Heidinger becomes organization’s fourth president, first female executive director
BUFFALO, NY – Today, the 43North Board of Directors announced the appointment of Colleen E. Heidinger to President. The move for Heidinger comes after nearly five years with the organization, where she most recently served as VP of Programming Strategy and Community Engagement.
Heidinger succeeds Alex Gress, who led 43North for nearly two years. “We have accomplished much under Alex’s tenure to emphasize that Buffalo is an ideal community for starting and growing an emerging company,” said Eric Reich, 43North Board Chair and CEO of Campus Labs. “We are excited to pass the torch to another leader in our entrepreneurial ecosystem to build on our success to date.”
The promotion is part of a succession plan that aims to elevate the 43North brand on a national scale. “In this next phase of growth, and with Colleen at the helm, our goal is to continue to reinforce the incredible benefits that come from winning a 43North investment,” said Reich. “We’re thrilled to have Colleen leading this brand evolution on the national stage and eager to see this next aspect of our plans unfold.”
Heidinger’s success at 43North and her experience building national partnerships in other markets made her a strong candidate for the position. Born and raised in the First Ward neighborhood of Buffalo, Colleen attended Babson College, the top-rated university for entrepreneurship in the country. Before returning to her hometown, she spent over a decade in Los Angeles and New York City working in the film and television industry, leading brand partnerships and managing global event production.
In addition to her work at 43North, Colleen founded the Ignite Buffalo small business grant program, which brought $1 million in investment from national partners to WNY and led to the creation of over 100 local jobs. She is also the owner of Space on Seneca, a Larkinville yoga studio and events space, and an adjunct professor of entrepreneurship at Daemen College. Colleen is a founding board member for both Teach for America Buffalo and Buffalo Collegiate Charter School, an ambassador for Girls Education Collaborative, a former member of the Nichols School Alumni Board and Pro-Zoo Board, and a mentor for Say Yes to Education students.
“It is truly an honor to be selected as the next leader of 43North and build on the momentum that we’ve achieved over the past six years,” said Colleen Heidinger. “Buffalo is a place that I hold so dear, and I look forward to sharing 43North’s story on a larger scale to attract startups to our region.”
43North is an accelerator program that hosts an annual startup competition, investing $5 million per year to attract and cultivate high-growth companies in Buffalo, NY. 43North portfolio companies also receive free incubator space in Buffalo for one year, guidance from mentors in related fields, and access to other business incentive programs such as START-UP NY. 43North operates through the support of New York State, Empire State Development, the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, and several other sponsors. For more information about 43North, visit www.43north.org.