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Buffalo, What's Next?: Politics, Food availability and Diversity

The latest reporting from WBFO’s Tom Dinki on right wing politics, extremism and racism after the weekend’s Re-Awaken America event in Batavia. Also, Jay Moran with Stan Martin of CAI Global, Ebony White from the  African American Health Equity Task Force, and Alex Wright of the African Heritage Food Co-Op. , reflecting on some of the health disparity issues- especially food apartheid-- raised at this weekend’s Igniting Hope conference at the University at Buffalo. And Brigid Jaipaul-Valenza talks with Ekuaa Mends-Aidoo from Evergreen Health on DEI, tokenism, equity and ensuring everyone has a seat at the table.

Latest Episodes
  • An upcoming arts event is the focus of today’s episode of What’s Next? Chad Williams and Cain McDermott, two co-founders of Buffalo Fashion Runway, join Jay Moran to discuss their upcoming Black Carpet event and how it blends local fashion and design with Black culture and history, as well as Buffalo’s emerging creative economy.
  • Today’s What’s Next? welcomes Donna Robinson, a Buffalo community organizer for the advocacy campaign Releasing Aging People in Prison, or RAPP. Robinson joined the group in 2017 but has been advancing the rights of incarcerated people since long before. Her approach to the work is wide-ranging, and she knows firsthand what the carceral system can do to families across generations. She speaks with Jay Moran about parole reform, clemency, what it looks like for people who are still behind bars after decades, and what changes might be coming.
  • Today’s Producer’s Pick episode of What’s Next? revisits standout conversations from recent episodes. First, Thomas O’Neil-White speaks with Northland Workforce Training Center President and CEO Stephen Tucker about the center’s recent development grants and new clean technology lab in addition to returning Buffalo to its place as a major manufacturing area. Then, Jay Moran sits down with Thomas Beauford Jr. and Darnell Haywood Jr. from the Buffalo Urban League to examine trends impacting people of color, including assaults on democracy, book-banning, the erosion of voting access, and suppressing history.
  • Carol Anderson’s 2016 book White Rage is the inspiration for an upcoming panel discussion sponsored by Say Yes Buffalo. Ahead of that event, What’s Next? welcomes two of its panelists: Stephanie Peete, Director of Workforce Development at Say Yes Buffalo and panel organizer; and Rob Lesteste, Business Intelligence and Workforce Manager at Invest Buffalo Niagara. Moderator Wil Green, Director of Outreach and Community Engagement at the University at Buffalo Graduate School of Education, joins the two for a conversation with Jay Moran about how systemic inequality impacts education, professional development, and labor and workforce needs here in Buffalo.
  • Today on What’s Next?, Thomas O’Neil-White speaks with Juanita McClain, an author and sickle cell disease activist, and Dr. Steven Ambrusko, the director of the Sickle Cell & Hemoglobinopathy Center of Western New York. The three discuss recent promising breakthroughs in treating sickle cell disease and what roadblocks still remain. Then, Jay Moran sits down with former Congressman Brian Higgins in Washington, D.C. at the tail end of his time in office. Higgins looks back at his 19 years serving New York’s 26th congressional district ahead of his future as President and CEO of Shea's Performing Arts Center.
  • In January, organizers from Saving Black Lives held a “menthol funeral” in Washington, D.C. to push the Biden administration to ban menthol tobacco products. On today’s What’s Next?, Thomas O’Neil-White discusses the reasons behind the idea of a ban, as well as quitting tobacco solutions, with two anti-tobacco campaigners: consultant and public health advocate Stan Martin and Sarah Pearson-Collins, Director of Training, Content, and Development at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. Then, producer Patrick Hosken gets more history on Big Tobacco’s targeted advertising toward communities of color from Dr. Gary Giovino, of the University at Buffalo’s Department of Community Health and Health Behavior.
  • On today’s Producer’s Pick episode of What’s Next?, we revisit two conversations from recent episodes. First, Thomas O’Neil-White sits down with Najja Bouldin, whose company Phoenix Innovation Group LLC, helps individuals and achieve their goals through performance coaching, speaking, consulting, and facilitating creativity. And we close with Jay Moran speaking with the director of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at the University at Buffalo, Dr. Henry Louis Taylor, Jr., about the latter’s 2023 report titled, “How We Change the Black East Side,” which acts as a neighborhood planning and development framework for Buffalo’s East Side communities.
  • With Tops shooter Payton Gendron due back in court on February 2, today’s episode of What’s Next? features producer Patrick Hosken having conversations with legal experts around the issue of capital punishment. First, Megan Byrne, a staff attorney at the ACLU’s Capital Punishment Project, explains what to expect from the federal case against Gendron, and discusses the implications of race in relation to the death penalty. And William Easton, a partner at the law firm Easton Thompson Kasperek Shiffrin and former supervising attorney at the Capital Defender Office, traces the history of the death penalty in New York State and his experience defending against it.
  • On today’s What’s Next?, we welcome guests whose work in the health care field is concentrated in Chautauqua County. First, producer Patrick Hosken speaks with Lacey Keefer Wilson, the county’s newly appointed public health director, about the most pressing health issues in her communities and her plans to tackle them in 2024. Then, Jay Moran sits down with two leaders from the Evergreen Health system: Laurie Matson, the associate vice president of Southern Tier services, and Jessica Schanne, the associate vice president of facilities and emergency management. Both discuss the opening of a new Evergreen facility in Jamestown and the future of health care in the Southern Tier.
  • Today on What’s Next?, two conversations about programs based around giving children the best chance at a promising future. First, Jay Moran talks to Holly Fogle, co-founder and president of The Bridge Project, which provides new mothers with consistent, unconditional cash during the beginning of their child’s life. The program began in New York City and comes to Buffalo this year, with the first payments beginning in February. Then, Thomas O’Neil-White sits down with Mia Ayers-Goss, the executive director of MVP, Most Valuable Parents, an advocacy group founded to combat crime and violence through diversion programs like a new basketball league.