Melissa Gravius - Executive Director

Melissa Gravius was born and raised in Auburn and currently lives in Camillus with her husband, Brandon, an accountant, and son, Alex, a junior at Bishop Ludden Junior-Senior High School. She was formerly a mental health professional working with dually diagnosed adults, and an attorney specializing in family and matrimonial law. Melissa worked at Catholic Charities in Syracuse for five years before coming here to Champions for Life. At Charities, Melissa ran all of the Homeless and Housing Vulnerable Relocation programs, the focus of which were to assist homeless and housing vulnerable men, women, and families with their basic needs, including shelter, food, clothing, and income. Over the course of her five years there, well over two thousand households moved out of, or were prevented from becoming homeless, including several hundred Veteran headed households.   

In her spare time, Melissa volunteers for the Volunteer Lawyer’s Project as a member of the Vera House Legal Clinic, loves to cook and to bake, and enjoys booster club activities with her son’s rugby and football teams. In 2014, she was awarded a 40 under Forty award, recognizing her civic contributions to Central New York.  Melissa is incredibly excited about serving Auburn and the surrounding communities as the Executive Director of Champions for Life, as we continue to bring excellent, virtue-centered programming to Central New York’s children and families.  

John Alberici – Director of Development and Everest Park

John Alberici was hired as the Director of Marketing and Development in December of 2013 after more than 21 years in media sales and more than 25 years of coaching.

A lifelong resident of the area, John and his wife Wendy reside in Auburn with their three daughters, Jessie, Jenna, and Jillian.

Kara Carbonaro – Director of Operations

Kara joined the Champions for Life and Everest Park team in October 2011 as an administrative assistant and was promoted in September 2012 to Operations Manager. Since Kara’s arrival, Champions for Life and Everest Park has been in a growth stage as Kara has brought great insight with programming ideas and modifications to the day to day operations.  

Kara manages the hiring and management of staff, grant work, and the upkeep of the physical facility. A lifelong resident of Owasco, Kara spent five years living in Virginia, Oklahoma, and North Carolina and is now happy to be back in Auburn with her daughters.

Andrew Klock – Program Director

Andrew became part of the Champions for Life team in October of 2016. A local of Auburn, Andrew grew up as a member of the Conquest Boy’s Club at CFL. After graduating from nearby Union Springs High School, he attended Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY.

Andrew graduated in 2014 with a degree in Sports Communications and minor in Theology.

Shortly after, he moved to Asia where he worked as a kindergarten and early elementary teacher at a private academy in Seoul, South Korea. After completing his contract, Andrew spent a few months backpacking multiple countries before deciding to come back to New York to reconnect with his family and friends.

Aside from teaching, Andrew has also been president of his college’s rugby club, worked as a communications and digital marketing manager for the Auburn Doubledays baseball team, and coached youth local wrestling and baseball.

Sherri Campagnola – Office Manager, Gymnastics Coach

Sherri has been with Champions for Life for 18 years. She started as a gymnastics instructor and added office management to her list of duties as her two children got older. Sherri was a gymnast as a child and continued coaching while attending college for her early childhood education degree through to today. Sherri has recently taken on additional responsibilities managing our gymnastics program and mentoring our coaching staff.