Savvy Over 60: WNY Women of Influence

This March, WBFO is celebrating Women's History Month with a series of profiles we are calling "Savvy Over 60."

Western New York has a diverse talent pool of women who have been uniquely influential over decades. The sexism of the 1970s and '80s may have defined their early career, but not their self or destiny. Along the way, they have helped elevate other women and the region.

WBFO's Marian Hetherly talked with 10 of these savvy women, now age 60 and over, to find out what inspires them to inspire others. Look for their profiles Wednesday mornings, on-air and online.

Savvy Over 60: Kathleen Garvey

Mar 20, 2019

Kathleen Garvey, 67, has reinvented herself several times. She began her career as a registered nurse, then taught nursing in Houston and at D'Youville College in Buffalo. At the end of the Vietnam War, she used those nursing skills in the U.S. Army Reserves, then on active duty and again in the reserves, eventually obtaining the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. However, after two decades of military service, it was time to reinvent herself again. Garvey graduated law school and worked on Medicare appeals and the Erie County Medical Malpractice Reform Model. Most recently, she began her own elder law practice, but continues to volunteer with veteran organizations.

Savvy Over 60: Patti Jones

Mar 20, 2019

Patti Jones has considered herself a typical female since she was a very young boy named Peter. She earned her degree in Mechanical Engineering from Rochester Institute of Technology, joined the family machine and tool design company, taught skiing and snowboarding, raced sailboats, was "happily married to a wonderful woman" for 24 years and had a daughter. It was at the age of 50 - in 2004 - she formally transitioned and has since been dedicated to Western New York's LGBTQ communities as an activist and mentor. Jones shared her journey with WBFO.

Savvy Over 60: Leslie Zemsky

Mar 13, 2019

Leslie Zemsky has perhaps the best job title in Western New York. As Director of Fun (and Vice President) of her family-run Larkin Development Group, she is helping infuse "whimsy amongst the warehouses" of what was Buffalo's first business district. A lifelong philanthropist dedicated to numerous nonprofit causes and board memberships, Zemsky began a creative new adventure in 2002 when the family sold its Russer Foods and bought the Larkin Terminal Warehouse at 726 Exchange St. Since then, the area has blossomed into a vibrant community hub powered by her altruistic energy, called Larkinville.

Savvy Over 60: Peg Overdorf

Mar 13, 2019
Valley Community Association

Down in the Valley is Margaret "Peg" Overdorf. Hang your head over the Michigan Avenue Lift Bridge and you can hear her wind blow. This year, Overdorf is celebrating 40 years as Executive Director of the Valley Community Association, from which has bloomed a renewal along the Ohio Street Corridor to the Buffalo River. You may not recognize their names, but the VCA, Overdorf and her close-knit army of volunteers are leaving their mark on our region, serving families and turning former polluted dumping grounds into waterfront destinations.

Savvy Over 60: Paula Feroleto

Mar 6, 2019
Marian Hetherly / WBFO News

During the housing crisis a decade ago, an estimated one-third of civil filings in New York State Supreme Court were foreclosures. "It was huge numbers," remembers the Hon. Paula Feroleto, "so the court had to adapt how cases were treated." Today issues like the opioids crisis, jailing people with mental illness and Buffalo's influx of refugees are requiring new thinking. As Administrative Judge of the Eighth Judicial District, Feroleto's role is to supervise all 95 judges and 850 employees in Western New York's 22 courts while preserving justice for all.

Savvy Over 60: Sheila Kee

Mar 6, 2019
Marian Hetherly / WBFO News

Few Western New Yorkers have led a hospital and fewer have been women. Then there is Sheila Kee. She has led three local hospitals, the Community Health Association of New York State and the Western Region for the state Health Department. Since September 2008, she has served as Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, where her imprint can be found on many transformational initiatives. However, her career sprung from one of the most important periods in American politics.

Savvy Over 60: Ellen E. Grant

Mar 1, 2019
Weiss Institute / Say Yes to Education

Ellen E. Grant is a fellow at the Weiss Institute, an initiative of Say Yes to Education that marshals best practices and the latest research to address inequities and boost economic development by supporting young people from early childhood to adult success. It is the latest of many leadership hats worn by this savvy woman over 60, who grew up in Buffalo's public housing to become a nurse, a social worker, a licensed therapist, an executive coach, a college instructor, Director of Cornerstone Manor, Vice President at BlueCross/BlueShield of Western New York, President and CEO of Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, Erie County Commissioner of Mental Health and City of Buffalo Deputy Mayor.

Savvy Over 60: Althea Luehrsen

Mar 1, 2019
Leadership Buffalo

Althea Luehrsen has been CEO of Leadership Buffalo since January 2012 and is Co-founder and Vice Chair of Women Who Lead WNY. Through service, diversity, inclusion and openness to change, she believes giving back to her community is key to the success of the region. She does this every day, not only by freely sharing her 40 years of work experience, but through numerous board memberships and nonprofit causes. No wonder her career is full of accolades and her mantelpiece with awards.


Savvy Over 60: WNY Women of Influence

Mar 1, 2019
Eileen Elibol / WNED/WBFO

On this first day of March, WBFO is beginning a celebration of Women's History Month with a feature seriesĀ  we are calling "Savvy Over 60."