Women In Leadership: Honoree Transforming Buffalo's West Side

October 28, 2013 Updated Oct 28, 2013 at 10:15 PM EDT

By WKBW News

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October 28, 2013 Updated Oct 28, 2013 at 10:15 PM EDT

(WKBW) Stephanie Simeon's passion has a purpose. The executive director of the non-profit group, Heart of the City Neighborhoods is working to turn around Buffalo's West Side, renovating dilapidated homes instead of tearing them down.

"I feel like vacant lots are empty teeth in a neighborhood," says Simeon.

Since 1998 when it was created, the organization has revamped dozens of rundown homes, restoring the character of these historic neighborhoods.

At 192 Whitney Place, 130-thousand dollars has been spent to gut and refurbish the home. Federal and state governments pick up the tab, and the city benefits by having the property back on the tax rolls.

The job is a natural fit for Stephanie. The Brooklyn native came to UB to get her bachelors, stayed to get a masters in urban planning and never went back.

Stephanie is making her mark in a male-dominated industry. She admits she isn't the typical person you'd see at a construction site, but says she's had few gender issues. She knows her stuff and stays focused on her goals.

"I just love being on a construction site with a hardhat and dress and still be able to keep up with the language. I know what needs to be done, and they respect me," says Simeon.

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