2023 Portfolio Seminar

On the morning of November 11th at Daemen University, AAF Buffalo hosted its annual Portfolio Seminar. Students from all over Buffalo converged at Daemen’s Tower Gallery where Emma Lonnen, a Graphic Designer at Crowley Webb, Chelsea Turton, a Graphic Designer at Fisher Price, and Andy Rose, Vice President and Brand Development specialist at dPost, discussed the ins-and-outs of a great portfolio. With nearly 50 years experience between the three presenters, students gathered an array of input ranging from the technical to personal sides of presenting work.

Below are some takeaways and highlights:

  • Quality projects over the quantity of projects always! Every presenter agreed that showing even just 4 projects with interesting ideas, integrated or cross-channel solutions, and quality mockups went much further to recruiters than bombarding them with 10+ “small” pieces (those might be worth putting on social media).
  • Get out there! Networking is challenging, but coming to events like the ones AAF Buffalo hosts will help recruiters and agency professionals know who you are before applying and see that you’re out there and interested. It’s all about creating a connection, so don’t feel the need to be overly professional—strike up a conversation and say hello. You never know where it might go.
  • Submit your work in competitions. Competitions like the American Advertising Awards or the Don Nichols Scholarship Competition get tons of eyes on your work (and you!) without you having to wait for a formal job opening. Sometimes professionals at local agencies will make a note of the work they see and who it was by in case an opportunity opens up in the future. 
  • LinkedIn is a great place to be. Almost all the presenters have used LinkedIn in a professional capacity to find talent, connect with colleagues, or apply for jobs. LinkedIn is a great way to get your work, and yourself, out there—you’d be surprised who’s browsing for talent.
  • Be yourself. Each presenter noted they often see young professionals try to be “professional” or mimic the behavior of people they look up to. Show off who you are! Employers are looking for a diverse perspective to add to their team. They’re looking for a person who they’d like to spend 40 hours a week with, every week. Don’t be afraid to loosen up your shoulders and act natural, it’ll land you in a spot that’s a better fit for you and for them.

The tips in the bullets above represent a fraction of what Emma, Chelsea, and Andy covered this year, so mark your calendars for next November when three more Buffalo creatives will talk about what they think makes a killer portfolio.

ADDYS Events Students

2023 Jingle Bowl

The Martin Group winning team holding the golden pin.

It was the yearly unveiling of the American Advertising Awards theme, amidst agencies vying for the coveted golden pin, a plethora of donated food and cans, and one agency emerging triumphant in the end.

Crowley Webb, The Martin Group, dPost, Mr. Smith, Mower, FARM, Luminus and more gathered for an incredible night of bowling at Manor Lanes. So, who took the golden pin home? The Martin Group—congrats! 

Attendees donated to FeedMore WNY upon entering the event. Together, we collected 208lbs of non-perishables to help feed a total of 173 families in our community. Let’s go, Buffalo!

The grand finale of the night was a camp counselor’s dream revealing 2024’s American Advertising Awards theme: Camp Wannawinanaddy. For the first time ever, two agencies are collaborating to put on a show night that campers will never forget—dPost and Mr. Smith Agency! We can’t wait to see their ideas come to life.

Thank you to all who came to donate to a good cause and helped us spread some holiday cheer. We’re wishing everyone a happy and healthy new year!

The outside of Manor Lanes bowling alley.

Events Speaker Speaker Series Students

2023 Spotlight Speaker: Nihilo

As part of the 2023-2024 Spotlight Speaker series, AAF Buffalo was glad to welcome the creators of branding agency Nihilo, Emunah Winer and Margaret Kerr-Jarrett.

At Nihilo, Emunah and Margaret work with first-to-market and founder-led companies to build a unique and creative identity using their expertise across brand strategy and visual and verbal brand identities. 

Some of the key takeaways:

  • The principle of “creatio ex-nihilo” – creating something from nothing – is a challenging standard to live up to in today’s world. Giving yourself space to imagine bigger, to allow an idea that challenges preconceived standards to enter the picture, is worth pursuing. And they have found a great niche with Nihilo serving many first-to-market and founder-led companies seeking a unique brand identity to grow from.
  • Emunah and Margaret showcased several projects where they told stories through the lens of the hero’s journey. Not just advertising a product or service, but putting their target customer front and center, telling their story – and how the product or service makes an impact for them.
  • Respect your customers enough to know that they’ll “get it.” You don’t always have to spell out exactly everything you do. Honor the people who you’re for. They’ll understand the stories and the messaging you’re communicating and the value within that advertising.
  • Taking your work seriously doesn’t always mean making serious work – like the illustration for Giggly tonics pictured below, featuring a wonderful unicorn named Goldy.

Thanks to Emunah and Margaret for making the trek to Buffalo to join us, and thank you to our sponsor Crowley Webb as well as all in attendance who joined for this inspiring conversation.

AdWeek Events Students


ADWEEK always holds a special place in our hearts and is a week we always look forward to from the planning and preparation all the way to the night of and the stories and connections made that we get to hear about after. With a variety of events, all in one week, you’re bound to attend one (if not all!). This years ADWEEK, sponsored by Basis Technologies, included a returning fan favorite of course and a few new ones that are sure to make an appearance in 2024. Dig into the details below!

Stephen Gabris taking a headshot photo

ADWEEK Day 1: Headshots & Hops
Fresh off a massive Bills win against the Dolphins, AAF set up shop in the lobby of Seneca One to celebrate Victory Monday with Buffalo Advertising’s best game faces.

The Headshots & Hops event is one of the year’s favorites; a chance to network and drink and update our LinkedIn profile pics with something way better than your onboarding photo from seven years ago. 

While we chatted and clinked our pint glasses, Stephen Gabrus was on tap with some impressive glass of his own. This dude came prepared with multiple setups and gave everyone two different badass photos; one super professional neat & clean pic with traditional 3-point lighting (this is the one you show your parents and CEOs) and one rad multi-colored statement piece for the creative in all of us (this is the one you show everyone else).

Headshots & Hops was an awesome time and AAF Buffalo brought a whole new meaning to mugging for the camera. If you missed this event, you missed a good one – don’t sleep on it next year.

ADWEEK Day 2: Internship Skillshop
We spent AdWeek Day 2 at Riveter listening to a rockin’ panel share advice on landing internships. We heard from a variety of professionals including:

  • Jordan Hegyi, Partner + Creative Director at Riveter Design
  • Natalie Ryan, Account Manager at The Martin Group
  • Makenzie Fintak, Buffalo State Class of 2020 Grad + Fellowship Participant at White Bike
  • Dora Jones, Talent Acquisition Sourcing Specialist at Univera Healthcare
  • Moderator Noah Herman, AAF Buffalo Education Chair, Adjunct Professor of Graphic Design at Daemen, and freelance UX Designer 

Our panel spoke to an audience of nearly 30 students and ad professionals, giving everyone insight into finding—and succeeding at—internships in the marketing and advertising world. After an evening of great questions and conversation, attendees left with some important advice in their back pockets:

  • Know who you’re talking to—research the company and their work, along with the person who’s interviewing you.
  • Paid or unpaid isn’t everything—weigh the benefits of each including the experience you’ll get and the connections you’ll make.
  • Google yourself—because employers will too!
  • Keep your LinkedIn profile up to date—this is the first place employers will reference.
  • Have someone you’re comfortable going to with concerns—this doesn’t have to be your direct boss, but open communication with a colleague makes a big difference.

Here’s to our attendees landing some awesome internships in the future!

ADWEEK Day 3: Spelling B-e-e


The first documented spelling bee in the United States took place in 1825, in a small town in Kentucky, organized by teachers as a way to promote literacy and education.

The first-ever AAF Buffalo Spelling Bee took place in 2023, pitting five contestants from the Western New York advertising community under the spotlight at Cole’s on Elmwood Avenue.

Ryan Weatherbee, content developer at Crowley Webb, came in as a highly touted speller and led off the order of participants. Scott Bartels, past AAF Buffalo President and senior digital product manager at KeyBank, returned to the club to join the festivities of AdWeek. AAF Buffalo VP of Communications Chelsea Carney joined the Spelling Bee along with her White Bicycle Colleague, brand strategist Jillian McGarry. Rounding out the competitors was Renee Helda, Senior Art Director at Mr. Smith Agency.


A challenging slate of opening words led to Weatherbee bowing out of the competition first, shortly followed out by Bartels.


A few words for the competition drew inspiration from our 2023 AdWeek sponsor, Basis Technologies, a digital media automation and intelligence company.


Some more familiar words led to a fast back-and-forth as McGarry, Carney, and Helda took their turns in swift succession.


An interjection of some of the hardest-to-spell words from across the Buffalo region caught the contestants off guard, leading to McGarry’s elimination and leaving Carney and Helda in a one-on-one for the championship.


The hard-fought battle lasted longer than 60 words, but in the end, Renee Helda took home the title of Spelling Bee Champion when Chelsea Carney spelled “transformative” wrong in sudden death. Let’s just say that the stage has been set for the ultimate redemption in 2024.

ADWEEK Day 4: American Advertising Awards Q & A
On Thursday, October 5th, AAF Buffalo closed out AdWeek with an American Advertising Awards Q & A over at dPost.

Eager pros looking to shine this award season showed up and our seriously insightful panelists answered the community’s burning questions about the submission process, show night, and more.

 Here’s who sat on the panel:

  • Caroline Buchas (past AAF Buffalo President, Digital Operations Manager at Catholic Health)
  • Chelsea Carney (2x past Awards Chair, Senior Designer at White Bicycle)
  • Lindsay Neilson (current and past Awards Chair, Art Director at Mr. Smith Agency)
  • Adina Delmar (past Awards Chair, Senior Account Manager at Crowley Webb)

Emcee, Evan Pease (board member, Director of Post Production at dPost) kept the questions flowing for about an hour – sharing FAQs and taking live questions from the crowd.

The night ended with a bit of post-panel conversation, and attendees left with much more confidence leading up to the awards.

If you couldn’t make the event or have more questions as you start getting your entries in line, please send your questions to We’d love to help!

Submissions are now open and our biggest piece of advice to those entering is to start early! The platform automatically saves your work and won’t be entered for judging until you click “submit” so you can do a little here and there!

And no, the theme for the beloved AAF Buffalo American Advertising Awards was not revealed at this event. Our lips are sealed ’til Jingle Bowl on that one. 

Special thanks to our sponsors, @basistechnologies and for this event and a huge thank you to everyone who came out for AdWeek. It wouldn’t have been the same without you!

Make sure to plan for 2024 ADWEEK in early October!

Announcements Board Events Latest News

RECAP: 2023 Annual Meeting

The 2023-2024 club year is in full force and this year’s Annual Meeting was held at one of our favorite locations, Big Ditch Brewing.

Returning and prospective members had the opportunity to mingle before president Mary Pace kicked off the evening’s proceedings. After the introduction of new executive board members, and chairs the head of each committee gave the audience a taste of what to expect this club year.

We heard from:

  • Lindsay Neilson, VP of Programming on upcoming events and exciting new programs
  • Chelsey Carney, VP of Communications on where you can go to get the latest communications from the club
  • Joe Ray, Membership and Sponsorship Chair on how to become a sponsor and which membership is right for you
  • Noah Herman, Education Chair on how educational programs are back in session for students

In case you missed it, get ready for more professional development and networking opportunities with returning favorites like AdWeek, the student Portfolio Series, and the American Advertising Awards (AAA’s).

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

Events Students Stuff

RECAP: Fall Agency Tour

On September 15th, 2023, AAF Buffalo hosted its annual Agency Tour event for our student membership. This year we focused on showcasing concise studios in downtown Buffalo with a specialized focus. Our first stop of the day was Mr. Smith, then to dPost, and then to White Bicycle. We had some great conversations, marveled at some great downtown views, and shared a lot of smiles.

Stop 1: Mr. Smith
Mr. Smith is located in downtown Buffalo on the intersection of Washington and Mohawk Street across the street from the Western New York Book Arts Center. This powerhouse agency, although compact in size, boasts an impressive portfolio, including collaborations with Labatt Brewing, Buffalo Collegiate, and Big Brothers Big Sister, among others. During our visit, we were captivated by the wisdom shared by Art Director Lindsay Neilson and Creative Director and Partner Chrissy Pyne. Their secret sauce? A genuine passion for building enduring client relationships, understanding brands from the inside out, and a work environment that’s both functional and inspiring.

Stop 2: dPost
After we got to meet the people behind the Mr. Smith name, we huffed it on foot over to dPost on Main Street just steps away from Shea’s Performing Arts Center. DPost describes themselves as a “modern content company” on their website, but after taking a trip around their studio, there’s way more to them than that. From editing to post-production, animation, 3D rendering, content capturing, studio space, content strategy, and more, dPost fits a lot behind the doors of their Main Street address. DPost has clients like Lowe’s, Ford, Wegmans, Fisher Price, and New Era and the material they make for them had us all blown away. We also had a blast seeing how they shoot slow motion and food commercials. (Pro tip from Shannon Silva: don’t eat the foot being filmed! It won’t be appetizing.)

Stop 3: White Bicycle
And just like that, we arrived at White Bicycle, at their new(ish) space on Ellicott Street. Like Mr. Smith and dPost, White Bicycle consists of a tight-knit team of creatives. Unlike Mr. Smith and dPost, White Bicycle describes their bread and butter as print design. While the studio develops numerous integrated campaigns and works on several branding projects a year, their print work for the Burchfield Penney Art Center, posters, and numerous album packaging designs always catch the attention of students’ eyes. Here, students spoke with Partner and “Design Monger” Kyle Morrissey and Senior Designer Chelsea Carney about how their team collaborates with digital whiteboards and a whole lot of post-its.

Thank you to everyone who came out to this year’s Agency Tour! Great questions were asked, valuable connections were made, and interesting conversations transpired between stops. We also want to express our gratitude to the agencies that took part and shared inspiring information. Their contributions not only benefit students on their college journey but also strengthen the local industry as a whole. We’re already excited for our next trip!

Events Students Stuff


Wednesday, August 23rd was a “hump day” for the books as AAF Buffalo hosted its annual Big Tip-Off event. No, we’re not talking about tips of advice. We’re talking about bar tips that go to a good cause! That’s right, The Big Tip-Off is a night where advertising and marketing pros volunteer to bartend, and their colleagues, friends, and families tip them as they compete to raise the most money for AAF Buffalo’s Scholarship Fund.

Crowd of industry professionals talking  Crowd gathers on the rooftop of Soho as they raise money for scholarships

This year, we headed back to the beautiful rooftop of Soho. Eight people represented their companies behind the pine, where they had 45 minutes to collect as many tips as possible. To raise the most money possible, agencies did what they do best – got creative. Amanda Widzinski of Mower went with a tattoo theme, handing out tattoos for tips. Devan Brady of Ingram Micro capitalized on the Barbie craze with a signature glittery pink drink. And Andy Rose of dPost, dressed as a unicorn. We’re not sure that theme had much rhyme or reason to it, other than unicorns never go out of style.

Amanda Widzinski from Mower behind the bar covered in (fake) tattoosBy the end of the night we raised $3,800! All of the tips went directly to the AAF Buffalo scholarship fund and will be used to support high school and college students interested in continuing their studies in advertising.

So, who took home the glittery gold trophy this year?

  1. Crowley Webb came in 1st place for money raised
  2. dPost came in 2nd place
  3. and Mower came in 3rd place

Scanning the QR codes to tip their favorite bartenderHuge shout out to the participating companies for lending their bartending talents for the night and adding their own personal touches to the open bar.

  •   The Martin Group
  •   Mr. Smith Agency
  •   Farm
  •   dPost
  •   Mower
  •   Crowley Webb
  •   Ingram Micro

Thank you to all who came out and donated. It’s always fun to close out the Buffalo summer with some hot competition.

Agency bartenders dressed for the competition

It’s not too soon to practice your bartending skills for next year! 

Events Students Stuff

RECAP: Buffalo Prep Student Tour

Buffalo Prep Day kicked off Wednesday, 8/9 with 13 students from Buffalo Prep touring local agencies. The Martin Group was the first stop on the list, where the students enjoyed some breakfast and got to know some members of the agency. They heard from TMG’s creative director who spoke to them about a PUMA x Footlocker campaign that the agency worked on a while back. The students were filled with curiosity of what it’s like to work at an agency and had a variety of insightful questions.

Next stop, just on the other side of Shea’s, dPost welcomed the kids from Buff Prep and took them on a tour of the post facilities and our studio spaces. They were engaged, asked all the right questions and champed at the bit to dive into the workshops we set up. They sprinkled shredded paper in slow motion, dressed a set, and talked gear before heading to our green room to break down some of our favorite projects. They were hungry for lunch but even hungrier to learn. Still, we know better than to get between teenagers and pizza so onto Crowley Webb for a lunch ‘n learn!

Students at Crowley WebbTo end the journey, Crowley Webb was thrilled to welcome Buffalo Prep students, providing an overview of Crowley Webb, showcasing some of the recent work, and highlighting ways to get involved in the advertising industry no matter what your passions are. We finished the afternoon with pizza and a tour of our agency, including our latest video addition, CW Studios!

AAF Buffalo is proud to have a strong partnership with Buffalo Prep, providing educational opportunities for the students to learn from some of the most talented professionals in Buffalo. Until next time!

Events Stuff

RECAP: 2023 Membership Appreciation

Every year we like to take time to thank all of our members for our past year successes and celebrate with one another the new year to come.

This year we held our thank you and celebration at one of the newest trendy spots in Buffalo—Twin Petrels Seltzer Co.—where members were able to catch up with another over refreshing, creative, seltzer-based mocktails and cocktails as well as a delicious spread of food. This event brings the opportunity for our members to look back on the year and the accomplishments that came with it as well as what to look forward to as we kick off the new board year.

Thank you again to all of our members and sponsors! We would not be able to do this without your continued support and dedication to the Buffalo advertising community. 

Make sure to sign up for our newsletter mailing list at and follow us on our social channels to stay up to date on all of our events and happenings.


RECAP: Portfolio Review 2023

AAF Buffalo was back in person at UB’s Center for the Arts for its annual Portfolio Review event on April 29th from 10 AM – 1 PM. As always, students presented their best work to some of Buffalo’s brightest advertising pros and got invaluable feedback to take their work to the next level. 

This year, the club returned the event to its speed dating style, where students met with 15 pros in 15-minute 1-on-1 sessions for two and a half hours. Each participant presented their top 3 pieces, received feedback, and continued showing the rest of their portfolio. Pros from Crowley Webb, the Martin Group, Community Beer Works, White Bicycle, and more met with students this year and raved about students’ ability to communicate their design decisions effectively. 

Each year after students share their work with all the professional volunteers, the pros nominate two portfolio review scholarships for outstanding work, portfolio craftsmanship, and presentation skills. So please join us in congratulating the following students:

Portfolio Review Scholarship: Hannah Smith – LinkedIn
Portfolio Review Scholarship: Rachel Tranter
Honorable Mention: Julia Fay –  juliafayonline.comLinkedIn

The AAF board would like to thank all professional volunteers and give a major high five to all student participants. We can’t wait for next year!

(Pictured Left to Right: Julia Fay, Noah Herman, Hannah Smith, Rachel Tranter)

(Pictured: All student participants, professional volunteers, and resident buffoon Noah Herman)