LISC National
About Us


Julie Barrett O'Neill, Executive Director

LISC WNY welcomed Julie Barrett O'Neill as our new Executve Director in the fall of 2018. Julie has served as General Counsel and Green Program Director for the City of Buffalo Sewer Authority for the past six years. In addition to her legal work, she oversaw the implementation of the Sewer Authority's $93 million green infrastructure combined sewer overflow reduction program, under the leadership and direction of Mayor Byron W. Brown. Her role at the City was expansive, as she also worked alongside the Office of Strategic Planning and the Department of Public Works, Parks & Streets as the lead personnel for the City's Energy Plan.

Prior to her work at the City, Julie served as the executive director of Buffalo Niagara RIVERKEEPER, now known as Buffalo Niagara WATERKEEPER®, the region's largest non-profit water advocacy organization, for 10 years. She oversaw the growth of the organization from a staff of one person to a 25-member staff. While at RIVERKEEPER, Julie guided the organization in completing $2 million in Great Lakes Restoration Initiative projects, the creation of a new waterfront land trust to hold urban sites for restoration and recreation uses, the New York Power Authority Niagara Power Project FERC Relicensing Environmental Settlement, the Niagara River Greenway Plan adoption, and a $40 million Buffalo River sediment clean up agreement with the US EPA.

Julie obtained her Juris Doctorate and her master's degree in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Iowa, and an undergraduate degree in environmental studies from the University at Buffalo. Julie is a Buffalo native who currently resides here with her husband and three children.

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Michael Alexander, Investment Support

Michael comes to LISC with over ten years of experience in banking and seven years of work in development. A Buffalo native and SUNY Buffalo graduate, Michael previously held positions at the Erie County Industrial Development Agency, Bank of America, M&T Bank, and HSBC. He is also an alum of Leadership Buffalo's Rising Leaders program (2016) and serves as a board member for the Charter School For Applied Technology and BBRC.

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Kate Rebhan, Capacity Support

Kate Rebhan joined LISC WNY in September 2019 in the role of Capacity Building Support, where her primary focus will be our East Side Corridor Initiative.

Kate is an adjunct professor at University of Buffalo, Jacobs School of Management and D’Youville College. Kate also taught at University of Buffalo Law School as a clinical instructor in the Women, Children’s and Social Justice Clinic. Prior to her teaching, Kate worked at Connors & Vilardo and was a court attorney at the Supreme Court Appellate Division, Fourth Department.

Kate is excited to be joining LISC because believes in the resurgence of Buffalo and Western New York. Moreover, Kate believes in the importance of investing in the underserved communities and neighborhoods in our region so all can share in its resurrection. Kate obtained her Juris Doctorate magna cum laude from the University of Buffalo Law School and her undergraduate degree in Business Administration with concentrations in Marketing and International Business from Northeastern University. Kate is the former president of St. Andrew’s Country Day School Advisory Board and a past board member of Buffalo Legacy. Kate also served as the Treasurer of the St. Andrew’s Home School Association and as a volunteer at Harvest House. Kate, a born and bred Buffalonian, resides with her husband and three children.

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Saira Siddiqui, Communications & Neighborhood Business Support

Saira Siddiqui came to LISC in October 2019. After graduating with a Bachelor’s in Environmental Design from UB, and a double minor in the Fine Arts and Creative Writing, she moved to Oregon, where she began her career managing downtown revitalization programs through the Main Street network. For two years, she worked as the Executive Director of the La Grande Main Street, in the small rural town of La Grande, Eastern Oregon. She then continued her career as Executive Director for the Hillsboro Downtown Association in the Portland Metro area, where she also went on to receive a Master’s Certificate in Nonprofit and Public Management from Portland State University.

Under her direction, the Main Street organizations she worked with received the Oregon Main Street award for Best Fundraising Effort, and the statewide Governor's Volunteer Award, for Community Volunteer Organization. Following these four years of nonprofit work, she took a self-directed one-year break to travel the world, where she explored social justice issues and value systems that she was passionate about. She returned to Buffalo in early 2019 after 5 years away, where she began a small mobile art business, and continues to be a working artist, alongside her responsibilities at LISC. 

In her free time, she is an artist, musician, nature enthusiast, and chaser of waterfalls. She loves to take time to re-explore all the forward moving urban planning and business happenings in and around the city, and is glad to be back in her hometown of Buffalo.

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Tyra Johnson Hux, Talent Support

Ms. Johnson Hux is founder and President of Blue Sky Design Supply.  She started Blue Sky out of a desire to put her values into action. Her vision for Blue Sky is of a company that generates an enduring enthusiasm for environmental and social sustainability. Blue Sky Design Supply is retail store that features innovative and environmentally friendly building products and home décor. Blue Sky Concepts, the consulting division of Blue Sky Design Supply, helps clients develop construction projects, outreach programs and policies that reflect their values and commitment to the community.

Before founding Blue Sky, Ms. Johnson Hux was a project manager at for the largest commercial construction firm in Western New York. She established a track record for completing multimillion-dollar projects by developing strong partnerships with architects, contractors, vendors and clients while maintaining costs. She offers Blue Sky clients expertise in building successful business relationships, and developing and executing targeted initiatives that enhance customer satisfaction.

A sought-after speaker, Ms. Johnson Hux has conducted several training programs for professionals in the construction industry. She offers a series of lectures on the benefits of sustainable practices. Additionally, Ms. Johnson Hux serves as an adjunct professor at Daemen College teaching a Sustainable Business Practices course.

Passionate about community involvement, she currently serves on the board of directors for 43North,  the Buffalo Arts Studio and ECIDA (Erie County Industrial Development Agency). Accolades she has received include: 2005 National Inner Cities Youth Organization Volunteer of the Year, BEAM 2008 Charles Campbell Sr. Outstanding Service Award, 2008 Pathfinders Award. Ms. Johnson Hux was named a “WNY Game Changer” in the December 2012 issue of Buffalo Spree and featured in Buffalo Magazine’s “Women & Power” March 2014 issue.

A 2008 graduate of the Leadership Buffalo, Ms. Johnson Hux holds a bachelor of science degree in civil and environmental engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She earned her master’s in business administration degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo. She is an accredited Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) professional.

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Brittany Perez; Livability Support

Brittany Perez teams with neighborhoods throughout the region to support the development of community-owned Comprehensive Livability Investment Plans that identify priorities and opportunities for planning led by each neighborhood’s own vision of the future.

Before LISC, Brittany worked on a multi-disciplinary research team in design and planning at the Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access (IDEA Center) at the University at Buffalo. Her research focused primarily on transportation, community mobility, and social participation among diverse populations and communities through the lens of inclusive design. Using a human-centered and research-oriented approach, she also co-founded and participated in the ongoing efforts of a local initiative called Age Friendly Erie County. This multi-sector network promotes creative problem solving and encourages unlikely partnership to develop solutions to livability and participation barriers for residents of all ages. 

Brittany discovered the influence of environmental design on health and social participation while acquiring her doctoral degree in occupational therapy at Washington University in St. Louis, where she also holds an undergraduate degree in psychology. She pushes the boundaries of traditional occupational therapy practice, and believes that people, empowered with their own personal experience, creativity, and resources, possess the answers to identify what makes equitable, healthy communities.

With roots in the Sunshine State, Brittany loves the energy and hustle of Buffalo summers culminating with Garden Walk Buffalo, her favorite weekend. She enjoys spending time learning to garden, practicing yoga, cooking, doing crosswords, and walking her dog with her partner.  

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