Introducing Esther Annan, finalist for the 2019 ATHENA Young Professional Leadership Award

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

Esther Annan, LMSW
Program Director/Senior Management
Say Yes Buffalo

Esther Annan, LMSW is Program Director and a member of Senior Management for Say Yes Buffalo, a scholarship program created to help local students attend college. A native of Ghana, West Africa, Esther relocated to Buffalo from Staten Island to pursue her post-secondary education, earning her master’s degree in social work in 2006.

With a background in mental health and juvenile justice, Esther has led Say Yes Buffalo efforts to design and implement a state-of-the-art data system to better support students by identifying their individual social, emotional, behavioral, health, wellness and academic needs and connecting them to community services. It is a system that is first-of-its-kind in the United States.

Esther gives back through many volunteer and community activities including serving as a member of the 7th District Prince Hall Order Eastern Star, New York State, which engages in many charitable endeavors. She is also a member of the Erie County Chapter of the Links where she is on a committee actively working to coordinate dental and other health needs for women and children in Ghana, Liberia and other West African countries.

First Job

Esther’s first job was at the Baby Boomers Academy, a daycare center in Staten Island, NY. She started at age 14, as a Mayor Summer Youth Worker, helping provide care for children ages two to four.

Career Highlights

Among her many career highlights, Esther points to her work coordinating and overseeing mobile unit services to provide primary and family planning support to children and youth; and coordinating and overseeing free legal advice support for City of Buffalo residents. She is the recipient of the Women Touching the World Award presented to her by Unlimited Possibilities Overcoming Poverty Ministry, Inc.

Best Piece of Advice Given Regarding Her Career

“Introspection is key; do not follow your friends—be a leader for your friends.”

Advice to Give to a Woman Just Starting in the Workplace

“Know the difference between aggressive advocacy and assertive advocacy. One can easily make you fail in your efforts.”

About Being an ATHENA Award® Finalist

“My initial thought was, ‘Wow—what an honor.’ I am not sure if it has actually hit me yet. To be recognized for such an honor from my peers is simply heartwarming. I now know everyone I have touched in some way or form is proud of me, and that makes it all the more of a blessing as a finalist. This only means there is more work to be done!”

On Buffalo Niagara

“I have had the opportunity to experience living in New York City as a teenager. There was so much my primary and secondary school experience could have offered my peers and their families. Buffalo has given me the chance to work with other champions for change individuals to provide coordinated socio-emotional services for youth and families in our communities—with education being a proximal driver to change one’s future.”

Favorite Spot in Buffalo

“Everyone likes a good football game so I would have to say New Era Field (or, as we all know it, Ralph Wilson Stadium). Let’s Go Buffalo!”

Lightning Round: Added Insights
  • Guilty Pleasure: “Rice. I feel like if I don’t have rice every other day, I’m dehydrated.”
  • My Superpower: “I have endless energy. I just don’t understand where it comes from—so I guess it has to be a ‘superpower’ from the Almighty.”
  • Best Describes Me: “Helpful, caring, intelligent, outgoing, big advocate for change.”
  • Most Likely To: “Be the friend who explains everything through scripture; good or bad.”
  • Best At: “Derailing conflict through effective communication. I very much do not like discord, because there is no productivity, so I like working it out.”


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

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