Stephanie 'Cole' Adams, left, earned a $25,000 Ignite Buffalo grant to hire refugees and Buffalo residents impacted by systemic poverty. She credited the decade she spent as Niagara University's general counsel with inspiring her to make a difference in the community.

Former Niagara University General Counsel Stephanie “Cole” Adams, now the owner of The Law Office of Stephanie Adams PLLC, in Buffalo, was one of the 23 recipients of a $25,000 grant from last week’s Facebook-sponsored Ignite Buffalo competition.

She will use the grant to hire multilingual people with insight into the immigrant and refugee experience, as well as people who have been directly impacted by Buffalo’s systemic poverty.

“I opened my law office determined to hire people who would make a difference,” Adams said. “These hires will help us reach clients and will make sure the law is accessible to a diverse array of people starting new businesses. That will make those business stronger and strengthen our community.”

Adams credited the time she spent at Niagara University for her decision to pursue the community-building opportunity.

“My time at Niagara University showed me how change is made – up close, in person and through compassion – which is a language spoken by all,” she said. “During my 10 years at NU, I saw students, faculty and staff transcend barriers to make a difference. When I started my office, I vowed to use those same tactics to support my clients.”

Adams added that part of what made this vision a reality were the skills she observed in action at NU. 

“The faculty at NU modeled how to engage learners. The administration showed me how to map out a plan of action. And the students showed me that when you teach and provide opportunities to others, you learn and get opportunities yourself.”