May 2015 Woman in Leadership
CEO, Creative Storage
AM Buffalo Interview
Originally a nurse who received her RN from University at Buffalo/Millard Fillmore Hospital, Diana Augspurger started Creative Storage in 1984. She has spent 26 years guiding her customers through the design process. Her experience is valued by all the design staff so her time is mostly spent in oversight and mentoring although she is known to still roam Western New York with her tape measure and note pad in hand. Notable projects have included Asbury Pointe Independent Living, New Era Cap Company’s Delaware Avenue offices, University of Buffalo School of Pharmacy, and Landies Candies stores at the TriMain Building and Walden Galleria.
Diana is past president and founding member of the Association of Closet and Storage Professionals; founding member of National Closet Group; and was a Business First “Women Who Mean Business” honoree in 2005.
She is past president of, and currently serves on the board of directors for Southeast Works as well as the board of Southeast Works Foundation. Southeast Works, based in Depew, provides services to help people with developmental disabilities lead productive, independent and fulfilling lives.
April 2015 Woman in Leadership
Partner and Communications Director
In 2011 Katie Krawczyk launched 19 IDEAS on her own; offering marketing and communications services. In August 2012, she hired her first employee. Her partner, Dan Gigante, joined the firm officially as business partner and digital director in January 2014. Today 19 IDEAS has 10 full-time employees and one part-time employee.
19 IDEAS provides traditional and digital marketing and communications strategy, advertising creative and media buying, Web and mobile app development, graphic design, public relations, SEO and SEM, event planning, writing and editing.
Katie says this about the business, “I think we have a unique perspective. We aren’t looking to be the biggest, but we are looking to do exceptional work. We aren’t looking to compete with other marketing agencies; instead, we want to foster collaboration so the best work and the best ideas are born from it. Something that makes 19 IDEAS different is that we are an agency of entrepreneurs and doers. We are a team that is passionate about our community; we have tight-knit community values yet bring a global perspective to our clients.”
According to Katie, “I tell people all the time – what you give to Buffalo, Buffalo will give you back times ten. I don’t know that I would have ever opened a business in New York or DC, where I used to live; but in Buffalo, doors have opened for me in ways that are delightfully surprising every day. I have become more fulfilled in my career here than I probably would have been in any other larger city. Incorporating my passion for Buffalo and – in general, passion for communities – into my business has resulted in a tremendous outpouring of support in return.”
Katie serves on the board of directors for the International Institute of Buffalo (IIB) since 2012 and Hasek’s Heroes since 2013. She has co-chaired the IIB’s premier annual fundraiser, Buffalo Without Borders since 2013.
March 2015 Woman in Leadership
Tamara B. Owen
President & CEO, Olmsted Center for Sight
Tamara Owen is the President & CEO for the Olmsted Center for Sight, a not-for-profit agency whose mission is to assist individuals who are legally blind or visually impaired to achieve their highest level of independence through programs/services that focus on education, independence and employment. OCS has 175 employees and operating revenue of $8.5 million. She has been with the agency for one-and-a-half years; before joining OCS, Tamara was a senior executive at Kaleida Health for 23 years.
Tamara went into the healthcare profession because she cares about people, and is driven to improve the quality of life for others. Early on, while working as a clinician (physical therapist) she was frustrated with what she perceived to be administrative barriers that detracted from providing high quality, patient-focused care. This inspired her to become a health care administrator (hospital president) who led for 20 years from the focal point of a clinician. Her passion for this work was dimmed when the focus of the job moved away from the patient and more toward the business and social politics aspects of hospitals.
A colleague told Tamara that she should to look into the position at Olmsted Center for Sight (their board of directors was conducting an extensive nationwide search for a new CEO). Tamara agreed to at least go in for a tour. Interacting with the staff and clients, and seeing the life-changing work they do at OCS was all it took.
Tamara says, “Working at Olmsted is more of a privilege than a job, it connects me to people. The opportunity at OCS has been a perfect change. It brought me back to my clinical roots of assisting individuals to overcome barriers, while allowing me to put to use the leadership and team-building skills I developed over the last two decades. We demonstrate that individuals with a visual impairment can do just about everything that a sighted individual can do, they just do it differently.”
She earned her Master of Business Administration from University at Buffalo. Owen also received a Bachelor of Science in physical therapy from University at Buffalo; a Master of Science in sports medicine/education from Springfield College in Springfield, Massachusetts; and a Bachelor of Science in physical education/athletic training from Springfield College.
An active member of the Buffalo area community, Owen has served on numerous boards of directors, including Canterbury Woods, Tonawanda Chamber of Commerce, and Boys & Girls Club. She has taught as an adjunct faculty member at both University at Buffalo and Daemen College. Her professional accomplishments include being named to both the Top 50 Healthcare Executives and Women of Influence listings by Buffalo Business First in 2012.
The Buffalo Association for the Blind opened in 1907 initially as a broom factory employing individuals who were blind, and in 1916 chair-caning, rug-making, and basket-weaving were added to the factory. In 1917 the agency expanded into vision rehabilitation services assisting blind individuals to learn to live independently. In 1997, the agency partnered with the Statler Foundation to open the National Statler Center for Careers in Hospitality in an effort to address the 70% unemployment rate of people who are legally blind. The program has now trained more than 500 blind or visually impaired people and has placed 82% of them in gainful employment. The agency changed its name in 1999 from Blind Association of Western New York to Elizabeth Pierce Olmsted, M.D. Center for the Visually Impaired, in honor of a multi-million-dollar gift from Elizabeth Pierce Olmsted.
February 2015 Woman in Leadership
The Treehouse Toy Store, Co-owner
Watch the WKBW Interview
Gaetana Schueckler’s career plan was the sensible corporate choice: she graduated from Buffalo State College with a B.S. in Business Studies and worked for Bristol-Myers Squibb in Buffalo for 11 years. But something in her DNA said otherwise. In 1996, when she and her husband, David opened The Treehouse Toy Store they were searching for a way to be able to stay in Buffalo. Gaetana says, “Now looking back, I believe it was what I was meant to do in life even though I did not set out to be a small business owner. When I set-up a “gift shop” in my parents’ front porch and had my arts & crafts available for purchase… that was likely a sign of things to come!”
In starting business, there was no safety net, it was just the two of them willing to take a chance. And Gaetana says it’s still the same today as they face new challenges all the time. “Everyone says you must be passionate about the things you do in life. I am passionate. I drive my husband crazy most days because my mind is always turning and thinking about The TreeHouse and finding ways for this passion to shine through every time someone enters the world of The TreeHouse.” While David focuses on the technical and bookkeeping aspects of the business, Gaetana sources new toys, handles purchasing, and works with their employees.
She also acts as a mentor for The TreeHouse employees. She says, “Over the years, we have had many staff members who are with us for 3 or 5 years while they attend college. I try to instill [in them] that no matter where you are in life, YOU are always there and YOU are the consistent piece of the puzzle of life. For this reason, you must strive to do your best and learn all you can. I realize that most will not go on to run say a toy store but, I hope they take with them a “basket of skills” that can be used throughout their life. One of the best feelings is having former employees stop in when they are home for the holidays.”
Gaetana says, “A toy store should be a special place and my hope is that everyone leaves The TreeHouse with more than just a toy. It should be an experience and one that they want to come back to. For some, the toys we carry take them back to a special time or memory and for others being in The TreeHouse represents a place to create a new memory with their child or grandchild. I am fortunate to be able to share in these moments and be able to be a part of a child growing up.”
They are members of the Elmwood Village Association and are active members of The Good Toy Group, a national “cooperative venture to market creative, culturally sensitive, constructive playthings that promote happy, healthy childhoods.” Gaetana served on the board of The Good Toy Group for six years and currently has the position of product assistant for the association. The TreeHouse also supports various local groups and schools through donation requests and special events.
January 2015 Woman in Leadership
Co-owner, Buffalove Development
Watch the WKBW Interview
AM Buffalo Interview
Niagara Falls native Bernice Radle is a 28-year-old whose dedication and passion is aimed at historic preservation, neighborhood development and making historic buildings more energy efficient in Buffalo. She is a project manager at Buffalo Energy and co-owns Buffalove Development with husband Jason Wilson. The company aims to revitalize neighborhoods by rehabilitating vacant or underutilized historic properties in Buffalo. Each development project embraces historic preservation and sustainability and provides clean, affordable living options to the community.
She is very active in Buffalo’s Young Preservationists, Women Elect, and the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association. Bernice holds an urban planning degree from SUNY Buffalo State College. Bernice is the recipient of the Peter H. Brink Award for Individual Achievement in Historic Preservation and in 2013, presented “Preservation 2.0: Neighborhoods, Heart Bombs & Engaging Young People” at TEDxBuffalo.
The New York Times article by Penelope Green, “Small-Scale Developers, Big Dreams” published November 6, 2013, describes Bernice as an activist microdeveloper. “...Ms. Radle is nearly irresistible. She is now a project manager at Buffalo Energy, a green-energy consulting firm, but one day she hopes to run for mayor. “I’m determined as hell,” she said... Speaking at an energy conference last year, Ms. Radle so impressed Martin Dunn, a developer of affordable housing in New York City, that he lent her and Mr. Wilson the money they needed to rehab their properties, about $60,000.”
And from a Buffalo Spree December 2012 article “Buffalo Game Changers” by Maria Scrivani: “They spend vacations traveling to other urban areas, like Portland, Boulder, New York City and Montreal, to see what’s working there, from bike paths to historic tax credits. They share a house on the far West Side, in a neighborhood still needing a lot of help to restore its former glory. Both see themselves as part of the solution to some very big, entrenched urban problems.”
According to Bernice, “Jason and I were tired of seeing vacant houses being demolished. We knew they were worth more than going to a landfill so we decided to put our money where our mouth is and buy a few properties to renovate. Doing a renovation helps us understand the economics of preservation and helps our ‘it can be done’ argument.”
She and her husband were the first couple to be married at Silo City, surrounded by Buffalo’s historic grain elevators. Mayor Byron Brown proclaimed their wedding date of July 5, 2014 to be “Bernice and Jason Day” in the City of Buffalo.