a great job at that! We have worked diligently to ensure and assist our fellow businesses with having a sense of security and hope during some of the toughest times. We can't thank our dedicated community members for their continued support! I am proud of our accomplishments as a seven-member group of volunteers. I take pride in serving my community as a realtor, neighbor and board member of the HBA! North Buffalo continues to hold a strong place in my heart.

I will continue to hold the expectations of the association and our community as my utmost priority. I am looking forward to serving you over the years to come!

Sandy Chortie grew up in North Buffalo on Hertel Avenue.  She worked for Carusos Italian Imports on Hertel Avenue for 20 years.

Sandy has been a member of the Hertel Business Association for 15 years+ and has been the Treasurer for the last 5 years. Also sits on the board of the North Buffalo Community Center for 4 years. She has volunteered there until it closed because of the pandemic.

Sandy Loves being a part of the Italian Federation Of Western Ny for 13 years as well as serving as their treasurer for the last year. One of her longest volunteering adventures has been working for the Italian Heritage Festival since its beginning on Hertel Avenue in the late 80’s. She now holds a board position for the festival.

 

Lisa Riniolo grew up in North Buffalo and has been a small business owner in this community for over 30 years. She currently owns The Garage Café & Lounge on Hertel Avenue which housed her husband’s auto repair shop for 25+ years. Lisa is about to celebrate her 3rd year at The Garage. Along with her husband they along with family and friends built the Garage one phase at a time. They have their blood, sweat and tears in this building. Lisa wants the Garage to be a place where friends gather. It’s all about People, Community, Great Food & Great Music!

Married to her loving husband Joe for 31+ years they have four beautiful children. Lisa Says raising kids is exhausting, stressful and heartbreaking at times but has always felt they have been her biggest blessing and building her family has her greatest honor

One of Lisa’s daughters was diagnosed with cancer when she was 8yrs. old. Lisa fought beside her for almost 6 years. Traveling the last 3 years of her life from one hospital to another along the east coast searching for a cure. During this time Lisa learned first-hand how severely lacking research funds for pediatric cancers was.  

During her daughters fight she led the fundraising battle with her family to support pediatric cancer. After her daughter’s death, Lisa and Joe carried on the fight through their foundation Melina’s White Light. The goal, to support research to find less toxic treatments to save kids from cancer.

Later in her fundraising time she merged her foundation with like-minded family founded foundation to become a part of a national foundation called Beat Childhood Cancer Foundation. Life got in the way of Lisa changing her daughter Melina’s story, but she is passionate about being a part of changing another child’s story to one with a future.

Lisa has been a part of the HBA Board for 2 years. She has always felt life is about collaboration. Working together with others in a community or anywhere is the only way to truly create change for the good. Lisa is running for the Secretary position on the board. 

Lisa Samar is the owner of Daisy’s Doghouse located at 1448 Hertel Avenue. She opened the pet boutique in May of 2015. Prior to launching Daisy’s, Lisa was the Vice President and Art Director at Great Arrow Graphics for 25 years. She headed a team of people to design and manufacture award winning hand-silk screened greeting cards that were distributed world-wide. She is a dedicated and enthusiastic member of this city and the North Buffalo neighborhood. Lisa has organized events and volunteered for many years for the Girl Scouts, Boys and Girls Club of the Northtowns, City Honors Baseball, St. Mary’s School for the Deaf and the Hertel Business Association.

Lisa is inspired daily by her husband and two children. They have lived in North Buffalo for the past 30 years. In her free time, Lisa likes to walk her dog – Duke, travel and make drinks for her friends.

Suzanne Laba is a North Buffalo resident and an active member within the neighborhood, the community, and the city.  She works full time at Buffalo General Hospital as a sonographer in a busy Radiology department. Suzanne retired in 2011 after serving 24 years in the United States Air Force as an Aeromedical Evacuation Technician with stateside and oversee deployments.  She has been a long-time volunteer with the City of Buffalo Animal Shelter and is co-founder of 2 animal welfare groups, Fix A Bull WNY and Pound Hounds & Friends. She also is involved with Dog Tags WNY helping both Veterans and animals.  Suzanne is a volunteer teacher with Gliding Stars of Western New York, an adaptive skating program for persons with disabilities/challenges. She also has been a longtime volunteer at the Darwin Martin House.  

Suzanne loves being part of the Hertel Business Association Team making the neighborhood a great place to live, work and of course, play.  You can often see her around town walking with her 3 dogs, biking, or just spending time with family/friends on Hertel Avenue. 

Jodi Drew is a North Buffalo resident of over ten years and owner of Spoke & Dagger Co. located at 1434 Hertel Avenue. Jodi had an intensive career in the graphic design and marketing world working with many small businesses building their brands and rebranding large corporations and educating their teams on implementing branding and marketing strategies. 

Jodi may have left the cubical life behind when she opened her motorcycle shop with husband, Chris Drew, four years ago on Hertel, but she works very closely with neighborhood shops and the Hertel Business Association on branding and design projects. 

If she isn't riding her motorcycle or fostering cats, you'll probably find her tending to her garden when the Buffalo weather allows for it. 

She is the newest member of the Hertel Business Association board who just celebrated her one year anniversary with the team. Even with the strangeness that 2020 had brought us, her favorite projects to work on with the HBA were the North Buffalo Strong Campaign and the Hertel Pennant initiative.