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The Importance of Mission

Date: Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Time: 9:00AM–3:00PM

Location: City Mission of Schenectady, Schenectady, New York




Breakfast – a buffet-style breakfast will be provided. Coffee, drinks, and snacks will be available throughout the day.


Session 1a: A Trauma Informed Framework for Leadership

Invited Presenters: Robin Messick, Gary Riggi, Chris Parsons


Lunch - a buffet-style lunch will be provided.


Session 1b: Tour of City Mission and Panel Discussion

More about our invited presenter:

Robn Messick.jpg

Robin Messick


Robin Messick is the Associate Executive Director/COO of City Mission of Schenectady where she has been faithfully serving since 2014.

In her key leadership role, Robin is successfully building a culture of consistent, caring support that extends to every member of the City Mission team, and allows for the transformational work that happens at City Mission, every day. In service to this critical goal, Robin is a role model for others, sharing leadership skills that encourage all those serving alongside her to reach their full potential.

In service to our mission, Robin also manages the continued beautification and design of City Mission’s campus with the goal of creating a safe, welcoming, and warm environment for all our residents, guests, and staff.

Prior to joining City Mission, Robin worked in management in the healthcare industry, from 1997 to 2014.

Robin resides in Amsterdam, NY with her husband Bob, and has two grown sons, two daughters-in-law, and three grandchildren. Robin and Bob serve as worship leaders at their church every Sunday, and regularly share their musical talents to benefit City Mission chapel services and our Annual Banquet.

Gary Riggi.jpg

Gary Riggi


Gary Riggi is the Director and Spiritual Leader of City Mission of Schenectady’s Wellness Center, and has been faithfully serving at City Mission since 2016.

Under Gary’s leadership and guidance, City Mission provides critical emotional and spiritual support every day to those it serves. Gary, who is a Catholic Deacon, is in regular communication with the Bishop of the Albany Diocese, and works with its staff to ensure a robust spiritual focus for its efforts, which includes regular retreats, the involvement of parishes, and community advocates working alongside the poor, helping to put flesh on the words of the Gospel.

Among Gary’s spiritual counseling experiences, he has served as Director of the Joshua Foundation; he runs the Joshua Retreat House in Altamont and conducts retreats; Gary
is a Diaconate Formator, Spiritual Director, Deacon of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, New York and participant in their Hope and Healing Ministry.

For his dedication to helping the poor, under-resourced, and vulnerable in every community where he serves, Gary has been the recipient of the Office of the Aging Award for Schoharie County, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany’s Evangelization Award, and a Schenectady Hero Award.

Gary and his wife, Sharon, live in Altamont and are the proud parents of three sons and grandparents to two grandchildren.

Chris Parsons.jpg

Chris Parsons


Chris Parsons is the Director of the Family Life Center for City Mission of Schenectady, and has been faithfully serving in a variety of roles at City Mission since May of 1996.

Among her many accomplishments at City Mission, Chris is well known and respected locally and nationally as an expert facilitator for the national and internationally recognized program Bridges Out of Poverty, as well as many other programs designed to help individuals successfully move from poverty toward sustained lives. Those programs include Getting Ahead in a Just Getting By World and Developing the Leader in You. In addition to assisting City Mission residents, Chris regularly partners with other agencies and community leaders, to provide training to help us better address the unique needs of the poor, under-resourced, and vulnerable in our community. In addition to her expertise in training, Chris also designs and facilitates curriculum for many of the programs offered at City Mission.

Chris has her MS Degree in Health Services Administration from Sage College and her BS Degree in Missions/Social Sciences from Nyack College. Additionally, Chris is certified to train Getting Ahead While Getting Out, Bridges Out of Poverty/Getting Ahead, Family Development, and Empowerment Skills for Leaders.

Chris is also the Founder/CEO of Knowledge Transfer, a forum for the exchange of information that equips individuals from all walks of life to contribute to the building of sustainable families and communities.

Post Session One

Please click on photographs to enlarge 


The importance of mission allowed us to engage in an emotionally and intellectually challenging day at the City Mission of Schenectady. In the morning, the team (Gary, Robin and Chris) shared their perspectives on leadership from a trauma-informed perspective. We explored some of the challenges associated with seeing others from
their perspective rather than our own perspective, we discussed how to better engage
and connect with the people we are serving, and we explored how to take care of ourselves as we serve those experiencing trauma.


In the afternoon, participants of the Institute got to hear from staff members of the Mission team on their traumatic journey to the Mission and how they are using what
they learned as residents to give back to the community.  We also heard from staff who serve as “navigators” to the services found at the Mission and in the community (e.g., food, mental health, and child protective services).  Participants gained insights from the Mission team on how best to deal with members of their communities who have suffered trauma.  After getting a tour of the Mission’s facilities and residences, we did a debrief on how to partner with the Mission in supporting people in trauma.  Again, thanks to the City Mission of Schenectady team for sharing their experience with the group.

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