January 2019 BN360 Spotlight Professional – Kent Olden

The Buffalo Niagara Partnership is pleased to present the 2019 BN360 Spotlight Professionals, sponsored by Alpine Films.

Each year, BN360 highlights 12 up-and-coming young professionals who strive for professional growth and development, care for their community, and are passionate about the future of the Buffalo Niagara region.

Check in monthly for a feature profile on a young professional making a difference in our community!

Kent Olden
Program Manager, Buffalo Urban League

Kent Olden is the newly appointed Development and Communications Coordinator for the Buffalo Urban League, which focuses on empowering minorities in the areas of education and youth, economic, heath and quality of life, civic engagement and leadership, and civil rights and racial justice. In his role, Kent’s responsibilities include oversight of agency public, media, and community relations; special events and fundraising; and social media management.

After earning a master’s degree in public relations management from Buffalo State College, Kent begin his career as a writer for NYC-based Bleu Magazine, a men’s lifestyle publication, where he still serves an editor today.

First Job Out of School

Kent began his professional journey as a pharmacy technician at Walgreen’s. Despite encouragement from family and friends and an aptitude for math and science, Kent did not pursue the pharmacy track because it wasn’t his passion.

Greatest Professional Win

Kent always says, “It hasn’t happened yet.” Not due to a lack of professional “wins,” but rather because he is always striving to do more and go further. However, Kent recently succeeded in securing double the funding for a program after just six months—all because the funder was impressed with the work that had happened to date. Being nominated and chosen as a 2019 BN360 Spotlight Professional is also at the top of Kent’s “win” list.

Best Piece of Professional Advice

In all that you do, do it so well that no man living, no man dead, and no man yet to be born will be able to do it better.” – Dr. Benjamin Elijah Mays

As a student at Morehouse College, Kent came to strongly resonate with this quote, and he seeks to apply it in all aspects of his life, both personally and professionally. Kent feels it’s not about being better than the next person but that we should constantly work on being better than who we were yesterday. In his own words, it comes down to “I’m not better than you, I’m just better than what I used to be.”

Community Corner

Kent is a very active member of the Buffalo Niagara Community and beyond. He is involved with:

  • Buffalo Niagara Partnership’s BN360 program as a 2019 Spotlight Professional
  • Buffalo Urban League Young Professionals—Member
  • Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, Charity Strong—Inaugural Board Placement Candidate
  • Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, Emerging Philanthropists of Color—Member
  • Creative Recreation Footwear—Brand Ambassador
  • Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., Buffalo Alumni Chapter—Member
  • National Action Network, Buffalo Niagara Chapter—PR Coordinator
  • National Association of Black Journalists—Member
  • National Pan-Hellenic Council of WNY—President
  • Open Buffalo Emerging Leaders Program—Class of 2018
  • SUNY Erie Men of Merit Program—Mentor
  • The College Simulation Experience—Workshop/Seminar Facilitator
  • The Journal of Kappa Alpha Psi—Contributing Writer
  • The Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of the State of NY Paramount Lodge #73—Member

Thoughts on Living and Working in Buffalo Niagara

For Kent, Buffalo is home.

“It’s actually pretty funny to see people’s reactions when I tell them I’m from Buffalo because they never believe me. “You don’t look/talk/dress/act like someone from Buffalo.” My response is always the same: “Well what does someone from Buffalo look/talk/dress/act like? Because I’m one of them.”

As someone who went away for college (an HBCU in Atlanta to be exact), I found myself constantly comparing the two cities and my experiences in both. One thing I learned in college is “your experience is worthless unless you take it back home and share it with those who haven’t had it.” Instead of leaving and staying away, I made the decision to bring my Atlanta experiences back home.

Greatest Hope for the Region

I can’t wait for the day when Buffalo becomes one of those “Top 10” cities that young professionals are excited to move to, like Atlanta and Washington, D.C. Buffalo is going through its own “glow up,” and I am so happy to be here to watch it happen.

On Being a BN360 Spotlight Professional

Being a BN360 Spotlight Professional is such an amazing honor. I remember telling my President & CEO, Brenda McDuffie, and she pretty much jumped out of her chair with excitement. “That’s a really big deal Kent!,” she said. To be one of a selectively chosen 12 BN360 Spotlights is both exciting and humbling. I’m excited to see all that 2019 brings given that I am a Spotlight Professional, especially since I have the privilege of kicking the year off in January. To know that the work that you do is never in vain makes it more rewarding. I’m looking forward to learning and growing with the 2019 BN360 Spotlight Professionals so that we can make each other even greater than what we already are.

Kent’s Top 5 Favorites:

  1. Go to Lunch Spot – Expo Market
  1. Best Buffalo Hidden Gem – African American Heritage Corridor
  1. Dream Vacation Location – Bora Bora or Maldives
  1. Best Buffalo Activity/Hobby – Canalside Concert Series (“I still call it Thursday in the Square, though”)
  1. Favorite “Buffalo” Food – Leonardi’s pizza with La Nova’s wings