Meet Joseph Hanna, the BN360 Spotlight Professional for May 2020

The Buffalo Niagara Partnership is pleased to present the 2020 BN360 Spotlight Professionals.

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.

Joseph Hanna

Partner | Goldberg Segalla
Founder & President | Bunkers in Baghdad

Joseph Hanna was born and raised in Buffalo, NY, growing up in North Buffalo and attending Canisius High School. He graduated summa cum laude from the State University of New York at Buffalo and cum laude from its law school. He went on to earn additional master’s degrees in public affairs from Syracuse University and sports administration from Canisius College. Joe has spent his entire legal career at Goldberg Segalla, where he is a partner and member of its management committee, as well as chair of its Sports and Entertainment and Retail and Hospitality practice groups. Joe also founded the firm’s Diversity Task Force and has held numerous leadership positions in national organizations dedicated to diversity in business and the law.

Outside of his legal practice, Joe founded the charity Bunkers in Baghdad in 2008, which has since collected and delivered over 10 million golf balls, hundreds of thousands of golf clubs, and other equipment to active-duty military members in 70 countries and to recovering veterans at home. He is consistently ranked among the top 10 attorneys based in Western New York in Business First’s annual Legal Elite, and in 2015, Joe was the youngest honoree ever to be named Lawyer of the Year in the Bar Association of Erie County’s 130-year history.

First Job

Joe’s first “job” was serving as a Caddy at Park Country Club when he was 12 years old.

Greatest Professional Win

Through Bunkers in Baghdad, we have been able to help tens of thousands of our brave men and women around the globe, and have worked with hundreds of schools through our “Bunkers Buddies” Program. The impact that Bunkers has made here is Western New York, and on national and global levels has been incredibly meaningful. Plus, it is pretty cool that I have had the opportunity to work with several U.S. Presidents, ring the closing bell on the New York Stock Exchange, and throw out the first pitch at five professional baseball games.

Best Piece of Professional Advice

Learning doesn’t stop after school. Learn from your supervisors, learn from your coworkers, and learn about evolving areas in your industry or field. Most importantly, learn from your clients—learn about their business, their needs, their pain points, and their philosophies. I was lucky—I left law school and found new teachers and mentors right away at Goldberg Segalla. I’ve never stopped learning. I also found a home at a firm that was ready and willing to support me as I pursued the things I believed in.

That’s important, too—recognizing a community and an environment that will support you as you grow, and not just professionally. The firm and the individual lawyers at Goldberg Segalla have also supported me as I developed two practice groups and have been just as supportive as I pursued goals outside of the practice of law—including creating and chairing the firm’s Diversity Task Force and founding Bunkers in Baghdad. That support over the years has been incredible—from the firm’s management through some of the newest associates we’ve hired, as well as staff from across our national footprint. If you find professional friends and colleagues who believe in you and share your vision, stick with them.

Community Corner

  • Defense Research Institute – Community Service Award
  • Diversity Task Force, Goldberg Segalla – Chair
  • LCLD – Fellows Program
  • LCLD – Success in Law School Mentoring Program Chair
  • Minority Bar Association of WNY – Legal Service Award
  • Minority Corporate Council Association – George B. Vashon Innovator Award Winner
  • New York Legal Education Opportunity – Mentor
  • New York State Bar Association – Diversity Trailblazer Award

I am committed to bettering the lives of diverse individuals, within the community and in the legal profession.

Thoughts on Living and Working in Buffalo Niagara

Growing up in Buffalo, I know we have it all: a strong community, phenomenal food, loyal sports fans, and a great environment for raising a family. I’ve had many opportunities to leave the area in my life, but my roots run deep. I’ve watched the transformation of the city, specifically in the last decade. It’s an exciting time to be here as a young professional, especially with the chance to raise my future family here. As a passionate, die-hard Buffalonian and a big sports fan, it’s exhilarating to see the development from Pegula Sports and Entertainment and other players downtown between Harborcenter, KeyBank Center, the Labatt Brew House, and other projects. One of my biggest hopes is for the Bills and Sabres to win a national championship.

It’s true that since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic we have been living without or with restricted access to many of the region’s greatest treasures—our food, our sports, our cultural centers, and the sites, events, and gathering places that we love to enjoy together. And, as a lawyer and a counselor to large national companies and franchises, I also know all too well that our vibrant community of small and family-owned businesses in the region is facing an unprecedented challenge. But the city’s resilient, creative, and entrepreneurial spirit isn’t going anywhere. We will return to full strength, preserve what we can, create new treasures, and make the best of our abundant natural and human resources. 

How you feel about being selected as a Spotlight Professional

In Buffalo, we live up to our reputation as the City of Good Neighbors. The current crisis has made this clearer than at any point in my memory. The community continuously strives together to make our home a great place to live and to work, not for recognition, but because we all genuinely care about each other and our shared experience. I’m honored and blessed to be selected alongside such exceptional professionals and human beings as a Spotlight Professional. I’m proud to live in a city that commends people for doing great things and volunteering.

Top 5 Favorites: 

  • Favorite Mural: “Welcome to Hertel Ave” mural by Vinny Alejandro – on the corner of Vorhees and Hertel
  • Best Buffalo Hidden Gem: Double-dipped BBQ/hot chicken wings at Elmo’s
  • Go-to Buffalo Food: Pepperoni pizza at Bob & John’s La Hacienda on Hertel Ave.
  • Best Buffalo Activity/Hobby: A round of golf at Crag Burn Golf Club in East Aurora
  • Place you would take someone new to Buffalo: Buffalo Bills tailgate and game (#BillsMafia)