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Workers' Compensation Board

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Biographies of the Chair and Board Members

Kenneth J. Munnelly of Albany County is the 22nd Chair of the Workers’ Compensation Board. Mr. Munnelly had served as Vice Chair of the Board from 2014 until his designation as Chair in 2016. A Board member since 2013, he was previously the general counsel of the agency from 2008 to 2013, responsible for the day-to-day legal operations of the Board and all legal staff, including all law judges, the Administrative Review Division and the Legal Affairs Division, both of which review Board appeals, as well as the Litigation Unit.

Mr. Munnelly also worked in the New York State Assembly for 21 legislative sessions and, in 1994, was named first deputy attorney general by Attorney General Oliver Koppell. He was also an elected town justice in the Town of Bethlehem and had a private law practice specializing in litigation, family and criminal law. Mr. Munnelly is a graduate of Albany Law School. He also holds an MPA (concentration in public finance) from the Rockefeller School of Public Affairs at the State University of New York at Albany, and a BA in Economics from Binghamton University. (Term expires December 2018)


Freida Foster of New York County is Vice Chair of the Workers’ Compensation Board. A board member since 2009, Ms. Foster has decades of professional experience in the areas of education, government/civic service and public relations. Ms. Foster is a member of the Harlem Community Development Corporation Board of Directors and also sits on the Board for New York’s CORO Leadership Training Program.

Ms. Foster, a former PR professional with one of the largest PR firms in the world, was a CUNY (The City University of New York) trustee for ten years (2006-2016), helping oversee campus management and as vice chair for the Student Affairs Committee and chair for the University’s Standing Committee on Facilities. Prior to joining the board, Freida served as director of the Governor's Office of Community Affairs and assistant to the governor for African American Affairs. In addition, she was the NYC Human Resources Administration Liaison and Recruiter for CUNY’s Borough of Manhattan College Opportunity to Prepare for Employment Program (COPE) where she recruited for the program and advocated for education access for low income mothers. A lifelong Harlem resident, Ms. Foster holds an MS in Corporate Communications from the University of Wisconsin and a BA in Communications, Sociology and Speech from Hofstra University. (Term expires December 2021)


Fredrick M. Ausili of Suffolk County was most recently general counsel of the NY Self-Insurers Association; he was previously the organization’s chairman. Mr. Ausili also worked for 38 years with UPS, including the last 11 years as a risk manager, managing workers’ compensation claims and liability litigation. He was a member of the Board of Directors of the NY Claims Association and the American Red Cross, Suffolk County Chapter. Mr. Ausili graduated from the Jacob D. Fuchsberg Touro Law Center and holds a BS in Management & Communications from Adelphi University. (Term expires December 2017)


Margaret A. Barberis of Albany County is an accomplished corporate administrator with 20 years of experience in workers’ compensation, occupational health/safety standards and procedures for North American and international organizations. She was the corporate director and COE/healthcare management administrator with responsibility North America for Cascades Corp. Previously, she was the occupational health and safety manager for Golub Corp. Ms. Barberis is a registered nurse and she also holds a BS in Business, Management and Economics as well as a graduate certificate in HealthCare Administration, both from Empire State College. (Term expires December 2017)


Steven A. Crain of Saratoga County worked more than 27 years for the Civil Service Employees Association, most recently as general counsel. He also served as staff attorney for the Legal Services Plan of Teamsters Local 237, as assistant county attorney for Orange County, and as special counsel to the Village of Hempstead. Mr. Crain has been an instructor in Special Academic Programs at Marist College and the Labor Studies Program of Cornell University's Industrial Labor Relations School, and has worked in claims for the Prudential Insurance Company. He is a graduate of New York Law School and holds a BA in Economics from the State University of New York College at Cortland. (Term expires December 2019)


Mark Higgins of Erie County joined the Worker’s Compensation Board in 2008 after serving for over 30 years with the Civil Service Employees Association, Inc. in leadership roles throughout New York State. He was a staff director and chief spokesman in collective bargaining on behalf of hundreds of bargaining units within CSEA in the public and private sectors. Mr. Higgins applied worker’s compensation law and the Family and Medical Leave Act among other labor laws in collective bargaining and general union member advocacy in the workplace. He also served on the board of directors at HealthNow, Inc. for 12 years. Mr. Higgins holds master and bachelor degrees in Human Service Management from SUNY Buffalo State College. (Term expires December 2021.)


Linda Hull of Monroe County is a 30-year specialist in workers' compensation, having founded Upstate WorkComp Inc. in 1994 where she consulted on behalf of self-insured and insured employers, occupational health groups, vocational specialists and insurance agents. Earlier in her career, she worked as an outside field adjustor, hearing representative and a claims supervisor for insurance carriers.

A frequent speaker on workers' compensation topics to prominent industry groups, Ms. Hull received the New York State Workers Compensation Board's Chairman's Award for Excellence for her contribution to the self-insurance community in 2001. In 2011, was elected to the AMCOMP Board of Managers and in 2012, she participated on the Workers' Compensation Board Medical Treatment Guidelines Payer Committee. Ms. Hull was a 20-year member of the NYS Business Council's Workers Compensation committee, the NY State Self- Insured Association, and the Rochester Business Alliance Workers Compensation Committee. Ms. Hull holds a dual Bachelor of Science in Economics and Political Science from the State University of New York College at Brockport. She is a native of Rochester. (Term expires December 2020)


Ursula Levelt of Orange County was acting legal director and a staff attorney at the Transport Workers Union Local 100. She also practiced labor law for private law firms and taught law and public policy at The City College of New York. Additionally, Ms. Levelt was a health and safety specialist for NYCOSH and program director at the Center for Immigrants Rights. She is a graduate of City University of New York School of Law. Ms. Levelt also holds a doctoral in ethnic studies from Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and an MA in political science from the New School for Social Research. (Term expires December 2016)


Loren Lobban of Erie County has many years of experience as a practicing attorney, representing individuals, business and government. Prior to joining the Board, Mr. Lobban maintained a private law practice where he specialized in litigation. He was the principle of his own firm and also counsel to the Erie County Legislature. He also volunteered his time representing clients for the Erie County Bar Association Volunteer Lawyers Project.

Mr. Lobban earned law degrees from the State University of New York at Buffalo and the Norman Manley Law School. He also holds an MBA from Medaille College in Buffalo. Mr. Lobban earned a BA in history and psychology from the University of Northern Michigan. (Term expires December 2020)


Ellen O. Paprocki of Onondaga County brings a varied background to the Workers' Compensation Board. Prior to joining the Board she served as Assistant Director of the New York State Fair in Syracuse where she provided management and program/policy development for the State Fair. She spent many years in Washington, DC working with the U.S. Department of Labor as a Field Office Coordinator, Labor-Management Liaison, and investigative trainer as well as serving as a Congressional Liaison for the Agency for International Development.

Ms. Paprocki spent time as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the early 1980's. She is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. (Term expires December 2018)


Clarissa M. Rodriguez of Queens County was a staff attorney at The Legal Aid Society of NY. She served in the Foreclosure Prevention and Predatory Lending Unit and in the Housing Unit. Ms. Rodriguez also worked at the National Parents and Teachers Association and is a member of the board of the Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation, a multi-service non-profit housing developer in the Cypress Hills/East New York area. She is a graduate of City University of New York School of Law and holds a BA in political science from the State University of New York, Purchase College. (Term expires December 2022)


Mark R. Stasko of Onondaga County brings a strong background of workers' compensation expertise with over 35 years of experience in the Workers' Compensation field. He was Director of Risk Management for Onondaga County, responsible for all insurance including workers’ compensation. He was previously Risk and Claims Manager for several large corporations including Chrysler Corp. and Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. He is also the former chairman and treasurer of the NY Self-Insurers Association. In 2001, Mr. Stasko received the NYS Workers’ Compensation Board Chairman’s Award for Excellence. He is a NYS Department of Labor certified specialist in safety, employee assistance and return to work. He holds a BS in Business Management from St. John Fisher College. (Term expires December 2022)


Samuel G. Williams of Niagara County started his union career as a sheet metal apprentice. He was a journeyman for Sheet Metal Workers Local 71 until 1976 when he joined the former Harrison Radiator division of General Motors Corp. and became a member of the UAW Local 686. Mr. Williams rose through the union ranks as alternate, district, and shop committeeman. In 1996, he took part in developing the "Transitional Work Center" concept within General Motors, which allowed and encouraged UAW members injured at work to return early in non-traditional jobs until they could resume their normal work duty. It is still in place today, greatly reducing workers' compensation costs throughout the industry.

Mr. Williams served on the International Staff of the UAW Region 9 as a servicing representative, negotiating collective bargaining agreements, handled arbitration issues and PERB hearings for numerous UAW locals throughout Western New York. He was also director of education for UAW Region 9, encompassing New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and the director of the Community Action Program Region 9 UAW New York State. Mr. Williams has received many awards and honors for his tireless dedication to causes he believes in. He was honored in 1994 with the UAW Citizenship Award and in 1999 as Labor Citizen of the Year from the Niagara/Orleans Labor Council AFL-CIO. In 2009 he received the Norm Harper Labor Award from the Coalition for Economic Justice (CEJ), and the Buffalo Central Labor Council "Labor Person of the Year" award for his commitment to labor and community partnership through legislative and electoral solutions. In January 2010 he received the Martin Luther King Jr. Social Justice Award. (Term expires December 2016)