Buffalo, N.Y. – Today, in front of dozens of friends, relatives, and allies, 24 remarkable individuals were recognized for completing a rigorous four-month curriculum that empowered them to inspire, organize, and brighten the future of the community that they love. An eclectic cohort of changemakers became the third graduating class of Open Buffalo Emerging Leaders.
“We developed relationships with people from different ethnicities, different backgrounds,” said Leah Angel Daniel, a 2017 Emerging Leader. “Everybody had a different story, and everybody’s story was vital.”
Open Buffalo increases our city’s population of skilled grassroots leaders through various community workshops and intensive training programs. We teach residents how to mobilize their communities around equity issues and to take on leadership roles in community, nonprofit, and government sectors. Emerging Leaders, our signature leadership development initiative, started in 2015 and has now graduated three cohorts.
Graduating from Emerging Leaders marks both a triumph and a challenge.
“I need you to look at your ability to take what’s around you to be the best asset to the community of Buffalo,” said Sherman Webb-Middlebrooks, a 2015 Emerging Leader, as he spoke to this year’s graduating class. “I challenge you to have the mindset, ‘We are, therefore I am.’ I’m not up here without my Emerging Leaders family. I can’t do anything in the community without my family.”
In addition to certificates for completing the program, graduating leaders received proclamations by Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz and members of the Buffalo Common Council honoring their achievement.
After graduation, Open Buffalo encourages and supports Emerging Leaders’ efforts to apply community-building skills in the fields or careers of their choosing. Graduates of the program have gone on to start community-based organizations, innovate in the arts and cultural sectors, influence public policy, and obtain seats in public office.
“I want us to look at how we can be the greatest resource to our community,” said Webb-Middlebrooks.
2017 Emerging Leaders graduates are: