The Gateway to Lasting Education for Women, Adults, and Children

Mailing Address

95 Spring Meadow Drive, Suite #1

Williamsville, NY 14221


Founded in 1991, LEWAC is a 501(c)(3) and a New York State Charitable Organization that looks to fill a vital need in Western New York for health education programs aimed specifically at the diverse cultures in the area.

Our focus is on addressing health concerns such as:

  • Childhood obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension and stroke
  • Nutrition
  • Weight management
  • Asthma
  • Prostate disease
  • Breast cancer

LEWAC primarily serves neighborhoods in Buffalo’s East and West Sides, including the Masten, Ellicott, Niagara, and University Districts. We also carry out and support programs throughout Niagara County.

Our Mission

To improve access to health and human services by facilitating relationships with community stakeholders, health care professionals, policy-makers, & public and private decision-makers.

Our Vision

  • To utilize all available resources to provide health education and outreach to underserved populations in Western New York.
  • To serve as expert consultants in the design of culturally-sensitive programs and services
  • To provide program management and coordination
  • To engage and stimulate community stakeholder’s interest and input
  • To advocate for disease prevention and management.
  • To increase access to health and human services for the African American, Hispanic, and other underserved communities of Buffalo and Western New York.

Hattitude 2020 has been canceled

LEWAC’s Hattitude – Black Health Matters Luncheon will resume when it is safe to do so and in accordance with NYS/CDC guidelines of crowd gathering, social distancing, and mask-wearing. LEWAC’s Health Education programs are currently being carried out virtually until further notice.

LEWAC Partners with University Pediatric Dentistry 

The Links, Incorporated – Erie County (NY) Chapter three-year (2017 – 2020) Healthy Teeth are Happy Teeth Dental Program for inner-city school age children (PreK – 6) and their parents/guardians is on target to have a positive oral health impact when Buffalo Public Schools’ conducts its 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS).

To date over 6,000 youth and adults have been screened each receiving a “dental goodie bag” containing, toothpaste, toothbrush, dental floss, and dental education materials. The goal is to have a positive impact on the oral health 2019 YRBS data on those children entering middle school and beyond (6-12).

Community partners are: Complete Health Dentistry of WNY – James Lesinski, DDS; Buffalo Public Schools; Say Yes – Strong Community Schools; University Pediatric Dentistry; Dr. Walter Holland; Blue Cross Blue Shield of WNY; ADM Management Group, Inc.; GBAUHN; and LEWAC Associates of WNY.

Francesca B. Mesiah

LEWAC’s 2020 Health Matters Award

Francesca B. Mesiah, Senior Marketing Associate, Community Relations at Kaleida Health. Fran is responsible for leading KH system-wide community outreach programs and services. This includes collaborating with departments and clinical managers across Kaleida to accomplish outreach objectives participate in evaluating outreach programming and serving as host and producer of a radio program on WUFO AM / Power 96.5 FM, Great Lakes Health Program. In addition, she’s the Executive Director of Near East and West Side Task Force (NEWS TF — a not-for-profit organization), through collaborative partners provides health and education programs for underserved populations for Buffalo’s African American and Latino communities.

Francesca has a Master of Science from SUNYAB and BA Degree in Sociology and Urban Planning from SUNY Albany. She is also a graduate from the NYS DOH Administrative Fellowship Program. She’s held positions in marketing, public relations, and communications at the Community Foundation of Western New York; Good Schools for All, and the Erie County Industrial Development Agency. She served as Analyst at the New York State Legislative Research.

Francesca is very active in the community. She is Vice President of NAACP Buffalo Branch, chairperson of Health Committee, and serves on several Advisory Boards including FBI Citizens Academy Alumni Association (Board of Directors, Chair Program Committee, former Secretary), Botanical Gardens of Erie County (Marketing Committee), WNED Community Advisory Public Broadcast, Hispanic Women’s League of Buffalo (Membership, Scholarship and Empowerment Committee, Leadership Buffalo and Graduate Leadership Buffalo (Class chair), and Committee Person in Cheektowaga.

She is a member of St. John Baptist Church, chairperson of the Health Ministry, where she is responsible for implementing second Sunday as Health Sunday.

Mentor High school students:  Career placement, including: assist with completing college applications, and provides information on military and trade school

Mentor College Students: In college, assists students in navigating the system with jobs on campus, guide towards major in accordance with their request, internship placement, and guidance on post-graduation.

Career Coaching: Mentor adults with career placement and development, including advancing their career, network expert; recommends groups to join for advancing their career.

Emmekunla Nylander, MD

LEWAC’s 2020 Health Matters Award

Emmekunla Nylander is the daughter of the late Dr. Renzo and Mrs. Catherine Nylander. She attended Williamsville South High School in Williamsville, NY and Boston University for undergraduate studies. She returned to Buffalo to attend SUNY Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, now renamed the Jacobs School of Medicine. She earned her medical degree in 1996 and attended Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas for her residency in obstetrics and gynecology.

After residency training, she returned to Buffalo and joined the University of Buffalo Department of OBGYN. Emmekunla was a clinical professor and attending physician educating medical students and residents. As the only woman of color in that department, she took on the responsibility of mentoring other students of color as they considered a career in medicine and OB/GYN. As she developed her reputation in the Buffalo Community she saw patients at The Jesse Nash Clinic, Geneva B. Scruggs, ECMC, as well as at Children’s Hospital Women’s Clinic. She has delivered thousands of babies in her career so far and is now caring for patients at her own group practice, Buffalo OBGYN in Snyder, NY. Having her own practice has afforded her the opportunity to travel to other countries with her medical mission group. Since 2007, Dr. Nylander and other physicians, nurses, surgical and medical support staff, along with high school students have traveled to West Africa and the Dominican Republic caring for disadvantaged people in those areas. She founded Medical Outreach and Community Assistance of Western New York (MOCA of WNY). This nonprofit organization has provided resources locally to the Haven House and other nonprofit organizations in Buffalo.  She continues her community service as a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and serves on the board of HealthNow New York Inc. She is the proud mother of one daughter, and loves to travel the world with her exploring new and beautiful places and people.

About Catherine J. Lewis

Founder and CEO

Catherine J. Lewis began her career in the health care industry in 1964 as a Claims Representative for Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Western New York. Twenty years later she was managing a staff of 37 in a New York State effort to preserve the Medicare Trust Fund.

In 1991, Ms. Lewis made a life-altering decision. Having lost several family members to the effects of diabetes, she resolved to devote the rest of her life to promoting health and wellness among traditionally underserved and uninformed populations. It was then that she founded LEWAC Associates of Western New York, Inc., with a mission to increase access to culturally sensitive healthcare, health education and human services for the African-American and Hispanic communities of Western New York.

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Congratulations to This Year's Health Matters Award Winners!

Emmekunla Nylander, MD

Francesca B. Mesiah








Learn more about both of these outstanding women by clicking here!