Introducing Gina Burkhardt, 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

Gina Burkhardt  
President and CEO  
Buffalo Center for Arts and Technology 

Gina Burkhardt is President and CEO of Buffalo Center for Arts and Technology, an arts and training center based on a nationally recognized model that seeks to mentor and prepare adults for new career paths through the arts and workforce development.

An experienced educator with a background in organizational development, Gina has previously held leadership positions at the Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Preparation in Washington, D.C., as well as at Jobs for the Future, and the American Institutes for Research. 

Gina gives back through many volunteer and community activities including serving as a board member at Community Services For Every1, Erie County Arts and Cultural Advisory Board and Dreambox Learning. She also lends her support to Buffalo String Works, The Western NY Women’s Foundation, Peace of the City, City Mission, and Olmsted Park Conservatory.  Much of her community work is focused on working with individuals – youth and adults – who need one on one support in times of need or crisis.


First Job

Gina’s first job at 16 years old was serving as a clerk in the credit office of a retail store in Auburn NY, her hometown. Her first career job was teaching 7th and 8th grade students at a school in Wayland, NY. 

Career Highlights

Among her many career highlights, Gina points to becoming a female CEO/ Executive Director of a large non-profit organization in Illinois when she was in her early 40’s, at a time when education leadership positions were predominately held by men. She also notes that she successfully navigated an acquisition between the organization she was leading with another education not-for-profit in 2009 during a nationwide financial crisis. Her efforts saved the jobs of over 100 persons on her team.  

Best Piece of Advice Given Regarding Her Career

Be honest, transparent and kind. 

Advice to Give to a Woman Just Starting in the Workplace

Be honest, transparent, kind … and confident. Be proactive and get things done.  

About being an ATHENA Award® Finalist

“I believe that my successful career is due to the fact that another strong woman recognized my potential and advocated for me with her Board to become her successor as the executive director of a not-for-profit organization. At that time, there were very few women in these positions. I never expected to receive thanks or public recognition. But, to actually receive it is the greatest honor I can imagine. The Athena Award represents this thanks and recognition. It is something that I can proudly share with other women and with my daughter as proof that determination to pursue your chosen path to excellence is worth the sacrifices and rewards.” 

On Buffalo Niagara

I grew up in Auburn, NY and in Buffalo Niagara I’ve become friends with the most amazing group of smart, resourceful, fun and determined women – making a real difference in this community. 

Favorite Spot in Buffalo

Buffalo Center for Arts and Technology, of course.

Lightning Round: Added Insights
  • Guilty Pleasure: Running outdoors every morning, no matter what the weather is like.
  • My Superpower: Cleaning – Just ask any of my colleagues
  • Best Describes Me: Passionate about the work we do at BCAT and the youth and adults we serve.
  • Most Likely To: Be late for an early morning meeting and arrive with wet hair.  I run every day before work. 8 am meetings are a bear.
  • Best At: Leading and growing a not-for-profit organization; Mentoring other women.
  • If You Were a Celebrity, You’d Be: No one – not my ambition
  • Most Used Emoji: I try not to use emojis
  • Book Recommendation: Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson 


 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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