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A local businessman defines leadership as getting ordinary people to do extraordinary things. A political leader said leadership requires vision.

Other local leaders said leadership sometimes comes with the job.

With those and other definitions in mind, Buffalo News reporters and editors identified 25 men and women in leadership positions who could be viewed as having the ability to move the city, county or Buffalo Niagara region forward. Survey respondents were asked to rank those 25 individuals on the effectiveness of their leadership.

The News recognized that such a list of 25 would not include all of the region’s top leaders and therefore added an open-ended question to the survey, asking respondents to submit additional individuals they would add to a list of the region’s top leaders.

The 149 individuals who responded to the survey listed 87 other individuals.

The vast majority of write-ins were listed once or twice, with a handful of notable exceptions.

The largest number of writes-in went to developer Rocco Termini, who was listed by 15 survey respondents, followed by West Side housing activist Aaron Bartley, listed by 10 different respondents.

Clotilde P.B. Dedecker, head of the Community Foundation of Greater Buffalo, was listed seven times, and Buffalo Assemblyman Sean Ryan and Niagara Falls Mayor Paul A. Dyster were each mentioned five times. No one else was listed more than four times.

In addition to submitting specific names, a few survey respondents wrote that they were disappointed that there weren’t more women and that there weren’t any African-American businessmen on The News’ leadership list. The News’ list of 25 included three women and seven minorities, six of them African-American, although none of the six was from the business sector.

A few other respondents observed that the list didn’t reflect up-and-comers who represent future leadership.



– Susan Schulman