Griffs Under 40: Drew M. Brown '08

July 18, 2017


Buffalo, NY - Collaborative is the key word when referring to Drew Brown ’08, Kevin Heffernan ’08 and Bridget Schaefer ’13.

The Canisius trio founded Rise Collaborative, a for-profit organization that promotes locally owned small businesses, non-profit agencies, artists and advocacy groups in Western New York. Rise Collaborative utilizes a comprehensive website, its No Boundaries newspaper and a variety of events to advocate for people, businesses and neighborhoods that may not be sharing in Buffalo’s renaissance. 

“It’s said that a rising tide lifts all boats but we saw many areas in Buffalo that were not enjoying the economic resurgence in the same way as downtown and other places,” Brown explains. “Rise Collaborative emerged from our shared idea that the resurgent economy should involve everyone, including under-reported neighborhoods throughout the city.”

Brown and Heffernan met freshman year at Canisius; Heffernan and Schaefer worked together at a local marketing agency.  Each one brings different skill sets and talents to Rise Collaborative to create a unique organization with a shared vision.

Brown currently works as a marketing manager with Visit Buffalo Niagara, the area’s lead agency for promoting tourism, conventions and cultural events, and came to love the city while growing up in the historic Polonia District. Heffernan is a freelance content strategist and social media manager, and has traveled extensively in Europe, studied in El Salvador and taught in India.  He brings a worldview to the group. Schaefer is director of hospitality at Larkinville and previously worked in local TV news and communications.  She has extensive capabilities in video and photography.

“Working in local television gave me the opportunity to see all different parts of the city,” Schaefer explains. “Now, with Rise Collaborative, I can focus on helping to promote positive change in every area of our hometown.”

As part of its mission, Rise Collaborative brings the community together via Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and other social media posts from individuals, local businesses and organizations. The site also features a clothing and apparel section with items designed and printed in collaboration with local artists. The semi-annual No Boundaries newspaper – with a circulation of 10,000 - partners with local organizations that contribute to the content for the issue and then share in revenues generated by the paper’s sponsors.

“We have a small business focus to show that the renaissance in Buffalo is more than just big corporations,” Heffernan says. “We share an interest in social justice issues and a desire to positively promote those people, businesses and organizations in Buffalo that are not often in the spotlight.”