Athena Award winners announced for 2021

Stock photo.

Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce and its Women’s Council affiliate recently presented Lauren Dixon, founder and chairman of Dixon Schwabl, with the 35th annual Athena International Award. 

Cicely Strickland-Ruiz, chief operations officer for United Way of Greater Rochester, received the seventh annual Athena Young Professional Award and Brockport Research Institute took home the fourth annual Athena Organizational Award. 

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

After a start in TV, Dixon launched her own business that would go on to become one of the largest firms in the region. Dixon Schwabl has been one of the Top 25 Small Companies to Work for in America for 15 consecutive years, and ranked among the Top 20 on the Ad Age list and PR News list for five years. 

The Athena Young Professional Award recognizes emerging leaders ages 30-45 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 personally and professionally.

As the United Way of Greater Rochester’s first COO, Strickland-Ruiz is instrumental in community building, process improvement and team leadership. She serves on the Race, Equity and Justice Initiative Steering Committee, a collective impact initiative seeking to address racism and build community capacity for racial equity.

The Athena Organizational Award goes to a woman-owned or -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 Sarah Silverstone to provide quality grant writing, evaluation and professional development services to clients in K-12 and higher education, as well as nonprofit organizations. The company 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.