Buffalo, NY – The Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo and the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation are pleased to announce that Bridget Niland, J.D., Ed.M. has joined the Community Foundation as its first Director, Youth Sports Initiatives. In her position, Ms. Niland will lead a community-wide collaborative initiative to enhance youth sports in our region. The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation launched the initiative after releasing the Aspen Institute’s State of Play WNY report in 2017.
“Bridget Niland has the experience, knowledge and commitment to help bring the community together in working towards a shared vision of a Western New York in which all children have the opportunity to be active through sports,” said Clotilde Perez-Bode Dedecker, President and CEO of the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo. “Our partnership with the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, the Aspen Institute’s Sports & Society Program and an Advisory Council comprised of youth sport and other regional leaders provides an unprecedented opportunity in this community to evaluate the state of youth sports and ensure our children have access to sports programs.”
The State of Play WNY report is a comprehensive study about the landscape of youth sports in our region. Compiled by the Aspen Institute’s Sports & Society Program and commissioned by the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation and the Community Foundation, the report outlines eight plays to create a Western New York in which all children have the opportunity to be active through sports.
“Ms. Niland brings strategic thinking, innovation and vision to her work. With her thorough understanding of the state of youth sports in Western New York, she can take the initial work of State of Play WNY and use this tool to pave the way for tangible and exciting results,” said Jim Boyle, Vice President of Programs and Communications, Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation. “It is a win-win to have her embedded with our partners at the Community Foundation who have a proven track record of creating change in the community.”
Prior to her position at the Community Foundation, Ms. Niland served as the Director of Athletics and Special Assistant to the President at Daemen College. In the role since 2014, she oversaw the transition of the Amherst-based college from National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) to National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II membership.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to apply my experience in higher education, sport law and youth sport to this initiative, the first of its kind in this region,” said Ms. Niland. “Along with our partners at the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation and the Aspen Institute, I see a unique opportunity to work with the Community Foundation’s Youth Sport Advisory Council to co-create the conditions for lasting and positive change in youth sports in Western New York.”
While leading Daemen Athletics, Ms. Niland continued to serve as Associate Professor overseeing the College’s Sport Management and Business Law curriculum, a role she held since 2006. Prior to joining Daemen’s faculty, Ms. Niland, a Williamsville native, worked for five years at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) headquarters in Indianapolis, Indiana. Previously, she worked as a trial attorney at the United States Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., after completing a two-year clerkship with the Honorable John T. Curtin of the Western District of New York.
A former cross-county and track and field runner at her alma mater the State University of New York at Buffalo (UB), Ms. Niland is a member of UB’s Sports Hall of Fame. She serves on several community boards and organizations, including: the Buffalo Sport Commission, the Miracle League ofWNY, Visit Buffalo Niagara Commission and WNY Girls in Sport. Ms. Niland also is a long-time youth mentor and coach, volunteering as a baseball, softball and swim coach.
The Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, a 501©(3) organization, was established in 1919 to enhance and encourage long-term philanthropy in the Western New York community. The Community Foundation’s mission is: Connecting people, ideas and resources to improve lives in Western New York. For nearly 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.
The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation is a grantmaking organization dedicated primarily to sustained investment in the quality of life of the people of Southeast Michigan and Western New York. The two areas reflect Ralph C. Wilson, Jr.’s devotion to his hometown of Detroit and greater Buffalo, home of his Buffalo Bills franchise. Prior to his passing in 2014, Mr. Wilson requested that a significant share of his estate be used to continue a life-long generosity of spirit by funding the Foundation that bears his name. The Foundation has a grantmaking capacity of $1.2 billion over a 20-year period, which expires January 8, 2035. This structure is consistent with Mr. Wilson’s desire for the Foundation’s impact to be immediate, substantial, measurable and overseen by those who knew him best. For more information visit www.rcwjrf.org.