The NYS Women, Inc. Buffalo Niagara Chapter (BNC) is proud to showcase successful local women who have given back to the Western New York community. “Women In Leadership” honorees are established women business owners or professional/working women who have exhibited leadership, enterprise, and excellence in their business or profession and give back to the Western New York or greater community. The goal of the program is to recognize women who have succeeded both in the business and charitable arenas and help inspire others to follow in their path.
Throughout the year a woman business owner or working woman will be featured. Each June, BNC will recognize all our honorees at an annual event.
Established woman business owner or working/professional woman who:
- Exhibits leadership, enterprise, and excellence in their business;
- Gives back to Western New York or greater community with volunteer service
Women In Leadership Application
June 2021 Honoree
President & Founder
UPward Design for Life Corp.
Dionne Williamson founded UPward Design for Life in 2017, starting it in her garage as an all-volunteer run, and led, non-profit organization. UPward Design for Life furnishes homes and transforms lives for those in need by completely furnishing empty spaces with furniture donated by the community. She says, “I heard about this organization in Detroit furnishing homes for folks who didn’t have anything.” So Dionne turned her love of interior design and desire to help the community into a service; to-date they have helped 48 local families.
She serves on the board of Vision Niagara and is an active volunteer with Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper, the Family Justice Center, Friends of Broderick Park, and Judges Row Block Club. She is a member of the Fifty Fabulous Women Giving Circle and is an advisor on the Canalside Music Advisory Council.
Dionne said this in a recent interview with Buffalo Spree: “To me, design is everything; we are so deeply impacted by our surroundings. I have always done volunteer work and it seemed to me this could combine my two passions. I researched the idea, picked people’s brains, figured out the paperwork, got my 501(c)3 status, and reached out to our first partner, the Family Justice Center. Now we get all kinds of referrals; we have a waiting list of client families. The goal is to make homes more livable for people who have been living in shelters, people who have suffered: abuse victims, refugees. We collect gently used furniture, see what their needs are, provide design services, and fully furnish their new homes. The community sustains us, we get donations from private individuals, help reduce waste.”.
She’s proud to serve those in need: their work has an immediate positive impact on families, turning empty spaces into fully furnished, safe and comfortable spaces. According to Dionne, it’s been a challenge to find enough storage space for the donated furniture although she’s grateful Life Storage has provided space free of charge until the end of 2021.
She is currently national sales director at Visit Buffalo, and previously was a interior design consultant with Ethan Allen. Dionne was the owner of New Age Expressions, a home-based greeting card business. She formerly served in the United States Army Reserve. Her degree in business administration is from Medaille College and she’s a certified interior design consultant, New York Institute of Art & Design.