Two Niagara University employees have been selected for Niagara County’s inaugural 12 Under 40 class, a group of young leaders who will be recognized Nov. 10 by the Niagara Gazette, Lockport Union-Sun & Journaland Leadership Niagara.
Tom Lowe, director of ReNU Niagara, and Michael Freedman, NU’s associate director of public relations and manager of online content, will receive the award, which “showcases young leaders who are the future of the community, and hold the keys to the continuing success and development of Niagara County.”
Molly Anderson, executive director of Leadership Niagara, said her team loves working with young leaders in the area. “They don’t do it for the awards,” she said. “They want to make a difference.”
Lowe, a 2014 Leadership Niagara graduate, is active in numerous community-building programs through his role with ReNU Niagara, an outreach office established by Niagara University in 2006. As part of his duties, he co-chairs the Healthy Food, Healthy People Coalition and the Niagara County Poverty Conference planning committee. He also assists with the City of Niagara Falls’ LiveNF program, and sits on the boards of Greenprint Niagara, the Main Street Business and Professional Association, the Niagara Falls National Heritage Area, and the Niagara Beautification Commission.
A Youngstown native, Lowe, 29, earned a bachelor’s degree from SUNY Fredonia in 2009, before returning to Niagara County to serve as an AmeriCorps VISTA with ReNU Niagara. He became director of the program in June 2013.
Freedman, 35, has worked at Niagara University since August 2010, acting as the university’s liaison for print and broadcast media, contributing articles and photography to the institution’s award-winning alumni magazine, coordinating internal communication initiatives, and establishing and implementing plans for all online content, including the university website and social media sites.
A member of Leadership Niagara’s Class of 2015, Freedman earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from SUNY Geneseo and an MBA in strategic marketing from Niagara University. He serves on the boards of the Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce and the Center of Renewal at Stella Niagara. He is a member of the marketing committees for the Taste of Buffalo and the Buffalo-Niagara Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America.
Lowe and Freedman were nominated for the award by community members. Chris Voccio, publisher of the Niagara Gazette, added that it’s important for the community to produce the nominations rather than having Leadership Niagara and the Gazette seek out leaders.
“It provides us with a wider and deeper talent pool,” he said, explaining that this will bring young leaders to light who “might do a job that we just don’t see.”
Honorees are said to be those who have demonstrated leadership qualities and tend to go “above and beyond” in their responsibilities at current or previous places of employment, in volunteer capacities or as students. Anderson said a leader will “have a strong sense of purpose, humility, want to make a difference, care deeply about their community and organization and have a desire to create more leaders.”
Also receiving awards are Bill Beilein (Niagara County Community College), Allen Cowart (Abate School), Laura DeBacco, RPA-CM (Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center), Dr. Heather Lyon (Enterprise Charter School), Mollie McDonough (YWCA of Niagara Frontier’s Community Culinary Training Program), Frank Mergl (M&T Bank), Michael Norris (Seaman Norris Attorneys), Senator Robert Ortt (New York State Senate, 62nd District), Jennifer Pauly (Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce), and Seth Piccirillo (City of Niagara Falls).
The 12 Under 40 awards ceremony will take place at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 10, at Antonio’s Banquet & Conference Center in Niagara Falls. Ticketsare $15 and include breakfast.
“A program like this helps develop strong communities,” Anderson said. “It unites us and gives positive examples of what works, what we can get behind and what we need more of.”