Passionate People with a Cause

For 100 years, our people have been serving the Rochester community.


Marlene Bessette

Marlene Bessette

President and CEO

Marlene Bessette is President and Chief Executive Officer for Catholic Family Center of Rochester, NY.  This subsidiary of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Rochester serves over 30,000 of the most vulnerable individuals and families in the Monroe County area.  As CEO, Bessette is responsible for the effective operation and fiscal viability of all programs which cover areas as diverse as adoption, foster care, homeless shelters, refugee resettlement, employment preparation, mental health counseling, chemical dependency counseling, and in-home services and transportation for older adults.  Bessette served as Chief Operating Officer of CFC for 1 year before assuming the position of CEO in 2014.

In 2015, Marlene was named Non-Profit Executive of the Year during the Greater Rochester Awards sponsored by the Rochester Business Journal and the United Way of Greater Rochester for her transformative leadership of Catholic Family Center, as well as her personal leadership in the Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative (RMAPI), an unprecedented effort to develop a community-wide proposal to reduce poverty in Rochester.

Prior to joining CFC, Bessette worked for Xerox Corporation for 28 years in a variety of senior management roles.  While there, she held financial, operational, and strategy positions including vice president, Strategy for Technical Services; Lean Six Sigma for Production Systems; and Logistics & Distribution for Western Hemisphere.  Marlene joined CFC in January of 2013 following a volunteer experience where direct exposure to the challenges of poverty in Rochester convinced her to work in the 'for-purpose' rather than 'for-profit' world.

Bessette received the Xerox President's Award in 1995, the 40 under 40 Award in 1998 from the Rochester Business Journal, and the Positive Difference Award from the Xerox Woman's Alliance in 2009. She has been a speaker at leadership summits on customer relationship management, as well as at conferences for various industry associations.

Bessette earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in biology from the University of Rochester, a master of business administration in finance and operations management from Duke University, Fuqua School of Business and masters of theology from St Bernard's School of Theology and Ministry in Rochester, NY.  She is currently a member of the M&T Director Advisory Council and a very active member of the Church of the Transfiguration in Pittsford, New York.

Bessette resides in Pittsford, NY with her husband Eric. They have two adult children, Andre who resides in Raleigh, NC and Danielle who resides in Boston, MA.

Board of Directors

  • Roger W. Brandt, Jr.
  • David S. Peartree
  • Luke G. Mazzochetti
    Treasurer and Vice Chair – Finance
  • Joseph A. Carello
    Vice Chair – Advocacy and Parish Social Ministry
  • Paul S. Groschadl
    Vice Chair - Compliance
  • Kimberly Ann-Hamer
    Vice Chair – Planning and Evaluation
  • Stephanie L. Schaeffer
    Vice Chair – Governance
  • Deborah M. Stendardi
    Vice Chair – Fundraising and Marketing

  • Jack Balinsky
    Diocesan Director, Catholic Charities, Diocese of Rochester
  • Marlene Bessette
    President and CEO

  • Sheila Briody, SSJ
  • Donald J. Campanelli
  • John A. Caselli
  • William H. Castle
  • Rev. Brian C. Cool
  • Derek M. Dalton
  • Patrick J. (PJ) Guisto
  • Louis Howard
  • John M. McBride
  • Ann M. McCormick
  • Samuel Noel
  • Daniel Norselli
  • Laurie Sagona
  • William P. Tehan
  • Rev. Virginia Tyler Smith
  • Miguel A. Velazquez