Introducing Cindy Lee, finalist for the 2021 ATHENA Leadership Award

The BNP is pleased to introduce you to the finalists who have been selected for the 2021 ATHENA® honors including the ATHENA Leadership Award® and the ATHENA Young Professional Leadership Award®.  NEW THIS YEAR, we will also present the ATHENA Organizational Award® to recognize one  for-profitorganization and one non-profitorganization that inspire women in WNY to achieve their full potential. 

We will bring you profiles of each finalist in the weeks ahead, leading up to the awards event. Come back often to read the profiles and you’ll learn what it means to be an Athena. 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 Leadership Award® Finalist

Cindy Lee
OLV Human Services 

Cindy Lee is CEO of OLV Human Services, a leading provider of mental and behavioral health care formerly known as Baker Victory Services. Cindy is responsible for guiding the organization’s wide variety of services and programs for children, adults and families, overseeing more than 1,000 employees. Prior to being named CEO, Cindy served as Chief Clinical Officer and Director of Education at OLV and held executive roles with other school systems including principal, program director and superintendent of schools. 

While her role with OLV has a major impact on the Western New York Community, Cindy finds time to give back in other ways as well. This includes volunteering with Therapy Pets Unlimited, taking one or more of her four certified therapy dogs to local nursing homes, hospice, and schools.  

First Job

Cindy worked at the snack shop of the local roller-skating rink when she was 16.   

Career Highlights

Cindy says she believes her biggest career accomplishment has been being able to juggle the priorities that any leadership position brings and not dropping MANY balls along the way.  

She says she is also proud of the fact that she was raising 5 children under the age of 11 years old at the same time she was pursuing her second master’s degree (in Educational Administration) and holding down her first position as a public school principal

Best Piece of Advice Given Regarding Her Career

Keep the individuals you serve at the center of your decision making.  Do the best you can for them, and you can never go wrong.

Advice to Give to a Woman Just Starting in the Workplace

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.  As women, we often feel the pressure to do it all and to do it all exceedingly well and that is just not realistic.  Give yourself permission to take a break, to take a breath, and to know that, in time, everything will fall into place.   

About being an ATHENA Award® Finalist

“I am proud to be considered among this group of professional, successful women.  My whole career has been focused on assisting others to realize their full potential and to be recognized in this way is a humbling experience.  It has been said that when you enjoy what you do, you don’t work a day in your life.  I feel blessed that this has certainly been true for me.  Certainly, there are the inevitable days of feeling defeated and challenged, but when I reflect on the positive impact of our work, it makes all those days worth it.”

On Buffalo Niagara

The culture in Buffalo Niagara is very rich and the people are very generous with their time and their kindness. 

Favorite Spot in Buffalo

Besides OLV Human Services?  –  the National Shrine and Basilica.  There is something very calming about walking in there and giving your problems over to a higher power.  

Lightning Round: Added Insights
  • Guilty Pleasure: I binge watch Forensic Files
  • My Superpower: Energy – I don’t require a lot of sleep (could be the copious amounts of caffeine I consume)
  • Best Describes Me:  I am an eternal optimist who sees the positive side of things and tries to find opportunity, even in seemingly impossible situations
  • Most Likely To: Be found in the woods or near the water working my dogs
  • Best At:Wrangling a pack of dogs!
  • Most Used Emoji: Probably the “face palm” emoji
  • If You Were a Celebrity, You’d Be: Jamie Lee Curtis starring in Halloween

 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.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021
11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Register to Attend Here


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