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Citizen Advocates establishing foundation


Latest initiative will bolster Northern NY causes

Citizen Advocates is taking the lead on a new initiative by establishing a charitable Foundation to support key causes that advance the health and wellness of communities spanning a six-county region of Northern New York.

The Foundation will operate as a separate and distinct organization with the goal of supporting worthwhile charitable causes in counties where Citizen Advocates currently has a presence: Franklin, Clinton, St. Lawrence, Jefferson, Essex and Hamilton counties.

In addition to new opportunities for charitable giving, the Foundation will continue supporting causes championed by Citizen Advocates, including, but not limited to:

  • Backpack Programs in Franklin and St. Lawrence counties
  • Local YMCAs
  • Watertown Urban Mission
  • Adirondack Health
  • Alice Hyde Medical Center
  • Hospice of the North Country
  • Small Town Pride
  • Out of Darkness Suicide Prevention Walk
Jennifer Bilow, Executive Director

Leading the newly formed Foundation is Jennifer Bilow, who was named as its first Executive Director in January, following an extensive and competitive search process.  A North Country native, she is very familiar with Citizen Advocates having previously served on the organization’s Board of Directors for three years. 

Key duties of the Executive Director include:

  • Leading fundraising campaigns
  • Planning charitable events
  • Cultivating & distributing major gifts

“As a Board Member, I was always impressed with the extent to which Citizen Advocates focused on making lives better both through its services and programs, but also by generously giving to a wide range of causes in the community,” said Ms. Bilow. “Now, we have this amazing opportunity to elevate the work we do through a Foundation by helping those we support on a much greater scale throughout the region.”

In addition to her work as a Board Member and community resident, Ms. Bilow has led a wide range of community services with a focus on fundraising and collaborations, along with establishing a small business to promote art awareness.

“Jenn’s understanding of Citizen Advocates and her proven track record of incredible commitment to fulfilling our mission makes her an ideal person to build this new organization from the ground up,” said Felix Tam, Chair of the Advocates Hostel Board, which will oversee the Foundation. “Not only is she well known to the agency, Jenn is also highly regarded in the community for her dedication to improving the lives of local residents, especially youth, through a wide range of grassroots initiatives – all of which will guide her well in this leadership role.”

“Our focus will always be on providing exceptional clinical services,” said James Button, CEO of Citizen Advocates.  “Beyond that, creating a Foundation for charitable giving is a prime opportunity to positively influence health and well-being, in all aspects of life, in the communities we serve from Plattsburgh to Watertown and all points in between.”

Ms. Bilow currently lives in Malone with her husband of 27 years, Craig Bilow. Together, they have raised four children ranging in age from 18 to 24.  In addition to raising a family, she worked as a textile designer in New York City and Los Angeles, and locations in between, before moving back to Malone.  She is the daughter of Marc (Tim) Lashomb and Carol Ann Lashomb, who have instilled in her the significance of community service.