Dr. Donna Fernandes, President and CEO of the Buffalo Zoo, will be the keynote speaker of the 2006 Wolcott J. Humphrey III Symposium on Leadership and Community Life. Dr. Fernandes will speak on the subject "Western New York: Where Would You Rather Be?"
The Symposium is scheduled for Thursday, November 2, from 4:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the Stuart Steiner Theatre. Dr. Fernandes' address will be at 7:00 p.m. Cost is $25, which includes dinner. Reservations may be made by calling 585-345-6809.
Dr. Fernandes began her tenure at the Buffalo Zoo in September 2000. Facing mounting property and financial problems, as well as low employee morale, she began an aggressive campaign to build upon the zoo's longstanding reputation and assets. Under her leadership over the next five years, the zoo underwent extensive renovations, and community support and visits increased dramatically. In 2005, Dr. Fernandes was recruited to lead the Chaffee Zoo in Fresno, California. After only several months living and working in the Fresno area, Dr. Fernandes realized that many of Western New York's assets - natural settings and resources, skilled workforce, affordable housing, and more - were missing from her new locale. At the urging of Buffalo Zoo board members, she happily agreed to return to Western New York and resume her position at the Buffalo Zoo. During her November 2 presentation, Dr. Fernandes will not only speak about her own innovative leadership style and her return to this region, but about the extensive resources Western New York offers to business owners, managers, and employees.
The Symposium begins at 4:00 p.m. with a panel discussion on the strengths of Western New York, featuring local business leaders. Dinner follows at 5:30 p.m. in the William W. Stuart Forum. The evening concludes with Dr. Fernandes' presentation at 7:00 p.m., followed by an opportunity for questions.
Family and friends of Wolcott J. (Jay) Humphrey III, who died suddenly in September 2001, established the Wolcott J. Humphrey III Symposium on Leadership and Community Life in his memory. Mr. Humphrey, who served as President of Pavilion State Bank (now part of Five Star Bank) at the time of his death, was one of the region's foremost civic leaders and a strong proponent of leadership development.
The Symposium brings speakers with a national or regional reputation to Genesee Community College to discuss some facet of the subject of leadership. Past speakers have included Syracuse University Basketball Coach James (Jim) Boeheim and Paychex CEO Thomas Golisano.
The goal, according to 2006 Symposium Chair Peggy Marone, is to encourage local business and professional people to think about the subject of leadership in new and different ways - and to leave the symposium with practical ideas they can use to build and improve their own businesses and professional lives.
"Jay Humphrey was a remarkable individual who set a high standard of personal and professional leadership in his own life," Ms. Marone said. "Just as important, he believed that we all have the capacity to build our own leadership skills and do great things for our own organizations and for our communities. Our hope is that this year's symposium will bring new enthusiasm about the subject of leadership to many of our local business and civic leaders, and get them thinking about new ways that they can strengthen their own businesses."
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Editor's note: A photograph of Donna Fernandez, Ph.D., President and CEO of the Buffalo Zoo is available at the following Internet address: