Third Annual Three Minute Thesis Competition

Event Date: March 8, 2019

Winners Finalists Judges Emcee Event Photos

The Judging Panel

Mike Anderson

Mike Anderson headshot.

Mike Anderson serves as the regional retail administrator for up-and-coming “Bank on Buffalo”—a division of CNB Bank. He has held several retail leadership positions in his 18-year banking career.

Anderson most recently served as a retail area leader for Key Bank. Prior to the Key Bank/First Niagara merger, he served as an area retail leader for four years at First Niagara Bank and three years at HSBC Bank USA, N.A. He began his career at Fleet Bank in 2001.

Anderson was born and raised in South Buffalo. He has lived in Hamburg for the last 14 years with his wife Kelly and daughter Mia. He serves on several community boards, including his roles as president of the University at Buffalo Alumni Association, treasurer for the WNY Perinatal Bereavement Network, and on the Board of Directors for the Amherst Chamber of Commerce.

Anderson received his master’s degree in business administration from UB’s School of Management EMBA program in 2017. He was honored as one of Business First’s “40 Under 40” for rising leaders in the local business community.

Steve Bell

Steve Bell headshot.

For 12 years at Eric Mower + Associates, Steve Bell carved out a go-to public affairs practice dealing with pressing issues like health care, state policy, politics and economic development. He led Mower’s agency-wide crisis and reputation management practice area, which included media, presentation and crisis training. He also served as head of Mower’s 40-person Buffalo office for three years. In September 2018, Bell left the agency to embark on his own crisis and reputation management consultancy, Steve Bell Communications LLC.

Prior to his years at Mower, Bell worked at The Buffalo News for two decades, where he was editorial page editor, managing editor, business editor and city editor.

Bell received his master’s degree in European history from the University of Albany. He currently serves on the Western New York Public Broadcasting Association’s Community Advisory Board, and on the Board of Governors for the United Way of Buffalo and Erie County.

Mary Kate O'Connell

Mary Kate O'Connell headshot.

Mary Kate O’Connell is a lifelong resident of Western New York and an award-winning actress. Since 1995, O’Connell has been the executive/artistic director of O’Connell & Company Productions. She is a producer of musicals, revues, cabarets, concerts, plays and special presentations, as well as benefit performances and events for charitable organizations. She also directs theatre classes, workshops and coaching, and children’s theatre camps. O’Connell & Company, in residence at The Park School of Buffalo, marks its 24th anniversary year for original and creative theatrical programming and acting/creative drama classes for children. Mary Kate O’Connell created, writes and directs the popular O’Connell & Company original, DIVA by DIVA: A Celebration of Women! Now in it’s 19th year, DIVA by DIVA: A Celebration of Women! is the longest running revue in Western New York history.