Diana Cihak – President

Diana Cihak has found a way to combine the skills she has garnered from her entrepreneurial, political and government experience to successfully consult organizations in finding grant funding opportunities.

Diana takes a multi-disciplinary approach to finding sources of funding from state, federal and private funding organizations for her for-profit, not for profit and municipal clients. Researching appropriate funding sources, making connections with funders, authoring and packaging applications along with proper follow up are all key to the success of Upper Edge’s clients. Since 2010 Diana has helped her clients win awards that range from $5,000 to $4.5 Million.

Diana has been featured in the New York Times and the Buffalo News. She has appeared on Fox Business News, WGRZ, WBFO and the Canadian Network Television station CTS as well as in numerous local publications.

Diana serves on the Erie County Commission on the Status of Women and is the Founder of WEPac and the WomenElect program. She has also served as the State Vice Chair for the Women’s Equality Party and on the Board of the Women’s Business Center at Canisius College as well as WomenEvents Buffalo. She lives in Buffalo with her three children.

Julianne Yates – Executive Administrator

Julianne (Julie) Yates has over 30 years of Executive Administrative experience.  For 20 of those years she has also served as an instructional designer in the Learning and Development field focusing on both elearning and instructor-led training. She has designed, developed and delivered a multitude of learning programs on topics ranging from systems applications to manager and leadership development.

Julie has previously worked at Delaware North Companies, New Era Cap, First Niagara Bank, and Catapult Executive Consulting, and has owned her own freelance consulting business.  Prior to joining Upper Edge Consulting, she worked for Town Supervisor Brian Kulpa at the Town of Amherst for several years as Executive Assistant and office manager.

She has earned her Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Empire State College SUNY, a certificate in Emotional Intelligence from Case Western, and has completed numerous other certification programs throughout her career.

She was an active volunteer in the Village of Williamsville, NY prior to relocating to Rocky River, OH in 2021 where she resides with her husband.

Cecily Rodriguez – Grant Writer

Cecily Rodriguez spent 20+ years as a Human Resources and Organizational Development professional helping companies develop and improve their workforces, organizational structures, and business processes in industries such as manufacturing, financial services, nonprofit, and higher education. Whether as an employee, consultant, or Board member, she has been a founder and follower of organizations that feed her passion for bringing people together to improve their opportunities in the workforce.

She holds a BA in Journalism and Mass Communications and MS in Communication and Leadership, plus certifications including the PHR, Hogan, Workplace Big 5, MBTI, DiSC, 360-Feedback, Mutual Learning Facilitation Model, and Creative Problem Solving, and has used her expertise to help teams across the US, Europe, and Asia-Pacific.

Cecily is an adjunct professor at University at Buffalo, former adjunct professor at Canisius College, and an Executive Committee Board member for The Park School of Buffalo and The Women’s Business Center @ Canisius College. Throughout her career, the skill Cecily has used most consistently has been her ability to craft written communications in a way that compels people to say “yes”. She hopes to continue compelling people to say “yes” through her work with Upper Edge.

Laurita Ciceron  – Junior Grant Writer

Laurita Ciceron is a social researcher with over 8 years of experience conducting independent research . She has worked with non profit organizations and social advocacy groups all over the country doing data collection and analysis. She is passionate about research and social justice.

Laurita received her B.S. in sociology from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. While there she completed her first independent research study which went on to be published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology. After graduation she moved to London and attended the University College London where she received her masters in social policy and social research. Upon returning to the U.S. she began working for different voting rights and political advocacy groups.

In addition to working as a Research Associate at Upper Edge Consulting, Laurita is currently working as the Principal Researcher for The Stan Greenspon Holocaust and Social Justice Center at Queens University where she is conducting research on community organising.

She lives in Charlotte, North Carolina and is currently conducting independent research and plans on returning to school to obtain her doctorate degree in social research.

Bridget Bulson – Research Associate

Bridget Bulson has 6+ years of research experience in the sciences and humanities. Driven by a passion for social justice, she devotes much of her time to causes that make her community a better place.

Bridget earned her B.A. in psychology from the University at Buffalo in January of 2021, where she spent time participating in and conducting psychological research. After her bachelor’s, she was accepted into a dual public history M.A./information science M.S. program at the University of Albany. She is in her final year of study and will graduate with both master’s degrees in December of 2024.

Bridget is currently interning at the New York State Archives and has worked with various foundations and organizations in the Capitol Region/Hudson Valley area. She is excited to use her full suite of talents and passions to help Upper Edge’s clients find the funding they need to make their communities better places too.

Get the Upper Edge

There are many government incentives for businesses that bring a benefit to the entire community – but finding your way to them and through the process of applying can be time consuming and confusing.

Let us help you:

  • structure a strategy to find funding opportunities
  • build a case for your project
  • complete the applications
  • ensure that the decision makers know about the benefits of your project

Does your next project have a public benefit aspect?

Does it help with economic growth, environmental standards, public infrastructure or education? What about poverty elimination, public health or workforce development?

Whether you are a municipality, non-profit or even a for-profit business we have helped find the funds for your project.

State, federal and local incentives for all types of projects can help you build your vision into a vibrant organization that has far reaching benefits. Let us help you get the awards.

Since its founding in 2010 through the end of 2019, Upper Edge has submitted 123 grants on behalf of 24 clients. 65 of these grants were approved, 46 denied and 12 are currently pending, averaging a 59%+ approval rate, which is well above the industry average of 33%. The award amounts for our projects have ranged from $1.5 million to $5,000.