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Six to be honored at Just Communities banquet

Six community leaders will be honored as the National Federation for Just Communities of Western New York holds its 2016 Citation Banquet at 6 p.m. April 6 in the Hyatt Regency Buffalo.

The honorees are Steve Finch, plant manager for General Motors Co.’s Tonawanda Engine Plant; philanthropists Betsy and Jock Mitchell; restaurateur Russell J. Salvatore; Laurence A. Levite, president of Buffalo Spree Publishing; and Sister Denise A. Roche, president of D’Youville College.

Finch began his career as a GM Institute co-op student at the Chevrolet Gear and Axle plant in Buffalo and, after serving as a manager in Flint, Mich., returned here in 2007 to head the Tonawanda operation.

He has received numerous awards and serves on the boards of the United Way of Buffalo and Erie County, the AAA of Western New York and the Buffalo Urban League. He regularly speaks to high school students about the importance of education.

Betsy Mitchell, former associate for development at Westminster Presbyterian Church and Westminster Early Childhood Programs, is president of the board of the Westminster Economic Development Initiative and has served on the boards of numerous educational and health-related agencies.

Her husband, Jock, was president and owner of Mitchell, DeTine and Neller Advertising and served as director of admissions for Nichols School. He has served on the boards of Artpark, Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper, the Olmsted Parks Conservancy, the Community Foundation, the Salvation Army and Hospice Buffalo.

Salvatore began working in his father’s tavern on Buffalo’s East Side and created two of the area’s landmark restaurants, Salvatore’s Italian Gardens and Russell’s Steaks, Chops & More.

Renowned for his generosity, he has donated TVs for every room at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, gone into partnership with Trocaire College to train students for the hospitality industry, and has purchased tickets to Buffalo Bills games to guarantee sell-outs, then donated the tickets to charities.

Levite, who formerly headed the parent companies for several Buffalo radio stations, is the owner and chief executive officer of Buffalo Spree Publishing, which produces 32 magazines, as well as theater programs and events in Buffalo and Rochester.

He is a board member of the 100 Club of Buffalo and the Shaw Festival and is a past board member of the Jewish Federation of Greater Buffalo, Nichols School, Shea’s Performing Arts Center and the Sisters Hospital Foundation. He also is a past chairman of the New York State Broadcasters Association.

Roche, an educator for nearly 50 years, is retiring this year after serving as president of D’Youville since 1979. She expanded the college campus and its programs and has helped it play a prominent role in Buffalo civic affairs, especially in its West Side neighborhood.

She has served in numerous leadership roles in educational agencies and currently sits on the Buffalo Public Schools Foundation Board, the D’Youville Community Advisory Board, the POLARIS board of directors and the Western New York Consortium of Higher Education, where she is a past chairwoman.

Co-chairing this year’s banquet are NFJC board member Gretchen R. Getilter and board member emeritus Christopher T. Greene.

The NFJC has worked to combat racism and other discrimination in the area since it was founded as a branch of the National Conference of Christians and Jews in 1951. For information and tickets to the dinner, call 853-9596 or visit