BAEC’s 136th Annual Awards Celebration

Presented by  

BAEC 2023 - 2024 Elections

We are pleased to announce that the following candidates have been elected by the membership for the 2023-2024 Board of Directors and Nominating Committee for the Bar Association of Erie County.

Thank you to all who voted!



Lauren E. Breen
Executive Director, Neighborhood Legal Services, Inc.

Lauren E. Breen is the Executive Director of Neighborhood Legal Services, WNY’s largest free civil legal services agency, where she initiated medical-legal partnership programs with Roswell, Evergreen Health and Catholic Health Systems and replicated the California-based Justice Bus program to serve low-income communities throughout WNY.  In 2016, Lauren returned to Neighborhood Legal Services after teaching for nearly 24 years at the University at Buffalo School of Law as a clinical professor and where she most recently had directed UB Law’s New York City Program in Finance & Law. Before joining the UB Law School faculty, Lauren practiced commercial litigation as an associate with Hiscock & Barclay and worked as a public benefits litigator at Neighborhood Legal Services. Her other professional experience includes Western New York Law Center Supervising Attorney; Massachusetts Avenue Project Interim Executive Director; and Daemen College Center for Sustainable Communities and Civic Engagement Executive Director. 

Lauren serves on the UB School of Law Alumni Association Board of Directors and the NYSBA President’s Committee on Access to Justice. She is an officer and co-founder of the NYS-based Legal Services Access Alliance. Lauren served on the 8th Judicial District Attorney Grievance Committee from 2017-2023, chairing the Committee from 2021-2023. She is a member of the Minority Bar Association/BAEC/UB Law-sponsored Empire State Legal Diversity Career Fair Planning Committee and was honored to serve on the BAEC Board of Directors from 2018-2021.  

Lauren has served on numerous nonprofit boards and advisory groups, including the Massachusetts Avenue Project; New Yorkers for Responsible Lending; Erie County Child Care Resource Center; C.A.S.H. Buffalo; Precious Jewels Day Care Center; ABA Forum on Affordable Housing and Community Development Law Legal Educators’ Practice Division; and Neighborhood Legal Services. She also was part of the team that created the Buffalo Civil Legal Advice and Resource Office (CLARO), a WNY Law Center-sponsored pro se free legal clinic. Originating through Fordham Law School’s Feerick Center for Social Justice, New York CLARO programs provide limited legal advice and to unrepresented consumer debtor-defendants. 

Lauren has an A.B. from Georgetown University and a J.D. from the University at Buffalo School of Law, where she received the Birzon Prize in Clinical Legal Studies.  In 2022, the UB Law School Law Review recognized Lauren for community contributions over her career. She is a recipient of the United Way of Buffalo & Erie County ‘One Person Can Make a Difference’ award for her work in creating a local free tax preparation network and the ‘Women Builders of Communities & Dreams’ award from the St. Philip’s Community Center. She is an inaugural member of the DC-based National Women’s Law Center Progressive Leadership Advocacy Network. Under Lauren’s leadership, the UB Law Community Economic Development Clinic received awards from the Internal Revenue Service, Child Care Research Center and the Buffalo Chapter of the American Association for University Women Educational Foundation. 



Vanessa C. Gabriele
Managing Attorney, Gabriele Law PLLC


Vanessa Gabriele is the Managing Attorney at Gabriele Law PLLC, a law firm with a focus on divorce and family law litigation. Originally from Rochester, New York, Vanessa pursued her undergraduate and law degrees at the State University at Buffalo. She graduated with a cum laude degree in Business Administration from the University at Buffalo’s School of Management, and is admitted to practice law in the State of New York, as well as the Western District of New York. Her professional achievements have earned her recognition as a Super Lawyers Rising Star and as one of the Best Lawyers to Watch.

In 2022, Vanessa completed the flagship CORE program at the University at Buffalo’s (CEL) Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership. She is an active member of the Executive Committee of the Family Law Section of the New York State Bar Association, where she serves as a district representative for the 8th judicial district and co-chair of the child custody committee. Vanessa frequently lectures on the topic of Matrimonial and Family Law, having chaired and lectured Continuing Legal Education (CLE) seminars for the Bar Association of Erie County and the New York State Bar Association. She has also been a guest lecturer at the University at Buffalo Law School and the State University at Buffalo. She will be teaching Family law to undergraduates at the State University at Buffalo beginning in the Fall.  

Vanessa is a member of several professional organizations, including the National Association of Women Business Owners, the Women Lawyers of Western New York, the Monroe County Bar Association, the New York State Bar Association, and the Bar Association of Erie County. She is a current member of the Family Court Practice and Procedure Committee and the Matrimonial and Family Law Committee of the Bar Association of Erie County. Vanessa most recently served as a co-chair for the Bar Association of Erie County’s Matrimonial and Family Law Committee. She also served on the past president Marianne Mariano’s Membership Events Community Outreach Committee. 

Aside from her legal work, Vanessa is committed to promoting Italian culture in Western New York, and is an active member of the Centro Culturale Italiano di Buffalo, a non-profit organization dedicated to that cause. In addition, Vanessa has helped the last few years to organize the BAEC’s Ski Day in Ellicottville, New York.


Elise L. Cassar
Senior Associate, Duke Holzman Photiadis & Gresens LLP


Elise is a Senior Associate at Duke Holzman Photiadis Gresens, LLP, where she handles a variety of civil litigation matters, including construction matters, first party insurance disputes and employment disputes. Prior to joining Duke Holzman, Elise focused her practice on defending personal and commercial clients in a range of personal injury litigation. She received her Juris Doctor from SUNY Buffalo Law School and her bachelor’s degree from SUNY Fredonia. 

Elise is the current Immediate Past President of the Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York (WBASNY), Western New York Chapter. She has served on their board in multiple roles since 2013. She was also recently selected as the Corresponding Secretary of WBASNY and will start her term on June 1, 2023. Elise serves on the Board of Directors of the University at Buffalo Law Alumni Association, and the National Association of Women in Construction, Buffalo-Niagara Chapter.   

Outside of the legal profession, Elise enjoys travel, running, gardening, and spending as much time as possible with family. She lives in Orchard Park with her husband John, son William, and their two dogs.  

Keri D. Callocchia Partner, Callocchia Law Firm, PLLC


Keri D. Callocchia is a Member of Callocchia Law Firm, PLLC focusing on counseling clients in all matters related to Real Estate, including commercial and residential real estate sales and purchases, title and financing.   Initially an attorney with a prestigious litigation firm in downtown Buffalo, Mrs. Callocchia founded her own firm in 2006.  She additionally served the City of Buffalo as an Administrative Law Judge and has served on many non-profit Boards to better her community and has founded and supported many local initiatives.

Originally from Tennessee, Mrs. Callocchia majored in Psychology and Art where she developed her lifelong passion for the Arts.  She continues painting for many local charity events and supports of the arts through her talent as a visual artist and fundraiser.  She earned her Law Degree together a Masters in Business Administration concentrating in Finance from the University of Tennessee.   While in school, she formed an investment group that funds a scholarship for future MBA students to this day. 

Mrs. Callocchia served the Bar Association of Erie County as Chair of the Real Property Law Committee from 2014 to 2016.  She is a sought-after lecturer for the Erie County Bar Association, New York Bar Association and has contributed as a speaker and writer for NPR, AM Buffalo and The Buffalo News.  She also dedicates her expertise to numerous First Time Homebuyer Education events throughout Erie and Niagara County for Real Estate Brokerages and Non-Profit Organizations.  She is also an active member the Women’s Bar Association where she served on the Judiciary Committee.  She additionally served two terms as a Board Member for the Elmwood Village Association.  Mrs. Callocchia is the founder of Suits for the Troops, organizing the collection of suits for veterans in Western New York, in addition, she was a founding committee Member for the Lawyers for the Arts, promoting attorneys to volunteer their talents to raise money for emerging local arts organizations.  She was also the co-founder of the Play Space Committee for the Elmwood Village Association, Committee Member for International School Playground Development and Strategic Community Partner for Delaware Soccer Club, Strategic Partner of Women’s Council of Realtors and served as an appointed Member of the Citizens Commission for Reapportionment by Mayor Byron Brown.

Joshua E. Dubs
Partner, Webster & Dubs, PC


Josh is originally from the great state of Rhode Island. He grew up there, graduating cum laude from Rocky Hill School in 2000. From there he attended Union College in Schenectady, New York. While at Union, he was a member of Alpha Epsilon Pi, wrote for the newspaper, Concordiensis, and participated in clubs such as Mountebanks (the student-run theatre group), the German Klub, UBGLAD (the Gay-Straight Alliance), and was a member of the Student Judiciary Committee.

Josh graduated from Union in 2004 with a Bachelor’s Degree in History and Performance Art, with a minor in German. Following a brief stint as a reporter for a newspaper in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, Josh returned to Rhode Island to work as an IT Technician for Ocean State Job Lot.

Josh enrolled at the State University of New York at Buffalo Law School in 2005. While there, Josh became active in Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity, International, worked on the Buffalo Public Interest Law Journal, and worked for the Office of Development, eventually being promoted to the department’s Graduate Assistant. Josh received his Juris Doctor degree from UB in 2008. After being admitted to practice law in the State of New York in February, 2009, Josh hung up a shingle, opening the Law Offices of Joshua Dubs on March 6, 2009. He and partner Daniel Webster joined forces and opened Webster & Dubs, P.C. on April 2, 2018.

Josh lives in Lockport, New York. He is married to Lauren, a pharmacist. They have two children, Matthew and Isabelle, and one cat, Sunny. In his spare time, Josh is a Certified Football Official, officiating football games from little league to high school level all over Western New York. Josh also rides in the Ride for Roswell every year, achieving Extra Mile Club status for 12 consecutive years and counting.

Josh has been recognized multiple times for his pro bono work, including receiving the prestigious Presidents Pro Bono Award from the New York State Bar Association and the Rev. A. Joseph Bissonette Pro Bono Award from the Bar Association of Erie County. Josh is a den leader for Cub Scout Pack 58 in Tonawanda. He also serves as President of the Board of Directors for the WNY Coalition for Housing Equity, and is a prior board member of Project Homeless Connect Buffalo and the UB Law Alumni Association’s GOLD Group. He has presented at numerous CLEs and speaking engagements regarding Landlord/Tenant law and Surrogate’s Court practice.

Cheyenne N. Freely
Associate, Hodgson Russ LLP


Having been born and raised in Western New York, I am excited to announce my candidacy for Director of the Bar Association of Erie County. Throughout my educational and legal careers, I have always strived to advocate for my peers and colleagues. This is a passion I hope to continue as a BAEC Director.

I graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in political science and international studies from Niagara University in 2019. During my senior year, I became the first black woman to be elected Student Body President. In 2022, I graduated from the Georgetown University Law Center. During law school, I served as a Student Bar Association representative and a Co-Director of the Georgetown Appellate Advocacy Division.  All of these roles were motivated by my passion for advocacy and my drive to equip others with the tools necessary to succeed. 

After two summers with Hodgson Russ LLP, I joined their business litigation group in September of 2022. While I may be a new face to the WNY legal community, I am extremely grateful to be a part of it. This community has provided me with wonderful mentors, opportunities, and tools that will help guide my legal career for years to come. As Director, I would be committed to ensuring that all current and future members feel supported by the BAEC network and its resources so that together we can advance our community, our profession, and the tenets of justice. Though I am new to the WNY legal community, I am not new to being an effective voice and resource for my colleagues. I hope to have the honor to serve you as a BAEC Director in the coming year.



Helen Ferraro-Zaffram

Managing Attorney, Center for Elder Law & Justice

Samantha I.V. White

Staff Attorney, Western New York Law Center