Introducing Jenna Koch, 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

Jenna Koch
Human Resources Business Partner, Catholic Health
Common Council President, City of Tonawanda

Jenna Koch is a human resources business partner at Catholic Health, where she works to ensure a positive work environment for the 10,000 associates of the organization. Responsibilities include helping associates and improving relations among departments and Catholic Health’s ministry. Prior to her role at Catholic Health, Jenna was director of human resources at Absolut Care for more than a decade.

Jenna is also the Common Council president in the City of Tonawanda, the first woman in city history to become president of the council when she was elected in 2016. She was also the first woman elected as a councilmember to serve the Fourth Ward in the City of Tonawanda, joining the council in 2014.

An active volunteer, Jenna serves on the Board of Directors for the Boys and Girls Club of the Northtowns and Totally Buffalo: Hope for the Holidays. She is a member of the Buffalo Niagara Human Resources Association and the Clean Air Coalition. For the past three years, she has organized a Warriors Walk Wednesdays group to promote exercise and highlight neighborhoods in the City of Tonawanda.


First Job

Jenna first provided customer service by delivering newspapers at age 11. At 15, she joined Wendy’s and worked there through high school and her first two years at college.

Career Highlights

Jenna says becoming the first woman Council President in her hometown in the City of Tonawanda is certainly a career highlight so far. She also points to her initiatives to save taxpayer money ($250,000 annually) by converting street lights to LED lights and raising awareness in her community of the opioid epidemic. At Catholic Health, she notes being a member of the Labor Management team and serving on the Policy Committee and Safety Committees within the organization.

Best Piece of Advice Given Regarding Her Career

“Be YOU, always be YOU. Don’t ever change for anyone.”

Advice to Give to a Woman Just Starting in the Workplace

“Courage and compassion are contagious. Have the courage to go out of your comfort zone—try something new or suggest a new idea. Life is short. If you have the ability to help someone and make a difference, do it. Your actions will spread like wildfire and others will acknowledge your efforts and try to emulate them.”

About being an ATHENA Award® Finalist

“I am humbled and gracious to be named a finalist for the ATHENA Young Professional Award.® I have modeled my life around the very definition of this award; from my public service life to my career as a human resources professional. I am honored to be among a class of professionals who emulate the essence of the award and prove beyond example that we all make the world a better place.”

On Buffalo Niagara

“I enjoy the compactness of the community. We live 15 minutes from the airport, Niagara Falls, and downtown Buffalo. The potential for growth and opportunities in the private and public sector is enticing for any young professional.”

Favorite Spot in Buffalo

“Shopping on Elmwood in November, visiting our theater district and dining areas. I love to try new places. Any spot in Buffalo and our region is my favorite.”

Lightning Round: Added Insights
  • Guilty Pleasure: “Hallmark movies with friends and wine.”
  • My Superpower: “Ability to lessen the blow of a difficult situation and solve the problem.”
  • Best Describes Me: “Compassionate, empathetic, passionate, gifted with a sense of humor, care without expecting anything in return, and a natural-born leader.”
  • Most Likely To: “To be a catalyst for change.”
  • Best At: “Leading, making people laugh, helping someone in need, and not cooking.”


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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