Release Date: October 4, 2002
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- William E. Swan, chairman, president and CEO of First Niagara Financial Group, has been named the 2002 Niagara Frontier Executive of the Year by the University at Buffalo School of Management.
The award will be presented to Swan at the 53rd annual UB School of Management Alumni Association awards banquet at 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 18 at the Hyatt Regency Buffalo. Swan was selected for the award based on a vote by the board of directors of the alumni association and past honorees, who cited his career success, civic leadership and professional integrity.
Swan joined First Niagara Bank in 1988 as senior executive vice president. In 1989, he was elected president and, later that year, chief executive officer. After an IPO in April 1998, Swan became president and CEO of First Niagara Financial Group, Inc., the parent company for First Niagara Bank. In January 2001, he was elected to serve as chairman of the boards of both the bank and the holding company while continuing his role as president and CEO.
Under Swan's leadership, First Niagara has been one of the fastest growing companies in Western New York. The former "little" savings bank has added new markets, services and sources of income. In the 14 years since Swan's arrival, assets have grown from $420 million to $2.9 billion. Banking center locations have risen from five to 39, serving communities that stretch from Buffalo to Utica.
With the capital raised in the bank's IPO, Swan led First Niagara through seven major acquisitions to expand the company's product line and geographic reach. These acquisitions, including an insurance agency, an equipment lease-financing company, an investment advisory firm, an S & L and two community banks located in Central New York, have transformed First Niagara into the regional financial services company it is today.
In July of this year, First Niagara announced yet another milestone: a "second step" stock offering to become a fully public company. The company will simultaneously acquire Finger Lakes Bancorp, Inc., parent of Savings Bank of the Finger Lakes, a well-known and successful
community bank headquartered in Geneva, which will add two new counties and six banking centers to First Niagara's market area.
Active in business and civic activities, Swan serves on numerous boards, including those of the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York, the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, the Buffalo Niagara Enterprise and the Community Bankers Association of New York State. He is chairman of the board of trustees of St. Bonaventure University and serves on the board of Catholic Charities of Buffalo. He also serves on the board of trustees of RSI Retirement Trust and is a member of the Bishop's Council of the Laity of the Diocese of Buffalo.
Swan was born and raised on Buffalo's East Side and resides in Clarence with his wife, Ann. He earned a bachelor's degree from St. Bonaventure University and he is the recipient of numerous awards for his professional achievement, community commitment and dedication to charitable causes.
Most recently, he received the Toast of Buffalo Award from the YMCA of Greater Buffalo and the Lay Award of St. Joseph the Worker from the Diocese of Buffalo. He is a Junior Achievement of WNY, Inc. Hall of Fame Laureate.
He received the Barnabite Fathers annual award for his commitment to the community in November 2000 and the Canisius College Center for Entrepreneurship Award for his business and community leadership in June 2001.
In August, he was an inaugural inductee into the Bishop Fallon High School Hall of Fame, and this month, he and his wife will receive the Curè of Ars award from Christ the King Seminary.
Established in 1949, the Niagara Frontier Executive of the Year award is presented annually to a resident of the Niagara Frontier. Past recipients include Robert E. Rich, Sr.; Paul L. Snyder; Robert E. Rich, Jr.; Jeremy M. Jacobs; the late Burt P. Flickinger, Jr.; the late Seymour H. Knox III; Sal H. Alfiero; Robert G. Wilmers; Bernard J. Kennedy; Frank L. Ciminelli; Reginald B. Newman II, and Luiz F. Kahl. Last year's honoree was Frank J. McGuire.
For more information about the awards banquet, contact John Shellum, assistant dean in the UB School of Management, at 645-3224.