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-profit organization and one non-profit organization 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 Young Professional Leadership Award® Finalist
Business Service Representative
New York State Department of Labor
Kanasha Blue is a Business Service Representative for the New York Department of Labor, working for the Batavia, NY office. With a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from State University of New York College at Buffalo, Kanasha also earned her Master’s degree in public administration and is currently pursuing a PhD in leadership and policy from Niagara University. Prior to the Department of Labor, she worked as a care manager for Buffalo Federation of Neighborhood Centers and as a residential counselor at Gateway Longview. She also served more than nine years in the Army National Guard. In addition, she is an independent Mary Kay beauty consultant.
Among her community volunteer activities, Kanasha serves as 1st Vice Commander for the American Legion Jesse Clipper Post 430 where she is a member of the Post honor and color guard. The Post renders final salutes to fallen service members and veterans and engages with the community through educational programming and workshop, focusing on flag education, service, patriotism, and African American history in the military.
Kanasha joined the Army National Guard in her junior year of high school. She went to basic training during summer vacation and came back to finish her senior year.
Kanasha notes that her biggest accomplishment is yet to come, but she is quite proud of being promoted to the rank of Staff Sergeant. She points to one of her most significant leadership accomplishments as being the successful planning and execution of the feeding of three hot meals for 21 consecutive days to 1,000 New York soldiers, spread across 14 training sites in Fort Drum, NY. She was awarded the Army Achievement Medal for her leadership and guidance in ensuring the success of that mission.
Kanasha is currently working on completing her dissertation for her PhD, researching the impact of New York State Criminal Sealing Law on ex-offenders.
Best Piece of Advice Given Regarding Her Career
It doesn’t matter how many times you fall, as long as you always get back up and keep running your race.
Advice to Give to a Woman Just Starting in the Workplace
In the workplace, men are seen as strong and confident, but in many similar situations, women are seen as aggressive. In the same cases, black women are categorized as hostile. You are not crazy; micro-aggressions, sexism, and racism in the workplace are real; they will be more prevalent when you are excelling.
About being an ATHENA Award® Finalist
“I am humbled by the opportunity to be a finalist. When I look at the people who were honored before me, I am not sure I am worthy. Still, I thank God for seeing me fit to be blessed with this opportunity and platform to inspire others the way I am inspired.”
On Buffalo Niagara
“I relocated to Lockport, from Montego Bay, Jamaica, when I was 9-year-old. The kind nature of Buffalonians is refreshing. I know it is cliché, but I love Buffalo because we are the city of good neighbors. Everyone rallies together, creating a sense of community.”
Favorite Spot in Buffalo
Bills Stadium in Orchard Park. Win or lose, I am a Buffalo Bills fan.
Lightning Round: Added Insights
- Guilty Pleasure: Cheesecake and Kit Kat bars
- My Superpower: My energy is my superpower, and the energizer bunny commercial is my promotional video
- Best Describes Me: Energy in motion
- Most likely To: Be the friend crying through the movie
- Best At: Being Organized
- Most Used Emoji: The heart
- Book Recommendation: Becoming by Michelle Obama or Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
- If You Were a Celebrity, You’d Be: Michelle Obama
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.