The Buffalo Niagara Partnership is pleased to introduce you to the finalists who have been selected for the 2018 ATHENA® Awards. The awards recognize contributions made by individuals to advance the status of women in the Buffalo Niagara region.
We will bring you profiles of each finalist in the weeks ahead, leading up to the awards ceremony luncheon on Tuesday, June 5, 2018 at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center.
So come back often and learn what it means to be an Athena. And be sure to save the date – June 5 – to attend the awards luncheon.
Meet This Week’s Athena Finalist
Freed Maxick CPAs PC
Michelle Sullivan is director and partner at Freed Maxick CPAs, one of the largest public accounting firms in Western and Upstate New York. With the firm for more than 23 years, Michelle specializes in the not-for-profit, employee benefit plan, and real estate practice areas.
She volunteers her time and talent with many local non-profits including the Buffalo Zoo and Buffalo Zoo Foundation Board of Directors; Hilbert College Board of Trustees; and the St. Stephens School Advisory Board. She is also on the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants Women’s Initiative Executive Committee.
First Job Out of School
Michelle’s first jobs were in retail where she says she loved the customer experience.
Michelle notes that public accounting provides a vast array of experiences and career exposure to a variety of businesses and industries. It is a profession with constant change which requires agility and the ability to multi-task constantly, and also constant learning.
She is most proud of making partner at the firm and was given the opportunity to be the first woman at Freed Maxick to be on the firm’s Executive Committee. She says the ability to sit at the table where decisions are made that effect the future of the firm and provide perspective and thought leadership was an absolute career highlight.
Best Piece of Advice Given Regarding Her Career
Challenge yourself to take opportunities outside your comfort zone.
About Being an Athena Finalist
“Extremely humbling. I look at the other finalists and previous recipients and am astounded to be in their company. It is an honor to be nominated and extremely empowering to know that as individuals and as a group we make a collective difference. Women are amazing and should be celebrated for their unique abilities and accomplishments. To be named as a finalist validates for me that my hard work and accomplishments have made a difference.”
On Buffalo Niagara
“The people of Western New York are amazing. I enjoy living in a community where people are connected in so many different ways. Buffalo is the City of Good Neighbors and being able to be around passionate and accomplished people who love this City is contagious. My family is from Buffalo and I loved growing up surrounded by a big family. Working in downtown Buffalo and seeing the renaissance and resurgence has been both exciting and promising for the future of the City.”
Guilty Pleasure: Pop Music and Concerts
Superpower: Ability to laugh and make others feel included
Personal Description: Determined
Most likely To: Pay it forward
Best At: Connecting with people