WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. — In 2019, we are highlighting the women who are part of Western New York's resurgence in our City Shapers reports. This week's City Shaper changed career paths and moved back to Buffalo. Now, the Orchard Park native is helping people with mental health issues all across the country.

Jane Mogavero is the executive director of the Patrick P. Lee Foundation, a private foundation started by its namesake. The foundation awards grants in education and mental health.

"How did you get involved in this field?" Dudzik asked.

"I actually am a lawyer by training," Mogavero said. "I practiced law for about two years here in Buffalo, but realized it wasn't a good fit for me professionally. I just wasn't finding the reward that I was looking for. So, I went to non-profits."

"What would you tell people that are maybe very successful in their career, but they're just not getting that spark out of it?" asked Dudzik.

"Yeah, I mean, I think at some point I made the decision that I'd rather be working somewhere I felt strongly and passionately about than worry about the financial motivation," said Mogavero. "Even if you're for profit or not-for-profit, you can find a way to feel true to your convictions and beliefs and whether you're giving back professionally or in your own way in the community as a volunteer."

Mogavero's been at the Lee Foundation for about three years. The foundation has a small staff with a big reach. It gives out about $2 million a year.

"We need to make sure there are services available," Mogavero said. "Buffalo is actually in a critical workforce shortage for mental health professionals, so one of the things we're doing is providing scholarships for people going into the field."

Mogavero says the most important way to make sure services are available is to advocate with our elected officials for more funding. And, she's encouraged with the progress being made both in her field and in our region as a whole.

"Even just looking at the transformation of Western New York in the past ten, eleven years, it's hard to believe we're the same place," says Mogavero. "I mean, I think the people have remained true and the same qualities of very supportive and when I moved back everyone really opened the door for me and helped me reacquaint myself with Buffalo. I'm so proud to be from the city, and I'm so incredibly eager to see where we go next as a community."

You can nominate a Western New York woman to be a City Shaper by sending Kelly an email.

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