Introducing Marnie LaVigne, finalist for the 2019 ATHENA 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 Leadership Award® Finalist

Marnie LaVigne, Ph.D.
President & CEO
Launch NY, Inc.

Marnie LaVigne, Ph.D. is president and CEO of Launch NY, Inc., a non-profit venture development organization with a mission to identify, support and invest in high‐growth, high‐impact companies in the 27 counties of Upstate New York.

Under Marnie’s leadership, the nonprofit has helped nearly 1,000 startup companies to build the region’s new economy by attracting over $400 million in capital and creating over 3,300 jobs. She helps provide pro bono mentoring, venture capital and ecosystem capacity-building for entrepreneurs to drive innovation and economic revitalization in Upstate New York. Prior to co-founding Launch New York, Marnie served as associate vice president for economic development at University at Buffalo.

Outside of Launch NY, Marnie serves as chair of NYS Economic Development Council, and other board participation and strategic planning for numerous organizations including her high school alma mater, Sacred Heart Academy. She has also served on the boards of Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, State Science and Technology Institute, Insyte Consulting, and the WNY Venture Association.


First Job

After babysitting, nursing home housekeeping, and women’s retail clothing sales, as part of her doctoral program, Marnie worked as a teacher, researcher, and counselor.

Career Highlights

Marnie notes that, whether in her roles in for-profit or nonprofit organizations, the highlight has been contributing to initiatives bringing more than 100:1 in additional capital to the region, while creating a way to empower entrepreneurs, mentors, investors, and other stakeholders to connect and drive economic prosperity in our region. She also points to leading an incredible team to build the most active seed fund in New York – and one of the most active in the country – to support underserved entrepreneurs, including nearly 40% women-led enterprises.

Best Piece of Advice Given Regarding Her Career

“Be judicious about where you commit your efforts.”

Advice to Give to a Woman Just Starting in the Workplace

Give yourself at least five to 10 minutes each of day of silence and stillness for pray or meditation to help create balance and focus for your day as you face short term and long term challenges and decisions.

About being an ATHENA Award® Finalist

“I truly appreciate the opportunity to be among esteemed colleagues who can take this moment out of our very busy days to recognize the importance and impact of the work we are all doing in the community.”

On Buffalo Niagara

“For me, it always comes down to the people – family, friends, and others who love this region and have a passion for life and making a difference to others.”

Favorite Spot in Buffalo

“The waterfront, for all the obvious reasons, but also because it symbolizes all that was, is, and could be in our community.”

Lightning Round: Added Insights
  • Guilty Pleasure: “Slipping away to ski or sail.”
  • My Superpower: “Perseverance.”
  • Best Describes Me: “Results-oriented.”
  • Most Likely To: “Try something new.”
  • Best At: “Seeing down the road.”


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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