One of the privileges of my position as BN360 Program Manager is having the opportunity to meet and learn about incredible young professionals in the Buffalo Niagara region. Kerry Battenfeld, the BN360 Spotlight Professional for the month of March, is one such person. Kerry’s passion for people and her love for the Buffalo Niagara region are infectious—and, as you’ll read in our interview below, they keep her inspired professionally.
The summer in between graduating high school and starting college, my Dad “made me” take a summer job with a friend of his at a local nonprofit in Buffalo. I would be helping while someone was on leave by filing, stuffing envelopes, mailing new hire packets, answering incoming calls, taking meeting minutes, you name it. I came in every day and did as I was asked.
“The mission of Morehouse College is to develop men with disciplined minds who will live lives of leadership and service.”
~ Excerpt, Morehouse College Mission Statement
Growing up on the east side of Buffalo in municipal housing, as long as I can remember, the greatest point of college entry and later success was through sports. However, unlike most kids in my neighborhood whose end goal was to play for the NFL or the NBA, I wanted to be like my dad. He was a hard worker; a God-fearing man who treasured his family above all. Like many other African American men in my community, college was not an option for him. Nonetheless, he did everything he could to make ends meet.
As an Urban Planner I am often asking clients, community members, stakeholders and elected leadership to articulate their “why”. Sometimes the “why” surfaces through a series of questions or public engagement activities. In my profession, everyone I interact with has an opinion or an insight that needs to be captured, digested and turned into usable data, which eventually informs a neighborhood, municipal, district, regional plan or public space design.
Growing up, I couldn’t wait for summer. Long days, that seemed to last forever, filled with endless sports and time with friends. Then it became time to go back to school. I knew from my first day of Pre-K that it just wasn’t for me. With the exception of sports, friends, and socializing, I never would have made it. In most classes, I watched the clock slowly tick to the moment it was time to go.
Growing up, I always wanted to work with my hands, so I learned the various trades with my godfather, Brent McCalister, who also taught me the great disciplines of hard work and how to become a solid young man. I loved the skilled trades, with a preference for electrical, so I decided that was what I wanted my career to be. I began calling every electrical contractor I could find, only to realize that no one was hiring or only hiring unionized workers. With a no at every call, I was discouraged, but kept calling and eventually found someone who was willing to give me a chance.
Buffalo Niagara 360 (BN360) is Buffalo Niagara Partnership’s young professionals group, a program that is dedicated to networking, leadership development and community engagement in the Buffalo Niagara region. BN360 aims to create an inclusive and collaborative network of resources that can empower talented individuals to achieve their goals for professional growth and success.