Announcing the 2022 Women of Influence honorees

By Donna Collins  –  Editor, Buffalo Business First

Jul 21, 2022

Buffalo Business First will honor 27 area women for their contributions to the community.

The Women of Influence awards, sponsored by BestSelf Behavioral Health and Lake Shore Savings Bank, will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Sept. 15 at Salvatore’s Italian Gardens.

The 16th annual awards recognize the business acumen and community spirit of these women, Business First Publisher John Tebeau said.

“The panel chose these women based on their ability to rise above a very talented pool of competitors,” Tebeau said. “We’re honored to recognize their accomplishments.”

Dr. Lavonne Ansari, CEO of CHCB and new chair of the statewide Community Health Care Association of New York state.


Lavonne Ansari, CEO and executive director of the Community Health Center of Buffalo Inc., is the BusinessWoman of the Year. She has taken the health organization from one federally qualified health center on the grounds of Erie County Medical Center to four multicounty, multiservice sites.

The other 2022 winners are listed below with the category in which they were chosen:

  • Cindy Abbott-Letro, business manager, Law Office of Francis M. Letro, Community Supporter category
  • Kristin Anderson, vice president of finance, information technology and human resources, Beechwood Continuing Care, Behind the Scenes category
  • Denise Bienko, senior vice president, People Inc., Nonprofit Leadership category
  • Courtney Caldwell, COO and co-founder, ShearShare, Innovation category
  • Gail Cefalu, owner/president, Millennium Construction Inc., Family Business category
  • Kathleen Chiavetta, COO, Chiavetta’s Catering Service Inc., Family Business category
  • Wendy Glauber, general counsel and vice president of human resources, John W. Danforth Co., Corporate Executive category
  • Kathleen Hartmans, president, Quality Bindery Services Inc., Entrepreneur category
  • Darlene Jakson, vice president, Evolution Dental Science, Corporate Executive category
  • Nancy James, KIRST Construction Inc., Behind the Scenes category
  • Jill Jedlicka, executive director, Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper, Nonprofit Leadership category
  • Anne Joynt, partner, Lipsitz, Ponterio & Comerford LLC, Corporate Executive category
  • Allanna Kelly-Beaton, vice president, Kelton Enterprises, LLC, Entrepreneur category
  • Lisa Ludwig, executive director, Shakespeare In Delaware Park, Nonprofit Leadership category
  • Molly Mayers, senior vice president, director of lending, Cornerstone Community Federal Credit Union, Corporate Executive category
  • Elizabeth Mauro, CEO, Endeavor Health Services, Nonprofit Leadership category
  • Ann McCarthy, community volunteer with FeedMore WNY, secretary of Independent Health Foundation board, Community Supporter category
  • Brandye Merriweather, president, Buffalo Urban Development Corp., Corporate Executive category
  • Francesca Mesiah, manager of outreach and advocacy and executive director of Near East and West Side Task Force, Kaleida Health, Inspiration category
  • Miche Needham, partner, Lumsden & McCormick LLP, Creativity category
  • Lori Quigley, chairwoman, Seneca Gaming Corp. and interim president, Medaille University, Corporate Executive category
  • Andrea Schillaci, member/chair of the Business Litigation Department/secretary to board, Hurwitz & Fine, Corporate Executive category
  • Ellen Spangenthal, director — marketing/communications, the Summit Center, Behind the Scenes category
  • Patti Stephen, executive director, Buffalo Prep, Nonprofit Leadership category
  • Dionne Williamson, president and founder, Upward Design for Life, Inspiration category
  • Tracy Woodrow, senior executive vice president and chief human resources officer, M&T Bank, Corporate Executive category

The judges, all former Women of Influence winners: Mary Brennan-Taylor, YWCA Niagara; Michelle DeBergalis, American Realty Group Inc.; Laura Edsberg Ph.D., Daemen College; Rebecca Farbo, Phillips Lytle LLP; Rachel Foley, Lake Shore Savings Bank; Sheila O’Brien, SABAH; and Catherine Roberts, Resource Council of Western New York.

For tickets, click here or contact Jennifer Houle or Jordan Soldaczews



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