It is no surprise that Dottie Gallagher-Cohen, president and chief executive officer of Visit Buffalo Niagara for the past three years, was chosen from a field of more than 200 candidates to be the new president of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership.
She will replace Andrew J. Rudnick when he retires in early June.
Gallagher-Cohen brings marketing savvy and networking skills, in addition to her positive attitude and the ability to get things done. She also brings that “X” factor – the ability to make people pay attention to whatever task she is trying to accomplish.
In the interest of full disclosure, Gallagher-Cohen’s list of career accomplishments includes her 13 years at The Buffalo News, where she rose to become senior vice president of marketing. Prior to that, she was executive director of the Kelly for Kids Foundation, marketing manager at Buffalo Place and director of public relations at Erie Community College.
She will become just the second person to head the Partnership, formed in 1992 through the merger of the Buffalo Chamber of Commerce and the Rudnick-led Greater Buffalo Development Foundation.
Gallagher-Cohen also takes on an important role as one of the few women in the male-dominated business arena. The glass ceiling has not exactly shattered but at least it is showing signs of cracking.
Her new role will be an important one.
The Partnership is the area’s business advocacy group and, under Rudnick, has taken strong stances in its efforts to push through legislation to benefit its members. That advocacy has resonated in Albany and in Washington. It is important that Gallagher-Cohen plans to continue those efforts while placing greater emphasis on communicating the Partnership’s positions and services.
Gallagher-Cohen will be able to draw on her marketing experience to sell the area’s assets to the larger audience outside the region. That will be an extension of what she did at Visit Buffalo, where she refocused the tourism agency’s emphasis from broad-based marketing to a concentration on cultural tourism, the region’s arts, architecture and industrial history and amateur sports.
Her strength in networking and an ability to bring people to the table should be of great help in promoting the area’s private-sector leadership.
The fact that Gallagher-Cohen was the unanimous choice of both the Partnership’s 24-person executive committee and its overall membership is a strong vote of confidence. That confidence is bolstered by knowledge that she was selected after a rigorous, expensive search by the firm Korn/Ferry.