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.
When I was younger, I wanted to be a garbage man. I thought it would be really cool to cruise around town hanging off the back of the truck! I also, gave some serious thought to being a professional football player or a rock star, and when those didn’t pan out, I considered going into Psychology. However, I remembered that while I was growing up I spent many of my weekends sweeping and mopping floors at the chemical etching/metal fabrication business that my father built.
I grew up in Amherst, NY, in the Hamlet of Snyder, where walking and riding my bike were my main means of transportation to school and work at the local public library.
The Buffalo Niagara Partnership is pleased to introduce you to the finalists who have been selected for the 2018 ATHENA® Awards. The awards recognize contributions made by individuals to advance the status of women in the Buffalo Niagara region.
A principle in life instilled in me ever since childhood was to make positive impacts in the world I live in. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam said, “If you want to leave your footprints on the sands of time, do not drag your feet.”
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.
Everyone knows that lawyers love to argue. In fact, it’s our job. While most people shy away from difficult conversations, we and other professionals see the extraordinary opportunities that lie within conflict. Confronting something head-on, like negotiating a raise or solving a dispute with a coworker, will likely feel uncomfortable and be tempting to avoid. To the contrary, however, having these difficult conversations will actually help your relationships and increase your level of trust. I learned the nuances of this practice while becoming a lawyer, but going to law school is hardly necessary for you to argue like a professional, or perfect “the triumph of dialogue.”