Your guides to a stronger civic culture.
Our team is committed to bringing you tools and programming that will jumpstart your civic engagement, no matter how much you know or where you stand on the political spectrum. What do you need to get more involved in civic life? Tell us – we’re here to help!
Founder / President, Board of Directors
Howard Konar is founder of Civic Genius and president of Konar Properties, a family-owned real estate development business in his home town of Rochester, New York. He has served as a trustee at several organizations, including Monroe Community College and the George Eastman House, and as a board chair of the Monroe Community College Foundation. He also has served in various capacities on the board of economic development, affordable housing, and Jewish community organizations.
Before joining his family real estate business, Howard was a law partner in the Rochester firm of Boylan Code, where he pioneered the use of Employee Stock Ownership Plans in upstate New York. Frustrated by a lack of dialogue and consensus-based policymaking by government leaders, Howard founded Civic Genius in 2017.
Jillian Youngblood is the executive director of Civic Genius. She has more than 15 years of experience in politics, government, and communications with a focus on democracy reform, public health, and education policy. As an aide to Rep. Jerrold Nadler, she was a lead staffer for the 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, and worked on issues related to health care, urban planning, and appropriations. Previously, she managed New York City’s federal and state legislative portfolios on public health under the Bloomberg Administration. She also led communications for an education technology start-up, where she authored a report on predatory higher ed lead generation, contributed to a book on educational entrepreneurship published by Harvard Education Press, and was a frequent speaker on education reform.
Chief Operating Officer / Secretary, Board of Directors
Monica Infante is both the chief operating officer and a board member of Civic Genius. She has been involved with the organization since its inception. After reading a book – written by founder Howard Konar, and upon which Civic Genius was originally based – the sense of hope it provided inspired her to get involved. She has applied her expertise in marketing, event planning, and operations to help grow and guide the organization.
Monica is the founder and principle of Rochester-based marketing firm, Infante + Co., which helps to advance the work of mission-driven organizations like foundations, non-profits, and social enterprises. Previously, her career focused on health care marketing, where she held leadership positions at health care systems in Western New York and Albany. She is also the founder and president of an organization that educates new and soon-to-be parents across the country and connects them with resources in their communities.
Vice President, Board of Directors
Lawrence “Larry” Fine has been a member of the Civic Genius board since the organization was founded. As a long-time leader with Rochester’s Jewish community, his life and career has been dedicated to fostering understanding between cultures and faiths.
Larry recently retired as CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester after a 30-year career at the organization. His experience in consensus building, fundraising, operations, and program development have proven invaluable to Civic Genius.
He also serves on the board of the William & Sheila Konar Foundation and is a recipient of the Harold H. Hecker Lifetime Achievement Award.
Photo credit: Rochester Business Journal
Ayojide holds a bachelor's degree in political science and a minor in communication policy and law, graduating summa cum laude with political science departmental honors from the University of Southern California (USC). He is well-versed in program administration, civic engagement, political research, and community organizing.
Ayojide is passionate about civic education and social justice, interning with California Common Cause as part of their local redistricting team and serving as an Editorial Assistant to the Research & Politics Journal. Before his time at Civic Genius, Ayojide served as a Research Assistant for the USC Schwarzenegger Institute and conducted quantitative and qualitative research on government officials and county electoral processes while analyzing state election policies and prospective bills. From January 2020 to January 2021, he interned for Public Rights Project, aiding development efforts to support affirmative litigation work that defends underprivileged communities. He also tutored low-income high school students in U.S. history and government through Upward Bound. As part of his Upward Bound role, he exposed high schoolers to university programs through virtual campus tours. Ayojide values volunteer work and is an avid community servant, previously helping lead community outreach at the Tuskegee Airmen Scholarship Foundation.
Director of Community Engagement
Peter Infante is principal at Infante + Co, a Rochester-based marketing and events firm. Over his 30-year career in marketing, he has specialized in strategic planning and creative problem solving. Previously, he was Chief Strategy Officer at Butler/Till Media Services. He has also served as a board member for Johnny’s Select Seeds and on marketing committees for numerous nonprofit organizations including the Memorial Art Gallery, The Salvation Army, and Bivona Child Advocacy Center.
Director of Programs & Strategy
Todd Levinson has worked on policy at the local, state and national levels, focusing on how to help Americans get jobs and gain the skills necessary to advance their careers. With New York City Mayor’s Office, he was part of leading a citywide strategic planning effort that brought together leaders from the private, public and nonprofit sectors to reinvent the city’s workforce development system to improve upward mobility. At the Clinton Global Initiative, he then brought national leaders from the private, public and nonprofit sectors together to develop joint projects that furthered an array of important workforce development goals. Finally, at the state level, he coached state governments on how to reform their education systems to create a more robust career readiness approach to student development. Most recently, he has studied and taught moral and political psychology at the University of California, San Diego.
Previously, Todd was a consultant and professional speaker for over 9 years, leading personal and professional development seminars for audiences across North America. He has also worked with the United Nations, where he helped lead a conflict resolution effort that guided civil society and government leaders from conflict-affected islands in the Pacific to develop joint solutions to further peace and development in their islands.
Marketing & Event Specialist
Tess Woodruff is an experienced event planner and designer with Infante + Co, a Rochester-based marketing and events firm. In addition to her work on both virtual and in-person Civic Genius events, she provides graphic design and photography support for the organization. Tess is a graduate of the State University of New York at Fredonia, with degrees in both communication studies and visual arts new media.