By Todd Geise
Stating that something is life-changing is powerful. Since the first cohort graduated in 2015, more than 100 people have completed the program. What we hope to accomplish through these profile spotlights is not only to share our pride for the program, but the pride we have in those who have completed it and how they have been able to incorporate the program into their lives and the communities they belong to.
We recently had the opportunity to speak with Tanvier Peart, a 2017 Emerging Leader. As it has been a couple of years, we wanted to know what she was up to and what impact her participation afforded her and her social justice goals.
Tanvier is originally from Baltimore. Following residencies in New Jersey and Oklahoma, the mother of two arrived in Buffalo in 2016 as an accomplished editor for mom-focused websites. But she knew that something was missing — an outlet for her inner passion to fight the injustices she had experienced firsthand and had witnessed around her.
What prompted her to apply for a spot in the 2017 Emerging Leaders class? Simply put, she wanted to tap into something deeper — although she readily admits that she was intimidated by her lack of experience in the social justice organizing and advocacy. She had heard about Open Buffalo, its work on various advocacy issues and the Emerging Leaders program. Like many of us prior to making major commitments, she hesitated, until two days before the application deadline. She was, of course, accepted.
When asked about the topics that stick with her, she easily brings up the deeper dives into economic and climate justice, the stories of “self” and “us,” and how individuals can bring their voices to grassroots organizing. She also cites the Anti-Gentrification Summit she was required to attend and the historic knowledge she gained from the Buffalo awareness bus tour, which is not to be confused with the open-air trolley tours that show riders only the affluent neighborhoods. Understanding Buffalo’s history of intentional segregation and what helps the city maintain its status as one of the most segregated cities in America seems to ignite that passion to break down barriers.
In a few short years, Tanvier has not only settled into the Buffalo area, but found her courage and voice of advocacy to be an active member of the community. She is a part-time LEAD (Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion) consultant with the Partnership for the Public Good, serves on the board of the Western New York Peace Center, is a member of CAIC (Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement), and is engaged with the Homeless Alliance of Western New York with a deep interest in youth homelessness. None of this, she believes, she could have done without the preparation and guidance of her Emerging Leaders experience.
As we discussed her marathon few years since arriving in Buffalo, Tanvier’s energy and enthusiasm seem boundless and unending, particularly when considering all the activities of motherhood and being an editor. And so, when concluding our interview, we didn’t just ask how she managed to do all that she does; we also asked, “How would you describe the impact of being an Emerging Leader?”
She replied, “In a word, life-changing.”
Applications are now being accepted for Emerging Leaders 2020. Applications are due by May 1, 2020, with an anticipated program start date of August 21. Details are available at