Events Students


Many thanks to the pro volunteers and students who participated in AAF Buffalo’s first attempt at an online Portfolio Review Day for area creative students. As the leading advertising professional organization in WNY, it is part of our mission to support future creatives, especially during an uncertain time. We put our heads together after COVID-19 forced us to cancel the physical Portfolio Review. After some planning, the day ended up being a success thanks to pro volunteers and Zoom Breakout Rooms. Students who registered in advance participated in several twenty minute interviews, where they had the opportunity to chat, ask questions, and share their work. Many colleges and universities were represented including Rochester Institute of Technology, University at Buffalo, St. Bonaventure, Villa Maria College, Daemen College, and Buffalo State College.

In order to offer opportunity to win an award to a wider range of students during such an uncertain time, we decided to give each Breakout Room one vote towards a standout student portfolio of their choice to receive a cash prize. Several students were awarded more than one vote. Congratulations to students who won kudos from the professional volunteers:

Crista Sukennik, Communication Design, Buffalo State College
Junyan Chen, Studio Art with Graphic Design Concentration, University at Buffalo
Lindsay Neilson, Graphic Design, Villa Maria College
Deztinhy Di Meo, Graphic Design, RIT
Maggie Blaisdell, Graphic Design, RIT

We look forward to hosting this important event for years to come, and will continue to grow and evolve it in an effort to best serve future creative professionals with an effort to make it fun and beneficial for pros as well. We truly appreciate the time, professionalism, and dedication of the pros and students who were involved with this event. See ya in 2021!


Events Students

RECAP: Portfolio Series Part 1

Portfolio Series Part 1: Pro Panel Success. Several students and local pros spent their Saturday morning chatting about design, careers, and portfolio building on October 26th, 2019.

The annual AAF Pro Panel featured a diverse group of panelists this year, where they shared their stories and dropped their knowledge from both a student and professional perspective.

Tim Staszak, veteran designer at Block Club shared some of the awesome branding work he’s done during his career for local greats such as Big Ditch and Swan Street Diner. He shared a ton of practical advice, including knowing how to build a mechanical file (Not sure what that is? Ask your professor or design mentor to teach you).

Holly Norris, designer at White Bicycle showed us all to embrace our paths and oddities, because they make for interesting skills and memorable interviews. Fun Fact: Holly started her career as an obituary proofreader, and noted how the weird job made a mark with interviewers, and knowing how to proofread has made her a better designer. If you see her out in the wild, ask to see the portfolio book she designed to get the job she landed; it’s glorious.

We were thrilled to see a fully digital portfolio shared by 2019 portfolio review scholarship winner, Andrea LoPiccolo  Her previous motion design degree shows in the beautifully designed motion page on her website. She shared all kinds of tips and thoughts for how students might land an internship, job, or win the portfolio review. And shameless pat on our back: she said that AAF changed her life because of the connections she has made. Just sayin’… get your student membership here.

Many thanks to all who attended, it was a morning well-spent and we are grateful for the panel who took the time to share insights, as well as the students who committed their morning to furthering their design skills.



The 2019-2020 club year has begun! This year’s Annual Meeting was held last week on Wednesday, September 11 at The Saturn Club.

More than 40 returning and prospective members mingled before President Josh Gumulak kicked off the evening’s proceedings. After the introduction of new board members, the head of each committee gave the audience a taste of what to expect this club year.

We heard from the likes of:

  •         Paige Lamparelli on upcoming events and exciting new programs
  •         Ally Ruiz Balcerzak on how to become a sponsor and which membership is right for you
  •         Casey Kelly on how educational programs are back in session for students
  •         Greg Pokriki on where you can go to get the latest communications from the club
  •         Lauren Carmer on all things ADDYs and how the event will grow
  •         Alex Keogan on how your hard-earned dollars turn into epic member benefits

In case you missed it, get ready for more professional development and networking opportunities with returning favorites like AdWeek, the Spotlight Speaker Series, the student Portfolio Series, and the ADDYs.

To get access to member-exclusive events and special discounts, become a member today.

Events Stuff

Recap: The Big Tip-Off 2019

The Big Tip-Off remains in tippity top shape.

Last week, we hosted our 9th annual “celebrity” bartending event, The Big Tip-Off. This popular event raised more than $5,000 for the AAF Buffalo Scholarship Fund, which supports the local advertising community by awarding local high school and college students annually.

The event featured several of Western New York’s advertising bigwigs behind the bar at Soho, competing against each other to see who could bring in the most tips. A record 205 advertising professionals attended and contributed tips to the bartenders. A special thank you to our celeb mixologists:

  • Tom Burtless (Mr. Smith)
  • Joe Russell (Crowley Webb)
  • Christopher D’Amato and Molly Christman (Block Club)
  • Allie Friedman (Mower)
  • Adam Bauer (FARM)
  • Marilynn Millitello (The Martin Group)
  • Jess Kobis (Luminus)
  • Shannon Silva (dpost)
  • Mike Christensen (Fifteen)
  • Todd Harmon (Quinlan)

The Buffalo News Smiles photographer was kind enough to stop by and capture the event.

Shout out to Crowley Webb, the big winners of the night, raking in the most tips!

See you all next year, folks!


Josh Gumulak Steps up to the Presidency

After two years on AAF Buffalo’s Board of Directors, including one as Treasurer and the other as Programming Chair, I’m beyond excited to step into a new role and lead our organization as President! 

Overall, our chapter is in one of the best positions we have ever been, both operationally and fiscally. My goal, through the efforts of the many talented members of our Board of Directors and countless others involved, will be to continue to expand on the strong programming and education initiatives we have already established.

I also plan to find unique opportunities to enhance membership value, for both our individual and corporate members, as it’s never been more important to us that we create valuable experiences for each and every one of you. 

We wouldn’t be where we are today without the ongoing support from the ad and marketing community in our city. You will continue to be the driving force behind challenging us for the better, encouraging us to test new initiatives, and never backing down from an ADDYs-sized risk. And for that, I thank you. 

I’d also like to thank outgoing President, Tim Bouchard, for all that he’s done for us during his two-year term. From cementing our Spotlight Speaker Series to massively expanding our student initiatives, we are the nationally recognized chapter we are today due to his efforts, coupled with those of past boards. 

To our Executive Advisory Committee and other past board leadership beyond Tim, thank you for being available to bounce ideas off and share thoughts on how we can continue to find ways to improve. I look forward to continued relationships with all of you. 

Lastly, to all board members, both those that are moving on and those continuing along the path with me, thank you very much for all of your efforts. What we do is a total group effort and wouldn’t be possible without the many hours, Slacks, emails, Hangouts, and determination each one of you put in. You’re a special group of people and I can’t wait to see what we are able to accomplish next! 

I hope to see everyone I addressed here at an event soon, and I am readily available for those who wish to reach out going forward!


A Farewell from Tim Bouchard


After four total years on the AAF Buffalo board, one as Vice President and two as President, my term is coming to a close and what a journey it has been! I cannot say how grateful I am for how wonderful the club members have been in supporting my time on the board in this leadership role. You all truly embraced the spirit of the club and have supported our board as we created new programming, got involved in new community initiatives, and stepped up our ADDYs game (big time).

I owe a big thank you to everyone that helped make my term as enjoyable and successful as it was. Scott Bartels, Immediate Past President, who brought this club to a level of stability that allowed me to take multiple risks over the last two years. All of the other past presidents that have been a great support system for me. To each of the members on our newly established Executive Advisory Committee, for allowing me to bring your experienced participation into critical club conversations that will shape the future of our member experiences. To the board, who made me look like an all-star President, when you have really done all of the heavy lifting. You are all rock-stars. To every member that bought a ticket for an event (especially new ones like Spotlight Series and Signature Speaker), volunteered for events (BrandHack, Buffalo Prep Day), and continue to support our fundraising initiatives (Big Tip-Off) for our scholarship programs. Your impact on the success of this club and its future is by far the most valuable and means so much.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being a part of injecting fun, purpose, and participation into AAF Buffalo’s club experience. My parting request is that you all continue to live in that spirit and keep the momentum going. We have something amazing here in this “run-down” city’s advertising industry and the club will continue to bring us all together to become even stronger.

Thank you again! I look forward to seeing everyone at next year’s club events!

Blog Stuff

Skillshop Recap: Influencing the Influencer

Last month, AAF Buffalo hosted a members-only skillshop on the value of influencer outreach.

Hosted at Crowley Webb’s first-floor bar, Local 86, PR veterans Andrea Gallagher and Katie Briggs took a dive into the hottest new marketing trend, using real-world examples and exclusive insights from the influencers themselves.

Some notable tips and tricks:

  • An influencer is anyone who can change (or influence) thinking or behavior.
  • Influencer marketing focuses communication efforts on key individuals who can influence consumers’ thinking or behavior.
  • Influencers can be traditional media, subject matter experts, celebrities, bloggers, and social media users and advocates.
  • Influencer outreach can help your organization with brand awareness, expand social reach, increase sales, as well as share education, insights, and content.
  • Influence isn’t just having a lot of followers—it’s driven by expertise and credibility.

Stay tuned for more information on our next skillshop, coming for you during Ad Week 2019 (October 7-10).


Get to know the leaders of the Spring Skillshop.

Andrea Gallagher is the Public Relations Director at Crowley Webb, bringing 10 years of public relations and corporate communications experience to the role. Before joining the Crowley team, Andrea most recently served as the Director of Marketing & Public Relations at the Buffalo Museum of Science, and was previously an account director at global PR firm, Weber Shandwick, leading integrated multi-disciplinary campaigns for top consumer lifestyle and technology brands.

Katie Briggs is a public relations professional with experience in developing PR programs for local to global companies across diverse industries. In a new role at Praxis—Crowley Webb’s patient recruitment division—Katie is charged with growing its advocacy outreach capabilities through working with advocacy groups, patients, and physicians to generate awareness for clinical research studies.

Students Stuff

Recap: Portfolio Review 2019

On Saturday, April 13, students and advertising professionals gathered at Villa Maria College for the 2019 Portfolio Review. As Part II of the AAF Buffalo Portfolio Series, this event focused on putting what students learned from Part I, the Portfolio Seminar, into practice.

Senior, junior, and sophomore students from Villa Maria College, Fredonia, Buffalo State College, and Daemen College brought their portfolios to Buffalo area pros for critique and conversation in a speed-networking format.

This event style gave students the opportunity to discuss their work and hear valuable feedback from a mix of creative directors, art directors, writers, and freelancers. In turn, the pros offered guidance on how students could improve their portfolio and answered any questions from students about getting a job following graduation.

In addition to useful feedback, Portfolio Review gives students a chance to practice their interviewing skills and meet with a wide network of agencies and companies around town to get their name out there and inquire about internships or future opportunities.

Students presented their work from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with a break for lunch. At the end of the review, we asked our professionals to vote on the best portfolio, in their expert opinion, and on who would be the most deserving recipients of our three scholarships.

The Winners

Congratulations to these three students, who not only took home professional validation, but also an AAF Buffalo scholarship:

1st Place: Andrea LoPiccolo – Buffalo State College

2nd Place: Philip Miller – Buffalo State College

3rd Place: Lindsay Neilson – Villa Maria College

And a special thank you to our professionals who gave up their Saturday morning for us.


Recap: Don Nichols 2019

This year’s Don Nichols student scholarship competition has come to a close. And with the most entries we have had in years, it was a tough battle.

The theme was 1960s design and advertising, when color and psychedelia were at their height and earth tones and experimentation were the new norm. Boundaries were pushed with color, type, and tone. So we asked students to share their best take on the groovy era’s signature style.

We saw entries ranging from music albums and movie posters redesigned to political messages, print ads for products of the times, murals, a video about the 60s, and so much more.

The scholarship competition was open to all Western New York undergraduates in design, writing, communications, illustration, photography, and fine arts. Entries were judged by a panel of professionals from Crowley Webb. And the results are in.

The Winners

$1,000 First Prize: Emily Kaczynski – Villa Maria College

$500 Second Prize: Michael Csizmadia – Villa Maria College

$300 Third Prize: Ana Echeverria – Villa Maria College

Honorable Mentions:

Carlye Sager – Daemen College

Nicole Plucinski – Villa Maria

Tim Winterhalter – Villa Maria

Emma Roberts – Buffalo State

Megan Fox – Daemen College

Lindsay Neilson – Villa Maria

About 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.


Recap: Preview Night 2019

We’re not sure what was more apparent on Wednesday, February 13th – that old man winter can’t stand in the way of ad folks and a great party or that there is incredible creative talent in Buffalo.

From student up-and-comers to seasoned pros, both were on full display at the 2019 AAF Preview Night. Thank you to everyone who braved the storm to take a sneak peek at all of the dazzling entries for this year’s show.

The turnout was tremendous, especially considering the weather. Some attendees came because they are unable to make it to the show while others come to enjoy the casual camaraderie. Regardless of the reason for joining us for Preview Night, it was a terrific evening to show off all that our city has to offer and to celebrate everyone’s great work.

There were more than 500 entries on display at a tremendous location and an AAF Buffalo favorite: Big Ditch Brewing Company. The members of the board and the ADDYs committee are grateful to Big Ditch for once again serving as the host and perfect backdrop for the event.