Sheila Rayam becomes first Black executive editor of The Buffalo News 

Rayam comes to her new role with a wealth of experience, including three decades of working her way up at The Democrat & Chronicle.

For the first time in the 142-year history of The Buffalo News, a Black journalist has been tapped to be its leader. Only the second woman to serve as The News’ executive editor, Sheila Rayam was selected through a national search after industry veteran Mike Connelly retired in May after 10 years at the helm. 

According to Tuesday’s announcement from The Buffalo News, Rayam comes to her new role with a bevy of experience such as her tenure as the executive editor of Gannett’s Mohawk Valley news operations, including The Utica Observer-Dispatch, since April 2021. Before that, she spent three decades working her way up at The Democrat & Chronicle, where she was a reporter, copy editor, website manager, entertainment editor, then community engagement editor.

Veteran journalist Sheila Rayam has been selected to lead The Buffalo News as its first Black executive editor after a national search. (Photo: Screenshot/

A graduate of SUNY Buffalo State and native of Rochester, Rayam takes up the mantle at The News on Monday, Aug. 22. 

“We are proud to have Sheila as the eighth editor of The Buffalo News,” said Tom Wiley, the organization’s president and publisher. “Her intelligence, warmth and integrity combined with her passion for journalism will help lead our organization into an exciting future. She brings an impressive history of innovative, audience-focused journalism leadership to The Buffalo News.”

Rayam, 55, told The News that she has long admired its work and made it clear she is “excited and honored to be able to join a team filled with so many great journalists.”

Named to the top job just months after the racist massacre of 10 people at Tops Friendly Markets grocery store in Buffalo, Rayam will be focused on engaging with the community, heading up the newspaper’s ongoing transformation in the digital world, and continuing its vital role as a watchdog that exposes what’s happening in the area.

“The thought of being in a city that I love and working and leading a team that I respect a great deal was just an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up.” Rayam said. 

Rayam noted that she was moved by the outlet’s coverage of the supermarket massacre and added that “there are many more stories to tell.”

“I think The Buffalo News will be key in really unraveling this tragedy,” said Rayam, “and helping the community move forward as best we can.”

She added that her experience in Rochester at The Democrat & Chronicle as community engagement editor was about “centering people” in journalism and “about talking to the community to find out what their needs are, and then working to support and provide the information that they need.”

Michael Kilian, The Democrat & Chronicle’s executive editor, praised her hiring, saying she is the “right editor, right city, right time.” 

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