This week we are thrilled to shine a spotlight on Lisa Gelman-Koessler, MD. Lisa has made her mark in the Western New York region for her dedication to compassionate and comprehensive healthcare for women through her practice, Buffalo OB/GYN. Run in partnership with three other doctors, Buffalo OB/GYN is a staple for women’s health, more than a decade strong.
Growing up in Buffalo, Lisa’s family were members of Temple Beth Zion. Her faith guided her to an interest in learning more about the Holocaust Resource Center (HRC), an organization that is benefiting from her passion and skill. “I first heard of the Center from my friend and HRC board member, Marnie Cerrato,” she says. “She was explaining the mission of the HRC and talking about an upcoming event – it all sounded amazing.” A few months later, HRC President Dr. Ann Marie Carosella met with Lisa and shared more information about the vision of the organization. Lisa’s interest led her to accept a position on HRC’s Board. Lisa reflects, “It has been an honor to work among other amazing board members who have been doing this critical work for decades.”
A 2003 graduate of the State University of New York At Buffalo School of Medicine, Lisa knew that when Covid-19 hit the region in 2020, the sudden change from normal life to fear of the unknown would be traumatic, especially to those closely tied to the HRC. “As early as April last year, we were seeing the effects of the lockdown on local Holocaust survivors. The isolation brought back dark memories of the Holocaust and their feelings of fear that they hadn’t experienced in so long.”
With their age making them extremely high risk, coupled with the damaging mental impact of complete isolation from loved ones, Lisa led efforts to ensure that all survivors were signed up to receive the vaccine within the first week they were eligible in January. “After everything they have endured during World War II, and for everything they have worked for since, it seemed only right that the survivors should be first – they deserved to be liberated again!”
Lisa remarks that the most rewarding feeling of her work to organize the vaccine appointments was hearing the survivors’ remarks. “One had asked the nurse giving the shot, ‘Exactly how many days until I can hug my granddaughter?’ Many of our survivors are still actively engaged in the community and schools. They have spent their lives trying to repair the world and their work isn’t done yet.”
Wife of Gregory Koessler and a proud mom of three – Mia (12), Ryan (7) and Emme (6) – Lisa remains active outside of her work as a Obstetrics/Gynecology specialist and HRC board member. She also serves on the board for the Sisters Hospital Foundation and Hope for Two | The Pregnant with Cancer Network. She remains committed to her children’s education and is a member of the parent council at Nichols School, where her daughter, Mia, attends 7th grade. Aside from her career and volunteer leadership, she loves to spend time with her family outdoors, including walks with their black lab. Getting active with hiking, biking and hitting the slopes are their favorite activities to do together as a family.
Lisa and Sophia Veffer, Holocaust Survivor
Sophia getting her vaccine!