Buffalo Niagara Partnership Announces 28th Annual ATHENA Award® Recipient

Over 600 People Packed the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center for the Annual Luncheon

BUFFALO, N.Y. – The Buffalo Niagara Partnership today announced New York State Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul as the recipient of the 2018 ATHENA Award®. A packed house of over 600 people were on hand at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center this afternoon for the announcement. 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.

Before being sworn-in as Lieutenant Governor in 2015, Hochul was U.S. Representative for New York’s 26th Congressional District and she served as County Clerk of Erie County before that.

In addition to Hochul, the 2018 ATHENA Award Finalists were: Dr. Catherine Collins, NYS Board of Regents, NYS Education Department; Nina Heard, Community Relations Manager, General Motors Company; Althea Luehrsen, CEO, Leadership Buffalo; Carla Singleton, President & CEO, Singleton Construction Consultants, Inc.; Tanya Staples, Community Schools Director, Say Yes to Education Buffalo; and Michelle Sullivan, Director, Freed Maxick, CPAs.

“This is the 28th year the Partnership has been involved with ATHENA and the depth of professional talent and leadership in the Buffalo Niagara community is more apparent than ever before,” said Dottie Gallagher-Cohen, President and CEO of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership.  “This year’s slate of honorees reflects the diverse and accomplished leaders helping to move the Buffalo Niagara region forward and develop our next generation of successful leaders.”

The recipient of the ATHENA Young Professional Leadership Award® was also announced during the luncheon this afternoon. This year’s recipient is Mary Owusu, partner and vice president of analytics and SEO in the Buffalo office of Mower (formerly Eric Mower + Associates). 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.

Born in Kumasi, Ghana, Owusu is also a professor of marketing at the Wehle School of Business at Canisius College where she teaches  at the MBA and undergraduate levels.

In addition to Owusu, the 2018 ATHENA Young Professional Leadership Award® Finalists were: April Baskin, Majority Leader, Erie County Legislature & Founder of the College Simulation Experience; Nancy Cox, Partner, Bonadio Group; Reetuparna Dutta, Partner, Hodgson Russ LLP; Nadine Hartrich, Operations Manager, Buffalo Manufacturing Works; Katie Krawczyk, Partner & President, 19 Ideas; and Whitney Walker, Executive Director, VOICE Buffalo and NOAH.

For more information on this year’s recipients and nominees, visit

Sponsors of the 2018 ATHENA Awards® include:

Title Sponsor: Northwest

Event Sponsors: Pegula Sports & Entertainment, Seneca Resorts & Casinos

Networking Sponsor: Alexandria Professional, LLC

Media Sponsor: Buffalo Magazine

Television Sponsor: Channel 7 WKBW

Staffing Agency Sponsor: Key Resource Group, LLC

Accounting Sponsor: Lumsden & McCormick, LLP

Finalist Sponsor: Red Siren

Supporting Sponsors: ASG – Applied Sciences Group, Elderwood, FARM, Heather Bellini Photography, Inky Fingers Printing, National Grid, National Fuel Gas Company.

The Buffalo Niagara Partnership is the area’s regional chamber of commerce and privately-funded economic development organization. Partnership members employ more than a quarter of a million people in the Buffalo Niagara region. By mobilizing members and strategic partners around common goals, the Partnership grows private investment and jobs in Buffalo Niagara through advocacy, business development, and convening.

For Press Inquiries, Please Contact Grant Loomis, Vice President, Government Affairs at or 716-541-1736