New Buffalo Institute Hires New Director
By: Sydney Umstead and Delaney Hayden, News Editor and Assist. News Editor
The New Buffalo Institute (NBI) has found its new director. Long-time East Side resident Shana Richardson spoke on how she sees her role with the institute being one of a “facilitator.”
The mission of the NBI focuses around supporting and providing opportunities for residents living in the East Side of Buffalo. Some of the work done by the NBI includes urban education initiatives, entrepreneurship and economic development, neighborhood development and revitalization and community-based learning and service.
“I see myself representing Canisius as less about me, and more about representing the institution well, and that includes everyone from faculty and staff all the way down to the students,” said Richardson.
Richardson has begun to engage with Elizabeth Turner, the director of educational partnerships at Canisius, in order to participate in outreach with Buffalo Public Schools (BPS). Richardson has also been in contact with people from BPS. The process of doing so is a goal for the new director in hopes of being able to “extend ourselves as better neighbors.”
Richardson is currently focusing on areas near the Canisius community in order to help foster an “appreciation for where we are.” She went on to say, “How can we dispel some of those stereotypes, if we are not really getting into the community that surrounds Canisius?”
She plans to work alongside student groups once the school year begins, and said “at the heart of that is you guys, and I want to work with you all.”
She began work at the university on June 20, 2023 and is an alumni of Canisius. She has also dedicated many years to working on the campus. Richardson’s history with the university offers a unique perspective, as she has been everything from faculty and staff member to student.
Richardson said that her history “allows me to be privy to the beauty within Canisius and some of the really good intentions, and then that allows me to communicate that to the community members who are maybe feeling suspicious, fearful or mistrustful of Canisius.”
Richardson currently lives in the Hamlin Park area of the East Side, and is both a member of the Canisius community and the surrounding community. She grew up on the East Side in the Cold Springs area and stated, “having both those perspectives facilitates in me being able to bridge the gap.”
Richardson spoke about how sometimes when people think of the area, they do not consider how vast it is. She explained, “When we think about the East Side, we’re usually only thinking of very small areas, when the East Side is really very big.”
She continued by stating that there is a tendency to see “people almost as caricatures'' due to the stereotypes placed around the community and the negative media coverage surrounding it. Richardson emphasized that people do need to be safe and cautious; however, the bias placed around the entire area may prevent authentic interaction.
“If the image is crime and danger then everyone in the community is dangerous, and that’s certainly not true,” said Richardson.
Richardson addressed that harm the negative image had done will not be remedied immediately and that there are hurt feelings on both sides, but she hopes that her role allows her to “try to start to break that down a little bit.”
Her favorite memories from growing up in and working with the East Side include “the most transformative experience,” which derives from the five summers Richardson spent attending the national youth sports program that occurred in Koessler during the 90s. From that, Richardson built life-long friendships, learned to swim and developed a college-going mindset. Richardson also attended the Juneteenth festival at the Martin Luther King park as a child, somewhere she takes her own children today.