Skip to content

Dixon, Strickland-Ruiz, Brockport Research Institute Receive 2021 ATHENA Awards

April 22, 2021
Athena Awards

Honoring Women Leaders in the Rochester and Finger Lakes Region

ROCHESTER, NY (April 22, 2021) Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce and its Women’s Council affiliate presented Dixon Schwabl Founder & Chairman Lauren Dixon with their 35th annual ATHENA International Award. Cicely Strickland-Ruiz, United Way of Greater Rochester Chief Operations Officer, received the seventh annual ATHENA Young Professional Award, and Brockport Research Institute took home the fourth annual ATHENA Organizational Award.

The ATHENA International Award is given annually to a professional female leader who has demonstrated significant achievements in business, community service, and the professional advancement of women.

After a start in television, Lauren Dixon launched her own business in a male-dominated field, which would go on to become one of the largest firms in our region. Dixon Schwabl has been one of the Top 25 Small Companies to Work for in America for 15 consecutive years, and ranked one of the Top 20 on the Ad Age list and the Top 20 on the PR News list for five years. Lauren’s unwavering dedication to our community over the past decades is evidenced by her exhaustive list of board, volunteer, philanthropic, and mentorship commitments.

The ATHENA Young Professional Award recognizes emerging leaders in the 30 to 45 year old range who demonstrate excellence, creativity, and initiative in their business or profession. Recipients also provide valuable service by contributing time and energy to improve the quality of life of others in the community while serving as a role model for young women both personally and professionally.

As the United Way of Greater Rochester’s first COO, Cicely Strickland-Ruiz is instrumental in community building, process improvement, and team leadership. Among her many board and volunteering roles, Cicely currently serves on the Race, Equity, and Justice Initiative (REJI) Steering Committee, a collective impact initiative seeking to address racism and to build community capacity for racial equity.

The ATHENA Organizational Award goes to a woman-owned or woman-led business or organization that creates a culture encouraging women employees to achieve their full leadership potential and supports leadership development opportunities for women and girls in the community.

Brockport Research Institute was founded in 2013 by CEO Dr. Sara Silverstone to provide high-quality grant writing, evaluation, and professional development services to clients in K-12 and higher education as well as non-profit organizations. The company itself and the programs it helps to develop and fund are directed by a central goal of increasing opportunities, particularly for women and including a growing network of women of color, in the academic and professional spectrums.

Recent ATHENA Award Recipients include:

• 2020: Dr. Heidi Macpherson, SUNY Brockport

• 2019: Hilda Rosario-Escher, Ibero-American Action League

• 2018: Sharon Napier, CEO, Partners + Napier

• 2017: Nannette Nocon, Nocon & Associates Private Wealth Advisor

• 2016: Elaine Spaull, Executive Director, Center for Youth

• 2015: Amy Tait, Executive Chairman and Chief Investment Officer, Broadstone Real Estate

• 2014: Dr. Lynne Maquat, Director, U of R School of Medicine Center for RNA Biology

Recent ATHENA Young Professional Award recipients include:

• 2020: Julie Camardo, Zweigle’s

• 2019: Shaquana Divers, Excellus BCBS

• 2018: Kim Allen, Managing Partner, Communications, Dixon Schwabl

• 2017: Melisza Campos, Store Operations, Wegmans

• 2016: Melanie Wolk, Partner at Trevett Cristo Salzer & Andolina, P.C.

• 2015: Claudia Burcke, Project Manager, Trillium Health

Recent ATHENA Organizational Award recipients include:

• 2020: Butler/Till

• 2019: HCR Home Care

• 2018: Dixon Schwabl

A link to the 2021 ATHENA International Award magazine can be found at


Scroll To Top