The 26th Annual ATHENA Awards® took place yesterday at Buffalo Niagara Convention Center

Buffalo, N.Y. – Yesterday, the Buffalo Niagara Partnership presented the 26th annual ATHENA Awards® in two categories: the ATHENA Leadership Award® and ATHENA Young Professional Leadership Award®.  Attendance for the event was up over 30% this year, highlighting the importance of recognizing the accomplishments of the region’s women leaders.

The ATHENA Leadership Award® honors exceptional individuals who have achieved the highest level of professional excellence, contribute time and energy to improve the quality of life for others in the community, and actively assist others, particularly women, in realizing their full leadership potential. The 2016 recipient of the ATHENA Leadership Award® is Amy Habib Rittling, Partner, Lippes Mathias Wexler Friedman LLP.

The ATHENA Young Professional Leadership Award® honors emerging leaders who demonstrate excellence, creativity, and initiative in their business or profession, provide valuable service by contributing time and energy to improve the quality of life for others in the community, and serve as role models for young women personally and professionally. The 2016 recipient of the ATHENA Young Professional Leadership Award® is Bridget Niland, Director of Athletics & Associate Professor, Daemen College.NYW_0201

“The Partnership has been involved with ATHENA for 26 years now, and the talent that we’ve seen during that time speaks volumes to the workforce we have fostered in Buffalo Niagara,” said Dottie Gallagher-Cohen, President & CEO, Buffalo Niagara Partnership. “This year’s ten recipients are true leaders, unafraid to take chances, think outside the box and pave the way for even stronger leaders to come.”

 Sponsors of the 2016 ATHENA Awards include First Niagara Bank, Title Sponsor; Tops Friendly Markets, Presenting Sponsor; Seneca Gaming Corporation, Event Sponsor; Buffalo Magazine, Media Sponsor; and Compu-Mail and Dual Print & Mail, Print Sponsors. Supporting Sponsors include Alexandria Professional, LLC, Lumsden & McCormick, LLP, Morgan Stanley and Towne BMW.

Amy Habib Rittling Bio: Amy Habib Rittling is a Partner at Lippes Mathias Wexler Friedman LLP where she co-chairs the Litigation and Dispute Resolution and chairs the Labor & Employment practice groups.   She concentrates her practice in employment law.  She counsels and advises employers on all aspects of employment relationships, including employment practices and policies, regulatory requirements, wrongful terminations, discrimination and harassment claims and restrictive covenants.  She also represents and works with family owned businesses.

Amy serves as Vice-Chair of the Zoological Society of Buffalo and on the governing boards for the Foundation of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, Women and Children’s Hospital Foundation of Buffalo and the Buffalo Club.  Amy is also co-chair of the Campaign for the John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital.  Amy is past co-chair of the board of directors for the National Federation for Just Communities.  Amy previously served on and chaired the board of trustees of Buffalo Seminary from where she received the Outstanding Service Award in 2006.  She has been a board member of many other community organizations.

Prior to returning to Buffalo in October 2004, she served as Special Assistant to Commissioner Leslie Silverman of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.  She received 40 Under 40 from Buffalo Business First in 2005, is a graduate of Leadership Buffalo Class of 2007 and received the Women of Influence Award from Buffalo Business First in 2012.

Amy resides in Eggertsville with her husband Mark and their four young children.

 Bridget Niland Bio: Bridget Niland is the Director of Athletics & Associate Professor.  A member of the Daemen faculty since 2006, Bridget is an Associate Professor in the Business Administration Department overseeing Daemen Athletics and its the Sport Management program and business law curriculum.  Prior to joining the Daemen faculty, Bridget worked at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) headquarters in Indianapolis, Ind.  Bridget joined the NCAA after working as a trial attorney with United States Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., which followed a two-year federal clerkship with the Honorable John T. Curtin in the Western District of New York.

Niland earned her bachelor’s degree at the State University of New York at Buffalo (UB) earned a master’s degree in Higher Education Administration from UB’s Graduate School of Education and a law degree from the SUNY Buffalo School of Law. She is in the final stages of completing her doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy through UB’s Graduate School of Education.

Niland was inducted into UB’s Athletics Hall of Fame in 2002 and named to the Buffalo Business First 40 Under 40 in 1996.  She was a long-time member of Independent Health YMCA Board of Directors, and currently serves of the boards of the Miracle League of WNY, UB Alumni Association, the Buffalo Sports Commission and Visit Buffalo Niagara.

Niland and her husband Brian Gwitt reside in Snyder, N.Y. with their children Sebastian, Gretchen, Isaac, Samuel and Ellen.

The Buffalo Niagara Partnership is the region’s private sector economic development organization and regional chamber of commerce, representing nearly a quarter of a million employees in the Buffalo Niagara region. The Partnership’s work has three main focuses: advocacy, business development and convening. By mobilizing members and strategic partners around common goals, the Partnership grows private investment and jobs in Buffalo Niagara.

For Press Inquiries, Please Contact Grant Loomis, Vice President, Government Affairs at gloomis@thepartnership.org or 716-541-1736