Our Staff

In March 2020 City Roots Community Land Trust hired our first Full-Time Executive Director Joe Di Fiore! In August 2020 City Roots brought on two more full-time staff members as well as an Americorps VISTA fellow!

Joe Di Fiore (he/him)

Executive Director

After more than three years of being a volunteer organization, Joe became our first staff member & Executive Director. Active in the Rochester community, Joe volunteers with the Beechwood Neighborhood Coalition on the board of directors as well as with the boards of Peace Village, and the Urban League of Rochester Economic Development Corporation. He's also vice-president of the School 33 PTA, runs the Beechwood repair clinic for R Community Bikes, and is a founding member of the Little Flower Community. Joe's hobbies include judo, brazilian jiu-jitsu, bike riding, historic preservation, and spending time with his amazing family.


Graham Hughes (he/him)

Special Projects Coordinator

Graham grew up in the Syracuse area and moved to Rochester after he graduated from Hobart and William Smith Colleges in 2017 to work for RMAPI. Before joining City Roots as a staff member, Graham completed his Master's Degree in Adult Education & Community Development at the University of Toronto. He has been a member of City Roots since November 2017.

Amber Powers (she/her)

Building Projects Manager

Amber grew up in Maplewood and is a proud city resident and supporter of the local environmental and housing justice movements. She holds degrees in Urban Planning from the University at Buffalo and Teaching English as a New Language from Nazareth, and received a Fulbright Scholarship for work in Nepal from 2011-2012. Amber is a founding board member of Taproot Collective and serves on the Rochester Market Driven Community Corporation board.

Morgan Bajish (she/her)

Rochester Youth Year AmeriCorps VISTA
Originally from the Syracuse area, Morgan graduated from St. John Fisher College in 2021 with a degree in Political Science and English. She’s working with City Roots Community Land Trust and Taproot Collective for the 2021-2022 Rochester Youth Year AmeriCorps VISTA program.

Anastajah Haynes (she/her)

Community Engagement Coordinator

Anastajah grew up on the southside of Syracuse, and graduated with a B.S. in Sociology & Political Science from SUNY Brockport in 2019. Anastajah has a strong passion for advocacy & social justice, and seeks to empower marginalized groups through action and community building.  Anastajah is thoughtful and analytical in her approach to social change. She seeks to first understand the systems that perpetuate injustice in order to determine the strategies that will make a tangible impact.

Elected Board of Directors

Our board reflects that of a traditional community land trust with a tri-partite board consisting of 1) Lessee Representatives, 2) General Community Representatives, and 3) Public Representatives. Control of the CLT’s board is balanced to ensure that the community as a whole considers and determines the priorities of the organization and all interests are heard but no interest is predominant.

Lessee Representatives

Individuals that are Land Trust residents and live in City Roots CLT housing, or are elected to represent CLT residents. These representatives bring knowledge and real-life stories that are valuable to the CLT.


Elizabeth McGriff

Term Ending First Quarter 2025

Wanda Cooper

Wanda Cooper

Lessee Representative
Term Ending First Quarter 2025


Ana Martinez

Lessee Representative
Term Ending First Quarter 2023

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Vanessa Santiago

Lessee Representative
Term Ending First Quarter 2024

General Community Representatives

Individuals that live in the communities where City Roots CLT works. These individuals bring valuable knowledge of the community at large.


Dr. Cynthia Cole

Term Ending First Quarter 2024


Doreen Young

Community Representative
Term Ending First Quarter 2023


Keturah Bixby

Community Representative
Term Ending First Quarter 2025


Burt Betchart

Term Ending First Quarter 2023

Public Representatives

Most of these individuals are professionally employed with prior board experience. They often provide valuable knowledge of resources that can be utilized by the CLT.


Victor Sanchez

Vice President
Term Ending First Quarter 2024


Shane Wiegand

Public Representative
Term Ending First Quarter 2025


Stanley Martin

Public Representative
Term Ending First Quarter 2024


Melissa Marquez

Public Representative
Term Ending First Quarter 2023

In Memoriam: A Warm Tribute to Our Forever Board Member

Wallace R. Smith will forever be remembered as a founding leader of City Roots Community Land Trust. He served on the first Board of Directors and completed his final term just days before he was called home on March 22, 2021 at the age of 78.


We are filled with gratitude for the life and leadership of Wallace Smith. We are grateful to his family and friends who helped get him to meetings for as long as he could. We will honor and remember him and continue to learn from his way of living and leading. THANK YOU WALLACE!


These are the words of those of us who benefited from Wallace’s leadership and wisdom:

"It is an honor for me to take a moment of remembrance posting this testimony as a fitting tribute to Elder Statesman, fellow Member of the Board of Directors of the Land Trust, Brother Wallace R. Smith. It was his advocacy and strong support of City Roots Community Land Trust which influenced my interest and subsequent involvement. He spoke about the importance of community control of the land, development without displacement, gentrification, redlining, racial covenants and the concept of the land trust as a solution to change, home ownership and building wealth for the communities and people most impacted by poverty and systemic racism. Backed by his long history and work as a community advocate and activist, Brother Wallace was a strong and very well known presence for economic equity, justice and education, collective work and community building and the work of City Roots-Community Land Trust. Our Brother and colleague will be missed and we are most grateful for his contributions to the work of City Roots Community Land Trust, Inc. and our work here in the City of Rochester, NY.

Dr. Rev. Cynthia Cole

As a Rochester City Councilmember, I know how critical affordable housing is to our community.  I support City Roots because I believe that a community land trust can be a key tool to promote permanent affordability and home ownership.

Mitch Gruber

City Councilmember