Christina P. Orsi made Buffalo history on December 6th by being named the first female President of the John R. Oishei Foundation, succeeding Robert D. Gioia who retires in January 2022 after 15 years of service.
The John R. Oishei Foundation is the most comprehensive private foundation in Western New York focusing on a broad range of interrelated issues and offering philanthropic support that goes far beyond funding. With a 20-year history in driving innovation and entrepreneurial advances in Western New York, Orsi holds promise to be instrumental in attracting new business connections, forging sustainable partnerships, stewarding billions of revitalization funds to the area and encouraging entrepreneurial ventures; all while maintaining a focus on community growth and transformation of the region by capitalizing on its rich assets. Her portfolio exemplifies a mastery in economic development work, leading organizations and initiatives that have improved Western New York greatly, including her current work as the Associate Vice President in the Office of Economic Development at the University at Buffalo (UB).
Orsi’s love for Western New York came after graduate school where she completed a Master of Science in Public Affairs and Urban Planning from UB. In a recent press release she stated, “I chose to make Western New York my home and have spent my career advancing the growth of our community. From Rochester, I came for graduate school at the University at Buffalo, and never left. I fell in love with this community. This town and its people have grit, and hearts that swell with pride for their neighborhoods, their home teams, their families and for the rich history, architecture and natural assets that make up this bi-national melting pot. I am relentless in rallying a team to help ensure that everyone participates in Buffalo’s revitalization.”
In addition to her roles at UB and Empire State Development Corporation, she has also served with Invest Buffalo Niagara and the Buffalo Niagara Partnership supporting business growth and attracting investment to the area. Her community involvement includes membership on the Greater Buffalo Racial Equity Roundtable, as a founding board member of 43North and of TechBuffalo, and a board member of Invest Buffalo Niagara, and Upstate Capital. She has also served on the board of Catholic Charities.
The Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Foundation, William G. Gisel has put total faith in Orsi’s ability and expressed his appreciation of her important perspective on economic development that will certainly complement the work of the foundation in a multitude of initiatives. He stated, “Christina has a wealth of experience and expertise in working to improve Western New York that closely aligns with the mission of the Foundation. Her vast network in all facets of the community will be extremely valuable to the Foundation’s work. We were impressed with her passion for this community and her desire to address some of the most challenging issues Western New York faces and we are very confident that she has the right skills and the perspective to lead the work of the Foundation.”
In her role as president, Orsi will lead a staff of nine and manage the Foundation’s assets of more than $320 million in five focus areas of education, healthcare, neighborhood stabilization, self-sufficiency, and arts, culture and heritage.
“As the new leader, during what is inarguably the most profound time in recent history, I will be a catalyst for change, embracing innovation, inclusive of different perspectives and a collaborative connector with an unwavering mission that drives positive impact in our community. It is a privilege to help carry on the legacy of Mr. Oishei as an entrepreneur and philanthropist.”