Mark has been a lifelong resident of Western New York. He attended Canisius High School, a Jesuit College Preparatory School in Buffalo, and graduated in 1970. He then attended Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., graduating in 1974 Cum Laude with a bachelor’s degree.
Upon graduating, he moved back to the Buffalo area and entered the insurance business with Mass Mutual Life Insurance Company at the Williamsville district office of Cochrane & Flynn Associates.
In 1980 he became a partner of Cochrane & Flynn Associates and achieved his CLU and ChFC designations.
Mark’s practice focused on qualified plan (design, implementation and administration), non-qualified deferred compensation, split dollar and executive bonus plans.
In 1991, Mark was offered an opportunity to purchase the General Agency of National Life of Vermont in Buffalo. In the ensuing year, he expanded his business (MBK and Associates, Inc.) to include Rochester and Syracuse as well. The firm provided full financial planning services to businesses and professionals. It included life insurance, investment and employee benefit planning, college retirement distribution and executive compensation planning, doing business in upstate New York and north west Pennsylvania.
During this period, Mark was active in the company’s Franchisee Association and became the president of its Executive Committee in 2004 and served until 2006 in that capacity. At that time he negotiated a buyout of his business interest from National Life of Vermont. The re-founding of MBK & Associates, Inc. has allowed Mark to focus specifically on executive compensation planning and succession planning strategies.
Mark is a member of several financial industry associations including The Advanced Association of Life Underwriters (AALU), Society of Financial Service Providers (FSP) and Estate Analysts of Western New York.
Mark has also been active in the community, serving on corporate and charitable boards, and is currently involved with the Buffalo Scholastic Rowing Association, and is the chairman of redevelopment of the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church in heart of the Elmwood Village in Buffalo.
While at Cornell, Mark was a four-year varsity member of the Cornell University Heavyweight Crew Team from 1970-1974 and continued to row after graduation as well as coaching at his high school alma mater as the head rowing coach in the 1990s. He helped develop the Canisius High School rowing program into a national presence in the high school rowing community.
Mark enjoys playing golf and rowing in his spare time. He and his wife, Laure, have four grown children and also enjoy traveling to see their two grandchildren.
His father, Eddie Fries, rowed and coached at West Side. His uncle Charlie also rowed, becoming a U.S. Champ and going to the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Eventually, the water called out to Robert Fries as well, and Bob responded with enthusiasm.
ªI started rowing in 1968 at the now defunct Niagara Frontier Rowing Club (NFRC), affectionately called Nif-Rick,” Bob said. “It was located on the Erie Canal in Tonawanda, and I rowed with some O’Hara guys. I moved over to West Side in 1969 when NFRC shut down.
“I went to Sweet Home High School which didn’t have a team, so I took up sculling. In 1971 I won the Champion single at the Canadian Secondary School Championships.”
Bob attended the University of Buffalo and rowed varsity crew, and during the summer months he rowed and sculled for West Side. He also served as West Side’s treasurer while they were building their current boathouse after a fire destroyed the old Ferry Street boathouse.
Bob partnered with Mark Kostrzewski to row a double in 1984, and won the Master double at the Henley in 1989.
“I retired for the first time in 1991. Mark talked me out of retirement in 2011 to help get the BSRA going and to row a double again … which we are still doing. I have been the BSRA treasurer since 2012.”
Bob worked in the Finance Department at Univera Healthcare for 32 years. He lives in Clarence with his wife Kim and they have five grown children.
Vice President of Building and Grounds
Vice President of Rowing
Kim Lonas, head coach for BSRA’s junior women’s rowing program enters her seventh year of coaching high school crew athletes. Kim began her coaching career as an assistant coach for the City Honors Crew women’s varsity team. She then became a lead with the junior women’s program and ultimately moved into the head coach role overseeing both the junior men’s and women’s programs. With the assistance of a newly formed 501C corporation, she expanded the program to include a modified group. Under her leadership, the team reached a record number of participants (91), the highest since the program’s inception in 1996.
Kim began rowing with West Side Rowing Club's (WSRC) novice program at the age of 12, where she excelled at both sculling and sweep rowing. She spent many years racing for WSRC where she competed and earned medals in major regional and international regattas.
Kim is a positive role model for young athletes. Highly competitive, “Coach Kim” understands that the development of BSRA Crew athletes is her top priority. She trains athletes to understand the sport beyond their oar. She fosters relationships based on mutual respect and honesty between the rowers and coaches. This method has helped her teams to medal on a consistent basis, most recently winning BSRA’s first women’s junior program championship at States in spring 2017.
Kim currently holds her level two coaching certification through U.S. Rowing and is working towards completion of the third and final level of certification that USRowing offers. She is certified in CPR, First Aid, Boating Safety and Virtus Training.
In addition to coaching crew, she is a partner in a national executive search firm, heads global talent acquisition for an international distributor, is a survivor and proud parent of two accomplished teenage crew athletes.
A partner at Bennet Schechter Arcuri & Will, LLP, Kristin started rowing at West Side in 1984 and rowed for Mount Mercy Academy and West Side from 1984-1987. She earned a rowing scholarship to the University of Charleston, rowing there for four years and serving as the Women’s Varsity Team Captain during her senior year.
Kristin graduated from the University of Charleston in 1991 and coached the Ohio State’s Men’s novice crew that same year. She graduated from Capital University Law School in 1994 and then returned to Buffalo.
Married to Angelo since 1994, they have two children, 21-year-old Tom and 19-year-old Pat. She returned to rowing after a long break as a member of the BSRA Master Program in 2015 and is now a member of the BSRA Board.
Crystal Beach, Ontario, native Tom Boyer worked for nearly a quarter-century as a tool and die maker for the General Motors of Canada plant, but his heart and thoughts were never far from the water.
A BSRA member since 2010, Tom has also served as our VP of Rowing since 2012 and as assistant coach of the BSRA Girl’s Team since 2013. And he brings with him an incredible amount of rowing experience and knowledge to share. Here are just some of the highlights from his impressive rowing resume:
• Rowing Canada Level 3 Certified
• USRA Level 3 Certified
• 1962-69: Coxed and rowed for West Side Rowing Club.
• 1967-04: Coached West Side Rowing Club high school boys and girls, Club women at Junior “A” and “B,” and Intermediate and Senior “B” Lightweight and Heavies.
• 1970-76: Assistant financial secretary, West Side Rowing Club, in charge of collecting dues.
• 1976-79: Instrumental in starting the South Niagara Rowing Club. Coached high school and Club women and served as Club captain and head coach.
• 1980-82: Club Captain, West Side Rowing Club.
• 1982-84: Men’s head coach at Connecticut College in charge of all aspects of the program including budgeting, transportation, housing, entries, recruiting, home regattas, and driving equipment to and from regattas.
• 1984-85: Men’s freshmen novice coach, Canisius College.
• 1986-04: Women’s head coach, Nardin Academy.
• 1988-90: Women’s head coach, Canisius College.
• 1990-03: Vice President of Rowing, West Side Rowing Club. Responsible for the administration of all aspects of the rowing program, ordering equipment, selecting the coaching staff for all programs, scheduling the use of the facility and equipment for training and on-water usage, equipment maintenance and repair, regatta entries, trailer scheduling, overseeing all home regattas, team travel and hotel arrangements. Instrumental in starting new programs at the high school, Club Master and recreation levels. Also involved in fundraising for new equipment at Nardin Academy and West Side Rowing Club.
• 2004-12: Driver and boatman, University of Buffalo Women’s Rowing.
• 2008-10: Assistant Coach,(Lightweights) Boatman, University of Tulsa.
BSRA is honored to have Tom as part of our team and we thank him for sharing his knowledge and expertise with our rowing enthusiasts of all ages and experience!
Christa was a coxie for nine years. She first tested out the waters at a learn-to-row camp, then joined her high school team (and made lifelong friends), and was recruited as a Division I coxswain to the University of Notre Dame, where she proudly wore the monogram on her unisuit for four years.
Some of her recognitions include being named a National Scholar Athlete, a member of the Big East All-Academic Team, and a member of the ACC Academic Team. She placed sixth at the Head of the Charles Regatta in the Notre Dame Women’s Championship Eight, was a three-time Big East Gold Medalist Champion, and competed three years at the NCAA Division I National Championship.
While attending Notre Dame Law School, Christa led weekly coxswain meetings, helping coxswains hone their skills. Now back in Buffalo, Christa is an attorney at Hodgson Russ, LLP, and a member of the BSRA Board and Membership Committee.
If you have any questions about the program, please feel free to give her a shout!
Christi Roorda Ciacco
Board Member Emeritus
Board Member Emeritus
Bishop Timon-St. Jude
Team BSRA Youth
Director of Marketing and Outreach
Director of Rowing and Boathouse Manager