Growing Business & Community - Leading Locally

Growing Business & Community - Leading Locally

Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to travel to Denver, Colorado for the Leading Locally Conference hosted by the Council on Foundations.  I attended with the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo and the Ralph Wilson Foundation. The theme was the power of place based and community philanthropy with informative, engaging and energizing sessions. The conference was non-stop learning with 45 concurrent sessions, 3 plenaries, networking, and wellness opportunities. Community is the heart of philanthropy. It’s the place where we connect with loved ones and neighbors, where investments change lives, and where solutions are born.

The focus of the conference centered on:

*The latest trends and analysis on place-based work.

*Collaboration among foundations or across sectors, especially through unlikely partnerships.

*The importance of local expertise and on-the-ground community engagement.

*The convening power of foundations, especially for building bridges.

*Effectively applying a diversity, equity, and inclusion lens to your work.

What is a place-based approach? Place-based approaches are collaborative, long-term approaches to build thriving communities with a defined geographic location in mind. This approach is ideally characterized by partnering and shared design, shared stewardship, and shared accountability for outcomes and impacts. It is about understanding the issues, interconnections and relationships in a place and coordinating action and investment to improve the quality of life for that community.

I have the honor of serving as the Chairperson of the Niagara Area Foundation, a council committed to strengthening Niagara County by addressing critical needs to improve lives. The foundation uses the expertise and infrastructure of the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo to guide and support its work. I serve with a brilliant and talented staff from the Community Foundation and council of volunteers with two main goals in mind for this year. 1) To build stronger communities through the enrichment of youth, positive youth development and equity and inclusion.  2) To support and enhance education and awareness about the importance and creation of a healthy, vibrant and safe ecosystem for Niagara County residents.  Last year we awarded over $60,000 to non-profit organizations through a grant process, who are focused on building their community.

The conference will have a lasting impact on my role as President of the Chamber.  The board of directors has changed the course of our organization, and I realize how important it is to continue to have a long term approach to making changes that have the most impact on our communities.

If you are interested in getting more involved in community work, please contact the Chamber office.  Stop by the office (895 Center Street, Lewiston), give us a call (716) 754-9500 or send us an email: