Our Staff

Here they are—the people behind Western New York’s most vibrant contemporary photography and visual arts center. Their shared commitment to serve artists and the artistic practice, engage audiences with exhibits and events of interest, and inform the larger not-for-profit cultural field as to what’s groundbreaking in the visual arts reaches approximately 300,000 people each year.

Veronique Cote

Véronique Côté

Executive Director

veronique@cepagallery.org

A Quebec native, Côté completed her MFA at SUNY Buffalo in 2006. She also holds an MA in Museum Studies from Harvard University, and a BIA from the University of Quebec in Chicoutimi. Most recently, Côté held a position at the prestigious Pérez Art Museum leading the Museum Management Internship & Leadership program.

Lauren Tent

Education Director

lauren@cepagallery.org

Lauren Tent is the Education Director at CEPA Gallery where she oversees the in-school, after-school, and summer arts programs for youth and also runs the workshop program.

She received an associates degree in photography from Villa Maria College, a B.A. in photography and an M.A.H. with a focus on Art History and English Education, both from the University at Buffalo. She has been with CEPA as Education Director since 1999, but has been involved with CEPA since an internship and employment as an assistant in 1985. She has taught photography classes at Villa Maria College, Daemen College, and the Visual Studies Department at the University at Buffalo.

Sophie Barner

Sophie Barner

Executive & Curatorial Assistant

sophie@cepagallery.org

Sophie Barner is the Administrative & Curatorial Assistant to the Director at CEPA Gallery.

She has a Bachelor’s of Arts in Art History, Art Museum Studies, and Studio Art from Chatham University. She has experience teaching art at a variety of organizations including Assemble, a community center for art and technology, summer camps at the Castellani Art Museum, and volunteering at children’s art clubs. Her interests lie in creating a more inclusive and intersectional future art world. During her time at Chatham University, she was a head organizer of the Student Artist Collective and Curated a show of student work. Barner’s past work experiences include internships at the Burchfield Penney Art Center, Castellani Art Museum, and the Niagara Falls Heritage Center.

Claire Leggett

Claire Leggett

Development Coordinator

claire@cepagallery.org

Claire Leggett holds an MS in Arts Administration and a graduate certificate in Fundraising Management from Boston University, and received her BA in History from the State University of New York at Cortland. She has worked in both the visual and performing arts, with organizations including the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC, the Cortland Repertory Theatre in Cortland, NY, and Eureka Ensemble in Boston, MA, to bring art and community together.

Emma Dailey

Emma Dailey

Archive Associate Fellow

emma@cepagallery.org

After living in the Hudson Valley for six years, Buffalo native Emma Dailey is excited to be back in WNY and joining the CEPA team as the Archive Associate Fellow! Emma holds a B.A. in History from Wells College, a M.A. in Museum Studies from George Washington University, and a M.S. in Library and Information Science from the University of Kentucky. She has a passion for preserving the past and sharing it with others!

Thank you to the Bicentennial Celebration of Erie County, Jason Hurley, Erie County’s Director of Community Affairs, sponsorship from The Baird Foundation, The M&T Charitable Foundation and The John R. Oishei Foundation, for making this position possible.

Ruby Merritt

Ruby Merritt

Gallery Manager & Installer

ruby@cepagallery.org

Ruby Merritt is a Buffalo based professional artist, adjunct professor and teaching artist. Growing up in between the Great Lakes the lush natural ecosystems of wetlands, old growth forests, and gorge canyons immensely influences Merritt’s artwork, research and interactive performance work. Merritt received her BFA, concentrating in Drawing and Painting from the State University of New York at New Paltz and a Masters of Fine Arts at the University at Buffalo, in 2013. .

Kasey Edgerton

Kasey Edgerton

Outreach Fellow

outreach-fellow@cepagallery.org

Kasey represents CEPA on the ground at community events, crafting press releases, program/exhibition content, and branding, as well as contributing to publicity, fundraising, and visibility efforts for the organization. She is a local artist working at the messy crossroads of photography, bioart, and new media.

Sponsored by FujiFilm Foundation for Creation Fellowship Program and the Stenclik Family Charitable Fund

Kasey Edgerton

Chase Kunz

Education Fellow

education-fellow@cepagallery.org

Chase is a graduate of CEPA’s Photography Works Program and aims to bring prospective young photographers into the numerous programs offered at CEPA and to forge links in the community which will allow the organization to be even more accessible to the WNY population.

Sponsored by FujiFilm Foundation for Creation Fellowship Program and the Stenclik Family Charitable Fund

Ahmad Nieves

Ahmad Nieves

Partnership Fellow

partnership-fellow@cepagallery.org

Ahmad is responsible for establishing and maintaining relationships with members of the community, businesses, schools, and more on behalf of CEPA Gallery. He is committed to supporting the mission and the legacy of CEPA and helping to fuel further expansion.

Sponsored by FujiFilm Foundation for Creation Fellowship Program and the Stenclik Family Charitable Fund

Zixin Jiang

Zixin Jiang

Marketing Fellow

marketing-fellow@cepagallery.org

Zixin focuses on growing public awareness, disseminating information, and sharing success stories through digital media marketing and press relations. She will help CEPA further define its unique brand image and positioning among arts organizations in the Western New York community.

Sponsored by FujiFilm Foundation for Creation Fellowship Program and the Stenclik Family Charitable Fund

Joseph Poloncarz

Joseph Poloncarz

Flutie Fellow

joseph@cepagallery.org

Joseph Poloncarz is a film photographer, and teaching artist in Buffalo, New York. He first came to CEPA in 2012 for a photography program through Autism Services. He became really interested in the darkroom and over the years taught himself a lot about film, chemistry and all things darkroom. He became an assistant teacher and quickly was teaching his own classes to his Alma Mater, Autism Services Inc. 

Joseph was diagnosed with autism at the age of 3 and suffered depression since high school. Photography helped him battle his mental health issues. He is thankful to the Doug Flutie Foundation for the grant that has allowed CEPA to hire him, not only as a teaching artist but as the coordinator of the grant. Joseph plays hockey, likes watching football and is truly a darkroom genius.

Sponsored by the Doug Flutie Jr., Foundation for Autism, Inc. and the Stenclik Family Charitable Fund