Mission and Philosophy

Elmcrest is a community of caring professionals providing services to children with a variety of emotional, behavioral, and developmental limitations in order to help them overcome barriers to success in their homes, in their schools, and in their communities.

The Elmcrest experience focuses on developing meaningful relationships in a teaching and learning environment that will enable children, regardless of age, gender, or circumstance to reach their optimum potential, point toward a productive future, and contribute to the success of their community.

In the early 1800s, when Syracuse was still a village of fewer than 5,000 people, the education of children was a luxury afforded only to those who could pay the tuition for a private school. A group of churchwomen became interested in educating children who were less fortunate. In 1835, a group of churchwomen interested in educating children who were less fortunate established the Syracuse Free School in a rented room behind the village store.

In 1841, the same group of women turned their attention to children who were parentless or abandoned and being cared for in the County Poor House.

Read more about our history

The “Association for the Relief of Destitute Children” was formed with the sum of $427.38. The efforts of the women resulted in the incorporation of the Syracuse Orphans’ Asylum. It opened its doors to 10 boys and five girls on May 10, 1845.

By 1847, the house had expanded to serve children throughout the county. To accommodate the needs of more children, the home was relocated several times. In 1922, it moved for the last time to what was then the outskirts of the city, a 146-acre farm on Salt Springs Road. On the occasion of its 100th anniversary in 1945, the name was officially changed to Elmcrest Children’s Center.

Elmcrest continued to function as an orphanage into the 1960s. With changes in social policy and a decrease in the population of true orphans, Elmcrest turned its attention to serving the needs of “troubled youth.” In 1980, Elmcrest began to refocus its efforts to provide services to children with emotional as well as behavioral issues and began to increase its services to children with special needs. In the more than three decades since, Elmcrest has established itself as a leader and innovator in serving the children of Central New York.

Today, Elmcrest Children’s Center is a multi-service residential treatment and education center for children with emotional, behavioral, and psychiatric challenges; a respite center for children with developmental disabilities and serious medical conditions; and an early education center and Universal Pre-K (UPK) program. Elmcrest serves more than 2,500 children and their family members yearly in more than 20 different programs. At any given time, Elmcrest is home to 130 youngsters, with another 150 preschoolers being served in its early education facility. Elmcrest provides supportive services, counseling, education, and training to another 80 families at risk of having their children removed from the home.

Our Officers

“Once you have a Mission, you can’t go back to having a job.” – Shai Agassi

James R. Muldoon, Esq.

Dana C. Loucks
Vice President

Jennifer Young
Vice President

Dennis T. Cleary
Vice President

Merry Bhattacharjee

Raymond B. Ryan

Diane Nappa
Interim Executive Director

Board of Directors

  • David Aiello
  • Jodi Bobbett
  • Eric M. Brown
  • David M. Capriotti, Esq.
  • Sean Dougherty
  • Shynique Gainey
  • Thomas McGuire
  • Alison K. Miller
  • Samuel D. Rowser
  • Bruce Williams, Jr.

Board of Advisors

  • Jane Amico
  • Charles W. Beach
  • Steven Bergstraesser
  • Gary Bobbett
  • James V. Breuer
  • Amy C. Burns
  • Donald E. Burns
  • Mary Beth Carmen
  • Joseph L. Cecile
  • Kevin D. Delaney
  • Margaret L. Dudarchik
  • Andrew M. Eassa, CPA
  • William F. Edwards
  • Twiggy M. Eure
  • Charles L. Falgiatano, Esq.
  • Joanna Ferguson
  • Patricia H. Hale
  • William J. Hanna, III
  • Scott R. Hatz, Esq.
  • Matthew G. Holt
  • Matthew Huber
  • Jonathan K. Leister
  • Yvonne Annese LoRe
  • J. Bradford Mann, CPA
  • F. Jasper Massey
  • John O’Brien
  • Gary R.M. Payne
  • Anne M. Reagan, PSY.D.
  • Joseph O. Reagan, M.D.
  • Francis J. Reid
  • Hugh Roszel, Sr.
  • Theodore J. Scallon
  • Matthew N. Schiro
  • Lorraine B. Schunck
  • Hon. Frederick J. Scullin, Jr.
  • Anne T. Smith
  • Paul M. Snow
  • Terrence M. Tormey, CLU
  • Arthur W. Wentlandt, Esq.
  • Mary Anne Winfield
  • Daniel P. Young
  • Thomas G. Young


Our staff focuses on developing meaningful relationships in a teaching and learning environment that will enable children, regardless of age, gender, or circumstance, to reach their optimum potential, point toward a productive future, and contribute to the success of their communities.

Each day, Elmcrest Children’s Center’s 500 highly dedicated full and part-time staff members, along with volunteers and interns from local universities, help to bring compassionate assistance and services to children and families living in Central New York. Our staff consists of skilled professionals with a variety of academic and employment backgrounds who work tirelessly to respond to the needs of those seeking our help.

Leadership Team

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”  Helen Keller

Diane Nappa
Interim Executive Director

Rick Johnson
Director, Support Services

Shereen Webb
Director, Residential and Community Operations

Marcus Gillespie
Director, Quality Assurance and Data

Patrick Casey
Associative Executive Director, Programming

Gregory Ayers
Director, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Michelle King
Director, Early Education

Helen Kelley
Agency Development Officer

Terri Tulowiecki
Associate Executive Director, Finance

Ashton Nelson
Director, Human Resources

Krysten Alberts
Director, Risk Management

Fostering Leadership Partners

“Only by giving are you able to receive more than you already have.” – Jim Rohn

Thank you to our Fostering Leadership partners for their significant investments toward a brighter future for the 2,500 children and family members we serve each year.

m&t bank
United Way
Strata Mia
Jim and Juli foundation
Limited Auto Supply
Harris Beach
ACTC Foundation
Triad Foundation