Villa Maria College has welcomed Christopher (CJ) Banks to a new position on campus — Special Assistant to the President. This addition comes on the heels of the College’s announcement that its enrollment increased by 14% resulting in the largest incoming class in 25 years.
Banks comes to Villa Maria from Bitwise Industries of Buffalo, bringing a wealth of non-profit and leadership experience with him.
In his new role, Banks will aid the College in increasing its community outreach efforts, especially in the area’s growing technology sector, strategic partnership development, workforce development and more. Banks will also help lead the College’s ongoing diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. Under the leadership of Dr. Matthew Giordano, president, Villa has significantly grown its presence in the Western New York community. Investing in a senior leadership position will deepen and expand those community ties. Banks will also assist with fundraising and other community engagement activities.
“CJ is joining Villa Maria at exactly the right time,” said Dr. Giordano. “He has a proven track record of community building and leadership. He has an unmatched ability to relate to our student body and will provide a much-needed perspective to our decision-making processes. I have no doubt he will propel the growth we’re experiencing even further.”
Before Bitwise, Banks served as the director of parenting and youth services at EPIC – Every Person Influences Children, and vice president of development and communications for the Buffalo Urban League. In addition to his new position at Villa Maria, Banks is the founding president and CEO of KORP Foundation, a local organization that works to combat the disengagement of underserved families in education, career readiness, and gainful employment. He is also a certified instructor of Youth Mental Health First Aid, with a focus on training adults to assist youth in crisis.
An entrepreneur at heart, Banks also owns Envisions NY Marketing Solutions, Plaid Buffalo Clothing Company, Nuffsaid Entertainment, and Nuffsaid Exclusive Recording Studio. Banks serves on the board of directors for Every Person Influences Children and is the chairperson of the board for Faith Based Fellowship Men’s Shelter. His commitment to service was recognized when he was awarded the Outstanding Service Award for Education and Youth Development by the Buffalo Urban League in 2015.
CJ Banks, hailing from the Bronx, NY, found a renewed sense of purpose in Buffalo, NY, where he relocated eighteen years ago. His own challenging upbringing has fueled his passion to assist young individuals in surmounting the hurdles he encountered. He stands proud as a husband and a devoted father to eight children – five of them biological, two adopted through foster care, and currently fostering one.
Professionally, CJ’s journey has been multifaceted. He served as the Director of Parenting and Youth Services at EPIC – Every Person Influences Children, and as the VP of Development and Communications for the Buffalo Urban League. Prior to his nonprofit ventures, he demonstrated his management prowess at establishments like Kmart and Eckerd Drugs Store.
CJ holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a minor in Early Childhood Development. He further possesses a Graduate Certificate in Mental Health Counseling and is a certified instructor of Youth Mental Health First Aid.
Alongside his roles at other organizations, CJ’s entrepreneurial endeavors are evident. He owns a Marketing Solutions Company, offering services from audio/video production, screen printing, graphic/web design, to photography. Drawing inspiration from his roots in the music industry, he established a recording studio in Buffalo. This venture is not just about music; it’s a sanctuary for young individuals to develop their musical talent and acquire essential life and professional skills.
Central to CJ’s mission is his role as the founder of the KORP Foundation INC. This organization aims to uplift underserved communities through initiatives in workforce development, creative arts, education, and entrepreneurship, particularly in tech sectors.
As a testament to his commitment and expertise, CJ has traversed the U.S., imparting knowledge in areas like motivational speaking, mentorship, anger management, conflict resolution, diversity, and entrepreneurship to a diverse range of institutions, including colleges, corporations, nonprofits, and youth-focused entities.