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Home > Leadership > Mayor > Administration Cabinet and Senior Staff


Elizabeth "Betsey" Ball - Deputy Mayor/Chief of Staff

Elizabeth “Betsey” Ball is a seasoned government professional who brings over two decades of strong public sector experience and a commitment to progressive and effective leadership to her role as Deputy Mayor/Chief of Staff of the City of Buffalo Office of the Mayor. She joins the Brown administration after more than four years of service in the New York State Executive Chamber, where she was appointed Director of Legislative Affairs by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. As a Senior Staff member, Ball worked to achieve legislative support for the Governor’s agenda, and helped to guide the Administration’s programs and policies through the legislative process.

Prior to her work in the Governor’s Office, Ball served as Chief of Staff for NYS Senator (now Democratic Conference Leader) Andrea Stewart-Cousins, where she was selected for The Capitol’s second annual list of Rising Stars in Politics and Government in 2010. She also served as Senior Advisor to two Speakers of the New York City Council and as a Chief of Staff in the New York State Assembly.

Donna J. Estrich - Commissioner, Administration, Finance, Policy and Urban Affairs

Commissioner Estrich is an 22-year veteran of City Hall. She was appointed city budget director in 2006. In 2013 she was appointed as commissioner of administration and finance. While in City Hall she has held the positions of audit inspector, budget analyst, principal management analyst, and director of budget, administration & finance. Commissioner Estrich holds a Bachelor of Science, and a Masters in Public Administration from the State University of New York at Buffalo. She serves on various ministries within her church and numerous community organizations.



Otis T. Barker, Sr. - Deputy Commissioner, Community Services

Otis Barker has over 24 years of results-oriented experience in staff management, project management, budgeting and planning, and product/market research. Mr. Barker served as the District Office Chief of Staff to the former Deputy Speaker of the New York State Assembly, Arthur O. Eve from 1996-2002. Following his time in the State Assembly, he served as Director of Community Relations for State Senator Byron W. Brown, where he oversaw constituent services. In 2006 Otis Barker was appointed by Mayor Brown to the position of Director of the Division for Youth.

As Deputy Commissioner of Community Services, he will support the Commissioner in the daily operations of contract administration and compliance, the Division of Senior Services, the Division of Substance Abuse, the Youth Bureau and the Division for Workforce Employment Training.

Gladys "G.G." Herndon-Hill - Commissioner of Human Resources

In December 2014, Mayor Brown appointed Gladys Herndon-Hill Commissioner of Human Resources. She began her City service as the Administrative Director of Civil Service and also served as the Director of Personnel. In her current role, she oversees all business and operational facets in the Administration of New York Civil Service Law and Local Civil Service Rules, Personnel Administration, as well as Compensation & Benefits divisions.

Timothy Ball - Corporation Counsel

Timothy A. Ball is the Corporation Counsel of the City of Buffalo. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Canisius College’s All-College Honors Program, graduating Summa Cum Laude and being awarded the Dillon Award for the highest Grade Point Average of any Political Science Major in his graduating class of 2001. He then attended the University at Buffalo Law School, where he graduated Cum Laude and earned his Juris Doctor in May of 2004.

Mr. Ball began working as a Law Clerk in the City Law Department in February of 2003. He became an Assistant Corporation Counsel on March 3, 2005, the same day he was admitted to practice law in the Courts of the State of New York. On February 7, 2012, Mr. Ball became the City’s youngest modern day Corporation Counsel, when his appointment was unanimously confirmed by the Common Council of the City of Buffalo.


James Comerford - Commissioner, Department of Permit & Inspection Services

Jim Comerford began his career in city government in 1979 as a Building Inspector and worked his way through the ranks – as Supervisor of Field Inspections, Director of Building Inspections, Commissioner of Inspections & Community Revitalization and Vice President of the Buffalo Enterprise Development Corporation (BEDC).

At BEDC, Comerford was Project Coordinator for the Pilot Field Construction project from start to conclusion. Upon completion of Pilot Field, Comerford oversaw a number of new City of Buffalo construction projects until he left for the private sector in June of 1994.

After 13 years in the private sector, he returned to City Hall in August of 2007 as Deputy Commissioner of Economic Development, Permit & Inspection Services. Currently, Comerford is Commissioner of the reconfigured Permit & Inspection Services

Crystal J Rodriguez - Chief Diversity Officer

Crystal J. Rodriguez was named the City of Buffalo's first Chief Diversity Officer in February of 2016 as a part of the Mayor's Opportunity agenda for the City of Buffalo. Rodriguez began her career in City Hall as Mayor Byron Brown's Executive Assistant before leaving to complete a fellowship with the New York State Office of Court Administration, where she clerked for various Judges within the 8th Judicial District. Rodriguez returned to City Hall as the Executive Director of the Commission on Citizens' Rights & Community Relations in 2008 where she spearheaded such campaigns as 'Buffalo Bulldozes Bullying" and the City of Buffalo Opportunity Pledge initiative. Ms. Rodriguez holds a B.A. in Social Sciences from California State University San Marcos, and both a J.D. and LL.M. from the University at Buffalo School of Law.



Martin Kennedy - Commissioner, Assessment and Taxation

Martin F Kennedy has worked in the Department of Assessment and Taxation for the past 26 years and was appointed Commissioner of the Department in July 2007.   He had 21 years of real estate experience prior to joining the City in the private sector, is a graduate of Bishop Timon – St. Jude High School, Bryant and Stratton Business School and has also completed courses at Erie Community College and the University at Buffalo.  Martin is  a Viet Nam era Veteran, having served in the US Army in Germany.

"Martin Kennedy brings a wealth of knowledge to this important city department and I am confident he will lead this department well as Commissioner," said Mayor Brown. "His years of public sector experience coupled with his private sector background will help with his new responsibilities in leading the Department of Assessment and Taxation in the future."


Kevin Helfer - Commissioner, Parking

Mayor Brown appointed Kevin Helfer Commissioner of Parking, a new department created in July 2010.

In 1994, Helfer began his career in public service when he was elected to the Common Council representing the University District. He was the minority leader, served on all of the legislative committee, and was a board member of the Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency.

He also has served in county government. In 2000, Helfer was appointed the Director of Contract Compliance for the County of Erie. In 2005, he became the Commissioner of the Department of Social Services.

From 2006-2010, he was the Executive Director for Buffalo Civic Auto Ramps, Inc., a private company that manages 7,500 parking spaces, at nine different locations and with over a $10.5 million budget.

Oswaldo Mestre - Director, Division of Citizen Services

Oswaldo Mestre has a strong background in human services, developing programs systems and community development initiatives in not-for-profit and governmental organizations. Since 1997, Oswaldo has headed the Buffalo Weed and Seed Program, which was awarded the New York State Attorney General's Neighborhood Watch Award of Excellence in 2003. Oswaldo began his human service career in 1991 as a Senior Youth Counselor at St. Augustine's Center, Inc. Oswaldo has studied in Public Policy and Administration at the University at Buffalo.


Brendan Mehaffy - Executive Director, Office of Strategic Planning

Brendan Mehaffy was appointed Executive Director of the Office of Strategic Planning in March 2010. Mehaffy's appointment was a central part of the city's economic development reorganization effort, which Mayor Brown announced during his 2009 State of the City Address. Mehaffy began working for the City of Buffalo's an attorney in the city's Law Department, where he was the point person on several high profile projects, including negotiating with the county on the return of the operation and management of city parks. Prior to working for the city, he worked in private practice and was focused on land use, environmental and small business development issues. This included working with municipalities across the country to revise and update their zoning codes. He holds a B.A. in economics from SUNY Binghamton, a Masters degree in urban regional planning from the London School of Economics and a J.D. in law from the University at Buffalo.



Steven Stepniak - Commissioner, Public Works, Parks & Streets

Public Works Commissioner Steven Stepniak has previous experience working as the Senior Engineer for the City of Buffalo Division of Engineering, which has given him the opportunity to develop extensive administrative and organizational skills. Mr. Stepniak has also worked as Director of Street Cleaning and Snow Removal, where he gained leadership experience through controlling the daily activities of a multi-functional department. Stepniak majored in Communications at Canisius College and has specialized training in Risk and Technical Management, Hazard Communications, and Engineering.