2019 Beacon Awards

9th annual Beacon Awards

Beacon-Awards-logo-2015Visit Buffalo Niagara kicked off National Travel & Tourism Week on Tuesday, May 7, with the 9th annual Beacon Awards luncheon. Over 400 industry professionals were in attendance to pay tribute to those individuals and organizations providing superior service throughout Erie County, and this year’s celebration did not disappoint!

Listed below are all nominees, and winners are highlighted.

Outstanding Lodging Employee

  • Amber Goldfuss, Butler, The Mansion on Delaware
  • Rita Humagai, Housekeeping Inspector, Hyatt Place Buffalo/Amherst
  • Annie Jones, Lobby Attendant, Holiday Inn Express Buffalo Airport
  • Renee McKeown, Administrative Assistant, Holiday Inn Express Buffalo Airport
  • Erin Naylor, Front Desk Supervisor, Reikart House
  • Elizabeth Pietrzak, Housekeeping Guest Service Representative, Red Roof Inn Buffalo Airport

Outstanding Lodging Manager

  • La-Toya Williams, Director of Sales, Hyatt Place Buffalo/Amherst

Outstanding General Manager

  • Karen Oleszak, Reikart House
  • Stephanie Pericozzi, Staybridge Suites
  • Jennifer Redmond, Residence Inn Downtown Buffalo

Outstanding Tourism Executive

  • Mark Andol, Chief Executive Officer, Owner, Made in America
  • Joel Dombrowski, Chief Executive Officer, Owner, Double Decker Bus Tour
  • Christine Goerss-Barton, Guest Services Manager, Albright-Knox Art Gallery
  • Beverly Halligan, Customer Service Superintendent, Buffalo Niagara International Airport
  • Curt Maranto, Executive Director, Roycroft Campus Corporation
  • Olivia McCarthy, Deputy Director, Explore Buffalo
  • Michael Schmand, Executive Director, Buffalo Place, Inc.

Outstanding Tourism Volunteer of the Year – Cindy Gorski, Explore Buffalo

Tourism Initiative of the Year

  • Dorothy Furtney, Hip East Aurora in the Heartland
  • Sarah Nichter, Shop, Rock-in-Stroll & Halloween on Hertel

Restaurant of the Year

  • Christi Allen, Dunbar Berdine and Johny Chow, Misuta Chow’s
  • Louis John Billittier and Mary Beth Billittier, Chef’s
  • Tom and Donna Lombardo, Lombardo’s

Bring it Home – Conventions

  • Ingram Micro Annual US kickoff, President’s Club Awards

Bring it Home – Sports

  • Mark Grundtisch, Pepsi Hockey Invitational
  • Dave Myers, Girls Fastpitch, Aunt Rosie’s Tournament

Buffalo Ambassador of the Year (Note: this year, there were three)

  • Helen Brady, Docent, Explore Buffalo
  • John Dubreville, Hale Northeastern
  • Michael Morgulis, Owner, New Buffalo Graphics
  • Tim Tielman, Co-founder and Executive Director of the Campaign for Greater Buffalo

In addition, the following individuals were recognized for Bringing it Home in 2018:

  • John Allen, Smith-Williams 2018 Family Reunion
  • Carol Applewhite, Cartwright Family Reunion
  • Alex Bartosh, WNY Film Festival
  • Denise Blanchard and Patricia Bishop, United House of Prayer
  • Barbara Campagna, Association for Preservation Technology Annual Conference
  • Darryl Choates and Karen Johnson, Choates Family Reunion
  • Liz Conrad, Great Lakes Baptist Association
  • TJ Day, Star Swimming
  • Steve Eden, Delaware North Big Event
  • Jessie Fisher, Preservation Rightsizing Network
  • Kathy Goller, Diocese of Buffalo Department of Youth & Young Adult Ministry
  • Sandra Green, Covenant Truth Center Thinking Church Conference
  • Kathy Gregoire, Skating Club of Buffalo
  • Alex Gress and Colleen Heidinger, 43 North
  • Joseph Guarino, American Association of Airport Executives
  • Romunda Harris-Fonville, Buffalo Alumni college Network 2018 Reunion
  • Nina Heard, Baily-Usher Family Reunion
  • Tom Hersey, FLW Outdoors
  • Astay Holley, Watts Family Reunion
  • Jenna Kavanaugh and Tom Kucharski, International Economic Development council IEDC
  • Judith Kroll, Supreme Temple Daughters of the Nile
  • Brian Kulpa and Julianne Yates, Congress for the New Urbanism NY Chapter Summit
  • Jim Kuryak, Jack Martin and Tom McManus, Entrepreneurs’ Organization EO
  • John Maddock, Metro Athletic Conference Men’s and Women’s Swimming & Diving Championships
  • Lou Merzacco, National Corvette Museum
  • Vicki Mitchell, NCAA Cross Country Division I
  • Paul Mulcaire, Gaelic Athletic Association, Buffalo Fenians PRO
  • Dave Myers, Aunt Rosie’s Softball, Amherst Girls Softball League
  • Tasha Pitts, Harrison-Jones Family Reunion
  • Brian Ritter, Nexstar Media Group
  • Tatesha Russell, Colston Annual Family Reunion
  • Todd Ruth, International Thunderbird Club Annual Convention
  • Judy Sanders, Jones-Williams-Cole Family Reunion
  • Diane Scarver, Tompkins-Scarver Family Reunion
  • Kathleen Skoog, WNY Children’s Book Expo
  • Samantha Smith, Ingram Micro USSK Sales Meeting
  • Sylvia Stovall, Foote Family Reunion
  • John Vitale, American Rose Society
  • Dennis Walczyk, Catholic Charities USA
  • Olivia Warburton, McClain Family Reunion
  • Molly Wimberly, Spikes Family Reunion
  • Ed Warhol, National Softball Association Qualifier
  • Rich Wozniak, New Era Cap Baseball
  • Rick Zacher,The Cup – North American Championships 2017

Hospitality scholarships awarded

Visit Buffalo Niagara awarded a $1,000 hospitality scholarship to Jackson Richert, , a senior who is graduating from Springville-Griffith High School in June of 2019. Jackson will be attending Niagara University in the fall of 2019. The New York State Restaurant Association/Western New York Chapter awarded six $1,000 scholarships (which were matched by the National Association) to:

  • Buffalo State College student Lena Zmijewski;
  • Erie Community College students Phoebe Beiter and Steven Williams;
  • Trocaire College student Shayann Caber;
  • Niagara Community College student Nadiera Sanders; and
  • Niagara University student Bobby Strait.

This year’s scholarships were given in memory of Peter Longo, former two-time president of the New York State Restaurant Association, Western New York Chapter, and a founding member of Local Restaurant Week, who passed away in 2017.

Stay tuned for next year’s Beacon Awards!

Photos from the 2019 Beacon Awards award luncheon: