Leadership Niagara event honors regional leadersby jmaloni
Announces historic $375,000 grant to significantly support youth programming
Leadership Niagara's 24th annual awards luncheon brought 180 regional leaders together at the Niagara Falls Conference & Events Center on Friday, April 26, to honor four individuals and organizations who exemplified the organization's mission and core values:
- The Rev. Joseph L. Levesque, C.M. - 2013 Leader of the Year
- Western New York Regional Council - 2013 Organization of the Year
- The Honorable William J. Watson, LN Class of 1998 - 2013 Distinguished Alumnus
- Tasha LeFevre, LN '11 - 2013 Emerging Leader
The awards luncheon is annual event for alumni of Leadership Niagara, board members, speakers and sponsors to reconnect and recommit to the organization's mission and vision.
"We are fortunate to honor extraordinary examples of leadership in our network," said Leadership Niagara Executive Director Molly Anderson. "To hear their stories gives all of us something memorable and valuable that we can apply to our lives."
In addition to honoring these leaders, it was announced at the luncheon that Leadership Niagara will be the recipient of a generous five-year grant for $375,000 in support of its LYNC (youth leadership development program) from the Irene E. Witkowski-Agrawal Foundation. This will impact 400 young people in schools throughout Niagara County and Grand Island.
The Irene E. Witkowski-Agrawal Foundation, according to its founder, Prabhakar Agrawal, is about "encouraging and teaching young people to depend on themselves, and to succeed in their lives by being honest."
"If they can achieve that, they are likely to find much happiness in their lives and contribute to society much more than the present trend of fraud, deceit and deceptions that are so prevalent worldwide," Agrawal said. "That is how my deceased wife would have done it. So my foundation is to remember her for her honesty and values."
"We are incredibly grateful to the Irene E. Witkowski-Agrawal Foundation for their commitment to LYNC, especially in lieu of the budget crises being faced by many school districts," said Frank P. Mergl, chairman of the board of directors of Leadership Niagara. "This partnership with the Irene E. Witkowski-Agrawal Foundation lays the groundwork for our LYNC program that will allow more young people than ever before to develop their leadership skills."
LYNC, an eight-month program for high school students, provides leadership development, values and principles, as well as training in communication, problem-solving, teamwork and diversity. It is designed to prepare students to contribute to society and the world.
Leadership Niagara, in its 29th year, is the longest running community leadership program in New York. It provides practical and in-depth graduate-level leadership development, coaching and mentoring and discussions on regional issues and industries. The organization's mission is to strengthen regional leadership.
More than 1,000 youth and adults have graduated from Leadership Niagara since 1984.