We kicked off AdWeek on October 4th with an informative panel on employee recruitment and retention!

Althea Luehrsen, CEO of Leadership Buffalo, guided our three panelists through a discussion about the challenges of recruiting and retaining employees.
Shannon Bryant, Chief Diversity Officer for Kaleida Health spoke to the challenges to bring diversity to an executive team made up mostly of racial and generational inequities. Tricia Barrett, Chief Operating Officer for Crowley Webb, discussed the different benefits, opportunities, and culture her employees are provided with to keep them satisfied, challenged, and happy while combating a highly poachable industry. And Elizabeth Woike-Ganga, Chief Executive Officer for Best Self, offered her insight into the challenges
of hiring employees and the struggle of employee retention with so many other opportunities available for clinicians.

About 25 professionals across advertising and other industries gathered in the atrium of 500 Seneca to hear what these much-credited panelists had to say, and they did not disappoint!

Thank you to Althea, Shannon, Tricia, and Elizabeth for all their fresh insight during this challenging time of employee engagement.

AdWeek Events

Recap: 2021 Speed Networking

With the entire nation facing challenges with hiring and staffing, spanning across most if not all industries, we felt strongly that everyone’s favorite AdWeek event should be brought back. Our Speed Networking event was held On Tuesday, October 5 with more than 10 freelancers and pros showing up to Jack Rabbit on Elmwood Avenue to grab a drink and chat one on one.This event is perfect for companies and agencies looking to expand their freelancer shortlist, and it’s a great way for freelancers to connect with companies that may need some new talent for their team or upcoming project. Networking has been a challenge over the last couple of years, but from the conversations and chatter that lingered past the signal to rotate we could see lasting connections forming across a variety of areas.

If Speed Networking is something you would like to see again next year, please drop us a line and let us know! We’re always looking for ways to bring value to our members, and we’d love to hear from you.

Thank you to all who joined us and we hope to see you next year!

Blog Board Events


After more than a year of meeting remotely, we were thrilled to kick off the 2021-2022 club year with a chance to share some exciting things we have in store for the coming year. The Annual Meeting took place on Tuesday, September 28 at Big Ditch Brewing Company. We had more than 40 returning and prospective members join us to hear from our committee heads about what to expect in the upcoming months from AAF Buffalo.

President Caroline Buchas kicked off the evening’s proceedings before passing to the head of each committee to give the audience a glimpse of what’s in store for the club this year.

Here are the board members we heard from:

  • McKenna Murray on how to become a member and reap the rewards of epic member benefits while supporting the community
  • Jeff Quinn on upcoming events and exciting new programs
  • Noah Herman on new educational programs just for our students
  • Maura Noonan on where you can get the latest communications from the club and engage with us
  • Chelsea Carney on the upcoming American Advertising Awards and how we will top last year (if that’s even possible!)


Be sure to mark your calendars for our AdWeek lineup that’s full of professional development and networking opportunities within the advertising and marketing community. You’ll see some repeat favorites like Speed Networking and a Skillshop, but you my be interested in a brand new type of event that gives you a chance to tour the Seneca One tower and learn more about 43 North. Of course, you can also look forward to the student Brand Hack, upcoming Skillshops and the Spotlight Speaker series, as well as the AAAs.


Access our member-exclusive events and discounts by renewing your membership or becoming a member today. We’re looking forward to another great year, see you all soon!

Blog Events


What a long strange trip it’s been! We made it through the Zoom calls, muted mics, hybrid spaces and new challenges. AAF Buffalo wanted to thank our amazing members for sticking it out through another unprecedented year by getting us back together again for one last hurrah before rounding out the club year.

To thank you for your support and celebrate all that we’ve achieved, our members-only happy hour took place on Tuesday, July 27 at Big Ditch Brewing Company. We were able to ease back into meeting in person safely without skipping a beat and finally catch up after so long being apart. Plus, we had an extra special cause for celebration…

AAF Buffalo was named Club of the Year for the third year in a row and we couldn’t have done it without our amazing members! Thank you to our members and community for supporting us over the years and attending events that bring us together. 


That’s a wrap on this year! We’ll see you next time.


Recap: Diversity Panel with Local DEI Experts DEI Panel

In honor of Pride Month, AAF Buffalo presented our DEI Panel event to create a space for conversation surrounding the importance of diversity, equity, inclusion in our industry and community.

The virtual event was led by  AAF President Josh Gumulak and held on Tuesday, June 22 via Zoom. The panel discussion featured the following local DEI experts from our community:

·      Johnathan Worden, Senior – Talent and Organizational Development, Independent Health

·      Col Volker, Senior Ad Strategist, Knightsbridge Park

·      Kyria Stephens, Director of Inclusion, Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, Inc.

·      Molly Chvala, VP, User Experience, Crowley Webb

The audience listened in on important discussion in support of the LGBTQ+ community in the workplace, as well as passionate conversation regarding respect for others, pronoun awareness, and more. A key takeaway from listeners centered on the responsibility we all have which is to take ownership of our own awareness and educate ourselves on the challenges that exist for those around us.

AAF Buffalo was honored to have the chance to spotlight important conversations around the LGBTQ+ community and workforce. Thank you to all who joined us and we are hopeful in continuing these conversations well into the future!

Events Students


The second virtual Student Portfolio event was a total success! Thanks again to our wonderful professional volunteers and student participants for your patience and for dedicating the time to make this event happen.

Although many of AAF Buffalo’s events have taken a virtual spin, that has not stopped us from providing support and resources to our student network in the most important time of their life – exiting college and entering the professional world.

The 2021 Student Portfolio review was conducted through Zoom Breakout Rooms. Registered students had fifteen minutes with each professional where they had the opportunity to share their work, ask questions, and network.

Similar to last year, each Breakout Room nominated a student portfolio of their choice and selected students received a cash prize. Many colleges and universities were represented including Rochester Institute of Technology, Villa Maria College, Daemen College, and Buffalo State College. Congratulations to all the winners:


Henny Zack, Villa Maria College

Laurie McMurray, Buffalo State College 

Kelsey Sikora, Villa Maria College

Zachary Nosbisch, Daemen College


Thanks again to everyone who participated. We look forward to the 2022 event, hopefully, it can be in person!

Events Students


Each year, AAF Buffalo hosts a scholarship competition honoring the late Buffalo great, Don Nichols. Don Nichols began teaching at the Albright Art School. He founded its Graphic Design Program in 1950 and brought it to UB where, until his death on July 7, 1987, he served as the program’s head and an extraordinarily dedicated teacher. He educated hundreds of graphic designers, a number of whom attained national prominence. Nichols received the Osborn Award for Creative Excellence from the Art Directors/ Communicators of Buffalo and the Chancellor’s Award  for Teaching from UB in 1982.

The scholarship competition was open to all Western New York undergraduates in design, writing, communications, illustration, photography, and fine arts. This year’s theme had students reimagine their take on the year 2020. Entries were judged by a panel of professionals from Crowley Webb. And the results are in.

Please join us in congratulation this year’s winners!

Events Industry Updates Speaker


“Together we will see it through”

If you’ve been going for a lot of walks in the neighborhood lately (because what else has there been to do?), we’re sure you have spotted these flags hanging in the doorways and windows of your neighbor’s homes created by local pennant manufacturer, Oxford Pennant. The message “together we will see it through” is more than just a feel-good statement. These words gave us something to smile about during a time when many of us were feeling scared, lonely, anxious, and a host of other unsettling emotions over the last 13+ months.  So first, we would like to sincerely thank Oxford Pennant for helping us bond together as a community, while instilling in a hope, resiliency, and a sprinkle of joy when we needed it most.

On Tuesday, April 27th, AAF President, Josh Gumulak and board member Sarah Warner had the pleasure of interviewing Dave Horesh, co-founder of Oxford Pennant at Jordan Lema’s Lemur Studios on Main Street downtown. And while we were right across the street from the Oxford Pennant store, the interview was conducted virtually (what times we’re livin’ in) so that Dave could carry on his fatherly duties while simultaneously wowing us with his knowledge and expertise as an entrepreneur, business owner, and marketing and branding expert.

The interview honestly felt like chatting with an old friend. Dave is fun, relaxed, passionate and an incredibly insightful person. In an hour’s time, we covered everything from how Oxford Pennant got started, what the company’s structure looks like today, to where he sees it going in the future (they’re committed to Buffalo)! He shared how they have successfully built and expanded their brand through Instagram, some things he’s learned in his travels that Buffalo could benefit from, and his best advice for those with aspirations to start their own business.

We had a blast talking with him and we hope our listeners enjoyed it just as much! Learn more about AAF, membership perks and upcoming events at or follow us on social @AAFBuffalo.

Blog Board Latest News

AAF Asks: Favorite 2021 Super Bowl Ad?

Well folks, 2020’s football season was one to remember for many reasons. The Buffalo Bills won their first playoff game in over twenty years, fans were largely not allowed in stadiums to cheer on their teams, and Tom Brady (finally) left New England for greener pastures. Although the Bills didn’t make it all the way, the board still tuned in to watch the big game this past Sunday. Check out their favorite ads from throughout the night.

As always, GO BILLS.

McKenna Murray – Alexa’s Body, Amazon

Maybe I’m a book nerd, or simply a romantic… but anything with Michael B. Jordan’s dulcet audiobook tones has my vote. As someone who has never been interested in owning an Alexa, I sure thought about it. 

Noteworthy mention of Come Together by M&M. They did a great job of incorporating relatable and timely pain points: Karens, gender reveal parties, even mansplaining “mansplaining” — and did so in a funny way. Throwing in Dan Levy was icing on the cake (or, peanut butter in the M&M?)

Jeff Quinn – Wayne’s World & Cardi B, UberEats

Playing off an old school bit from Wayne’s World was a great combo. There were more than enough great advertisements to choose from, but UberEats leads the charge. I was also fond of the Paramount+ commercials!

Adina Pera 5 to 9, SQUARESPACE

Over the last few months, I have discovered this newfound obsession with Dolly Parton, so when I saw this spot I immediately loved it. The message speaks to so many and provides the nudge to continue to pursue your dreams and embrace the side hustle. Also, let’s not forget about those great M&T Bank spots that Crowley Webb shot and produced!

Maura Noonan – Certain is Better, Rocket Mortgage

Normally I lean more towards the commercials that make me cry, but this Tracy Morgan spot had me actually laughing out loud. Morgan on his own is awesome, but I also loved the cameos from Dave Bautista and Liza Koshy. I think Rocket did a great job of balancing the humor, while ultimately still getting their point across and marketing their new app. When buying a home, certain really is better. Honorable mention would be the Paramount+ Sweet Victory commercial because I love a good Survivor torch moment with Jeff Probst.

Mary AmentaThe Neighborhood, DoorDash

Nothing like bringing back some childhood memories and the iconic characters from Sesame Street and mixing it with the modern days of delivery food services! Personally, I thought they did a great job in tying in “the neighborhood” theme highlighting the different things you can get delivered, which is pretty much anything at this point in time. Nice little mention at the end too that for every order, $1.00 would be donated to Sesame Workshop!

Katie Hazel Last Year’s Lemons, Bud Light Seltzer Lemonade

I like the way that Bud Lite Seltzer Lemonade played off of the “When life gives you lemons” expression and showed people being bombarded with lemons raining down from the sky. It was funny and timely for how people feel about 2020. 

Second Favorite: Certain is Better, Rocket Mortgage

I also really liked the Tracy Morgan Rocket Mortgage spot. It was funny and really did a great job of being humorous while still selling the app the entire spot.

Third Favorite: Jessica Long’s Story, Toyota

The Toyota Team USA spot was captivating and gave me chills. You were engaged from the start and it kept your attention while bringing awareness to this special family and Olympian, Jessica Long. The art direction was beautiful as well.

Alex KeoganWill Ferrell, General Motors

Although it was a very close call, I have a soft spot for the comedic genius of Will Ferrell. The focus on sustainable energy, American made, and millennial comedy got me hard. There were some fantastic clap-back commercials from Norway, go watch!

Cody Andres- Wayne’s World & Cardi B.,UberEats

Playing off the vintage Saturday Night Live “Wayne’s World” skits, Uber Eats, “Eat Local” ad calls for communities to support their local restaurants during these challenging times. I felt like this ad really hits home with our strong food community here in Buffalo. I found the ad to be absolutely hilarious with Mike Myers and Dana Carvey re-take of a classic. Rapper Cardi B. was the perfect feature, as it really helped expand the audience age range in my opinion. I think they really hit the mark with this one. Excellent!

Samantha Lonczak – Certain is Better, Rocket Mortgage

Tracy Morgan Rocket Mortgage spot was one of the highlights of the game. Well first who doesn’t love Tracy Morgan? He planned to behave recklessly because he’s “pretty sure” everything will turn out okay, I think this was funny and a creative way to sell the app. The pandemic has brought new meaning and significance to the place where we live. Honorable mention goes to General Motors’ “No Way, Norway” spot where Will Ferrell hilariously sets out to give Norwegians a piece of his mind.

Caroline Jette – Let’s Grab a Beer, Anheuser-Busch

Although not a funny one, the Anheuser-Busch ‘Let’s Grab a Beer’ commercial really stuck out to me this year. It touched on a lot of low points of 2020, as well as highlighting what a lot of us still miss, something as simple as grabbing a beer with anyone. Anheuser-Busch found a creative way to subtly incorporate a multitude of their beer brands throughout the ad, keeping the focus on the experience more than the brand you choose. Overall, I found it relatable and welcomed the realistic approach to the ad during our socially distanced Super Bowl.

Josh GumulakLast Year’s Lemons, Bud Light Seltzer Lemonade

Paying homage to all that was 2020, as well as an all-around great phrase, Bud Light Seltzer Lemonade put together a great ad for the Big Game. Funny, candid and sarcastic – the ad was extremely on-brand for a beer that doesn’t take itself too serious, even when expanding into one of the most competitive categories there is in modern-day alcohol shenanigans. 

What made it even better was the paid placement coming back from commercial break when they commissioned @dudewithsign to be spotted in the stands, beverage in-hanCd, holding a homemade sign sporting the tagline. Great complimentary placements!

Shannon Polvino – Alexa’s Body. Amazon

I needed some serious humor after all that was 2020, and the commercial for Amazon’s Alexa accomplished just that. The spot was very well-produced and featured the incredibly attractive Michael B. Jordan portraying himself as Alexa. I was in stitches the whole time and am absolutely purchasing an Alexa. I also appreciated the Drake from State Farm commercial. State Farm commercials have been a staple this football season, so adding stars to the mix (Paul Rudd is my favorite human) added a freshness to the series.

Events Skillshop


Mid-December of 2020, Mower’s very own Matt Babiarz joined AAF Buffalo to host a skillshop on The Rise of the Marketing Godzilla. The presentation was held at Lemur Studios and was presented virtually to the attendees in a therapy-like format. But many of you may be thinking, what the heck is a Marketing Godzilla?

By definition: Living in the Era of The Marketing Godzilla consists of a landscape ruled by merciless but necessary marketing leaders, born out of crisis in a hyper-competitive, unforgivingly chaotic corporate environment, where humans are interchangeable resources, a sense of reality can be challenged, and a result can only be accepted if it has been forecasted.

Matt kicked-off the presentation getting the audience’s opinion on their perception of crisis; discussing the difference between danger and opportunity. This soon led to the ultimate conclusion that people work too hard, for too long, for too little, which creates the dreadful Marketing Godzilla. The audience got involved via Zoom chat to share their experiences and thoughts on topics such as stress in the workplace, compulsion loops and the anxiety caused by notifications.

A few additional key takeaways include:

  • According to the American Psychological Association, 70% of workers were found to be stressed in 2020, an increase of only 9.8% during the pandemic
  •  A McKinsey study showed that 39% of time is being spent on job-specific tasks, and 42% of time is spent on answering emails and meeting internally
  • Notifications on our phone and email are indeed causing anxiety, causing individuals to feel the need to respond almost instantly

Although we weren’t able to get together as a group, we’d like to send a big thank you to Matt for taking the time to chat with us virtually. We also wanted to send a shoutout to Lemur Studios for helping make the event happen and for everyone who attended. For more info on all of our programming for the club year, check out