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Buffalo State College

Perseverance pays off as Angela Dickson feels at home as City of Batavia's confidential secretary

By Mike Pettinella


Angela “Angie” Dickson remembers vividly what went through her mind as the plane carrying her and family members from their native Republic of Ghana approached New York City in 1999.

“I thought, this is the American Dream. That’s what we all wanted; to be able to go to school and for all the opportunities that are here,” said Dickson, recalling that September flight when she, then 16 years old, began a new life for herself.

Today, Dickson (photo above) is the confidential secretary to City Manager Rachael Tabelski, serving in that capacity since December when she was hired to replace Lisa Casey, who became the clerk of the Genesee County Legislature.

While her early days in the Big Apple were filled with wonder and awe – “It was much more established than Ghana (a West African country), which had so little,” she said – Dickson was able to carve out her place as an excellent student – graduating eighth out of 263 students at a high school in the Bronx.

Then, it was on to Buffalo State College, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Health, Education and Wellness Promotion in 2007. Eight years later, she had obtained her master’s degree in Health and Wellness with a concentration in Human Resources.

“I was determined to make a better life for myself and my child,” Dickson said during a Wednesday afternoon interview with The Batavian at her office at City Hall. “My oldest daughter, Annabelle, was born in 2003 and she and I came to Buffalo.”

Dickson, who speaks several languages, including Spanish, French and multiple Ghanaian dialects, was recognized at Buffalo State for her advocacy for single mothers seeking an education. She was the recipient of a humanitarian award and also was included in an edition of the Who’s Who in College publication.

“I have dedicated my life to mothers looking to better themselves,” she said, “as I had to do it on my own.”

In 2008, Dickson entered the workforce, taking a case manager position with Schiller Park Community Services on the East Side of Buffalo, and in 2013, she was hired as a provider relations specialist with Fidelis Care at the insurance company’s regional office in Getzville.

During her tenure with Fidelis Care, she said she worked with hospitals and doctors on insurance coverage, often traveling to Akron and Batavia, which were part of her territory.

She also met the man she will be marrying on June 22, contractor Ed Griffin of Akron, and the couple and family moved to Corfu. (Incidentally, Angie and Ed were winners of GO Art!'s recent Wedding Giveaway contest, which features the ceremony at Seymour Place plus catering and numerous gifts from local businesses).

“When COVID hit, I was working from home, which was nice, but afterwards, we transitioned back to the office,” she said. “And I didn’t really want to make that drive to Getzville every day.”

Dickson also said the Akron, Pembroke and Batavia area appealed to her, with its rural setting and friendly people.

“With Batavia being one of my groups (at Fidelis), I came to love it,” she said. “I got to know people in the community and I just fell in love with it.”

She found out about the job opening with the City of Batavia, applied and was hired.

When asked how things are going so far, Dickson acknowledged that the work is “totally different from what I’ve done most of my adult life … working for a government, but I was looking for something that would be challenging and yet meaningful.”

Each day on the full-time job brings something new, she said, whether it be working on the budget books, coordinating meeting schedules, steering correspondence and residents’ inquiries to the right departments, assisting with City Council agendas and documents, or setting up meeting rooms “to make sure everything is in order.”

“I’m learning so much and, again, the community is just amazing. I hadn’t met people like this. Just to say ‘Hi’ to someone and they say ‘Hi’ back. It’s not like that in the city,” she said. “I had to get used to the fact that it was OK for people to say hello to me.”

Dickson said she appreciates that Tabelski affords her the leeway to work on a project without micromanaging it.

“Rachael trusts me and believes in me,” she said. “She gives me a responsibility and lets me do it.”

Tabelski said she is pleased with Dickson’s performance and cheerful outlook.

“Angie is a great addition to the city staff. She has an amazing positive attitude and approaches her job with a team-oriented spirit,” she said.

Outside of the office, Dickson enjoys gardening – something she picked up since moving to Corfu -- and traveling.  The couple has five children -- Corey, Maya, Annabelle, Alexander and Angelina.

Dickson said she is assisting with the city’s presentation at the Genesee County Home Show, which is scheduled for April 8-10 at the David M. McCarthy Memorial Ice Arena on Evans St. She said she will be there at different times and is looking forward to interacting with the public.

She said her feelings of gratitude run deep.

“I’d really like to say ‘thank you’ from the bottom of my heart to each and every person who has made me feel welcome,” she said. “It’s overwhelming, the amount of support that I have received.”

Photo of Angela Dickson by Mike Pettinella.

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