2018 ATHENA Leadership Award Finalist: Tanya Staples

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

Tanya Staples
Director, Community Schools
Say Yes Buffalo

Tanya Staples is the director of community school initiatives for Say Yes Buffalo, a partnership created to strengthen the Western New York economy by investing in the education of Buffalo’s future workforce. In her role, Tanya oversees strategies to help enhance academic achievement of students in City of Buffalo schools.

Tanya’s career spans many sectors of the community including health and human services, education, business and government. She was director of the Clarkson Center, at the time one of Erie County’s largest human service organizations. She served as CEO of the YWCA of Western New York and as commissioner of community services and recreational programming in the City of Buffalo. More recently, she was vice president and director of community affairs for M&T Bank.

First Job Out of School

Tanya’s first job was teaching 4th grade students at St. Columba School in Buffalo.

Career Highlights

As a Director at the Clarkson Center, Tanya launched the inaugural New York State Pharmacy Technician Apprenticeship Program.  The program established Pharmacy Tech as an apprenticeship trade in in the state, opening career opportunities to more residents.

She also served on the restructuring committee for the YWCA, one of the leading women’s organizations in the United States. In addition, Tanya partnered with Child and Family Services to establish Transitional Housing for women at Haven House, and with the Internal Revenue Service to launch the 1st Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program

Best Piece of Advice Given Regarding Her Career

Winners never quit and quitters never win. Perseverance and resiliency are your best friends.

About Being an Athena Finalist

“This honor came as a surprise, nevertheless, I am honored and pleased to be recognized and selected as a finalist for the ATHENA Award. I’ve spent my entire professional career trying to make my community a better place for all, but with a specific focus on women and children. The nomination is motivating and fulfilling to know that some of my efforts are being recognized.  I will continue to actively strive to assist those who need.”

On Buffalo Niagara

“I enjoy living and working in Buffalo because of the relationships and friendships I have established. Buffalo is my hometown, where I was born, raised, nurtured and supported. Most of my family live here, we enjoy the multiple seasons and activities year-round. Quality of life is good.  And Buffalo is now experiencing a long-awaited rebirth. Buffalo is a big – small city, it is a relationship oriented community. Residents in the city are committed to creating a more inclusive Buffalo, where there is opportunity for all.”

Added Insights

Guilty Pleasure: Carrot Cake and Law and Order, Special Victims Unit

Superpower: Instinctive Adaption:  ability to use instincts to adapt to changing situations

Personal Description: Passionate, Driven, Ambitious, Empathetic and Caring

Most Likely To: Actively seek opportunities to serve

Best At: Navigating systems and making connections


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