Leadership Niagara

One year that will change your life

LEADERSHIP NIAGARA ANNOUNCES 2017 LEADER OF THE YEAR HONOREES

Wednesday, February 21, 2017        


Niagara Falls, New York – Leadership Niagara’s 27th annual awards luncheon will bring regional leaders together at the Niagara Falls Conference & Event Center on Wednesday, April 19th to honor five individuals and organizations who exemplify the organization’s mission and core values:


Leader of the Year -  Sara Capen, LN '16, Niagara Falls National Heritage Area
Organizations of the Year -  Niagara Gazette & Lockport Union-Sun & Journal
Distinguished Alumni Award -  Ret. Captain Kristen Neubauer, LN '10,  Niagara County Sheriff's Office
Emerging Leader Award - Bernice Radle, Buffalove Development
Lifetime Achievement Award - Paul Vermette, Ph.D., Niagara University

Christopher Marra, LN '15, M&T Bank and Susan Swiatkowski, LN '15, Conference and Event Center of Niagara Falls, will serve as co-chairs of the event.


“We are truly fortunate to have so many outstanding leaders and organizations that are willing to invest their time, talent and treasure to serve their community, said Liz Zulawski, President & CEO of Leadership Niagara.  Leadership Niagara is privileged to honor these great community leaders for the hard work and valuable contributions they have made to make the Niagara Region a world-class community to live, work, raise a family, and grow a business,”




Leadership Niagara Names Liz Zulawski as President & CEO

November 14, 2016


Leadership Niagara is announcing today the appointment of Elizabeth L. Zulawski as Leadership Niagara's new President & Chief Executive Officer. She will be responsible for the strategic leadership of the organization to achieve its mission, vision and core values. Additionally, she will direct all operational aspects of the organization.

“Leadership Niagara is excited to welcome Liz as President & CEO,” said Board Chair Maureen Wendt. “Liz has an impressive skill set to position our organization for continued growth and success, as well as shepherd our graduate-level programming.”


Zulawski has a proven track record of leadership at many local non-profit organizations, including Mount Mercy Academy, American Heart Association, Buffalo Public Schools Foundation and Goodwill Industries of Western New York. She has successfully spearheaded multiple strategic and fundraising plans during her more than two decades of experience.


Tasha Villani has been promoted to the position of Vice President for Leadership Niagara. She had been serving as interim President & Chief Executive Officer.


“On behalf of our entire organization, from the board to current class members, I commend Tasha for her hard work and dedication to continuing our mission during these past months. She is a valuable member of our team, and we are so grateful for her efforts,” said Wendt.


Organizations Recruiting and Developing Local Leaders

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Change and progress is something many Western New York residents are talking about and seeing take place in the region. As it happens, people are stepping up, wanting to be a part of leading the region forward.


“It’s easy to start something,” said Molly Anderson, the CEO for Leadership Niagara. “It’s harder to sustain it.”


That’s why Leadership Niagara and Leadership Buffalo are around; to help find people interested in sustaining the resurgence.


“We feel it’s important to put all of our resources into the people who will carry it to the next generation,” said Anderson. “[We’re] making sure they have the tools, skills and know-how to make sure the transformation continues in a positive way.”


The two organizations recruit people from the region from every walk of life. They meet once a month and work on personal and professional development skills. The organizations say they’re looking for people who want to better themselves and their communities.


“This community belongs to all of us and everyone is a leader,” said Althea Luehresen, the CEO of Leadership Buffalo. “We feel we’re the mechanism that can open people’s minds and build that civic engagement and collaboration to get people working together.”


Luehresen is also an alumna for Leadership Buffalo. She went through the program eight years and go and says it changed her.


“The best leaders give more than they take,” said Luehresen talking about her leadership theory and what she’s learned through her involvement. “I think I’ve learned that in my leadership Buffalo experience.”


“When you have leaders at the helm of organizations that understand the art and science of leadership development you can really see the difference it makes,” said Anderson.


Both organizations have deep alumni connections including top developers, city mayors and law enforcement officials.


The women leading these organizations say they feel having diverse classes which represent the region allows them to reach every corner of the communities they serve.


“We make sure we can let everyone have a chance and a voice at the table,” said Luehresen.


“It’s going to be essential in the new Western New York to have those types of understandings and experiences,” said Anderson.”



Both organizations are currently accepting application for their new classes which are set to start in January. Click here to learn more about Leadership Niagara and you can follow this link for more information on Leadership Buffalo.


Leadership, success is a gritty pursuit for Vanessa Williams

Tim O' Shei, The Buffalo News

April 30, 2016


NIAGARA FALLS — When Vanessa Williams arrived here straight off a plane from New York City, she was suited for success, down to her crisp white jacket and knee-length black skirt — both items from her new V. by Vanessa clothing line.


Success is the reason Williams was booked as the speaker for Leadership Niagara’s April 27 awards luncheon. (That and her ties to Western New York: Williams’ mother grew up in Buffalo and her husband Jim Skrip is from Depew.) She's an entertainer at the highest levels – Broadway, big box-office films and network television – and with the creation of her fashion label, she's an entrepreneur now too.


She's graceful, and deservedly adored. At the sold-out luncheon in the Conference & Event Center Niagara Falls, organizers deferentially addressed her as "Miss Williams." But her path to success has been gritty. Like that V.-designed outfit she wore, there are shades of dark and light. It's Williams' yin-yang story, one with truths that are shared by so many, which is why she's willing – eager, even — to talk about it.


"I want to be candid," Williams said. "I want to be honest, and I want people to know what happened to me and what makes me who I am."


At the request of Williams, whose July wedding I wrote about for The News, I hosted a half-hour, onstage conversation with her after the awards program.  Our interview, tied to the leadership focus of the luncheon, was wide-ranging. We talked about growing up as the child of two teachers (playing an instrument was a requirement), the impact of fame in moments of both success and scandal (“You don’t always know when you’re leading; you don’t know when people are watching you,” Williams said) and lessons she’s gleaned from performing for – and with – the powerful.

That includes several presidents, and a certain co-star who went on to become the governor of California.

“He’s a massive guy,” Williams of Arnold Schwarzenegger, her co-star in the 1996 film “Eraser.” “Not only his stature, but his presence. When you are in his presence, you are ready to work. If you do something he compliments, he makes sure that everyone knows. He says ‘Very niiice!’” – imagine here Williams, with her smooth anchor-like voice, imitating a thick Austrian accent – “and you feel your chest broaden and you feel like you’ve conquered the world because he makes you feel important.”

Fair point. But Williams, to her credit, didn’t ignore the Arnold-size elephant in the ballroom. Five years ago, Schwarzenegger’s marriage to the journalist Maria Shriver publicly unraveled as his affair with a housekeeper was revealed to the world. Williams, who sang at Schwarzenegger’s 2003 inauguration, didn’t specifically cite the former governor’s marital issues. Instead, she said, “He obviously has gone through many ups and downs in his life recently, and I know Maria very well, but again—”

Williams interrupted herself. She leaned forward in her butterscotch leather chair and pointed to a table in front of the stage. John Percy, the CEO of the Niagara Tourism & Convention Corp., was sitting there. Minutes before Williams took the stage, Percy had been honored as Leadership Niagara's Leader of the Year. In his remarks at the podium, he talked about his approach to handling mistakes: ‘fessing up when you mess up. As Percy spoke, Williams was sitting next to me at a front-row table, Caesar salad untouched, listening intently.

Now, when it was her turn on the stage, she repeated Percy's words.

“When you mess up, fess up?” she said to Percy, repeating his words. Percy nodded.

“I think that after everything (that) has happened recently, that’s what (Schwarzenegger) did,” Williams said. “When you admire somebody for their integrity and honesty despite what happens, you do have to give them some respect.”

The recurring lesson in Williams’ remarks: To unlock success, you have to handle setbacks with acute patience and steeliness. “When it gets so foggy and so distorted, once the time comes back to the calm, you’ll get back to who you really are,” Williams said. “And that never really changes.”

In 1983, at age 20, Williams became in the first black woman to be crowned Miss America. But when Penthouse published nude photos shot before she competed (images that Williams never consented to release), she was stripped of her crown.

“I became a scandalized beauty queen, and that negated everything, just wiped out any kind of credibility,” said Williams, who till then had been known as a star drama student in high school and at Syracuse University.

Shortly after the Miss America scandal, Williams was invited by the director Mike Nichols to try out for the Broadway show “My One and Only.” She nailed the audition, which was to replace Twiggy opposite Tommy Tune. But Lee Gershwin, whose famous husband Ira died the year prior, called Nichols and said, “Over my dead body will that whore be in my show.”

“That’s when I knew I had a long road ahead,” said Williams, who spent the next 10 years systematically building her resume and rebuilding her credibility. She did television. She did movies. She started a recording career that included the hit “Save the Best for Last.” Each job was another tug at unsticking that label of "scandalized beauty queen."

“Each project was just ticking away at the time that I would be able to be seen as me,” said Williams, who ultimately reconnected with Miss America, too, when the organization officially apologized and welcomed her back last year as a judge.

For a business audience like the one before us in Niagara Falls, the Miss America fallout resonated broadly: A crowning achievement torn by a P.R. crisis followed by a painstaking rebranding process.

“I never gave up knowing that I would eventually get a chance to – once the dust settled – show people what I can really do," Williams said.

It wasn't the only time she talked about dust settling.

Williams, a mother of four, had her personal life scrutinized by the media in very public divorces with entertainment manager Ramon Hervey and NBA player Rick Fox. She acknowledged those in Niagara Falls and wrote about them in her 2013 book, "You Have No Idea," co-authored with her mother, Helen Tinch Williams. In the book, she revealed a truth that, despite her long career and considerable fame, had gone previously unknown to the public: At age 10, while on vacation, Williams was molested by an 18-year-old woman.

Williams is unflinchingly candid. I asked her why.

"No matter what happens in your life, it doesn’t change who you are," she said. "Every time I talk to young women, or people that are going through struggles, I knew in my mind that once the dust settles, they’ll see me. That is true for any instance that you go through, any relationship issue.

"When it gets so foggy and so distorted, once the time comes back to the calm, you’ll get back to who you really are. And that never really changes."

The crowd erupted in applause.

Email Tim O'Shei at [email protected]
Photo Credit: Mike Freedman

Leadership Niagara holds annual awards event 

Leadership Niagara recognizes top graduates during annual awards luncheon in Niagara Falls


By Joan McDonough [email protected]

Apr 28, 2016


Leadership Niagara recognized five honorees during its annual awards luncheon held Wednesday at the Conference and Event Center Niagara Falls. This was the organization’s first completely sold-out event.

President and CEO Molly Anderson said the organization has grown by 200 percent over the past two years. The 2016 class is the largest the organization has ever had, and over half of the class is from outside of Niagara County. This event was co-chaired by Christopher Marra and Susan Swiatkowski.

The honorees were each introduced with a short video, featuring a few peers speaking to the honorees’ accomplishments and leadership qualities. Darius Myles received the Emerging Leader Award for his work in local construction. He reported that about 90 percent of the construction workers whom he employs in local construction jobs live in Niagara Falls or the town of Niagara. 

Gay Molnar received the Distinguished Alumna Award for her work in the community, particularly through her former role as executive director of the Aquarium of Niagara. She said she has seen Leadership Niagara grow over the years, with a particular turning point after she joined in 1997.

“Everyone takes away something different,” she said. “I always say, you never leave (Leadership Niagara) the same as you arrived.”

Annemarie Bettino was given the Lifetime Commitment Award. She was among the first members of Leadership Niagara in 1985 and has remained active since then. She was recognized for her work with Youth Mentoring Services, formerly known as Big Brothers Big Sisters of Niagara County, serving as executive director for over a quarter century. Her dedication to service has been instrumental throughout her career and her leadership roles have been both “nature and nurture,” she said.

“You have to take time to smell the roses, but you also have to get up and move,” Bettino said, urging leaders to take action. “Sometimes you have to be the leader in your own life.”

The Riviera Theatre was recognized as Organization of the Year. Co-Directors Jim Pritchard and Gary Rouleau were present to accept the award and reported on the recent growth for the theatre. Where there were once only a handful, now the theatre hosts over 175 events per year and has a loyal band of about 175 volunteers. Its caretakers are working on a $6.1 million capital campaign to expand and further develop the site.

Finally, John Percy was awarded Leader of the Year for his work as president and CEO of the Niagara Tourism & Convention Corp. He spoke on honesty and integrity, saying they were the two pillars for leadership. 

“Leaders are only as good as the people they surround themselves with,” he said in terms of both professional and personal life. “True leaders stand tall no matter the obstacles.”

The keynote speaker for the event was actress Vanessa Williams, through a conversation moderated by Buffalo News Features Editor Tim O’Shei. Judge Glenda Hatchett was originally slated to give the keynote address, but could not attend for personal reasons. The Leadership Niagara team was able to connect with Williams and secure her for the event within 24 hours. 

Vanessa Williams to Appear at Leadership Niagara’s Sold Out Leader of the Year Event on Wednesday

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Media Contact:

Kailey Kolozsvary

Martin Davison Public Relations

[email protected]

716 242 7472 (Direct)/ 585-705-8618 (Cell)


Niagara Falls, New York (April 25, 2016) – Leadership Niagara, the longest-running community leadership development organization in New York State, announced today that renowned actress, recording artist and humanitarian Vanessa Williams will appear at the sold-out 26th annual Leader of the Year Awards Luncheon on Wednesday, April 27th at the Conference & Event Center of Niagara Falls.


The announcement comes after national best-selling author and award-winning courtroom television star, Judge Glenda Hatchett, stepped down from her role of keynote speaker due to a personal matter.


“We would like to thank Judge Glenda Hatchett and hope that we can hear from her in the future,” stated Molly Anderson, president & CEO of Leadership Niagara. “She is a dynamic speaker with an important message for leaders.”


As the guest of honor, Vanessa William will participate in an inspirational and intimate conversation moderated by Tim O'Shei, features reporter at The Buffalo News.


“We are honored that Miss Williams considers Western New York so highly and has agreed to step in with such short notice,” stated Anderson. “Her life story is an inspiration and she brings an extraordinary message of perseverance and positivity. We are thrilled to have her share her afternoon with us in Niagara Falls.”


Five individuals and organizations will be honored at the awards luncheon. They represent Leadership Niagara’s brand of transformational leadership and exhibit the organization’s core values of visionary leadership, excellence, regional partnerships, societal responsibility, diversity and inclusion, and lifelong learning.


John H. Percy, president and chief executive officer

Niagara Tourism and Convention Corporation

Leader of the Year


The Riviera Theatre

Organization of the Year


Annemarie C. Bettino, MS, LN ’85, president

Youth Mentoring Services

Lifetime Commitment Award


Gay Molnar, LN ’97, retired executive director

Aquarium of Niagara

Distinguished Alumna Award


Darius Myles, LN ’15, president and chief executive officer

DMYLES Inc.

Emerging Leader Award


The Leader of the Year awards luncheon will be chaired by two Leadership Niagara Class of 2015 alumni: Chris Marra, vice president and senior branch manager at M&T Bank, and Susan Swiatkowski, director of marketing at The Conference & Event Center Niagara Falls.


Sponsors of this year’s Leader of the Year Awards Luncheon include KeyBank, M&T Bank, Seneca Gaming Corporation and the Niagara County Law Enforcement Foundation, Inc.


About Leadership Niagara

Leadership Niagara is the longest-running community leadership development organization in New York State. Since 1984, more than 1,600 participants have graduated from the program. Visit www.leadershipniagara.org for more information.

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Leadership Niagara Heads to Canada

Hosts sixth annual joint session with over 90 leaders on binational collaboration

St. Catharines, ONT (March 4 , 2016) – Leadership Niagara will head to St. Catharines, Ontario on Friday, March 4th for its sixth annual joint session on binational relations with Leadership Niagara of Ontario. The all-day session will be held at the new FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre beginning at 8:00 am.


The joint-session is designed to foster a greater understanding of cross border issues and broaden bi-national collaborations between 90 leaders from both countries.


Speakers will include representatives from both Leadership Niagara New York and Leadership Niagara Ontario along with Mayor Walter Sendzik of St. Catharines, Ontario and James Lefebvre, associate vice president of FirstOntario Credit Union. The class will be engaged in cross border discussions and the topic of healthy tension led by facilitators, Mike Cardus and Tim Arnold.


“Binational relations is a high priority for us,” stated Molly Anderson, president and chief executive officer of Leadership Niagara. “We aim to improve collaboration and leadership development from Buffalo to Toronto.”


Leadership Niagara’s class members represents various industries – from business and government to law and philanthropy – and take part in a twelve-month leadership development program taught by industry experts.


About Leadership Niagara

Leadership Niagara is the longest-running community leadership development organization in New York State. Since 1984, more than 1,600 participants have graduated from the program. Visit www.leadershipniagara.org for more information.



Leadership Niagara Hosts Graduation Event at Niagara University

Students from 14 high schools across WNY expand concept of leadership

Lewiston, New York (March 1, 2016) – Leadership Niagara will host a graduation event for its LYNC youth leadership development program with over 250 students, parents, and volunteers at 6 p.m. at Niagara University’s Kiernan Center.


Students graduating from Leadership Niagara’s LYNC program represent 14 high schools across Western New York and have completed an eight month leadership development program to help change their concept of leadership and 21st century skills. New this year, the LYNC program carries three University credits through a new partnership with Niagara University.


“Participants in the LYNC program receive a highly-structured and yet open-ended opportunity to collaborate together, to examine important institutions and programs across Western New York,” stated Molly Anderson, president and chief executive officer of Leadership Niagara. “Our students graduate with a deeper understanding of our region and how to make a difference as young leaders.”


Niagara University president, Rev. James J. Maher, C.M., will provide opening remarks at the graduation event. Bernice Radle, Niagara Falls native, urban planner, and young preservationist, will be honored by students at the event with the “Transformational Leadership Award” for her commitment to advancing our region. Student spokespersons will share their Pecha Kucha presentations during the ceremony.

Participating schools in 2015-2016 include: Barker, Grand Island, Lewiston-Porter, Lockport, Nardin Academy, Newfane, Niagara Academy, Niagara Catholic, Niagara Falls, Niagara-Wheatfield, North Tonawanda, Royalton-Hartland, Starpoint and Wilson high schools.


About Leadership Niagara’s LYNC Program

Leadership Niagara’s LYNC program is an eight-month community leadership development program designed for high school students. The program is made available to 100 students each year through a multi-year grant from the Irene E. Witkowski Agrawal Foundation. Visit www.leadershipniagara.org for more information.


Best-selling Author, Courtroom Television Star Hatchett to Keynote

Leadership Niagara’s 26th annual awards luncheon

Niagara Falls, New York – Leadership Niagara announced national best-selling author and award-winning courtroom television star, Judge Glenda Hatchett, will serve as keynote speaker at its 26th annual Leader of the Year awards luncheon on April 27th at the Conference & Event Center.  Over 300 leaders from Western New York and Southern Ontario will be in attendance at the event.


Judge Glenda A. Hatchett is a nationally recognized advocate for juvenile and social issues, and known for her award winning show, Judge Hatchett, and as best-selling author of Dare to Take Charge: How to Live and Lead with Purpose. She served as a board member of three Fortune 500 companies and was named among “100 of the Best and Brightest in Corporate America” by Ebony magazine.


"Our annual Leader of the Year event is like no other awards program,” stated Molly Anderson, president and chief executive officer of Leadership Niagara. “You will leave inspired by a powerful message, motivated to transform our communities, and connected to the people and organizations who are successfully doing so.” 


Five individuals and organizations will be honored at the awards luncheon. They represent Leadership Niagara’s brand of transformational leadership and exhibit the organization’s core values of visionary leadership, excellence, regional partnerships, societal responsibility, diversity and inclusion, and lifelong learning. 


John H. Percy, president and chief executive officer

Niagara Tourism and Convention Corporation

Leader of the Year


The Riviera Theatre

Organization of the Year


Annemarie C. Bettino, MS, LN ’85, president

Youth Mentoring Services

Lifetime Commitment Award


Gay Molnar, LN ’97, executive director

Aquarium of Niagara

Distinguished Alumna Award


Darius Myles, LN ’15, president and chief executive officer

DMYLES Inc.

Emerging Leader Award


The Leader of the Year awards luncheon will be chaired by two Leadership Niagara Class of 2015 alumni: Chris Marra, vice president and senior branch manager at M&T Bank, and Susan Swiatkowski, director of marketing at The Conference & Event Center Niagara Falls.  To register, visit www.leadershipniagara.org/events or contact Molly Anderson at 716-949-3223.


To visit the website of Judge Hatchett, please visit www.Thehatchettfirm.com



Leadership Niagara Announces 2016 Honorees 
NTCC President & CEO John H. Percy named leader of the year

Niagara Falls, New York – Leadership Niagara will host its 26th annual Leader of the Year awards luncheon on April 27th at the Conference & Event Center in Niagara Falls, New York. Over 300 leaders from Western New York and Southern Ontario will be in attendance at the event.


Five individuals and organizations will be honored at the awards luncheon. They represent Leadership Niagara’s brand of transformational leadership and exhibit the organization’s core values of visionary leadership, excellence, regional partnerships, societal responsibility, diversity and inclusion, and lifelong learning.


John H. Percy, president and chief executive officer

Niagara Tourism and Convention Corporation

Leader of the Year


The Riviera Theatre

Organization of the Year


Annemarie C. Bettino, MS, LN ’85, president

Youth Mentoring Services

Lifetime Commitment Award


Gay Molnar, LN ’97, executive director

Aquarium of Niagara

Distinguished Alumna Award


Darius Myles, LN ’15, president and chief executive officer

DMYLES Inc.

Emerging Leader Award


“Our annual Leader of the Year event has become a time-honored tradition for our community,” stated Molly Anderson, president and chief executive officer of Leadership Niagara. “We are pleased to name John H. Percy as our organization’s 31st Leader of the Year. He was chosen for his commitment to excellence and his contributions to tourism in our region.”


The Leader of the Year awards luncheon will be chaired by two Leadership Niagara Class of 2015 alumni: Chris Marra, vice president and senior branch manager at M&T Bank, and Susan Swiatkowski, director of marketing at The Conference & Event Center Niagara Falls. To register for the event, visit www.leadershipniagara.org/events or contact Molly Anderson at 716-949-3223.



Leadership Niagara, Niagara University Collaborate
Teaching students leadership, diversity, globalization, and citizenship in college level course

Niagara Falls, New York (January 20, 2016) – Leadership Niagara’s LYNC (Leadership for the Youth of Niagara Communities) program, now in its 15th year, is working with Niagara University to develop new components to help high school students across Western New York to change their concept of leadership and 21st century skills. Leadership Niagara’s eight month LYNC program is available to 100 students from fourteen local high schools each year through a multi-year grant from the Irene E. Witkowski Agrawal Foundation. 


Participants in the LYNC program receive a highly-structured and yet open-ended opportunity to collaborate together, to examine important institutions and programs across Western New York, to analyze complex social trends and social problems in the nation and across the globe, and to investigate avenues for personal success in society, business and schooling.  New this year, participants may extend their learning and participation in LYNC in a course taught by Dr. Paul Vermette of Niagara University. The course focuses on the issues of diversity and globalization, democratic citizenship, leadership in personal and organizational frameworks and individual development and carries three University credits.


“Given that all local and global interactions are more complex and diverse than ever before, effective citizenship, communication and leadership require the deeper understanding and sophisticated skills that formal education offers,” stated Vermette.


“Great things don’t happen overnight,” added Molly Anderson, president & chief executive officer of Leadership Niagara. “Providing college credit to our student leaders has been a culmination of several years of effort and many people who have served as mentors and advisors. Thank you to Niagara University and the Irene E. Witkowski Agrawal Foundation for their continued support.”


Leadership Niagara’s LYNC program is an eight-month community leadership development program designed for high school students. The program is sponsored by the Irene E. Witkowski Agrawal Foundation. Over 480 students from fourteen local high schools will have the opportunity to participate in the LYNC program.  Visit www.leadershipniagara.org for more information.


                     Leadership Niagara, Michael Cardus Team Up in 2016 
               Expert in leadership and organizational development joins team

Niagara Falls, New York (January 4, 2016) – Leadership Niagara announced that Michael Cardus - an expert in leadership, organizational development and team building - will join Leadership Niagara’s 2016 team as principal consultant of the world class leadership development program. 

Cardus is well known for his expertise in executive level training and facilitation. He has worked with local and global organizations including: US Air Force, McDonalds US Headquarters, Merck, General Motors, Toyota and M&T Bank, as well as academic organizations such as University of Rochester Simon School of Business and University at Buffalo School of Social Work.  

“Our team and our programs will continue to grow and to attract top performers across Western New York who want to be better and do more,” stated Molly Anderson, president & chief executive officer of Leadership Niagara.  "We will never become complacent when it comes to developing leaders.” 

Leadership Niagara is a nationally recognized community leadership development program which attracts CEOs, PhDs, and executive level leaders to its annual program and works with over 100 industry and leadership experts across Niagara, Buffalo, and Southern Ontario.   
“I’m excited to bring my energy and knowledge to make a great program a little better,” said Cardus. “I am honored to work with the team to support Leadership Niagara as an interactor, collaborator, disruptor, and facilitator of talent within our region.” 

He replaces Leadership Niagara’s former principal consultant, Tim Widjaja who joined the IMC Pan Asia Alliance in Singapore. 

Leadership Niagara Hosts 32nd Graduation Ceremony 
Largest class in organization’s history takes place in our region’s resurgence

North Tonawanda, New York (December 10, 2015) – Leadership Niagara will honor 41 individuals and organizations at the 32nd annual graduation event onstage at the Riviera Theatre in North Tonawanda at 6:00 p.m. on December 10th.  Over 150 leaders from Western New York and Southern Ontario will be in attendance at the event, which will culminate the Class of 2015’s world class leadership development program. 


Graduates of Leadership Niagara’s award winning and nationally recognized program have had the opportunity to learn and practice graduate level leadership concepts and principles and work with over 100 industry and leadership experts across Niagara, Buffalo, and Southern Ontario.   


The event will feature an annual award presented by the graduating class to the top speaker, Joseph McMahon, President of Audubon Machinery Corporation, a graduate of Leadership Niagara’s class of 2012 and current member of the Leadership Niagara board of directors. 


A second award will be presented for the first time to a member of Leadership Niagara’s regional youth program (LYNC). Receiving the “Rising Star” award is Lucas Kates, a high school senior from Niagara Academy, who left an indelible impression when he spoke to the class at their session on education and workforce development.   


"We are developing better leaders for our region,” stated Molly Anderson, President & CEO of Leadership Niagara.  “Our program lays the ground work for our graduates to think differently, make connections, and achieve more.”   

 
 

LN President & CEO Molly Anderson was recognized by the Buffalo Niagara Chapter of NYS Women, Inc.

 
 

Leadership Niagara Hosts 43North in Niagara Falls

July 20, 2015

 

LN Summer Mixer brings together alumni and friends

July 16, 2015

 

Leadership Niagara: 100 youth prepared to lead in their communities 

by jmaloni 

Submitted Tue, Mar 10th 2015 03:30 pm


Largest class ever to graduate from Leadership Niagara's LYNC program


Leadership Niagara will graduate 100 local students from its youth leadership development program, LYNC, at 6 p.m. tonight at the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Niagara County's Training Center in Lockport.


Representing 13 Niagara County and Erie County high schools, Leadership Niagara student leaders have heard from industry experts and community leaders throughout the course of the eight-month program. They've received learning leadership development concepts and principles, and developed problem-solving, communication, diversity and inclusion, teamwork and collaboration skills. The LYNC students have had executive-level coaches and mentors to guide them through each month's session and through team projects.


As part of the graduation, students will receive their certificates and take what they learned to present solutions for problems that face their communities.


More than 250 students, parents, mentors and school representatives will be in attendance.


Leadership Niagara earned fully funded scholarships for 100 students per year to participate in the LYNC program through a grant made possible through the support of the Irene E. Witkowski Agrawal Foundation. In addition, over 60 volunteers, 12 organizations and 13 school coordinators helped make this year's program a success.


Participating schools in 2014-15 include: Barker, Grand Island, Lewiston-Porter, Lockport, Newfane, Niagara Academy, Niagara Catholic, Niagara Falls, Niagara-Wheatfield, North Tonawanda, Royalton-Hartland, Starpoint and Wilson high schools.


LN to Host Bill Strickland as Special Guest at Awards Luncheon
White House honoree, Community Leader, Author to headline event

Lewiston, New York – Leadership Niagara announced today that Bill Strickland will share his unshakeable message of leadership, self-worth and transformation as a special guest and keynote speaker at the 2015 Annual Awards Luncheon on Thursday, April 29 at 11:30 a.m. at the Niagara Falls Conference & Events Center.


Strickland is the president and CEO of the Manchester Bidwell Corporation, a jobs training center and community arts program. He and his staff work with corporations, community leaders, and schools to give disadvantaged kids and adults the opportunities they need to build a better future. Centers are already running in Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and San Francisco.


Strickland was named a member of The White House Council for Community Solutions by President Obama. He is also a recipient of The White House’s “Coming Up Taller” Award and the founder of the Grammy-winning MCG Jazz, the most successful jazz subscription series in America.

The keynote speaker is presented by LPCiminelli, The Grigg Lewis Foundation and The Baird Foundation. Attendees of the awards luncheon will receive a complimentary copy of Strickland’s book, Make the Impossible Possible.


As part of the annual awards luncheon, Leadership Niagara will recognize: Cathy Walker, president & CEO of Seneca Gaming Corporation, as leader of the year; Greater Lockport Development Corporation as organization of the year; Harry Francois, regional manager of Western New York at N.Y. Power Authority, as distinguished alumnus award; Tom Lowe, director of ReNU Niagara, as emerging leader award; and Merrell A. Lane as lifetime commitment award (posthumously).


David Karwick and Marsha Koelmel are serving as event co-chairs. For sponsorship opportunities and to reserve tickets for the luncheon, please contact Molly Anderson at (716) 949-3223.


About Leadership Niagara

Leadership Niagara is the longest-running community leadership development organization in New York State. Since 1984, more than 1,400 participants have graduated from the program. Visit www.leadershipniagara.org for more information.

Niagara USA Chamber Honors 2015: Molly Anderson with Community Advocacy Award

Posted on February 24, 2015 by Niagara USA Chamber

Molly Anderson is a force for leadership development in our binational region. As executive director of Leadership Niagara, she transformed the 30 year old organization into the premier leadership development program in Western New York. It is a nationally award winning model for innovation and excellence, and one of the many reasons she is the 2015 recipient of the Father Joseph L. Levesque Award for Community Advocacy.


Molly’s passion for leadership began early in her career as program director of the American Management Association’s Operation Enterprise program. It was there she learned management and leadership principles from a worldwide faculty of CEOs which instilled in her the virtues of lifelong learning and best practices. For more than 25 years, Molly has served her community locally, nationally, and globally. She has supported numerous nonprofits as a board member including: Junior Achievement, Mount St. Joseph Academy, Buffalo Financial Plan Commission II, Buffalo Junior Chamber of Commerce, Hauptman Woodward Institute, and Shea’s Performing Arts Rising Stars. She was a charter member of the Buffalo Sunrise Rotary Club and charter member for the first charter school to open in Buffalo, King Center Charter School.


Molly was recently awarded the Michael Brundidge Community Service Award by the Main Street Business & Professional Association in Niagara Falls and the Association of Leadership Professionals “Excellence in Innovation” award. She was honored by Business First and Buffalo Public Schools with the “Pathfinder Award” for blazing a trail between business and education.


We will celebrate her accomplishments and others for excellence in business on Friday, February 27th at the Seneca Niagara Casino and Hotel Event Center. Honorees also include the Aquarium of Niagara. TREK will be given the Industry Insider Award. Seneca Niagara Gaming Corporation will be recognized with the National Grid Green Manufacturing Award. Lockport Ice Rink & Sports Center, Inc. will be given the Groundbreaking Award. Faisal Merani will be honored as Business Person of the Year and Yahoo! will be named Business of the Year.


The event begins at 6 p.m. with a cocktail reception followed by a sit down dinner and award ceremony at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $120 per person for members. Reservations can be made by contacting Maria Cardamone at 285-9142 or email Maria.



Niagara USA Chamber to Honor

 Molly Anderson at Annual Dinner



Molly Anderson, executive director of Leadership Niagara, will receive the Father Joseph L. Levesque Award for Community Advocacy during the Niagara USA Chamber Honors 2015 Annual Dinner to celebrate "business excellence in the Niagara region" at the Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel Event Center on Friday, February 27.


 

 

The 2015 Award Recipients also include:


 

      2015 Business of the Year 

Yahoo

 

         2015 Business Person of the Year 

       Faisal Merani

 

               2015 Groundbreaking Award 

                                                                                                            Lockport Ice Rink & Sports Center

 

                                                                                                          2015 Green Manufacturing Award 

                                                                                                     Seneca Gaming Corporation

 

                                                                                                               Industry Insider Award 

                                                                                                        TREK

 

                                                                                                                      Special Recognition 

                                                                                                                            Aquarium of Niagara celebrating 50 years

 

 

 The event is black tie optional and begins with dinner and a formal awards program to follow. For more information please contact [email protected].


LN Executive Director, Molly Anderson, spoke with Buffalo Business First

Anderson on leadership: ‘We’re attracting the kind of people who aren’t afraid to admit they want to be more effective’


Dec 22, 2014, 10:06am EST     

Tracey Drury

Buffalo Business First Reporter- Buffalo Business First



What does it take to truly become a leader?

Climbing the corporate ladder to president or CEO doesn't necessarily make someone a leader. Molly Anderson, executive director of Leadership Niagara, spoke to Business First about what it takes to be a leader and how her organization helps participants get there.


What makes Leadership Niagara different when it comes to training future leaders?

They're learning about purpose and humility and the principles of great leadership. I think that's the difference between our program and other leadership programs. They all have great value, and when you get great people together you're going to get synergy. We want to take them to another level, because I think this community is in dire need of excellence.


We often think of leadership development organizations as feeders for boards of directors. But are they more than that?

This community, as you can see, is headed to a new era, and what we're seeing is a lot more innovation and understanding about how to transform organizations in the community. So we've spent a lot of time on those topics. We also spend time on collaboration, because there is this divide between counties and communities and between organizations. We put a lot of emphasis on collaboration and the effectiveness of that in the community.


Despite that county divide, we do see more and more nonprofit groups and even health care organizations who are willing to work together and come together on collaborations and partnerships, but not necessarily mergers. Your thoughts?

That's really been the mantra, and for us we're looking at it not only as a county but as a binational region. That's why it's so important that we work with Lead Niagara Ontario. Cross-border relationships start with organizations like ours at the grassroots level. Since the Canadian Consulate left, we may not have as much of those conversations as we once did, but we have 40 leaders in our class and they have 40 and it's just amazing the conversations they have together. I see that area growing for us. We had our first binational class this year, with three Canadians, including one driving in from Toronto. And our class that graduated this year also had a class member from Pennsylvania.


Why would someone from Pennsylvania come here to participate if they're not living nor working in Niagara County?

She practices law in Buffalo and a colleague of hers was in the program and recommended it. She was looking for relationship development. Leadership doesn't just mean public speaking or ice breakers. We are really looking at people who are transforming their organizations. We'll have our biggest class next year with 140, including 100 youth. That's 340 percent growth in two years. That's telling us we're doing something right. People leave our program saying "I'm a better husband, I'm a better leader, a better coworker." It just tells me it's more than just networking.


Have people who attended leadership programs in different counties also come to your class?

Last year we had two who came through Leadership Buffalo, and some of ours go through Leadership Buffalo after. That's powerful. That shows that leadership begins in our organization. It's where we need to demonstrate collaboration and some unity. We encourage that. Leadership, it's not a one-time deal. You can't participate in a program like ours, and we magically make you a leader. It's a journey, and we emphasize that leadership is something that needs to be practiced. We have a mentoring program too, which helps people stay on task for the future. That's helping people go further than they would have in another type of training program.


Do you see primarily younger people in your program, coming up in the ranks?

It's interesting in our organization. Leadership exists -- it's not about title or role or gender. We're looking for people who are transformational, people who want to rock the boat, who are really the changemakers in our organizations. And they can be 22 or 42. To us, it's not about that. We don't make any assumptions that because they have a title they're a leader. When everyone comes to us, whether it's the commander of the air base or a bank manager, they're there to get better, to be their best selves. We start with humility and knowing who you are. Sometimes leadership programs are called executive training programs, but we don't really use those words interchangeably. Leadership is something different. I've been told that in other leadership programs they don't need leadership development because they're already leaders, but to me that's hard to grasp.


We've all met people who are presidents or CEOs of an organization that don't have good communication skills, don't have good leadership skills or maybe the HR skills are lacking and their organization isn't going anywhere.

The one word that makes the difference in everything you just said is humility. You can be charismatic and not be a good leader. If you're charismatic and have humility, you can be a great leader. It's the difference of being self-aware and being self-centered. Really, it's hard to look in the mirror. I think we're truly attracting the kind of people who aren't afraid to admit they want to be more effective. They want to be better leaders and that it's about the greater good.



Leadership Niagara honors largest, first bi-national class

Posted: Monday, December 15, 2014 1:44 pm

Staff reports

Niagara Gazette


Leadership Niagara recognized 38 regional leaders at a graduation ceremony recently at the historic Riviera Theatre.

Class members, including Niagara region law enforcement officers, bankers, and many form area businesses and non-profits, successfully completing the organization’s 12-month leadership development program.

“Thirty years ago a group of visionaries created a plan for an organization they dreamed would have a great impact on WNY.  Today over 1400 alumni, board members, class members, speakers, and mentors have been able to take that visionary plan for Leadership Niagara and deliver a world class and nationally award winning leadership development program which trains leaders to take on the work of transformation, innovation, and inspiration.” said Executive Director Molly Anderson.


The Class of 2014 is Leadership Niagara’s largest and first bi-national class, with members from Canada, Pennsylvania and Buffalo, including:

Christopher Aikin, Roswell Park Cancer Institute

Michele-Elise Burnett, Town of Niagara on the Lake War of 1812 Bicentennial Committee

Lori Caccamise, Niagara University

Megan Calero, 914th Airlift Wing  

T. Michael Carter, Orleans Niagara BOCES 

Ryan Coate, Conference & Event Center Niagara Falls

Julie Davis, Astronics Corporation

Johnny Destino, Orleans Niagara BOCES

Dan DiMillo, First Niagara Bank   

Stephanie Donovan, Walsh Duffield Companies Inc.       

Robert Drake, M&T Bank  

Pamela Fekete, Niagara Tourism & Convention Corp    

Andrea Gray, Community Missions

Richard Gunn, Calamar      

Jodie Hodge, First Niagara Bank  

Christian Hoffman, Community Missions  

Sean Hudson, Niagara Falls Bridge Commission  

Diane Koz, Stinson Developments  

Tom Lowe, Niagara University ReNU Niagara    

Heather Lyon, Enterprise Charter School 

Amanda Machacek, Kenney Shelton Liptak Nowak LLP

Raymond McGovern, Covanta Energy      

Maria Pelow, 107th Airlift Wing     

Kelly Rizzo, Niagara Falls Police Department      

Andrew Rodgers, 107th Airlift Wing         

Robert Roskwitalkski, New York Power Authority

James Rossi, General Motors Component Holdings         

Kate Sarata, The Service Collaborative of WNY, Inc.     

J. Roger Shaft, General Motors Component Holdings     

Susan Shaft, Literacy New York    

Joseph Sikora, North Tonawanda Fire Department         

Justin Sondel, Niagara Gazette       

Meaghan Sowinski, First Niagara Bank     

Kathleen Urban, Niagara Falls City School District          

Kristin Vescio, Brylin

Jim Vigil, Niagara Falls First Assembly of God    

Steven Woock, Niagara County Sheriff's Office  

Christopher Woods, KeyBank


The hour-long ceremony featured congratulatory remarks from Eddie Friel of Niagara Global Tourism Institute, chosen by the Class of 2014 as a Top Speaker.


“Leadership Niagara’s Class of 2014 represents everything this organization and community aspires to be – diverse, binational, collaborative, intelligent, courageous, and compassionate.   As the Niagara region heads toward a new era of possibility and opportunity, our graduates will be at the forefront,” added Molly Anderson.


Each Leadership Niagara class completes a graduate-level program by partaking in monthly seminars, retreats and day-long sessions. Throughout the twelve month program, participants engage with industry experts and discussions about economic development, tourism, workforce development, manufacturing, agribusiness, criminal justice, poverty, healthcare and education.  Participants also examine leadership concepts and principles including coaching and mentoring, change/transformation, creativity/innovation and organizational development.


Since 1984, more than 1,400 participants have graduated from the program. 


To read the full article please click on the link below.

Leadership Niagara honors largest, first bi-national class


 North Tonawanda, New York– Leadership Niagara has recognized 38 regional leaders at a graduation ceremony at the historic Riviera Theatre for successfully completing the organization’s twelve-month leadership development program.

 

“Thirty years ago a group of visionaries created a plan for an organization they dreamed would have a great impact on WNY.  Today over 1400 alumni, board members, class members, speakers, and mentors have been able to take that visionary plan for Leadership Niagara and deliver a world class and nationally award winning leadership development program which trains leaders to take on the work of transformation, innovation, and inspiration.” said Executive Director Molly Anderson.

 

The Class of 2014 is Leadership Niagara’s largest and first bi-national class, with members from Canada, Pennsylvania and Buffalo, including:

 

Christopher Aikin, Roswell Park Cancer Institute 

Michele-Elise Burnett, Town of Niagara on the Lake War of 1812 Bicentennial Committee

Lori Caccamise, Niagara University

Megan Calero, 914th Airlift Wing   

T. Michael Carter, Orleans Niagara BOCES          

Ryan Coate, Conference & Event Center Niagara Falls

Julie Davis, Astronics Corporation 

Johnny Destino, Orleans Niagara BOCES

Dan DiMillo, First Niagara Bank    

Stephanie Donovan, Walsh Duffield Companies Inc.        

Robert Drake, M&T Bank   

Pamela Fekete, Niagara Tourism & Convention Corp     

Andrea Gray, Community Missions

Richard Gunn, Calamar       

Jodie Hodge, First Niagara Bank    

Christian Hoffman, Community Missions   

Sean Hudson, Niagara Falls Bridge Commission   

Diane Koz, Stinson Developments   

Tom Lowe, Niagara University ReNU Niagara     

Heather Lyon, Enterprise Charter School  

Amanda Machacek, Kenney Shelton Liptak Nowak LLP

Raymond McGovern, Covanta Energy       

Maria Pelow, 107th Airlift Wing      

Kelly Rizzo, Niagara Falls Police Department       

Andrew Rodgers, 107th Airlift Wing          

Robert Roskwitalkski, New York Power Authority

James Rossi, General Motors Component Holdings          

Kate Sarata, The Service Collaborative of WNY, Inc.      

J. Roger Shaft, General Motors Component Holdings      

Susan Shaft, Literacy New York     

Joseph Sikora, North Tonawanda Fire Department          

Justin Sondel, Niagara Gazette        

Meaghan Sowinski, First Niagara Bank      

Kathleen Urban, Niagara Falls City School District           

Kristin Vescio, Brylin

Jim Vigil, Niagara Falls First Assembly of God     

Steven Woock, Niagara County Sheriff's Office   

Christopher Woods, KeyBank

 

The hour-long ceremony featured congratulatory remarks from Eddie Friel of Niagara Global Tourism Institute, chosen by the Class of 2014 as a Top Speaker.

 

“Leadership Niagara’s Class of 2014 represents everything this organization and community aspires to be – diverse, binational, collaborative, intelligent, courageous, and compassionate.   As the Niagara region heads toward a new era of possibility and opportunity, our graduates will be at the forefront,” added Molly Anderson.

 

 

About Western New York’s Premier Leadership Development Program

Leadership Niagara participants complete a graduate-level program by partaking in seminars, retreats and day-long sessions.  Throughout the twelve month program, participants engage with industry experts and discussions about economic development, tourism, workforce development, manufacturing, agribusiness, criminal justice, poverty, healthcare and education.  Participants develop their understanding of leadership by studying and experiencing leadership concepts and principles, coaching and mentoring, change/transformation, creativity/innovation and organizational development.

 

About Leadership Niagara

Leadership Niagara is the longest running community leadership development organization in New York State.  Since 1984, more than 1,400 participants have graduated from the program.  Leadership Niagara’s mission is to strengthen regional leadership.  For more information, visit www.leadershipniagara.org.

LYNC gives back to those in need at Community Missions, Inc.

Leadership Niagara's youth program known as LYNC, teamed up with Community Missions, Inc. on Giving Tuesday to give back to those that are in need. Students received an in-depth education on servant leadership and spent time decorating Community Missions, wrapping gifts,  working in the soup kitchen, and helped to take in food donations that were delivered to the Mission.


WGRZ stopped by to see the progress that the LYNC students were making at Community Missions and the impact that this session had on their lives. Christian Hoffman, LN '14, Communications and Development Manager of Community Missions was also present, in addition to, Angela Berti, LN Board Member, Marketing and Public Affairs Coordinator for the NYS Office of Parks and Recreations.


Please click on the link below to view the whole story.

 

LN Executive Director, Molly Anderson, is awarded the Michael A. Brundidge Community Service Award

November 14, 2014


Molly Anderson accepted the Michael A. Brundidge Community Service Award from the Main Street Business & Professional Association tonight at the annual awards dinner which was held at the Como Restaurant.


Jodie Hodge, LN '14 was also presented with the Angel Award.


Pictured above from left to right: LN Assistant Director, Tasha Villani, Tom Lowe, LN '14 MSBPA President, LN Executive Director, Molly Anderson, Jodie Hodge, LN '14, and Amanda Machacek, LN '14.


Please click on the link below to read the full article from the Niagara Gazette.


The Rev. James J. Maher, C.M., president of Niagara University,

signs a memorandum of understanding with Leadership Niagara

executive director Molly Anderson.



Leadership Niagara Establishing Offices at Niagara University

October 30, 2014  |  by Michael Freedman


Leadership Niagara’s executive offices will be housed at Niagara University beginning this fall, thanks to a memorandum of understanding signed by the institutions Monday.


The Rev. James J. Maher, C.M., president of NU, and Molly Anderson, executive director of Leadership Niagara, signed the agreement that will provide Leadership Niagara with rent-free office space in Timon Hall.


“Niagara University and Leadership Niagara share a focus on lifelong education that develops future, impactful leaders,” said Father Maher. “With Niagara University poised to take on an even greater role in helping Western New York to realize its full social and economic potential, we feel that advancing this partnership is a positive step toward achieving that goal.”


Twenty-nine Niagara University employees have “graduated” from the Leadership Niagara program, with another two set to participate in 2015.


“We are two organizations that are committed to excellence. Together, we will have great synergy,” added Anderson. “Niagara University is the right place for us to call home and to further our mission to serve and strengthen our region.”


Anderson and assistant director Tasha Villani had been utilizing virtual office space to coordinate the award-winning Leadership Niagara program, which celebrated its 30th anniversary earlier this year.


The Rev. Kevin G. Creagh, NU’s vice president for university mission and ministry, and Christine S. O’Hara, ’88, M.S.Ed.’06, executive director of alumni engagement, will serve as liaisons between the organizations. O’Hara completed the Leadership Niagara program in 1992 and currently sits on its board of directors.


Established in 1984, Leadership Niagara was the first organization of its kind in New York state. Launched by a group of visionary CEOs with help from the Niagara Gazette and a grant from the Gannett Foundation, Leadership Niagara brought together individuals to learn about issues and industries in Niagara County. Three decades later, LN still provides class members across the region with a high standard of leadership and organizational development to apply their learning.


In 2011, Niagara University launched a Ph.D. program in leadership and policy that is designed for working professionals who are interested in furthering their ability to generate new knowledge through research and advance study. The program offers an innovative and unique model in preparing leaders who can implement systemic change to further organizational and community goals. Candidates will enhance their capabilities in shaping, implementing and evaluating policy in international, cross-disciplinary and diverse contexts.

 
 

Alumni Spotlight 1984-2014


James Spanbauer, Principal of LaSalle Preparatory School, Niagara Falls Board of Education


What year did you participate in Leadership Niagara?

I was in the 2004 class

 

What company do you work for?

Worked for NF Board of Education..as I do now

 

What is your position?

Currently serve as Principal at LaSalle Preparatory School..  2005-2007 ..House Principal at NFHS..2007-2013 Chief Educational Administrator at NFHS.


How has LN impacted you personally or professionally?   

LN's impact personally and professionally were very similiar..it made me more attentive to what takes place in the professional world outside of the school walls in our community..It also provided opportunities to begin the development of interpersonal skills as well as work place strategies and skills that assisted in my ongoing development as a person and professional.


What was your most memorable moment(s) in the program?

Looking back at memorable moments..I would have to say it was during a group discussion we were having during lunch. There were about 10 of us, from all different professions..we were sharing insight from our work experience..at the end it was interesting how we commented on what a sense and much greater  appreciation and understanding we had for the daily challenges and opportunities  faced in our professions. It was an opportunity to walk in someone else's shoes for a few moments.

 

Describe LN in 3 words?

Insightful, connected, motivating

 

What do you have sitting on your book shelf?

My bookshelf, other than professional readings, you will find biographies of historical and athletic figures ..several golf books

 

Tell us something most people don't know about you.

I have been married for 24 years and although my wife and kids do not enjoy his music.. I am a big Willie Nelson fan from way back.. I have seen him perform numerous times from back at Melody Fair, to most recent, this past June at Artpark.

 

Pam Fekete, Chief Financial Officer, Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation. Here is what she had to say about her experience with LN.


What year did you participate in Leadership Niagara?

2014

 

What company do you work for?

Niagara Tourism and Convention Corporation
 

What is your position?

CFO/ VP of Operations. My title has not changed since I started at NTCC. However, with many not for profits, responsibilities and duties are always evolving as the organization changes too. 
  

How has LN impacted you personally or professionally?   

LN has heightened both my community awareness and my self-awareness.  I have often told my children "lead by example". LN is helping me to focus and try harder to act in that way.

 

What was your most memorable moment(s) in the program?

Too many to list or just pick one, I enjoyed helping with educating classmates on tourism economics in Niagara County but the calf being born was pretty memorable too, you never want to miss a session!

 

Describe LN in 3 words?

Provides innovative perspective!

 

What do you have sitting on your book shelf?

After the LN Agribusiness day and seeing a calf born, I want to re-read my James Herriott books; "All creatures great and small". A collection of true stories from an English country veterinarian with a focus on finding endearing and inspirational qualities in various people situations.


Any special professional accomplishments or awards that you would like to share with us?

Not yet..

  

Tell us something most people don't know about you.

I have never bought a premade Halloween costume from the store, much more fun to get creative and make clever, funny, silly costumes. However, my kids don't really appreciate this side of me!

 

Event set to draw attention to homelessness, poverty in Niagara County


By Teresa Sharp, Buffalo News

Monday, October 13, 2014


NIAGARA FALLS – What would it be like to brave the elements and spend the night on the streets in a cardboard box, without a place to call home?

Members of Leadership Niagara’s Class of 2014 will get a glimpse of the harsh conditions of homelessness overnight Friday at the Park Place Market, 630 Main St., in an effort to raise awareness of this issue and of poverty in general in Niagara County.

The program also is open to the public from 6 to 10 p.m., and all participants will take part in discussion groups and activities designed to encourage thought and action in addressing local poverty.

Speakers will include Niagara Falls Mayor Paul A. Dyster; the Rev. James J. Maher, president of Niagara University; Sam Magavern, co-director of the Partnership for the Public Good; David Taylor, associate professor of criminology and criminal justice at Niagara; and Sister Beth Brosmer, director of Heart, Love and Soul Food Pantry in Niagara Falls.

One in five individuals across Niagara County receives some sort of support, according to a December 2013 report from the John R. Oishei Foundation prepared by the University at Buffalo Regional Institute. In addition, 44 percent of Niagara Falls’ population is either living in poverty or struggling financially and at risk of slipping below the poverty line. Homelessness ranks among their greatest concerns, according to the report.

Christian Hoffman, a current Leadership Niagara participant, is helping coordinate the event. He is the communications and development manager at Community Missions in Niagara Falls, the largest shelter in the county, with 43 beds, including suites for families.

He said Community Missions provided “more than 11,000 nights of shelter for individuals last year and provided over 75,000 meals through our soup kitchen and food pantry.”

“We think this is a dialogue worth having and important to reach out to leaders from across the county,” Hoffman said. “This also is a fundraiser for Community Missions. We invited current and former members, as well as board members, to participate, and they will each donate $100 to stay the night.”

Additionally, donations of nonperishable food items and new or gently used clothing, as well as money, will be accepted at the event and a light dinner prepared by Community Missions cook Jimmie Walker will be available.

Magavern’s organization provides research and advocacy support to a wide array of partners throughout Erie and Niagara counties who share “a community-oriented vision of a revitalized Buffalo Niagara,” according to its website.

Magavern said he felt “experiential lessons” such as this one “help build people’s commitment to the issues.”

“If you want to be part of the solution – there are lots of opportunities,” Magavern said. “You can give your time as a volunteer, or donate money, or give support as an advocate. It really, really does help.”

Leadership Niagara was founded in 1984 as the only organization of its kind in the state, with a mission of strengthening regional leadership. While the organization is based in Niagara County, about half of this year’s class is from Buffalo, with others coming from Canada and Pennsylvania, according to Molly Anderson, the organization’s executive director.

She said the idea for Friday’s event “was completely class-driven.”

“I couldn’t be more pleased,” she said. “This is exactly what we want to see – the application of what they are learning about the community and about leadership development.”

Leadership Niagara members also will be assembling around 150 hygiene bags Friday to donate to the Community Missions’ Emergency Housing Shelter.

The shelter is looking for donations of hygiene items ranging from shampoos to dental care items and from toilet paper to deodorant.

For more information, contact Hoffman at 285-3403, Ext. 2247 or 

 

Leadership Niagara goes 'Homeless for a Night' by jmaloni

Submitted Thu, Oct 2nd 2014 06:20 pm


Overnight event to raise awareness of poverty and homelessness


Leadership Niagara's Class of 2014 will host "Homeless for a Night" Friday, Oct. 17, into Saturday, Oct. 18. This overnight event aims to raise awareness of homelessness and poverty in Niagara County.


The event will take place at the Park Place Market located at 630 Main St., Niagara Falls. It is open to the public from 6-10 p.m. Participants will take part in discussion groups and activities structured to encourage thought and action to address poverty in this community.


Speakers include Niagara University President the Rev. James J. Maher, C.M.; Sam Magavern, co-director, Partnership for the Public Good; Dr. David Taylor, associate professor of criminology and criminal justice at Niagara University; and Sr. Beth Brosmer, director of Heart, Love & Soul Food Pantry.


In addition, food and clothing bins will be available for donations, and a light dinner prepared by Community Missions' cook Jimmie Walker will be provided.


The overnight portion of the event will include current and former members of Leadership Niagara spending the night outside in cardboard boxes, while also assembling more than 100 hygiene bags to donate to Community Missions' emergency housing shelter.


All event donations will benefit Community Missions, and will assist in continuing to provide food and shelter to the neediest neighbors in Niagara County.


For more information, contact Christian Hoffman at 716-285-3403, ext. 2247, or [email protected]

 

Niagara Leadership program graduates first middle school group

By Rachel Winter 6/23/14

[email protected]

Niagara Gazette — Leadership Niagara held the first graduation ceremony of its kind at St. Peter’s School in Lewiston on Friday. Never before has the program come into a school to mentor middle school adolescents but many are happy for the change of pace. 

“This is our target audience,” said Captain Kristen Neubauer of the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office, who was one of the two volunteer leaders who taught the St. Peter’s students this school year. “We are trying to reach them at this age, particularly.”

Neubauer’s mentoring partner, Major Andrea Pitruzzella, with the 914th Airlift Wing, agrees, “This is the type of demographic that we are hoping to reach out to, and we are hopeful that they will continue to pay forward what they’ve learned this year.”  

Both Neubauer and Pitruzzella are 2010 graduates of Leadership Niagara and said they enjoyed sharing what they learned through the program with the young community.

Also present, and a graduate of Leadership Niagara (’07) was Chief Deputy Steven C. Preisch with the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office. Preisch, a 25-year sheriff’s office veteran, said he still makes time to support the program that he believes is crucial for character development. “Making decisions becomes more difficult for kids as daily pressures increase, and this program gives them the courage to speak up and do what they know is the right thing.”

One by one in the school gymnasium, 36 students were awarded for participation and completion of the eight sessions as they shook hands with their mentors: Tasha Villani, (the assistant director of Leadership Niagara), Preisch, the school’s principal Maureen Ingham and its pastor, Msgr. David LiPuma. 

Speaking on behalf of the students was eighth-grader and Student Council President Caitlyn Dyster. Dyster, 14, said that she enjoyed the way leadership strengthening activities were disguised as games for them and how the program has bettered them. 

In my mind, we learned four main things about what it takes to be a leader: belief in oneself, courage, effort, and skills,” she said. “Leadership is not always about being in charge, but about believing in those who do not believe in themselves.”

Student Council Vice President Paul Beilman, 13, an eighth-grader, said he has transferred what he’s learned from the leadership games to his games on the soccer field. 

As a defenseman and midfielder on the St. Peter’s soccer team, he said that he is expected to be a leader during games. “Before Leadership Niagara, I thought leadership was all about taking charge, but it’s more about being in charge of sharing responsibility and making sure that everyone is heard,” Beilman explained.

There were eight 45-minute session topics that taught students the fundamentals of leadership curriculum.

“I know now that not everyone is going to agree on everything,” said Havanna Bancroft-Billings, one of the eighth-graders, “but you have to work together to figure out the right decision.”


80 Leadership Niagara Members Convene 
in Canada for Bi-national Relationship Building
Focusing on Best Practices on Creating & Sustaining Cross Border Communities 


April 11, 2014 - Leadership Niagara will travel to St. Catherines, Ontario for a day long session on bi-national relationship building and best practices on creating and sustaining cross border communities with their Canadian counterparts, Leadership Niagara of Ontario, Canada.

Since 2012, Leadership Niagara USA and Leadership Niagara Canada have been working together to build relationships and discuss issues that are unique to the binational region.  The session will include discussions with industry experts, as well as training in creativity, innovation, and problem solving in the context of transnational and global communities.

Regional Chairman of Niagara, Gary Burroughs, Leadership Niagara USA, Executive Director, Molly Anderson, and Leadership Niagara Canada, Executive Director, Mario De Divitiis will welcome members of both organizations to Hernder Estate Wines where the session will take place beginning tomorrow morning.  Guest panelists will include:  Greg Wight, President and CEO of Algoma Central Corporation, Ken Franasiak, CEO of Calamar, Kithio Mwanzia, Director of Policy and Government of Greater Niagara Chamber (Canada), and Bryan Roth, Manager of CanAm at the Buffalo Niagara Partnership. 

“Bi-national relations is vital to our economy, security, and quality of life,” stated Molly Anderson, executive director of Leadership Niagara.  “As leaders it is our job to work together, to build and sustain our cross border community, and ensure that our national border continues to be the strongest in the world.”
        
Leadership Niagara (USA) 2014 class represents 38 leaders with diverse backgrounds including business, law, education, military, law enforcement, media, and nonprofits from Buffalo, Niagara, and Southern Ontario.  The 2014 class is in its fourth month of the year long graduate level program designed to reinforce leadership concepts and principles and provide understanding of regional issues such as: manufacturing and workforce development, tourism and regional economic development, and leading change and transformation.  Leadership Niagara is celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2014.  More than 1200 leaders have graduated from Leadership Niagara since 1984.

For more information on Leadership Niagara (USA):  www.leadershipniagara.org
For more information on Leadership Niagara (Canada):  www.leadershipniagara.ca
 

Leadership Niagara Graduates 78 Youth Leaders

Award presented to Darnell Barton for Everyday Leadership in Action

April 8, 2014 - Leadership Niagara's largest youth leadership development class, LYNC, will celebrate the end of an eight month program during a graduation ceremony this evening for 78 high school leaders from Niagara County and Grand Island.  The event will take place:
 
Tuesday, April 8th
Antonio's Banquet Facility
7708 Niagara Falls Boulevard
Niagara Falls, New York
6:00 pm
Everyday Leadership in Action Award presented to Darnell Barton

Leadership Niagara's LYNC program is funded by the Irene Witkowski Agrawal Foundation which expanded this year's program to 400 students over the next four years.  The students gained practical and in depth training in leadership development, problem-solving, project management, diversity and inclusion, change and transformation, communication, purpose and core values.  LYNC participants also received mentoring from Leadership Niagara's network of graduates who worked with the students each month to reinforce leadership concepts and principles.

Special recognition will be given to NFTA Bus Driver Darnell Barton for “Everyday Leadership in Action” when he stopped a young woman from jumping off an overpass. The LYNC students wanted his example to teach others that leadership is not about titles, but for all people in everyday moments.

“It is extremely rewarding to see our LYNC students grow and develop as leaders, and even more so to witness their deep appreciation for each other and our region,” stated Molly Anderson, executive director of Leadership Niagara.  “They are the change we want to see in Western New York and thanks to the generosity of Irene Witkowski Agrawal Foundation and the support of our local schools there are many more to come.”

During today's closing retreat the high school students developed a top ten list for local officials to improve Niagara communities based upon what they learned in the LYNC program.  Top ideas for implementation included:  enhancing tourism in Niagara Falls, developing Old Falls Street, improving local parks, providing more opportunities for youth to get involved in local government and leadership programs, better construction for roads, promoting small business, helping the homeless, diversity awareness training, renovation of vacant buildings, and promoting math and science.

Leadership Niagara is the longest running leadership development program in New York State and is celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2014.  The mission of Leadership Niagara is to strengthen regional leadership.  Over 1200 youth and adults have graduated from Leadership Niagara's programs.  For more information visit www.leadershipniagara.org.
 

Leadership Niagara Announces Expansion of Youth Leadership Program

Grant will grow leadership development program to historic levels

April 7, 2014 - Leadership Niagara has announced that thanks to a new commitment of $460,000 from the Irene E. Witkowski-Agrawal Foundation, LYNC, the youth leadership program run by Leadership Niagara, will be able to include up to 100 area high school students.

The expansion of the original commitment of $375,000 that was announced in 2013 was made by foundation founder and husband of the deceased Irene E. Witkowski-Agrawal, Prabhakar Agrawl because of his desire to include more students in the leadership development program. This new amount will allow the program to reach students from 13 schools in Niagara County as well as students from Grand Island High School. The grant will stretch over the next four years for a total funding commitment of $535,000.

 

Agrawal said that the Foundation supports the LYNC program because “it is important to encourage and teach young people to depend on themselves, and to succeed in their lives by being honest. That is how my deceased wife would have done it. So my foundation is to remember her honesty and values.”

 

Molly Anderson, Executive Director of Leadership Niagara said, ”We are incredibly grateful to the Agrawal Foundation for their ongoing support and their confidence in what we are doing at LYNC and Leadership Niagara. Being able to influence our region’s young people and give them the tools to be successful in life is incredibly rewarding and we are thankful to Mr. Agrawal for believing in what we do.”

 

On April 8, 2014, the 15th graduating class of LYNC will graduate 78 students from 12 schools, the first funded through the foundation. The class that begins in September will include up to 100 students.

 

Announcement of this increased commitment comes on the 30th anniversary of Leadership Niagara, the state’s oldest leadership development program, which has graduated over 1200 local leaders between the adult and youth programs it oversees.

 

LYNC, an eight-month program for high school students, provides leadership development and mentoring, as well as training in self-awareness, problem-solving and project management, communication, and leading with purpose and core values.  It is designed to prepare students to contribute to society and the world.

 

To apply for LYNC or Leadership Niagara, please visit www.leadershipniagara.org.

                                                                                                  -30-

Leadership Niagara Recognized Nationally For Excellence In Innovation

Honored at Association of Leadership Programs Conference

Niagara Falls, New York (March 31, 2014) - Leadership Niagara will be recognized nationally for “Excellence in Innovation” by the Association of Leadership (ALP) Programs on Friday, April 4th at the Southeast Regional Conference in Atlanta, Georgia.

The award will be presented to Leadership Niagara’s executive director, Molly Anderson , who has been at the helm of the organization for the past five years.  She was invited to present her program's innovation and best practices to leadership professionals who will be attending the conference.

“In recent years Leadership Niagara has innovated and transformed a great organization.  We are sharply focused on achieving more for our participants and our region,” stated Molly Anderson.  “It is an honor to be recognized among hundreds of our peer leadership organizations for all the hard work thus far.”

ALP’s mission is to provide professional educational activities and to engage, educate, and train leaders.  Through recognizing excellence, fostering innovation, sharing best practices, educational training and development, and building networks, ALP advances the effectiveness of community leadership programs and professionals.

Leadership Niagara is the longest running community leadership program in New York State and is celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2014.  Leadership Niagara rebranded in 2009 and has experienced a resurgence of our area's top talent participating in its graduate level leadership development program as well as its youth program LYNC which encompasses twelve local high schools.  Over 1200 leaders have graduated from the program since 1984. 

For more information visit www.leadershipniagara.org.

Program Teaches Students to Become Leaders in Their Communities

Leadership Youth Niagara County is a program that allows high school students to learn leadership skills and apply them in their communities. 

By Olivia Tober

NeXt Correspondent

Buffalo News (February 13, 2014)

Leadership Niagara, a community leadership development program, runs a program called Leadership Youth of Niagara County, also known as LYNC. This program allows students from high schools in Niagara County to get involved in their community.

 

LYNC teaches students about different types of leadership and how to put it to use. Students meet once a month to learn about leadership principles, problem solving, problem management, servant leadership, change and transformation. The students also develop action plans, reflect and journal about leadership concepts, and lead projects in their schools and communities.

 

“The community is the classroom,” said executive director Molly Anderson. “We draw on our network of Leadership Niagara graduates from all walks of life who are actually leading to serve as program mentors and to share their stories with us. Our LYNC students are living examples of the power of leadership development.”

 

LYNC grew from 23 students last year to 78 students (in 12 high schools). More than 400 local students have graduated from LYNC since 2001 and, due to the Irene E. Witkowski Agrawal Foundation, there will be 400 more graduates over the next five years.

 

“We believe that leadership can be learned,” Anderson said. “Every month we provide opportunities for young people to strengthen their abilities and apply what they are learning to their everyday lives. Each session is a step on the journey to becoming an effective leader.

 

“LYNC is the best part of my job,” Anderson added. “While our program is designed to inspire the next generation of future leaders, I too am energized by our young people’s desire to learn, their optimism and fresh ideas. It brings out the best in all of us – and that essentially is the core of leadership.”

 

So what do the students think of this program?

 

“LYNC is teaching me how to be ready to take the lead in my community and organization on any task that comes,” said Shaun Jenkins, a senior at Niagara Falls High School. “The community is getting a chance to see the creative side of LYNC and what it can do for them. LYNC can improve the lifestyles of individuals and the community the longer it’s around.”

 

Many students participating in Leadership Niagara’s program agree with Shaun.

 

Ayleen Breurer, a junior at Royalton Hartland High School, said, “I think LYNC is an excellent program that enables teens to become involved with the community and opens up opportunities for them to do different things like charity work. I would definitely recommend it because it gets teens involved. I think more places besides Niagara County should offer this program to give more people opportunities. This is going to help me. It is giving me connections to other leaders and it’s really inspiring me to do more.”

 

Alex Bauer, a sophomore at Niagara Wheatfield Senior High School, agrees with Ayleen and Shaun.

 

“I think this is a good program because ... it teaches people who are likely to be in a leadership position how to be a good leader. I would recommend it because it’s a good character builder and it also helps build communication skills, which are important.”

 

The group has big plans for its future.

 

“This year we are celebrating the 30th anniversary of Leadership Niagara,” Anderson said. “By applying leadership concepts to our organization we have experienced tremendous growth in the past year. I look forward to the development of our LYNC program and continuing to help others on their leadership journey.”

 

For more information on Leadership Niagara, visit www.leadershipniagara.com.

 

Olivia Tober is a sophomore at Niagara Wheatfield Senior High School.

 

 

http://www.buffalonews.com/life-arts/next/program-teaches-students-to-become-leaders-in-their-communities-20140213

29 Regional Leaders Graduate from Leadership Niagara

Niagara Falls, New York (Thursday, December 12, 2013) – Leadership Niagara will recognize 29 regional leaders for successful completion of the organization’s twelve month leadership development program during a graduation ceremony on Thursday at 6:00pm at the Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel Mezzanine Room.  A special presentation will be made to induct Howard Zemsky as an honorary class member of Leadership Niagara’s Class of 2013.

 

LN 2013 Graduates completed a graduate-level leadership development program which included a combination of retreats, seminars and day-long sessions with local, regional, and binational leaders and industry experts.  The program provided in-depth training on leadership concepts and principles, coaching and mentoring, change/transformation, creativity/innovation, and organizational development along with discussions around regional economic development, tourism, workforce development, manufacturing, agribusiness, criminal justice, renewable energy, healthcare, and education.

 

Please join us in congratulating our LN 2013 Class:

 

Jennifer A. Baumgartner – 914th Airlift Wing

Todd W. Bush – North Tonawanda Police Department

Patricia Copeland – The Dale Association

E. Bryan DalPorto – Niagara Falls Police Department

Christopher L. Dawson – First Niagara Bank

Elaine S. Duquette – Opportunities Unlimited

Bruce Elliott – Niagara County Sheriff’s Office

Melissa Foti – Kenney Shelton Liptak Nowak LLP

Rita M. Geiben – Niagara University

Terry L. Gill – Lockport Police Department

Judie Glaser – Niagara Falls City Schools

Ken Hamilton – Niagara Gazette

John Higgins – 107th Airlift Wing

Justin Jacobs – Noco Energy

Luke D. Kantor – Lockport Family YMCA

Susan Kelchlin – Tops Markets LLC

Anthony Lanza – KeyBank

Elizabeth Lavis – 360PSG

Phyllis Murawski – UNYTS

Tammy D. Ramos – KeyBank

Chris Schifferli – Covanta Energy

Brad Schumacher – Calspan Corporation

John Spanbauer – Niagara University

William T. Thompson, Jr. – VanDeMark Chemical

Marie Walters – Marie’s Sewing Center

Jennifer L.S. Weber

Jennifer L. Westerholt – Literacy New York

Elizabeth A. Woock – Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation

Jim Zeames – New York Power Authority

 

Leadership Niagara is the longest running community leadership development organization in New York State.  In 2014 Leadership Niagara will celebrate 30 years of cultivating our region’s leaders.  The organization’s mission is to strengthen regional leadership and has graduated over 1200 participants since 1984.  Leadership Niagara’s 2013 presenting sponsors are First Niagara Bank and the Niagara Gazette.

Nominations Are Now Being Accepted 2014 Leader of the Year Annual Awards Luncheon

Niagara Falls, New York (October 31, 2013) – Leadership Niagara announced it will be accepting nominations for its annual Leader of the Year luncheon.  The awards event will be co-chaired by Leadership Niagara’s Class of 2000 alumni, David Karwick and Marsha Koelmel, and will bring together the organization’s alumni and friends on April 30th to celebrate the honorees’ accomplishments as well as to celebrate Leadership Niagara’s 30 Year history in Western New York.

 

Award Categories:

Leader of the Year Award

Distinguished Alumna/Alumnus Award

Organization of the Year Award

Emerging Leader of the Year Award

 

Eligibility: Individuals/Organizations from all sectors – government agencies, nonprofits, corporations and private sector – are eligible for the awards.  Nominees need not reside in Niagara County, but their impact must be made on the Niagara Region.

 

Criteria: An individual or organization who: (1) significantly impacts the Niagara Region; (2) supports our mission to strengthen regional leadership; (3) Serves as a role model/mentor for future leaders; (4) Exemplifies our organization’s core values:


• Visionary Leadership
• Excellence
• Regional Partnerships
• Societal Responsibility
• Diversity and Inclusion
• Lifelong Learning
 
Nominations:

1. Submit a one-page statement demonstrating how your nominee fulfills the criteria.

2. Include contact information for both nominee and nominator.

3. Indicate name of the award you are nominating your candidate for.

 

Please submit your nomination to: [email protected]   Nominations are due by 5:00pm on December 6th.

 

Leadership Niagara is the longest running community leadership program in New York State and has graduated over 1200 leaders across the Niagara region. Leadership Niagara’s mission is to strengthen regional leadership.  For more information contact Molly Anderson, executive director at [email protected] or visit the website at www.leadershipniagara.org.