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About Kevin Gaughan

Kevin Gaughan is a civic leader and nationally known expert on government reform and community renewal. His work is the impetus behind increasing levels of cooperation among Western New York local governments.

Mr. Gaughan conceived of and organized the 1997 Chautauqua Conference on Regionalism. Under the auspices of The Ford Foundation, the conference gathered over 2,500 participants to the Chautauqua Institution to hear America's leading local governance scholars and practitioners. Attracting national attention, Mr. Gaughan was credited with beginning a region-wide discussion of how Buffalo Niagara can reduce fragmented government and restore share community across social, racial, and geographic boundaries.

In 1998, Mr. Gaughan founded the Region-Wide Conversation, a program of inter-church visits and discussions to foster understanding among urban and suburban residents. Over 300 places of worship participated, and two American cities have adopted the program.

His Chautauqua conferences continued in 1999 with an examination of public education. Over 500 scholars, administrators, parents, and students gathered to discuss innovations to reduce urban-suburban inequity and increase social and racial diversity in classrooms. After his Chautauqua efforts, Mr. Gaughan advanced land use planning efforts to address sprawl. His proposed citizen-based plan would coordinate urban, suburban, and rural growth, encourage City of Buffalo investment, and inform local planning decisions with regional purpose and "smart growth" principles.

In 2000, Mr. Gaughan again marshaled broad community support for his "Canal Conversation," a two-day public forum on the Erie Canal and its role in our region's development. The gathering gave voice to some 3,000 citizens, whose insistence that Buffalo's western terminus be restored insured the Canal's continued protection as a national treasure.

In 2003, as New York State prepared to impose a financial control board on both Buffalo and its school district, Mr. Gaughan founded "Buffalo Conversation," a program by which citizens can participate in local public policy decisions. By emphasizing citizens rather than politicians, its inaugural session gave new life to the American "town hall meeting" tradition, attracting 1,700 citizens, 64 elected officials, and 48 community leaders. It was televised live by local ABC network affiliate, WKBW-TV, and was the first ever joint meeting of the Erie County Legislature and Buffalo Common Council.

In 2003, Buffalo Conversation 2 examined public education. And in 2004, Buffalo Conversation 3 asked whether Erie County should merge with the City of Buffalo. It attracted 1,500 citizens, was broadcast live for two hours by local CBS affiliate, WIVB-TV, and was among the highest-rated locally produced programs.

A graduate of Harvard University and Georgetown University Law School, Mr. Gaughan studied international relations at The London School of Economics. He has published and spoken throughout the nation on urban planning, government reform, and the history of Buffalo. His first book, "At First Light: Strengthening Buffalo Niagara in the New Century," was published in 2003 by Canisius College Press.

In 1998, Mr. Gaughan was named a Citizen of the Year by The Buffalo News. In 2001, he became the youngest recipient of the Red Jacket Medal, considered among Western New York's most prestigious awards and presented by the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society for civic leadership. In 2004, Mr. Gaughan received the Outstanding Citizen award from the State of New York League of Women Voters.

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