Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo Announces Centennial Awards Finalists

Buffalo, NY – The Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo – a local nonprofit organization committed to helping individuals, families and organizations make their charitable goals a reality – is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2019. To mark this milestone, the Community Foundation will award $1 million in honor of 12 local change makers who have made a difference in Western New York. A community-wide nomination process held in February and March, followed by a thorough and thoughtful review process by the Centennial Selection Committee of more than 500 nominations, has resulted in 12 finalists in four award categories.

The Cause Award – This change maker has dedicated time and passion to addressing a pressing issue facing our region.



James Giles, who started critical reentry services in the City of Buffalo and works tirelessly to stop violence and redirect youth through Back-to-Basics Outreach ministries



Jill Jedlicka, who championed the restoration of the Buffalo River and is committed to protecting our region’s precious natural resources through her work at Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper                             



Karen Nicolson, who advocates for the rights and safety of our community’s rapidly growing aging population through the Center for Elder Law and Justice



The Community Award – This change maker saw the hidden potential in a place and took a leadership role to transform it.


Fajri Ansari, who works to change perceptions of underserved communities, including the Masten District, through his commitment to education, basketball and as the religious leader of Masjid Nu’Man mosque and the men’s basketball coach at Buffalo State College



Jessica Bauer Walker, who rallied parents and the community for comprehensive health education in Buffalo Public Schools through  CoNECT- Community Network for Engagement, Connection and Transformation



David Zapfel, who provides housing, job training skills, childcare, hot meals and education to empower low-income families toward self-sufficiency in the Bailey-Delavan neighborhood through Gerard Place


                                                                                                                                                                                                      The Champion Award – This change maker has made a meaningful change for a group of people.


Marixsa Sanchez-Feliciano, who ensures women have access to supports and have their basic needs met before, during and after pregnancy through the Buffalo Prenatal and Perinatal Network



Michael Martin, who is committed to racial equity and has built a deeper understanding of the Native people through programs and outreach with Native American Services of Erie and Niagara Counties, Inc.



Diann Takens, who provides programming, literacy instruction, teen empowerment and support through Peace of the City to help young people break the cycle of poverty to become community leaders



The Up and Comer Award – This change maker is an emerging leader currently mobilizing action around a place, an issue or people.



Kelly Diane Galloway, who works to eradicate human trafficking through outreach, education and implementing a program for victims through Mona’s House




Dawne Hoeg, who helps refugee women make meaningful contributions to the community through Stitch Buffalo





Megan McNally, who provides hands-on skill building to youth, creates opportunities for self-sufficiency and incubates small businesses through the Foundry



More information on each finalist can be found here: Photos of each finalist are available upon request.

Two finalists in each category will receive $25,000 each to grant to a Western New York nonprofit of their choice. One endowment winner in each category will be honored with $200,000: $100,000 to make a one-time grant to a Western New York nonprofit and $100,000 to create an endowment at the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo that will allow them to make grants in their name forever.

The endowment winners will be announced at a special celebration on September 24.

Celebrating its centennial year in 2019, the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo was established in 1919 to enhance and encourage long-term philanthropy in the Western New York community. A 501 (c)(3) organization, the Community Foundation’s mission is: Connecting people, ideas and resources to improve lives in Western New York. For 100 years, the Community Foundation has made the most of the generosity of individuals, families, foundations and organizations who entrust charitable assets to the Community Foundation’s care. Learn more at