Young Buffalo Introduces… Nina Barone

Meet Nina. Age 30. Buffalo, New York. Director of Admissions and Freelance Writer.


What is your favorite thing about living in Buffalo?

Buffalo is an incredibly welcoming community and there’s depth beneath that friendly surface. There are few places I’ve been where folks smile at you walking down the street and make small talk in the grocery aisle line, but there’s a palpable tenacity to many people here too. Many community members are working to make Buffalo better–not because they don’t love Buffalo as it is, but because (a.) people need to get to know the city in a different dimension (b.) Buffalo isn’t the same place it was yesterday or last year or 25 years ago (c.) Buffalo is in a unique position to attract people from around the world to live and work here and to bring people back to their hometown. There are people working to show that the tech startup industry is thriving, the food scene is special, the arts and cultural offerings are strong, the neighborhoods are diverse and hold historical significance, and the cost of living is very reasonable, which affords many people the opportunity to travel and experience the world beyond this area. Those are all remarkable things that add up to my favorite thing: Buffalo is more than meets the eye.

You’ve traveled extensively. What’s something that you’d like to see in Western New York that you’ve seen elsewhere?

I love Europe’s piazzas and squares. They are often the lifeblood of a neighborhood, bringing people of all ages together at all times of day and night. They house many gems: markets, restaurants, bakeries, cafes, shops and museums. Perhaps a more reliable, far-reaching public transportation system would allow us to have more community gathering spaces that are only accessible by foot. (I would enjoy it if in Buffalo people even parked their car and walked a little more willingly!)

What does a typical day in your life look like?

I wake up early during the school year, typically by 6:15 a.m., and get to work by 7:30 a.m. so I can greet our visitors to campus. I spend my day meeting with kids and parents to share Nichols School with them and working alongside the most dedicated colleagues ever. It’s amazing to genuinely love the people you work with and I’m truly fortunate for that. After work, I often have meetings for the volunteer Boards or committees on which I serve. I’m very involved with the Elmwood Village Association, the International Institute of Buffalo and Canisius College. I try to make dinner every night or my husband, Nicholas, and I go to one of our favorite spots. If I’m lucky, I get some quality down time with Nicholas, friends or family, or I may get some gym time or yoga in before sunset. I typically end my day with reading and/or writing before bedtime. I’m the kind of person who packs a lot into a day and doesn’t mind it. On weekends I enjoy visiting farmers’ markets, spending time with my husband, family and friends, exploring the city, going on little adventures and blogging.

What is something you’d like to see happen in Western New York in the next 5-10 years?

I want to see people stop apologizing for this city. My hope is that the next 5-10 years will bring more pride and optimism to Western New York so people don’t feel the need to be embarrassed of it in any way.

What advice would you give to other young professionals in Western New York, or those just starting out in their fields?

Network, don’t be afraid to stick your neck out a bit and take risks. I have found that many young people think they aren’t ready for a certain job yet. That is probably true, but everyone starts there. If you aren’t afraid to work hard, be adaptable, ask questions and fail forward. Make mistakes and learn from them, and you’ll be in good company. Surround yourself with people you want to be like, work with, etc. Lastly, too many people underestimate the importance of a strong work ethic–it can’t exactly be taught to a young adult, but it can be improved. Oh, and don’t ask, don’t get, a lesson compliments of one of my favorite teachers and people, Melissa Wanzer of Canisius College. Negotiate your salary (especially you, ladies), ask for a raise or promotion, and don’t give up if it doesn’t go your way the first time (or second or third). It’s always worth trying to get what you want.

If you had to choose one meal as your last, what would it be?

This is one of the craziest questions for a foodie. I immediately think of ridiculous follow up questions, such as “What’s the weather like?” and “What’s in season?” and “Who’s there?” It’s a toss up between a completely luxurious over-the-top meal from the likes of Thomas Keller, Pierre Gagnaire, Joël Robuchon or Silvio Nickol to savor every bite and appreciate all the thought that went into it (it’s my last, after all!) OR my family’s lasagna with sauce. I’m completely serious. It’s too hard to answer!

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