Foundation for Abilities First NY Welcomes New Board Members

(Wappingers Falls, NY, September 2023) – The Foundation for Abilities First NY (FAFNY), the fundraising arm for Abilities First, Inc. (AFI), is pleased to announce the addition of two community leaders Michelle Smith and John Farina to its Board of Directors.

Michelle Smith is the Founder and CEO of Source Financial Advisors and Smith Divorce Strategies based in NYC. Ms. Smith holds a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst designation. She is a member of the New York Association of Collaborative Professionals. Ms. Smith also holds various securities licenses, including her Series 7, Series 63, Series 65, and Series 24.

 A divorced mother of a special needs child, Michelle has also been active assisting the AAML publish a booklet titled ‘Navigating the Divorce Process When You Have a Child with Special Needs’. She was a fierce advocate for and was successful in helping to change the child support statute in New York State to enable the Courts to extend child support to age 26 for children who qualify as having special needs. As a co-founder of the ideal school of Manhattan, an inclusion K-21 school and program, Michelle understands the critical need for ongoing fundraising to properly staff and support programs and schools for people with different abilities.

Ms. Smith says, “As the founder & CEO of a financial services boutique company based in NYC and Newburgh, combined with my experience in co-founding and fundraising for a school with a multi-million-dollar budget, I want to have impact in helping the foundation continue to grow. As the mother of a 22-year-old son with down syndrome, I am acutely aware of the lack of support past age 21 for people with disabilities. I hope to be able to help expand housing options for adults in my son’s position who need safe and staffed housing and peer socialization.”

John Farina, an electrical engineer at Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corporation serving as the Electric Operations Engineer for the Fishkill District. Farina received his Bachelor of Science and a Minor in Mathematics from SUNY Binghamton University and is currently attending Clarkson University part-time in pursuit of his Graduate Degree in Engineering Management. Born and raised in the Hudson Valley and now residing in Fishkill NY, he has made meaningful connections with community members through numerous places of local employment and volunteering to assist in various events for the town of Wappingers.

Mr. Farina says, “I was introduced to Abilities First through a coworker of mine. Upon meeting many members of the organization, it was immediately evident how dedicated each and every person was to the goal of improving the lives of people with disabilities and supporting them and their families. Amiable and compassionate efforts like this deserve all of the help they can get. An opportunity to make a direct, positive impact in the community I grew up in is one that I am very thankful for. I am honored to join the FAFNY board of directors, and I am looking forward to working with all of you!”

“We excitedly welcome Michelle and John to our Foundation Board and thank them for their commitments to support our great mission. In the years to come, they will add value and resources to our organization that will help so many children, adults, and families in our region.” – Dr. Jeffery Fox, Abilities First President & CEO