Meet the Board

The Niskayuna Board of Education is a seven-member board elected by the community that is responsible for the governance of the school district. Members serve three-year terms without pay.

Photo of Jack CalaresoJack Calareso, President

Term: July 1, 2016 – June 30, 2019


Jack Calareso, of 847 Hereford Way, Niskayuna, is serving his first term on the Board.

He is the founder and managing partner of The Calareso Law Firm, PLLC. Calareso has a bachelor’s degree in political science from The College of the Holy Cross and a law degree from the Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law.

Jack is a past co-president and co-vice president of the Rosendale PTO. He served on the 2013 Facilities Utilization Advisory Committee, and has been a Niskayuna Little League coach, a board member of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Capital Region and co-chair of Leadership Tech Valley. Calareso is on the Board of the Capital District YMCA, a member of the Capital Region Chamber of Commerce and a parishioner at St. Kateri Tekakwitha.

He and his wife, JulieAnn, have lived in Niskayuna for 10 years. They have two children: Josie, who attends Iroquois, and Dominic, who attends Rosendale.

Brian Backus, Vice PresidentHeadshot photo of Brian Backus

Term: Oct. 24, 2017 – June 30, 2019


Brian R. Backus, of 2250 Grand Boulevard, is serving his first term on the Board. He was elected in a special election in October 2017 to fill a vacancy on the Board.

Backus is commander of the 139 Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron of the New York Air National Guard’s 109th Airlift Wing in Scotia.

He has a bachelor’s degree in human resources management from the New School University in New York City and completed Air War College at the U.S. Air Force’s Air University.

Backus is a member of the Town of Niskayuna Planning Board and Zoning Commission and has been active with Niskayuna Youth Football, Niskayuna Boys and Girls Basketball and Niskayuna Girls Lacrosse. He is a member of St. John’s Roman Catholic Church.

Backus has lived in Niskayuna for seven years. He and his wife, Lynne Rutnik, have two children who attend Niskayuna Schools: Aiylin and Owen Rutnik, who are in seventh grade at Van Antwerp Middle School.

Photo of Nicki FoleyNicki Foley

Term: July 1, 2016 – June 30, 2019


Nicki Foley, of 45 Ray Street, Niskayuna, is serving her first term on the Board.

She is the Education Department coordinator for Clarkson University’s Capital Region campus.

She has a bachelor’s degree in general arts, elementary education certification from Villanova University and a master’s in education from The College of St. Rose.

Foley is a member of the Niskayuna Education Enrichment Fund Committee. She has served as a PTO Council co-president, Van Antwerp PTO co-president, the high school liaison for Friends of Music, and on various committees at Hillside. Foley is a board member with the Reading is Fun program that is active in Schenectady schools and a lector and religious education teacher at St. Kateri Tekakwitha Parish.

Foley and her husband, Tim, have lived in the district for 13 years. They have three daughters: Jillian and Regina, who are Niskayuna graduates, and Shannon, who attends Niskayuna High School.

Noney GrierHeadshot of Noney Grier smiling at the camera

Term: July 1, 2018 – June 30, 2021


Noney M. Grier, of 9 Schwaber Drive, was elected to a first term on the Board in May 2018.

Grier is a voluntary service specialist at the Albany Stratton VA Medical Center. In that position, she develops and implements standards, plans and procedures for the direction and operation of voluntary service activities, is responsible for the recruitment and management of more than 500 volunteers, and oversees a growing youth program.

She has an associate’s degree in substance abuse counseling from Schenectady County Community College, is a credentialed alcohol and substance abuse counselor trainee from the New York State Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuses Services, and is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in human resources from Empire State College.

Grier is a life member of Phi Theta Kappa, a Marine Corps League member, chair of the Stratton VA Veteran Employee Team, a member and past chapter president of Student Veterans of America, and a volunteer with Girl Scout Troop 2351.

She has lived in Niskayuna for seven years. She and her husband, Robert, have two children: Lorenzo, who graduated from Niskayuna High School in 2012 and Elizabeth, who attends Van Antwerp Middle School.

Rosemarie Perez JaquithPhoto of Rosemarie Perez Jaquith

Term: July 1, 2017 – June 30, 2020


Rosemarie Perez Jaquith, of 1475 Keyes Ave. is serving her second term on the Board. Jaquith is Director of Administration and Administrative Counsel for the New York State Legislative Bill Drafting Commission. In that position, she oversees the business and financial operations of the Commission, reviews and negotiates contracts, provides legal support in procurement and other administrative matters, develops internal policies, and represents the Commission in administrative and court proceedings. Jaquith has a bachelor’s degree in business from SUNY IT and a juris doctor from Syracuse University College of Law.

Jaquith was a member of the district’s 60th Anniversary Committee, the Academic Advisory Committee, and the Facilities Utilization Advisory Committee.

She was on the board of the Niskayuna Booster Club, and is a past co-president of the district PTO Council (2011-13) and past co-secretary of the Van Antwerp PTO (2011-13). Jaquith also served as co-president of the Hillside PTO (2009-11) and helped raise money for the school’s playground. She helps organize the annual St. Baldrick’s event in Schenectady that raises money for pediatric cancer research.

Jaquith has lived in Niskayuna for 19 years. She and her husband, Grant, have three children: Olivia, a 2013 NHS graduate who works for NBC in NYC; Isabelle, a 2017 NHS graduate who attends Worcester Polytechnic Institute; and Colton, who will attend Wells College starting fall, 2018.

Photo of Howard SchlossbergHoward Schlossberg

Term: July 1, 2018 – June 30, 2021


Howard Schlossberg, of 76 Pheasant Ridge, is serving his first term on the Board. He graduated from Cornell University and earned a medical degree from Temple University. Schlossberg completed a fellowship at Thomas Jefferson University for hematology and oncology.

He served as the secretary on the executive board of his practice, New York Oncology Hematology, and continues as a director while chairing the Technology Committee and serving on the Research, Peer Review, and Pharmacy committees. He also serves on the Schenectady County Public Health Advisory Committee as well as Ellis Medicine committees including Transfusion, Institutional Review, and Oncology.

He has served on the Board of Community Hospice and the Executive Board at Congregation Gates of Heaven. Schlossberg teaches high school students, medical students and residents.

He has lived in the district for a decade and is married to Michelle Ostrelich. They have two daughters, Fiona, who attends Iroquois Middle School, and Rachel, who attend Rosendale Elementary.

Photo of Jennifer ZhaoJennifer Zhao

Term: July 1, 2017 – June 30, 2020


Yu (Jennifer) Zhao, of 2175 Foxhill Drive, is serving her first term on the Board. She is a full-time stay-at-home mom and owner of a home-based business as an educational consultant for Usborne Books and More. Previously, she was employed as a lead engineer at GE Global Research where she led teams and managed project budgets, such as building a world-class solar technology laboratory from the ground up.

Zhao has a bachelor’s degree in material science engineering from Cornell University and a master’s of engineering degree in integrated microsystems from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. She is a member of the PTO at Craig Elementary School and the Niskayuna Moms’ Group. Zhao is also an annual presenter at the Hudson Mohawk Valley Mathematics Teachers Conference and a BOCES substitute teacher.

She is co-founder and past president of “we c…green” of GE, a group focused on sustainability, and a past president of the Young Professional Club of the Chinese Community Center. She teaches Sunday school at the Chinese Fellowship Bible Church.

Zhao has been a district resident for 11 years. She and her husband, Paul, have two children: Micah, who attends Craig Elementary School, and Jonah who is two years old.