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Welcome to my blog. I document amazing woman in and around Buffalo NY and feature their stories, hopes, dreams, sorrows and everything in between! #buffalobossbabes

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Buffalo Boss Babes: Arts Services Initiative of WNY (ASI)

Buffalo Boss Babes: Arts Services Initiative of WNY (ASI)

 Photo by: Buffalo Black Book - The group from ASI 

Photo by: Buffalo Black Book - The group from ASI 

This weeks Buffalo Boss Babes is a bit different than we have done in the past :) We are featuring the dynamic group of 4 great ladies from Arts Services Initiative of WNY (ASI). This group of ladies work hard to help local artists reach their goals! Arts Services Initiative of Western New York (ASI) promotes the cultural sector’s vital role in economic development and the community through capacity building, collaboration, and advocacy in Erie, Niagara, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, and Allegheny Counties.

 Natalie with Team Razor Wire 

Natalie with Team Razor Wire 

The first up is Natalie Brown: 

I work full time at Arts Services Initiative of WNY (ASI) and I help artists in the Buffalo and Niagara Falls area reach their professional goals.

What made you start or brought your organization to where you are today? Tell us your story and what makes you a Buffalo Boss Babe. 

I think I’ve always had a natural connection to the arts. My mother always encouraged me to be creative and supported all my artsy phases growing up (she has an Associate’s Degree in Interior Design). My parents are very family orientated and even took in foster kids when I was young which instilled in me a sense of empathy and community spirit. In high school I took every art course I could and in college I fell in love with the museum experience by interning at museums in Buffalo. In 2011, I opened my own gallery in North Tonawanda called the Project 308 Gallery. Managing the gallery helped me build relationships with artists and learn about the needs of the local art community. Over the years, I’ve learned the importance of collaboration and the sharing of ideas. I believe the arts can help build communities, improve healthcare and provide a positive influence for people of all economic backgrounds. Arts Services Initiative of WNY (ASI) is a perfect place to spread that message and strive to reach those goals.

Who are your favorite people to follow?

Long distance friends, local artists, galleries, museums. To name a few:

@phishfromtheroad @buffalobrunch @chucktingley

What are your favorite things to do in the area (Buffalo and greater WNY)?

Exploring Black Rock, drinks at Ballyhoo, visiting public art, dancing at shows

 Natalie Brown 

Natalie Brown 

Tell me about your favorite collaborations or a dream collaboration?

I recently collaborated with Team Razor Wire to bring a new public art mural to Oliver St. in North Tonawanda. It was a really great learning experience for me and we ended up creating an amazing new piece of public art for the neighborhood. I am hoping to bring more art to Oliver Street.

At ASI, I worked with the Buffalo Society of Artists to bring a presentation on how to extend your art career to local artists last October. Sixty-five artists learned about the struggles and benefits of pursuing their art career in Buffalo and beyond. 

Collaborating with cultural organizations and artists is an essential part of ASI! We love to bridge the gap and fulfill the needs of the cultural community.

What are your hopes, dreams, goals? Big or Small. 

My personal goal is to find a good balance between work life and home life. Finding the time to spend with loved ones is often a struggle and I don’t want to miss out on all the great moments.

 Parrish Gibbons Herzog

Parrish Gibbons Herzog

Next up is Parrish Gibbons Herzog

Parrish is the Program Coordinator of Arts Access, a program of Arts Services Initiative of WNY, Inc. (ASI). Arts Access is a program that provides individuals in WNY who receive public assistance of any kind with free admission to over 30 partnered cultural organizations including the Albright Knox Art Gallery, Theater of Youth and Explore and More Children’s Museum.
 

What made you start or brought your organization to where you are today? Tell us your story and what makes you a Buffalo Boss Babe. 

Since taking over the program in April of 2016, Arts Access enrollment as increased by over 30% due to increased outreach and networking with community centers, senior centers and underserved communities. Over 1,000 families have signed up for the Arts Access pass under my leadership. I believe that the arts are for everyone and that no one should be shut out from the arts and cultural renaissance taking place in WNY.

My passion for advocating for underserved communities comes from my previous years of working for the Learning Disabilities Association of WNY and Starlight Studio and Art Gallery, where I was the Director of Community Relations. In that position, I was introduced to countless advocacy groups, programs and people who work towards strengthening opportunities for underserved communities every day. Pulling on these relationships, and networking to build more, I have introduced the Arts Access program to hundreds of more families. I know that to reach these communities you need to physically step into them, and that is one of my biggest joys of running this program.

Who are your favorite people to follow?

My favorite people are my friends. They inspire me immensely as I am blessed to have so many hard working people in my life who dedicate their life towards making their communities a better place. I grew up in a small town (Elmira, NY) and have friends working across the country advocating for better environmental regulations, human rights and self-expression.

 

What are your favorite things to do in the area (Buffalo and greater WNY)?

Drink. Beer. – I am a Founding Member of the Buffalo Beer Goddesses, a group of beer loving WNY women who advocate for the inclusion of women in the beer industry. I love to educate others on beer, the history of the beer industry in Buffalo and to remind everyone of who the original brewers were – women.  

Tell me about your favorite collaborations or a dream collaboration?


Dream collaboration would be for profit businesses in WNY making more of an effort to support our local non-profits. As a grant writer, I know the pot of money is slim, and continues to get smaller. I feel it is in our community’s best interest to share the wealth and make the dreams of our neighbors come true.

 

What are your hopes, dreams, goals? Big or Small.

My hopes right now are for people to slow down, to listen and to learn from others. It’s simple, and the most effective way to open your heart and mind. Peace on earth is far-fetched, but peace of mind is achievable. If you see a problem in the world – work towards fixing it. If you have a dream – work towards making it. The goals we set for ourselves are dependent on others, and being open to their thoughts, needs and wants too. There is no room in our communities for people who do not work together and reach back to those behind you.  

 Parrish 

Parrish 

 Ally Spongr 

Ally Spongr 

Next up is  Ally Spongr

I am a part-time Associate with Arts Services Initiative of WNY (ASI). At ASI, my primary role is to manage ASI's visual presentation by providing photography for workshops, events, and programs. I assist with a variety of projects as needed, and have worked on administering grant programs and coordinating special events.

For my full-time job, I am the Director & Curator for the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center and Project Coordinator for the Niagara Falls National Heritage Area. In this dual-role I am managing operations and exhibition design for the Underground Railroad Center, which opens in March 2018. I also curate exhibitions throughout Niagara Falls, bringing history to life through art and exhibitry in public spaces. Most notably, at Power City Eatery, Courtyard Marriott Niagara Falls USA, and the Niagara Arts & Cultural Center.

 

What made you start or brought your organization to where you are today? Tell us your story and what makes you a Buffalo BossBabe.

I always knew I wanted to be surrounded by art and working in this field, but I didn't always know exactly how. I continued on my career path towards a fine arts undergraduate degree without an exact destination in-mind and I built up my experiences by connecting to local projects, internships, etc. I happened upon ASI when I was working on my graduate courses in Museum Studies and applied for an internship. That internship turned out to be a mind-opening experience and I really started to find my path. Shortly after completing my internship, I joined ASI staff. Throughout the last couple of years at ASI, I've worked on many different projects and continued to expand my experience into the WNY communities. Currently, my work includes photographing ASI's programs, events, and workshops. Having a positive and engaging visual representation of our organization, and providing photos for marketing and promotional efforts allows artists and the community to connect with us and see what we're about.

 

Who are your favorite people to follow?

Anyone creative. I like finding inspiration from all sorts of people working on all sorts of projects. Right now, I am mainly following documentary photographers and museum exhibition designers.

What are your favorite things to do in the area (Buffalo and greater WNY)?

I absolutely love to explore and discover new places, people, and things to do. Buffalo, Niagara Falls and the greater Western New York region has so much to offer both locals and visitors alike. As a Buffalo native, I enjoy sharing the top attractions and hidden gems with everyone I meet. Some of my favorite things to do include hiking the Gorge Trails, finding murals throughout the City, celebrating Dyngus Day with friends, visiting one of our many breweries, checking out a new exhibition at one of the local galleries... oh there is so much to do any day!

Tell me about your favorite collaborations or a dream collaboration?

Collaboration is awesome. The projects I've had the opportunity to work on are successful because we did it together. Every person brings their own skills, experience and knowledge to the project, and that's what makes it. I think my dream collaboration would have to be, a large public art initiative that spans across WNY, and helps bridge the Buffalo and Niagara Falls communities through art.

What are your hopes, dreams, goals? Big or Small. 

My dreams and goals are always evolving, and I like that. I am growing every day and with that I create new goals for myself. I always wanted to be able to be creative and have room to explore, in all aspects of my life. I think I am on the right path. I've found purpose in my work creating opportunities for others in art, culture and history, and by increasing awareness of social injustices in our community and what we can do to change what's not working.

Jen in Niagara Falls Art Alley.jpg

Next up is Jen Swan wo is the Interim Executive Director, Arts Services Initiative of Western New York

What made you start or brought your organization to where you are today? Tell us your story and what makes you a Buffalo Boss Babe. 

My love for the arts started with local music and local musicians in Buffalo.  I originally wanted to leave Buffalo and be in the music biz in some place like NYC or LA; but I stayed in Buffalo a little longer to get my Masters at UB in Arts Management.  After that I started volunteering, interning, and working for several non-profit arts groups – and I’ve never looked back!  I’ve had the pleasure to expand my interest in arts – in all its forms – and through both the for-profit and non-profit sectors.

Who are your favorite people to follow?

It’s all about peace, love, equality, and the environment….so - Ani DiFranco - @anidifranco, Leonardo DiCaprio - @leodicaprio & Feminist Wednesday - http://feministwednesday.com/

What are your favorite things to do in the area (Buffalo and greater WNY)?

I love the Botanical Gardens and just became a member this year, it's my zen zone.  I try to get out to yoga classes at Shakti Yoga and East Meets West as much as I can; my new thing to try is Warm Yoga at Evolation Yoga Buffalo.  I've also been dabbling in running a couple 5ks!

 Oh, I’ve started getting into “everything organic” – essential oils, making my own body wash, coffee creamer, and whatever else I can figure out.  I’m all about the DIY!  An extension of that is gardening and visiting all the local green houses and supporting local.

Tell me about your favorite collaborations or a dream collaboration?

I don’t have a specific dream collaboration in mind, but I like to explore when two different “communities” can come together to achieve one goal.  I think along the lines like my organization collaborating with Planned Parenthood or the WNY Women’s Foundation to focus in on women in the arts.  Anything that is new and creative, where two or more groups can learn and grow from each other, while serving people in our community.

What are your hopes, dreams, goals? Big or Small.

I’m going to be all over the place with this one…..more immediate goals of mine are to expand my networks professionally and be able to find some of those new, creative collaborations I mentioned earlier – that’s what keeps the passion going.  Personally, I want to get settled into my life, buy a house and have a little garden.  My long-term personal goal for when I retire is my boyfriend, Bryan, and I, will buy an RV and travel the United States.  Some bucket list travel goals are to explore the original Route 66 trail, travel Europe, and explore as many of the National Parks as I can.

Natalie art.jpg

 In the last 5 years they have helped the Western New York arts and cultural community (both non-profits and individual artists) with funding opportunities, programmatic opportunities, resources, advocacy, and the tools necessary to continue promoting what they do best: create art and share it with the community! We are lucky to have this amazing group her supporting the movers, shakers and buffalo boss babes! Be sure to follow along with them on social media and check out their website for more info https://www.asiwny.org/.

Until Next time babes!!! 


Buffalo Boss Babes is a woman run blog series featuring woman in and around the city of Buffalo N.Y.

If you know someone doing amazing things for our community, past and present, young and old..... send us a message at buffalobossbabes@gmail.com 

Be kind to everyone you meet.

Here's to strong woman! May we know them. May we be them

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Buffalo Boss Babe: Sarah Cozzemera

Buffalo Boss Babe: Melissa Fogarty

Buffalo Boss Babe: Melissa Fogarty