Michael Volforte, Director
In February 2017, Michael Volforte became the Director of the New York State Office of Employee Relations (OER). Mr. Volforte has been with the Office of Employee Relations for over 25 years. As Director, he sets the objectives and strategies for the collective negotiations with the employee unions as directed by the Executive Chamber and in consultation with the Division of the Budget and other control agencies. Mr. Volforte is responsible for the development and implementation of employee relations policies for all State departments, agencies, and institutions. Mr. Volforte also oversees the day-to-day operations for the agency and is responsible for its mission development and fulfillment, budgetary oversight, recruitment, and retention. Mr. Volforte serves as Counsel for the agency.
Prior to his current position as Director, Mr. Volforte held a variety of positions at the Office of Employee Relations including serving as the Interim Director, Deputy Counsel, Associate Director, and Assistant Counsel.
Mr. Volforte received his Juris Doctor cum laude from Albany Law School of Union University. Mr. Volforte received his Bachelor of Arts in Government and Philosophy from St. Lawrence University.
Richard Ahl, Executive Deputy Director
Rich Ahl is the Executive Deputy Director for the Office of Employee Relations (OER) and the New York State Labor-Management Committees. Mr. Ahl has over 22 years of service with the agency. In his current role, he assists in the oversight of negotiations with State employee labor organizations.
Mr. Ahl advises and assists the Director of the agency with the development and implementation of employee relations policies for all State departments, agencies, and institutions.
Prior to his current position, Mr. Ahl served as an Assistant Director of Contract Negotiation and Administration at OER where he negotiated numerous agreements and participated in collective bargaining with unions representing all executive branch bargaining units. Mr. Ahl previously held a position in the Research Unit at OER, where he was responsible for supervising fiscal analysis of management and union proposals, and supervising comparative wage analyses.
Mr. Ahl received his Doctor of Philosophy in Political Science from the State University of New York at Buffalo. Mr. Ahl received a Master of Arts in Political Science from the State University of New York at Buffalo and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Union College.
Elaine H. Bartley
Elaine H. Bartley, Director and Counsel for Investigations, Anti Discrimination Investigations Division
Elaine H. Bartley serves as the Director and Counsel for Investigations of the Anti Discrimination Investigations Division (ADID) within the Office of Employee Relations (OER). For more than seven years, in various roles at OER, she has directed and counseled State agencies in investigating, responding to, and resolving employment discrimination complaints. Since December 1, 2018, pursuant to Executive Order 187, Ms. Bartley has managed a team of about 50 employees overseeing and directing the investigations of all employment discrimination complaints based upon protected class status filed by, or involving employees of more than 60 executive-controlled agencies and departments.
Previously, Ms. Bartley was Senior Counsel for NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (State Parks) where she provided strategic, legal and policy advice on a caseload of approximately 400 litigation matters in federal and state court. Ms. Bartley also acted as counsel to State Parks’ Human Resources and Labor Relations Divisions, as well as its Affirmative Action office, representing the agency before the New York State Division of Human Rights and the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in numerous administrative proceedings. Ms. Bartley also provided legal advice and support to the State Park Police, and State Parks’ Concessions, Business Management, and Capital Construction Bureaus.
Ms. Bartley also has extensive experience as corporate counsel to a wireless telecommunications company and in the cable television and telecommunications industries.
Ms. Bartley received her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and French from Boston College. She attended Albany Law School of Union University, and is admitted to practice law in both New York State and federal court.
Abbie Ferreira, Acting Director, Research Unit
Abbie Ferreira has been with the Office of Employee Relations (OER) for over 26 years. In her current position as Acting Director of OER’s Research Unit, Ms. Ferreira oversees the collection and analysis of workforce and financial data that are critical to the collective bargaining process. Ms. Ferreira is OER’s principal liaison to both the Division of the Budget and the Office of the State Comptroller for coordinating data sharing, collaborative analytical projects and administration of negotiated payments to employees. Ms. Ferreira has testified as the State’s expert witness on fiscal and compensation issues in numerous binding interest arbitrations. Ms. Ferreira has also served as an OER contract administrator for multiple bargaining units, overseeing grievance processing and other labor/management processes.
Prior to Ms. Ferreira’s current role in the Research Unit, she served at OER in the Agency Consulting Unit where she provided consulting services to state agencies in the areas of leadership and organizational development. Prior to State service Ms. Ferreira worked for Prentice Hall Legal and Financial Services where she was responsible for the installation of the company’s online database and established and utilized procedures for training subscribers in retrieving and interpreting data.
Ms. Ferreira received her Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Northwestern University.
Dawn LaPointe, Administrative Officer
Dawn LaPointe is the Administrative Officer for the Office of Employee Relations (OER) and serves as the head of the Division for Administration for the agency. Ms. LaPointe has been with the agency for over 15 years. Ms. LaPointe is responsible for the overall supervision of, and policy development for, administrative matters in the OER and the New York State Labor-Management Committees (LMCs). Ms. LaPointe is responsible for finance, human resources management, contract development and management, support services, and the OER website. Ms. LaPointe's role also provides services for the NYS Deferred Compensation Board (DCB).
Prior to her current role, Ms. LaPointe served as the Assistant Administrative Officer at OER where she oversaw and managed the financial operations for the OER, LMCs, and DCB. Ms. LaPointe supervised the Finance Unit and Contract Unit, including overseeing budgeting, finance, internal controls, and procurement. Prior to joining OER, Ms. LaPointe worked at the NYS Department of Health where she was involved in the implementation, administration, evaluation, and policy development of the Health Care Reform Act.
Ms. LaPointe received a Master of Public Administration and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the State University of New York at Albany. Ms. LaPointe received her Associate of Science in Business Administration from Hudson Valley Community College.
Caroline Melkonian, Acting Director of the Employee Benefits Management Unit
Caroline Melkonian is the Acting Director of the Employee Benefits Management Unit at the Office of Employee Relations (OER). Ms. Melkonian has 24 years of service with the agency. Ms. Melkonian negotiates and oversees employee health insurance programs for State Executive Branch employees, with a particular emphasis on improving health care management systems and developing cost containment initiatives. This role focuses on the State’s health insurance programs and also includes pre-tax benefit programs. She is the supervisor of the Employee Benefits Management Unit.
Ms. Melkonian previously served at OER as the Chief Negotiator for the Administrative Services Unit, Operational Services Unit, Institutional Services Unit, and Division of Naval Affairs, represented by the Civil Service Employees Association, as well as the Rent Regulations Services Unit, represented by District Council 37. Prior to joining OER, Ms. Melkonian was the Legislative Director for the Office of Senator Serphin R. Maltese where she was responsible for all stages of bill introduction, including drafting, fiscal analysis, and final bill preparation.
Ms. Melkonian received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the State University of New York at Albany.
Amy M. Petragnani
Amy M. Petragnani, Acting Deputy Counsel
Amy M. Petragnani serves as Acting Deputy Counsel to the Office of Employee Relations (OER) and the Labor-Management Committees (LMC). With over 24 years of experience at OER, Ms. Petragnani is responsible for supervising a team of attorneys and support personnel and for overseeing the day-to-day operations of OER’s Counsel’s Office. Among other responsibilities, OER’s Counsel’s Office represents Executive Branch agencies in contract grievance arbitrations, in improper practice charges before the Public Employment Relations Board and in binding interest arbitration proceedings. Ms. Petragnani also provides legal advice to OER’s Director and to Executive Branch agencies in matters involving public sector labor and employment law, including issues related to discipline, negotiations, litigation, and the application of State and federal laws, rules and regulations, collective bargaining agreements and State and agency policies. During her career with OER, Ms. Petragnani has worked on issues related to all Executive Branch bargaining units and has been a member of many State bargaining teams. Prior to becoming Acting Deputy Counsel, Ms. Petragnani served as Associate Counsel and Assistant Counsel with OER.
Ms. Petragnani received her Juris Doctor magna cum laude from Albany Law School of Union University where she served as an associate editor of the Albany Law Review. Ms. Petragnani received her Bachelor of Arts with a dual major in Philosophy and English from Boston College.
Phyllis Volpe, Assistant Director, Contract Negotiations and Administration Unit
Phyllis Volpe is an Assistant Director at the Office of Employee Relations (OER) in the Contract Negotiations and Administration Unit and has been in the unit for 25 years. Ms. Volpe is responsible for the negotiations and administration of the collective bargaining agreements for the Professional Services Negotiating Unit, represented by United University Professions, and the Graduate Student Negotiating Unit, represented by the Graduate Student Employees Union. Ms. Volpe’s responsibilities include assisting with the resolution of contract disputes, conducting negotiations, and preparing the formal negotiations record. Ms. Volpe represents OER on labor-management committees and oversees the administration of program activities, evaluates program performance and delivery, and supervises staff. Ms. Volpe is also responsible for overseeing the management and administration of the NYS Labor-Management Committees Work-Life Services Unit.
Ms. Volpe previously worked in the Research Division at OER where she collected and analyzed data and prepared cost analysis of union and management proposals for consideration in negotiating collective bargaining agreements. Ms. Volpe was also responsible for coordinating an organization comprised of chief policy makers for labor relations from member states.
Ms. Volpe received a Master of Public Administration, a Certificate of Advanced Study in Counseling, and a Master’s in Counseling from the State University of New York at Albany. Ms. Volpe received a Bachelor of Arts from the State University of New York at Oneonta.