Hayes McAlonie, Williams recognized as ‘trailblazing women’

Published March 9, 2020

UB’s Kelly Hayes McAlonie and Lillian S. Williams are “trailblazing women” in Erie County.

They join Buffalo mediation attorney Nadia Shahram, Medaille College administrator Lori V. Quigley and former Erie County Legislator Joan Bozer as recipients of the 2020 Women of Courage, Compassion & Commitment Award from the Erie County Commission on the Status of Women.

The five women were recognized at the commission’s annual Women’s History Month Kickoff Event and Honoree Ceremony, held March 4 in the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library’s Downtown Library.

Each of this year’s honorees has demonstrated a commitment to trailblazing a path for women through their advocacy, community engagement and a passion for recognizing our trailblazing foremothers and sisters,” said Karen L. King, Erie County commissioner of public advocacy and executive director of the Erie County Commission on the Status of Women.

Hayes McAlonie, Williams, Quigley and Bozer serve on the Steering Committee of the Trailblazing Women of WNY Monuments Project that the Erie County Commission on the Status of Women is leading. In this project, three statues will be placed to honor women who made significant contributions nationally and to the region: Louise Bethune, the first professional architect in the U.S; Mary Burnett Talbert, a suffragist, educator and human rights activist; and Geraldine Sid-Tah Green, devoted educator of her Haudenosaunee traditions.

Hayes McAlonie, an architect and director of campus planning at UB, oversees the university’s built environment, encompassing 12 million gross square feet of space across three campuses covering more than 1,230 acres.

She is responsible for implementing the UB Comprehensive Plan and realizing the strategic goals of the institution.

Hayes McAlonie also leads the planning efforts of the university’s strategic and capital projects, including the South Campus Revitalization Plan and the UB Academic Utilization Study.

Her first job after joining UB in 2010 as associate director of capital, facilities and space planning was to conduct a master plan for the new Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences building on the Downtown Campus.

Hayes McAlonie has spent the past 14 years researching the life and career of Bethune, who practiced in Buffalo from 1881-1911. She is currently writing a monograph on Bethune, in collaboration with SUNY Press and the UB Libraries. In 2011, she co-curated the first exhibit in 25 years on Bethune.

Williams, associate professor in the Department of Transnational Studies, is a former chair of the Department of African American Studies.

A specialist in U.S. social and urban history, her research is in the areas of institutions, ethnicity, biography and women’s history. She has consulted on major projects for the Smithsonian Museum, the New York State Museum and local museums, corporations and not-for-profit organizations. She serves on the executive board of the Niagara Falls National Heritage Corporation and the Michigan Street Historic Area Commission. She also is a member of the steering committee of the National Collaborative for Women’s Historic Sites.

Williams is the recipient of numerous academic and research awards and honors, among them the Rockefeller Foundation Minority Scholars Fellowship, the Nuala McGann Dresher Award and the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. She was selected as a fellow in the National African American Women’s Leadership Institute, and was the recipient of the Niagara County Black Achievers’ Lifetime Award. The YWCA of Western New York awarded her its Racial Justice Award in 2009.

She is the editor of the papers of the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs, and associate editor of the 16-volume series “Black Women in American History.” Williams is a founder of the Association of Black Women Historians and the Afro-American Historical Association of the Niagara Frontier.

In addition to dozens of scholarly articles, Williams published “Strangers in the Land of Paradise,” which chronicles the migration and settlement of African Americans in Buffalo. She currently is writing a biography of Mary Burnett Talbert.