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New VOA of Upstate N.Y. leader has plan for growing organization

New VOA of Upstate N.Y. leader has plan for growing organization


The new leader of Volunteers of America Upstate New York is focused on increasing access to services and forming community partnerships as he looks for ways to remove barriers and support those the agency serves.

“I am eager to carry forward this crucial and influential mission and to contribute to the growth and success of the organization,” said Junior Dillion, who became the organization’s president and CEO on May 1.

He succeeds Lynn Sullivan, who retired at the end of last year. Dillion’s selection was the result of a onths-long national search.

Volunteers of America Upstate New York is a human services organization that has been serving the Rochester and Binghamton regions for more than 100 years, providing essential services to ensure that people have access to stable housing, food, health care and supportive services to overcome the complex challenges of homelessness and poverty.

While leading an organization that supports individuals throughout their lifespans is a huge undertaking and can be intimidating on such a scale, Dillion believes he is up for the challenge, noting his background, experience and focus on collaboration.

In other words, he knows the job comes with a heavy load, but it is one he also believes he can lift, he explained.

Dillion has more than 18 years of nonprofit experience and extensive expertise developed while working across a variety of human service systems, including the British Criminal Justice System, outpatient service, settlement projects and community college settings.

Most recently, he has served as the senior director of Programs at the Wilson Foundation, where he has enhanced the foundation’s efforts in reducing poverty by addressing residential instability, trauma and racial inequities.

Additionally, Dillion is a licensed therapist with a Ph.D. in Human Development and Education from the University of Rochester. He is also civic-minded, serving on the board of directors or Goodwill of the Finger Lakes and as vice chair for Empire Justice Center.

Dillion said that VOAUPNY has a rich legacy of empowering individuals to overcome the intricate obstacles of poverty and achieve improved levels of health, stability and economic mobility.

Having fun at the VOA’s Children’s Center. (Photo provided)

He has a multi-level plan for growth for the organization, which includes going deeper with the services it provides and getting them to a larger number of people.

When addressing the numerous challenges Dillion divides them into two categories: visible and invisible barriers.

Visible barriers include challenges related to childcare and transportation issues, for example, while invisible barriers could include one’s reluctance to participate in a program held in a location outside of one’s familiar surroundings.

Little graduates at the VOA’s Children’s Center. (Photo provided)

To address some of those challenges, the organization works to meet people where they are, he said.

For example, VOAUPNY partners with Jordan Health to provide dentistry services to youth at the organization’s Children’s Center. Similar on-site efforts are in the works for older adults and veterans as well.

In addition to supporting those the organization serves, another challenge is supporting its staff, he said, adding there are plans in place to make sure employees have the support they need to do their jobs.

Advocacy is another critical part of the organization’s efforts, he said, noting that partnering with other nonprofits can have a larger impact.


Diane Caselli, the organization’s board chair, said one of its leading challenges is how to address the increasing demand for its services.

She is looking forward to working with Dillion to develop and implement a strategic plan to meet that challenge.

“I am confident that Junior’s fresh perspective, keen analytical skills, innovative approach and strong leadership will take VOAUPNY to the next level, enabling us to expand our reach, enhance our programs and adapt to the growing needs of the communities we serve across upstate New York,” she said.

Dillion said the business community can play a pivotal role in supporting the organization, noting the philanthropic spirit of the Rochester community.

He encourages people to learn more about VOAUPNY, noting there are several ways to give, including the annual golf tournament that will be held Sept. 11 at Locust Hill Country Club.

Dillion also said volunteering at one of the organization’s locations is a wonderful opportunity to learn more.

“There’s nothing more powerful than being out there and seeing it,” he said.

[email protected] / (585) 653-4021