VIA Named AAF Buffalo’s 2023 Mosaic Award Winner

VIA Director of Marketing & Clinic Manager accepting the Mosaic Award. Each year AAF Buffalo recognizes deserving individuals and departments who have made an impact on Western New York’s advertising community through a handful of special awards. These awards are given out in conjunction with the American Advertising Awards (AAAs). On March 3, 2023, VIA-Visually Impaired Advancement was named AAF Buffalo‘s AAAs Mosaic Award (for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion). Samantha Burfiend, Director of Marketing and Communications, and Theodora Lauzau, Clinic Manager, were in attendance to accept the award.

Visually Impaired Advancement’s Acceptance Note

In a year full of incredible challenges for our city and our organization, this award means so much to us and is such a great honor for VIA-Visually Impaired Advancement. It may appear strange for an in-house marketing team to accept this award. Nonetheless, we believe it demonstrates how

VIA's Marketing Staff in spotlight photo.

DE&I initiatives are integrated into every aspect of our business. We accept this honor with pride and gratitude to the organizations and businesses that support our mission of assisting visually impaired individuals in achieving independence. Our marketing goal is to make a difference in the lives of visually impaired people, to uplift Buffalo’s underserved communities, and to humanize the city. When we work with clients, we advocate for their success while also acknowledging and emphasizing their diverse backgrounds.

In 2022, we worked on projects like Taste Unseen, an integrated YouTube cooking and food series created by staff and client Jordan Bursie that shows what it’s like to cook and eat without vision. VIA has also created monthly client spotlight blogs/videos that highlight the range of vision loss. When we aren’t creating accessible marketing collateral, we show businesses how to make their businesses accessible through web and social media updates. Finally, we reintroduced our Dining in the Dark experience, in which guests can dine with our clients while receiving vision rehabilitation training. VIA takes pride in providing an accessible, one-of-a-kind event that brings together our staff, clients, and donors.

Mosaic trophy infront of blue background

In addition to these efforts, our most difficult work included marketing support for 211 Western New York. 211 WNY is a free, confidential link to health and human services that operates entirely with

in VIA and provides job opportunities to people who are blind and visually impaired. About 75% of 211WNY staff have a visual impairment. Our department’s marketing efforts include promoting emergency rental assistance programs, developing communication collateral for people who have recently been released from prison, social media campaigns to help low-income households with tax preparation, marketing DoorDash support for those affected by the Tops on Jefferson shooting, and publishing consistent social media updates throughout the Blizzard of ’22.

We appreciate AAF recognizing the work that organizations like ours do for people with disabilities. We hope that our spotlight will inspire more Buffalo businesses and agencies to create accessible marketing for all. We are delighted to assist that mission for each of you along the way. Thank you very much!


A special thank you to the 2022 Marketing Team of VIA: Samantha Burfiend, Dominic Lauricella, Renee DiFlavio, Ray Zylinski, Jordan Bursie, and Theodora Lauzau. 

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