Board of Directors

Beth Mielbrecht

Partner & Senior Engineer
Taitem Engineering

I came to Ithaca with my family for an adventure in 2008, and I joined the Challenge Board in 2013.  I believe in the mission of Challenge and its purpose of providing the opportunity to work with people who need guidance and support.


Steve Savage

Vice Chair

Associate Vice President for Institutional Advancement at Ithaca College

I had been to Ithaca several times so I knew it was a great community so almost 4 years ago, when I had an opportunity to work for a wonderful institution in Ithaca, I jumped at the chance. I was interested in opportunities to be more involved in the Ithaca community.  I learned about the relationship between Ithaca College and Challenge, as well as the people it served, through a colleague who served on the Board of Directors.  As I became more familiar with the organization and the impact it has on the community, I saw a special place where I thought could make a difference.

Kelley Yeomans


Sr. Director, Finance at Cornell University

I grew up in Vestal, NY and moved to Florida after I graduated.  After spending 30 years in Florida and Virginia, I wanted to come home to upstate NY.  I enjoy skiing in the winter and boating and gardening in the summer.

I would include my younger years of 22 and the 2 years since I’ve been back.  24 years.

Once I came back to NY, I was looking for a way to give back to the community with the skills I’ve acquired throughout my career as well as experience the pride in people’s faces when they achieve their goals, no matter what those goals are.  I enjoy participating on the board and helping to move Challenge forward so that many others can achieve their goals.

Jacob Yale

Teacher, Ithaca City School District

I was born in Syracuse, but raised in Ithaca and have lived here my entire life. I love the people in this beautiful city, and there is never a shortage of things to do. I was invited to join the Challenge board after receiving the organization’s annual perseverance award. As a former client of Challenge and someone who works directly with the population Challenge serves (as a teaching assistant in the Ithaca schools), I think it is important for me to represent and remind the board of the needs of its clients. Challenge is a fantastic organization and I hope to support its mission well into the future. 


David Filiberto

Sustainability Research Associate

Cornell University

I originally came to Ithaca in the early 90’s to attend Cornell and returned in 2001 for graduate school. I have always felt a deep connection to the area and believe it to be a wonderful community to raise my children.

Challenge provides services for those of us most in need. Working on behalf of persons with disabilities is a natural fit.

Kellie Page

Associate Vice President – Student and Campus Life Cornell Univ.

After graduating from Ithaca College I fell in love with the area.

After living and working in Syracuse for a number of years, I returned to Ithaca to build a home with my husband, raise our children and work at Cornell University. I am inspired by the mission of Challenge in providing growth opportunities for our community members who face barriers to employment.

Through the years, I have seen the Cornell community and our students benefit greatly from our relationships and interactions with Challenge employees.  I look forward to learning more about the organization and helping to contribute to its success.

Matthew Valaik

Branch Manager at Tompkins Trust Company

In 2016, I was fortunate to be able to attend some Challenge events and was moved and inspired by the people I met and their stories.  The dream of employment for all and the work Challenge does to help people get there is an endeavor I wish to be involved with any way I can.

Derek Burrows

General Counsel at

I came to Ithaca originally as an undergraduate at Cornell.  After graduation, my wife, an Ithacan, and I spent about 10 years in the Washington, DC Metro area before returning to the area.  We really enjoy everything that Ithaca and Tompkins County have to offer, including the natural beauty and pace of life. 

Challenge is serving a vital function by providing one of the few conduits for those facing barriers to employment to enter the workforce.  The organization supports a traditionally underserved population and helps them fulfill their potential as fully engaged participants in our community.

Todd Baker

Principal and Cofounder, Empowerment by Design

My wife Cristin and I came to Ithaca 16 years ago to raise our family and enjoy the wonderful lifestyle upstate NY has to offer.

As an Occupational Therapist and ergonomics consultant I understand the disability employment issues facing our community.

Every day I interact with so many who have benefited from Challenge.  The best part… I almost never know who they are! It is for that reason — because Challenge is such an integral part of our community, making our workforce and economy stronger I want to do my part to ensure that Challenge Workforce Solutions continues to deliver its services.

Sheila McEnery

Director of Special Education at Ithaca City School District

I came to Ithaca in 1988 because of my husband; he was pursuing graduate work at Cornell. We ultimately decided to make Ithaca our home since we loved living here and decided it would be a great place to raise a family.  28 years later we’re still here and couldn’t be happier with our decision!  I was honored to be asked to join the Challenge Board, as I’ve been involved in special education since before I came to Ithaca, first as a teacher and then as an administrator. As Director of Special Education for the Ithaca City School District for the past 12 years, I see my involvement with Challenge as an extension of what I do everyday on behalf of individuals with disabilities and their families.