Introducing Lori Overdorf, 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

Lori Overdorf
Director of Development & Youth Services
Valley Community Association

Lori Overdorf is the director of development and youth services at Valley Community Association, an organization dedicated to enhancing the quality of life of the residents of the Buffalo River community by meeting individual and family needs and promoting environmental beautification. Lori has also worked as an usher for Buffalo Sabres NHL hockey games for more than 20 years.

With Valley Community Association, Lori oversees programs to provide youth with experiences that they otherwise would not have the opportunity to participate or engage in, regardless of their socio-economic status. The programs expose youth to different cultures, experiences, careers, hobbies, activities, sports, etc. so that they can get a view of a life that may exist beyond their neighborhood. Lori has also been involved with the Wyoming County International Speedway for over 15 years, working her way up from race day promotions to director of stock car events, the only woman in the area with such responsibilities.

Lori spends many volunteer hours at the Valley Community Association, especially around the holidays, St. Patrick’s Day, and during youth and family field trips and events. She has also organized benefits to help individuals and families in the community.

First Job

Lori’s first job was at Anderson’s Frozen Custard on Union Road.

Career Highlights

Lori notes that she considers the growth of the Valley Community Association “Striving For Excellence” Youth Program as her biggest accomplishment. When she started, the program was a small, unstructured $30,000 program. Under her leadership, the program has grown to be a nationally recognized after-school program with an annual budget approaching $500,000. She has grown not only the funding and size of the program, but has also established multiple, diverse partnerships with outside organizations, colleges, and businesses to compliment the core group of services the VCA youth program offers. Examples of current partnerships include Medaille College, the Buffalo Museum of Science, The Buffalo History Museum, Buffalo Public Schools, Notre Dame Academy, Empower Girls Buffalo, and many more.

Best Piece of Advice Given Regarding Her Career

“Go ahead and ask. The worst anyone can tell you is ‘no.’”

Advice to Give to a Woman Just Starting in the Workplace

“Work hard. Don’t be afraid to speak up and voice your opinion and ideas. Don’t be afraid to switch careers or try something. It’s more than okay if you wind up someplace career wise that you never thought you would be.”

About being an ATHENA Award® Finalist

“Being a finalist is certainly a huge personal honor for me, but I also feel it is a recognition of all non-profit sector employees who work so hard to make WNY a better place to live by helping others.”

On Buffalo Niagara

“There is always something to do, regardless of season, for everyone—sports, history, cultural events, festivals, etc. Also, Buffalo is just a friendly place to live and work. No matter where you go, no matter what time of day, you will almost certainly see someone you know!”

Favorite Spot in Buffalo

“Any local asphalt stock car racetrack.”

Lightning Round: Added Insights
  • Guilty Pleasure: “Massages and desserts.”
  • My Superpower: “Multi-tasking and organizing.”
  • Best Describes Me: “Spirited and fiery.”
  • Most Likely To: “Tell it like it is.”
  • Best At: “Thinking outside the box and problem solving.”


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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