Walter P. Cooke Community Leadership Award

Walter P. Cooke Community Leadership Award winner Esther Annan
Esther Annan, MSW ’06, BA ’04.

Esther Annan, MSW ’06, BA ’04

Annan is an active and influential changemaker, working alongside community-based organizations and government agencies to improve the lives of Western New Yorkers.

A graduate of the UB School of Social Work, Annan is a program officer with the John R. Oishei Foundation, a private, comprehensive foundation serving Western New York, where she develops, manages and evaluates a portfolio of grants and initiatives, with a focus on health and human services. 

Prior to joining the Oishei Foundation, Annan was program director for Say Yes to Education Buffalo, an education-based initiative which seeks to remove barriers City of Buffalo youth face in pursuing higher education. In this role, she developed a coordinated continuum of school-based services to support students and families, including mental, legal and primary health care needs. Her previous roles as a juvenile justice counselor, forensic mental health specialist and social worker with the Erie County Department of Social Services and Mental Health informed her work with Say Yes. 

Annan was recognized nationally as a member of the 2022 Class of Fellows for the Terrance Keenan Institute for Emerging Leaders in Health Philanthropy, is a Karen Lee Spaulding Oishei Leaders of Color Fellow, and a member of the UB School of Social Work Dean’s Advisory Board. Additionally, she has served as chair of Arts for Learning WNY and in various leadership roles as a member of Eureka Grand Chapter, Prince Hall Order Eastern Star, State of New York; the Erie County Chapter of The Links, Inc.; and with the Church of Pentecost, U.S.A.; her church home.  

Annan also serves as a contractor with the New York State Office of Children and Family Services through her business, Esther Annan Consulting Services. 

Walter P. Cooke Community Leadership Award

The Walter P. Cooke Community Leadership Award is presented to an alumnus in recognition of outstanding accomplishments that make our university and/or their community a better place. Honorees influence the growth and improvement of the community and inspire others to give their active interest and material support.