We’ve got the Power

Power Up keynote speaker Rhonda Frederick highlights inspiring, educational and empowering event for women professionals.

RhondaFrederickOn Tuesday, March 15, the Buffalo Niagara Partnership hosted the 26th Annual ATHENA Awards, showcasing ten outstanding women business professionals in Buffalo Niagara. Congratulations to all of our finalists, especially this years recipients Amy Habib Rittling from Lippes Mathias Wexler Friedman LLP and Bridget Niland from Daemen College.

Now, the enthusiasm and energy of the ATHENA Awards will continue at our Power U event on Friday, April 8th. Rhonda Frederick, President and CEO of People, Inc., will be our keynote speaker at the event. As head of one of Western New York’s leading human services providers, Rhonda has devoted her 35+ year career to serving people with special needs. We spoke with Rhonda for a sneak preview of her presentation on how women professionals can take advantage of opportunities as they come their way.


Give us an example of one opportunity you didn’t expect to have such an impact on your career?
When the discussion came up at People Inc. to use Medicaid to fund the services we provide, everyone around the table took a step back and didn’t want to touch it. They were all nervous it would be a big flop. I raised my hand and said I would tackle it. I was the only one in the room who thought it could be done. I bumbled my way through it with the State of New York and now it has become the foundation of services for all of New York State. Something no one wanted to do turned out to be a career changer for me.

What do you mean by career changer?
When we are younger, we all have a notion of what our life is going to be. What our career will be, what we want for our personal lives and so on, but I don’t think I’ve met anyone who has exactly what they thought they would. Whether its circumstances not being right, you decide it’s not really what you wanted at all, or you found something incredibly better, you have to explore all those things and be willing to take different roads. Women sit back and let things happen to them, rather than taking the bull by the horns and leading the way. You have to do that – take different roads.

Can you give us a sneak preview of your keynote address?
I hope it’s an uplifting message in that you can get to leadership roles in so many ways. I’ll be using examples of my journey as well as other women I know to show that. There isn’t one blueprint for how to become successful and advance to leadership roles. Each day, the choices you make and the opportunities you take get you there.

Why do you think events such as Power UP are important for women in the business community?
Expectations for women are different than they are for men and we need to work past that. Power UP is one opportunity for women to come together to do just that. I work in an industry where 80% of the employees are women, but until the last five years, the leadership was always men. We need to be afforded equal opportunities on how we can get there. The opportunities for growth are available in our community in a variety of ways. I’m looking forward to offering my experience to the attendees of Power UP.

What advice do you have for female professionals?
Don’t ever let there be a job beneath you. It takes a lot of hard work to advance and it’s not going to be easy. No one gets to the top in a minute.

Tell us about People Inc.
We are a multi-service provider for the special needs community. We were originally formed by a parents group 46 years ago to serve adults. Today, we not only serve the adult population, but over 30% of our services are for children.
We continue to grow, but what I’m most proud of is that we didn’t grow to grow, we grew to help fill different needs in the community. Disabilities cross over all socioeconomic groups, races, education levels, etc. and we have done a great job to provide services to everyone, no matter who you are.

Be a part of this Power UP eventpower up

Be sure to join us for this important discussion, with WIVB Channel 4’s Jacquie Walker serving as emcee and moderator. Two lucky attendees will win two roundtrip airline tickets, courtesy of Southwest Airlines!

Friday, April 8, 2016
1:30 pm – 5:00 pm
Artisan Kitchens & Baths
200 Amherst St.
Buffalo, NY 14203

Register today and join the conversation on Twitter using #PowerUPBN.


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