Thursday, the ALANA Student Center sponsored the Young Professionals in Local Government event, where six individuals were invited to speak about their positions at City Hall. They also discussed what it is like to be people of color in their positions and how it affects their attitudes.
Chad Houston is the Digital Communications Officer. He was always into business and marketing which inspired him to eventually become the Digital Communications Officer. When asked what it is like to be a person of color working in City Hall which is thought to be mostly populated by white men, he answered the question saying that there is far more diversity within City Hall than people realize. When Houston was asked what one of his greatest challenges working at City Hall is, his response was his desire to help everyone he can in Buffalo with limited resources.
Ronisha Rice who is the Coordinator of Automation works with technology at City Hall. Rice always had an interest in technology as a kid which is what encouraged her to take this position. One of her most notable qualities is that she always dresses with style, wearing a white feather coat to the event. When asked if she needed time to get comfortable dressing with her own style, she said that she was able to do so since her first day, and that coworkers in her field never discouraged her from doing so. She makes it a point to dress how she does, and said that she does not care how loud she may look. One of her biggest challenges at City Hall is using the older technology that is clunky and inefficient.
Crystal Middleton, who is the Director of Planning and Zoning took a trip with her mother years ago to Ghana in West Africa. Her immediate realization upon landing in Ghana was that there were several beautiful mansions which she said is not what people usually think of when they hear about Africa, but when she went further down the street she saw small shacks and huts in an area with poorer families. The stark contrast between the two areas had reminded her of Buffalo, and that inspired her to go to the University at Buffalo for graduate school. After this she would go to work at City Hall. Once she was hired there, she noted that she was the only woman of color in her field, surrounded by white men over the age of 50. Now she works with ten other females, four of whom are women of color which she said was the greatest challenge she overcame.
Nicole Brown who is the Confidential Assistant to the Director of Citizen Services majored in Sociology in college to study how the environment people live in affects them which encouraged her to apply for her current position where she realized the importance of mental health.
Michael T.A. Smith is the Save Our Streets Coordinator and worked at City Hall in May 2020, where the death of George Floyd motivated him to stay at his current position. After this, he wanted to continue to give back to his community.
Greg Garrett is the Press Information Officer. He originally failed at college when he first enrolled, but ten years later he would enroll in ECC and major in Journalism. After this, he would eventually work at Channel 4 News for a few years where he would then move to working at his current position at City Hall. He loves working with the people of Buffalo and Mayor Brown’s initiative.