2018 ATHENA Young Professional Leadership Award Finalist: Whitney Walker

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

Whitney Walker
Executive Director
VOICE Buffalo

Whitney Walker is executive director of VOICE Buffalo, a local faith-based organization dedicated to making certain that people from all walks of life can access living wage jobs, quality schools, and full participation in charting the direction of the community.  Before joining VOICE Buffalo, she was with the Mobile Safety-Net Team of the John R. Oishei Foundation where she worked on issues such as domestic violence, workforce development, substance abuse, and food access.

A native of eastern North Carolina, Whitney’s volunteer and community involvement are extensive. She co-founded and was former board president of FBITES – Food Based Interventions Transforming Empowered Students. This non-profit that uses culinary instruction as a vehicle to develop leadership, professional skills, as well as college and career readiness in youth and adults.  She is also board secretary of Ade Jembe Fola, a community organization in Buffalo that offers in- school and after-school programming in a variety of subjects.

First Job Out of School

Whitney’s first job was working as a cashier in a grocery store called FoodTown.

Career Highlights

Whitney notes that VOICE-Buffalo is a faith-based organization. While she was raised as a Christian and grew up active in a faith community, she never imagined that she would work full time with pastors, rabbi’s, imans, faith leaders, and other members of the community on issues of shared interest in the community.  She also loves the fact that no two days are the same. She says one day she might be leading a training on Restorative Practices, the next she is having a one on one with someone recently released from the holding center.

Best Piece of Advice Given Regarding Her Career

“Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, she became a butterfly”. Don’t give up, stay grounded, and constantly find ways to break out of your cocoon.

About Being an Athena Finalist

“Being nominated is a high honor and the most wonderful of surprises I’ve experienced thus far in my career. As a child I was obsessed with Greek mythology and the captivating stories and powerful images of warriors and battles and myths and stories. To be associated with the esteemed title of ATHENA represents all the qualities I strive to represent as a woman of color in community and policy work.”

On Buffalo Niagara

“What I love about Buffalo Niagara is that it’s large enough of a city to make your own way and succeed in your career, but small enough to not get lost and still have meaningful relationships, plus get across town without dealing with heavy traffic. For me, Buffalo is home now.”

Added Insights

Guilty Pleasure: I’m absolutely obsessed with 80s and 90s TV.

Superpower: Being able to make anyone laugh, and having great perseverance

Personal Description: When God made me, he took all the southern stubborn pride and wisdom of my father and all the grace and gentility of my mother and combined them. I believe that I am the best of both their worlds.

Most Likely To: Finish any project I start

Best At: Keeping people calm in stressful situations


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