Introducing Girl Scouts of Western New York, finalist for the 2021 ATHENA Organizational Award

New this year: The Buffalo Niagara Partnership is pleased to introduce you to the finalists for the 2021 ATHENA Organizational Award®, which will recognize two organizations that support, develop, and honor women leaders, inspiring women to achieve their full potential and creating balance in leadership throughout Buffalo Niagara.

The award will be presented to one for-profit organization and one non-profit organization.  Nominations were reviewed for the organization’s culture, community engagement, and leadership in supporting women. 

Iyou’d like to attend the 30th annual ATHENA Awards®, 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 Organizational Award® Finalist

Girl Scouts of Western New York

Girl Scouts of Western New York serves nearly 14,000 girls and 6,000 adult volunteers across the Buffalo Niagara and Western New York region and nationally, has served girls for more than 100 years. Girl Scouts of WNY offers a variety of programs in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), Outdoors, Life Skills, and Entrepreneurship to prepare girls for a lifetime of leadership, success, and adventure. 

Company Culture 

Girl Scouts of Western New York (GSWNY) has a culture that supports, develops, honors, and encourages its employees, 96% of whom are women, to achieve their full leadership potential. 

GSWNY’s strong culture begins with staff members’ commitment to and embodiment of the mission and values of Girl Scouts: to build girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.   

GSWNY staff members are able to hone their skills through engaging in meaningful work that positively transforms the lives of nearly 20,000 girls and adult volunteer members across its nine county region.  

Girl Scouts prepares the girls it serves for a lifetime of leadership and does the same for its staff members in a supportive environment that fosters growth, creativity, and respect. In 2018, GSWNY stepped forth as a champion for elevating women’s leadership in WNY by investing in the WNY Women’s Foundation’s ALL IN initiative. This engagement and its access to 10 for-profit and one additional nonprofit organization, drove GSWNY to commit to more deeply ‘walk the talk’ and embark on a self-evaluation period.  Membership in All-In has equipped GSWNY with resources, partnerships, and benchmarks which helped GSWNY to establish staff and volunteer development as a key strategic priority and to set goals for increased diversity, equity, and leadership development pathways.  Since joining All-In, GSWNY has furthered its focus on increasing equity in the workplace including the creation of a Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion committee, and a compensation study to ensure fair and equitable pay across all levels of the organization.  These are additional steps that GSWNY has taken since joining the All-In Initiative and signing the Employer Pledge: 

  • In 2019, all members of the Executive and Senior Leadership teams focused on building a strong workplace culture aligned to its mission. Leadership team members worked to build trust, resolve conflicts, developed strategic priorities, and shared goals with a focus on accountability and results.  
  • To help give all staff members a voice, an elected Staff Representative position was created in 2019. The Staff Representative participates in all Senior Leadership team meetings, and brings staff concerns to the table.  
  • To continue to improve GSWNY’s culture of leadership and performance, multiple employee driven advancement committees were formed: GSWNY Gives Back, Wellness, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion; Training & Development, and Culture & Values. 
Community Engagement 

GSWNY is a shining example of an organization that values giving back to the larger community of women and girls and one that provides and supports leadership development opportunities and initiatives. GSWNY provides countless leadership opportunities for nearly 14,000 girls and for its 6,000 predominately female adult volunteers.  

  • GSWNY has provided adult Girl Scouts with over 70 online and in-person training courses in areas such as STEM lab for adult Girl Scouts, getting girls outdoors, conflict resolution, keeping girls engaged, and more.  
  • GSWNY welcomes all girls and does not turn any girl away based on the inability to pay. In 2019, GSWNY awarded 4,866 girls with $370,162 in financial assistance and scholarships which enabled girls and troops to enjoy the full Girl Scout experience.  
  • Girl Scouts’ commitment to collaboration is evident in the many partnerships it makes with schools, community-based organizations, faith-based organizations, corporate, and government entities to help give back to the community to better position and elevate girls’ place in the world.   
  • GSWNY also celebrates women leaders across Western New York through its annual Women of Distinction event—an all-girl-led women’s event of the year! This signature fundraising event honors women throughout Western New York for their strength in character, dedication to community service, and commitment to mentoring and encouraging girls and young women. Since 2008, the Women of Distinction event has honored nearly 100 professional Western New York women. In 2019, GSWNY recognized nine honorees at the Women of Distinction Dinner & Awards Ceremony. Forty-seven girls and young women led the event from start to finish and served as presenters, mistresses of ceremonies, ambassadors, and more. Also, the nine honorees commit to mentoring a young woman as part of the program and receive invitations to exclusive events throughout the year to network, engage with girls, and experience the Girl Scout mission in action.  

Central to Girl Scouts of Western New York’s (GSWNY) mission is a commitment to placing women in leadership at the executive, senior leadership, and board of director levels. GSWNY has a focus on developing staff as the majority of promotions are filled internally. 

GSWNY’s exceptional team which consists of 96% women employees lead the charge for its 20,000 members across its nine county region. The GSWNY leadership team is 99% female with 23 positions (8 executive leadership and 15 senior leadership positions) across racial and ethnic backgrounds, and the GSWNY board of directors is 84% female with 19 positions—16 of which are held by women across racial and ethnic backgrounds. 

GSWNY Full Leadership Team:  

  • Executive (100% female): 
  • Senior Leadership Team (99% female) 
  • Board of Directors (84% female)
  • Directors at Large (19) (3 male, 16 female) 

The Buffalo Niagara Partnership is pleased to welcome Girl Scouts of Western New York as a finalist for this year’s ATHENA Organizational Award in the not for profit category. 

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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