By Michelle Cioci, originally published in Buffalo Business First on Jan 9, 2020, 4:42am EST | Updated Jan 10, 2020, 11:15am.

Check out the first IDEA (Inclusion Diversity Equity Awareness) Award winners

Executives who work to improve urban education. Health care leaders who fight for equitable outcomes. A manufacturing company that celebrates employees from around the world. A workforce training center that is changing a community.

These are some of the honorees for the inaugural IDEA (Inclusion Diversity Equity Awareness) Awards presented by Buffalo Business First, along with platinum sponsors, M&T Bank and Phillips Lytle LLP.

Nineteen people and eight organizations were chosen from 65 nominations for championing diversity and inclusion. They will be honored at a dinner on Feb. 26 at Salvatore’s Italian Gardens.

While diversity represent demographic differences such as race, religion, gender, sexual orientation and disability, inclusion means a feeling of belonging and how well employees are valued, respected, accepted and encouraged to participate in an organization.

“Business First is proud to celebrate the people and organizations working to promote diversity and inclusion in Western New York,” said John Tebeau, president and publisher of Business First. “This is an impressive list of honorees and we look forward to sharing their stories.”

The following people are being honored:

  • Jomo Akono, council representative, North Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters
  • Margarita Dubocovich, senior associate dean for diversity and inclusion, University of Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine
  • Joseph Hanna, partner, Goldberg Segalla
  • Faizan Haq, founder, WNY Muslims
  • Kawanza Humphrey, corporate community responsibility officer, KeyBank
  • Eric Klapper, executive director, Tapestry Charter School
  • Kim Marino, manager of learning and organizational development, Independent Health
  • Inna Martin, customer service supervisor, Geico
  • Ekua Mends-Aidoo, equity and inclusion officer, Evergreen Health
  • Max Muscato, president, Rock Autism
  • DeWan Stroud, director of diversity and inclusion, People Inc.
  • Michele Trolli, executive vice president/chief technology and operations officer, M&T Bank
  • Raul Vazquez, CEO, GBUAHN
  • Eric Yarwood, executive director, Education Collaborative of WNY
  • Laura Zaepfel, vice president of corporate relations, Uniland Development Company
  • Elizabeth Hole and Lindsay Meagher, founders of Diversity and Inclusion Committee, Horizon Health
  • Aimee Levesque, founder, executive and artistic director, and Marilyn Erentsen-Scott, artistic director, Inclusive Theater of Western New York 

The following organizations are being honored:

  • Adoption STAR
  • BestSelf Behavioral Health
  • Buffalo Prenatal Perinatal Network
  • Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access (IDEA Center), University at Buffalo School of Architecture
  • Diversified Labor Solutions
  • Erie County Medical Center Corp.
  • Northland Workforce Training Center
  • Safetec of America Inc.

For ticket information, click here.