The Buffalo Niagara Partnership is pleased to introduce you to the finalists for the 2019 ATHENA Awards,® which recognize contributions made by individuals to advance the status of women in the Buffalo Niagara region.
We’ll profile each finalist in the weeks leading up to the awards ceremony luncheon on Tuesday, June 4, at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center. Check back every Wednesday to meet these exceptional women and learn more about their important work in the Buffalo Niagara region.
And if you’d like to attend the ATHENA Awards® Luncheon, the region’s most prestigious event dedicated to the professional accomplishments of those who work to advance women, you can get tickets here.
Meet This Week’s ATHENA Young Professional Leadership Award® Finalist
Algonquin Sports for Kids
Anna-Lesa Calvert is the executive director for Algonquin Sports for Kids, a non-profit organization that brings soccer and tennis programming into underserved communities in Western New York, at no or low cost. Anna-Lesa oversees 10 locations throughout the area where trained coaching staff help players understand their strengths, to reduce the barriers for success, and to instill in them a pride in their community and future.
As a member of the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s National Facilitation team, Anna-Lesa says she trained and learned from people across the country who are developing life skills in our communities. Starting as a coach, she became a program director, and has served as executive director for five years. Under her leadership, Algonquin Sports has grown both in depth of programming and in overall service. This includes grant writing, program management, board development, and strategic planning.
In addition to her work, Anna-Lesa gives her time and talent to Western New York Girls in Sport (WNY GIS), founded by Mary Wilson, wife of the late Buffalo Bills owner, Ralph Wilson Jr., and dedicated to enriching young girl’s lives through involvement in sports. Anna-Lesa also volunteers at her children’s school and helps others to build their knowledge in sport for youth development.
Anna-Lesa’s first job was as a referee for soccer games in her community.
Anna-Lesa notes the relationships the Algonquin Sports for Kids program has created as one of her biggest accomplishments. She says the relationships with coaches, players, parents and staff are so important and what connects everyone to the community. She also points to being a part of the U.S Soccer Foundation’s National Facilitation team, a group that works across the country to improve the National Train the Trainer curriculum that the national Soccer for Success program requires.
Best Piece of Advice Given Regarding Her Career
“When I was a kid, I was told to always do my best work. It didn’t matter if it was all correct, but it needed to be my best effort. I’ve always carried that with me.”
Advice to Give to a Woman Just Starting in the Workplace
“Speak up and ask. It’s one of the hardest things for me and something that I’m consistently pushing myself on. I have found that more often than not, when you ask, you get either what you are hoping for or a resolution.”
About being an ATHENA Award® Finalist
“There are so many phenomenal women in Western New York, so to be considered for this award is an amazing honor.”
On Buffalo Niagara
“I always tell people I came to Buffalo to play soccer and go to school and I chose to stay here. Buffalo has this beautiful mix of big city without the hassles and small town without having everyone in your business. You feel connected here. I love being able to send my kids to school in a community and feeling like I’m building connections that will last as they grow. Everyone is connected and you can feel that connection throughout the community.”
Favorite Spot in Buffalo
“One of my favorite places is the fields behind the JFK Rec Center on Hickory Street. When I’m at the fields, I swear I can feel the energy of Steve Kiernan, who founded Algonquin Sports. It’s as if Steve is there smiling and saying, ‘You did good, kid.’ It’s at these fields that I can always go back and refresh and revive myself in my work. But, if I’m not at the fields, I love to walk to Main Street Ice Cream in the Village of Hamburg and eat their homemade ice creams!”
Lightning Round: Added Insights
- Guilty Pleasure: “I’m enjoying the Masked Singer. My kids are now old enough to be excited about something like that and both kids have someone they want to win, so it’s fun to watch them enjoy the show.”
- My Superpower: “Teaching – I love helping others grow.”
- Best Describes Me: “What you see is what you get.”
- Most Likely To: “Jump in and play – I love pretending to be a soccer-playing elephant with our K-2s or jogging around with the older kids.”
- Best At: “Saying yes to everything and still figuring out how to get it all done.”
Attend the ATHENA Awards® Luncheon
The ATHENA Awards® Luncheon is the region’s most prestigious event recognizing the professional accomplishments of exceptional individuals who are dedicated to the advancement of women. Be there when the winners are announced.
Tuesday, June 4, 2019
11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Buffalo Niagara Convention Center
153 Franklin Street | Buffalo, NY 14202