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
Lancaster Central School District
Lynne Ruda is the Orchestra Director in the Lancaster Central School District where she also teaches music and serves as advisor for the Lancaster High School First Responder’s Club. Lynne is currently a finalist for the GRAMMY Music Educator of the Year 2021 and was a finalist for the award in 2020. In addition to teaching, she performs as a cellist as a member of Buffalo Local 92 – Musician’s Union throughout Western New York. A lifelong Lancaster resident, Lynne serves her community as a Village of Lancaster Trustee and the Director of Economic Development. At this writing, Lynne has announced her candidacy to run for mayor of the Village of Lancaster in March 2021.
A volunteer firefighter with the Lancaster Fire Department for more than 13 years, Lynne also gives back through many activities. She volunteers with Buffalo String Works, a non-profit that provides free instruments and lessons for refugee and immigrant students in the area and is a member of Focus – For Our Community Unity & Support – an addiction prevention coalition in the Lancaster/Depew community. Since 2016, she has served as a Board Member for the Lancaster Opera House.
As a senior in high school, Lynne’s first job was at Frosty’s Ice Cream in Lancaster where she worked through college.
Lynne says the greatest accomplishments of her career are inspiring students to dream big and make a difference in the world. She was honored to be named one of ten finalists for the 2020 Grammy Music Educator of the Year Award – out of over 3,300 applicants across the country – and is nominated again this year. She also received the 2019 Award for Excellence in Music Education from the Buffalo Philharmonic and Erie County Music Educators Association.
Best Piece of Advice Given Regarding Her Career
Go for it!
Advice to Give to a Woman Just Starting in the Workplace
Trust your instincts, do not sacrifice who you are or what you believe in for anything or anyone, and work really hard, all the time – even when you think no one is watching.
About being an ATHENA Award® Finalist
“It is a huge honor to be a named a finalist for the ATHENA Awards – to not only to be recognized for my leadership in my community, but also to be able to be a role model for the aspiring young ladies at Lancaster High School – showing them that no matter what anyone says, or believes, you can truly do whatever you feel that you are called to do. I am very grateful that an organization like ATHENA International exists to support, develop, and honor women leaders and am humbled to be considered a finalist among so many other amazing candidates.”
On Buffalo Niagara
“One of the things that I love, particularly now, is the exciting renaissance that is happening in the Buffalo Niagara region. I am hoping that through my work on the Lancaster Village Board, I can bring some of that positive change and momentum to my hometown.”
Favorite Spot in Buffalo
It has been really incredible to be a part of the recent economic growth in the Village of Lancaster. Seeing the business owners work so passionately and creatively, especially through COVID, is so inspiring and fills me with so much pride. For me, there is nothing better than being in the heart of the Village of Lancaster, in the Central Business District.
Lightning Round: Added Insights
- Guilty Pleasure: Buying flowers for myself– I always want a live bouquet in the house!
- My Superpower: I wish I had the ability to time travel – to see what another time was like or how my decisions would affect the future!
- Best Describes Me: Type A
- Most likely To: Schedule every minute of my life
- Best At: Changing gears in a second – from firefighter, to teacher, to cellist, to conductor, to village official
- If You Were a Celebrity, You’d Be:Bobby Flay or Gustavo Dudamel
- Most Used Emoji: The heart emoji and the music notes!
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.