300 leaders gather in Niagara Falls to celebrate performance excellence
Leadership Niagara will honor individuals and organizations at the 25th annual Leader of the Year awards luncheon April 29 at the Conference & Event Center Niagara Falls. More than 300 leaders from Western New York and Southern Ontario will be in attendance at the event, which will feature Bill Strickland, president and CEO of Manchester Bidwell Corp. and author of "Make the Impossible Possible," as keynote speaker.
The Leader of the Year awards luncheon will be chaired by two Leadership Niagara Class of 2000 alumni: David Karwick, financial adviser, senior vice president of Key Investment Services LLC, and Marsha Koelmel, co-president of Catapult Inc.
"Every day of the year we live our mission to develop better leaders for our region," said Karwick, vice chair of Leadership Niagara board of directors. "On this day, we will take time to celebrate the accomplishments of Western New York leaders."
Honorees were selected from the organizations network of more than 1,400 alumni and volunteers. 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.
The 2015 honorees are:
•Leader of the Year - Cathy Walker, Former president and CEO Seneca Gaming Corp.: With leadership experience at successful gaming properties in multiple states, Walker has established a standard of outstanding operational performance, efficiency and responsible management. She has become an active member of the Western New York business and philanthropic community. Walker serves on a number of boards and committees, including the Niagara Area Foundation, the finance committee of the Community Foundation of Greater Buffalo and the Buffalo Niagara Partnership.
•Organization of the Year- Greater Lockport Development Corp.: The Greater Lockport Development Corp.'s mission is to spur economic development in the City of Lockport. Over the years, GLDC has a proven track record of projects to make a positive impact on the city, Niagara County and the entire Western New York region. GLDC also has facilitated the completion of the first phase of the restoration of the historic Flight of Five Locks. GLDC has worked to develop downtown Lockport's newest addition, Cornerstone CFCU Arena.
•Lifetime Commitment - Merrell A. Lane (Awarded Posthumously): Merrell Lane was a lifelong resident of the City of Niagara Falls. He was most proud of his service as chairman of the Niagara Military Affairs Council upon its creation in 1995. He was named Leadership Niagara's Leader of the Year in 2005. He served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam from January 1969 through September 1970. He was past president of the Niagara Falls Kiwanis Club, chairman of the board of the directors for the Salvation Army and a former member of the Niagara Falls Youth Board.
•Distinguished Alumnus - Harry Francois, LN '10, New York Power Authority Regional Manager for Western New York: Francois is a graduate of Leadership Niagara 2010. He first joined the New York Power Authority in February of 1991 as an electrical engineer. With an educational background in electrical engineering, Francois has held several leadership roles at the Niagara hydroelectric power plant spanning his 24-year career. He is a past participant of NYPA's mentorship program.
•Emerging Leader of the Year - Tom Lowe, LN '14, director of ReNU Niagara: Lowe is a 2014 graduate of Leadership Niagara. He is chair of the Niagara Beautification Commission; president of the Main Street Business and Professional Association, and founder and current treasurer for Greenprint Niagara. Lowe serves as a mentor to Leadership Niagara's youth leaders. Buffalo Business First honored recognized him as a member of the "30 Under Thirty" and the Niagara Falls Chamber of Commerce recognized him with the Pride of Niagara Award.
Leadership Niagara is the longest-running community leadership development organization in New York. Since 1984, more than 1,400 participants have graduated from the program. Visit www.leadershipniagara.org for more information.