Launch NY Announces New Board of Directors, Melodie Baker, National Policy Director of Just Equations, and Thomas Lynch, Former President & CEO of Goodwill of Western New York

Buffalo, NY, December 1, 2020 – Launch NY, Upstate New York’s first and only venture development organization to provide pro bono mentoring and the most active seed fund in New York State and #InvestLocal Financing Platform to high-growth startups across the 27 westernmost counties of the state, has added Melodie Baker, National Policy Director for Just Equations, and Thomas Lynch, Principal and Founder of Swift Cedar LLC, former President & CEO of Goodwill of Western New York.


Melodie Baker, National Policy Director of Just Equations.


Baker’s nationally recognized role as an education leader and advocate is embodied in her position as National Director at Just Equations, a national nonprofit organization that works across educational segments and advances evidence-based strategies to ensure math policies that give all students the quantitative foundation they need to succeed in college and beyond. Prior to joining Just Equations, she was Director of Education at United Way of Buffalo and Erie County. Baker is a nationally recognized education leader and advocate. She has chaired many national, state and local coalitions, including Raising New York, The National Coalition for Community Schools, and Erie/Niagara Birth to 8 Coalition.

Baker also directs the research and evaluation effort for the Rockefeller Institute of Government’s First 1000 Days on Medicaid Initiative, headed by the New York State Department of Health, and she was tapped to serve on New York State’s Reimagining Education Advisory Council to devise strategies for re-opening schools amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Baker earned a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations from Buffalo State College, a Master’s degree in Executive Leadership and Change from Daemen College, an Advanced Graduate Certificate in Applied Statistical Analysis from SUNY-Buffalo and returned to the University at Buffalo for her current pursuit of a PhD in Education Psychology and Quantitative Methods.

“As a community leader, charter school founder, and program director, I have devoted my career to advancing education opportunities for those who are disadvantaged,” said Baker. “So I am thrilled be able to contribute to the future direction of Launch NY, as an exemplary organization that has championed underrepresented, underserved communities to bring them into a world of economic opportunity.”


Tom Lynch, Principal and Founder of Swift Cedar LLC and former President & CEO of Goodwill of Western New York.


Thomas Lynch is a senior executive with leadership experience ranging from nonprofits to diverse industries from biotechnology to consumer products. Prior to founding Swift Cedar, LLC, a business consulting firm focused on change management, Lynch served as President & CEO of Goodwill of WNY for the past nine years and oversaw the development of new programs focused on assisting clients with disadvantages train for, find, and keep good jobs. Before Goodwill, he held executive leadership roles with Bureau Veritas Consumer Products Services, where he led the division’s Business Development and Testing Operations in the Americas, and Corning’s global Life Sciences Division, where he orchestrated the company’s aggressive move into the biotech industry.

Lynch is on the Board of Directors for the Veterans One-stop Center of WNY as a founding member, and the Insyte Consulting Board. He also was a founding member of the Northland Workforce Training Center where he served as Board Treasurer, and he has served on the Dean’s Advisory Councils of the University at Buffalo’s School of Engineering and Penn State-Erie’s Plastics Technology Department.  Lynch holds a B.S. in Chemical Engineering and an MBA from the State University at Buffalo.

“I am excited to bring my diverse background spanning nonprofit to for profit organizations and workforce development to new product development to the stellar Board at Launch NY. Our community has been transforming itself to new economy industries, and Launch NY has truly proven itself to be a unique leader and go-to resource in growing our entrepreneurial ecosystem as an economic driver,” said Lynch.

“Melodie and Tom’s experience will be invaluable as we continue to grow our mentorship and #InvestLocal Financing Programs,” said Marnie LaVigne Ph.D., President and CEO of Launch NY. “Their community engagement and commitment will ensure that our economic renaissance through high-growth startups embraces everyone in Upstate NY.”

For more information about Launch NY and its programs, visit, and follow Launch NY on its Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn pages.