John McKnight is Co-Founder, President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Community Empowerment Programs Inc. He is a human services professional with 16 years of combined experience. Past areas of experitse & experience are in Substance Abuse Counseling & Services for youth, Administered SRO, Transitional Housing, and Advocacy Counseling Services Program for persons with HIV/AIDS, and developed and implemented a successful NYS Pregnancy Prevention Program for youth ages 13-19. He administered WIC Vendor Management Contract, Compliance & Manigerial Trainings to over 200 businesses across New York State during 2004 and 2007.
During 2008 - to present he provides advocacy services to individuals with disabilities. McKnight also has 18 years’ experience in broadcast communications, computer programming, and media development. He is a 13 year auxiliary board member of Quest Inc. and a 9 year board officer for The Environmental Awareness Network for Diversity in Conservation, Inc. (EANDC) and holds degrees in Human Services and Broadcast Communications.
Erika Santos, Public Relations Director, joined Community Empowerment Programs, Inc. in the summer of 2009. She is the Public Relations Director and has over 7 years of experience in the field and has worked with other non-profit organizations in the past. Santos is in charge of implementing and developing strategic public relations programs for CEPI. The programs developed, deal with various forms of communications ranging anywhere from community and media relations to investor relations.
Ms. Santos received her Master of Arts degree in Public Communication from the College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY. She joined the Public Relations student society while there and also wrote for the school magazine. Erika also completed her Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree in Mass Communications at Niagara University in Lewiston, NY. She is currently on the Board of Directors for Planned Parenthood.
Chester Finn is Co-Founder, Vice President of Advocacy of Community Empowerment Programs Inc. He is a Special Assistant with the New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD), providing services, supports, and advocacy to individuals with development disabilities and their families; in October 2009 he was appointed to the OPWDD's Leadership Team.
He is the immediate past President and current Advisor of the national board of Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered, Board Advisor to the Self Advocacy Association of New York State (SANYS), and a member of the Justice for All Action Networking Streaming Committee. Mr. Finn is also an active member of the Board of Directors for the ARC of the United States, the world's largest community based organization of and for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and A Member of the National Council on Disabilities (NCD). Mr. Finn is blind and a person with a developmental disability and is committed to fighting for the civil rights of all people with disabilities.
Judy Atchinson, Board of Directors, is the founder of Quest Kids, Inc., a non-profit organization that provides afterschool programs and services for high need youth as an alternative to street influences, peer pressure, alcohol and drug usage, and offers a myriad of grassroots and community services. Judy has administered QuestKids for nearly 16 years and advises CEPI’s Officers on best practices and implementation strategies.