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News & Press: FOCUS

ATHENA is a Symbol of Progress

Monday, December 4, 2017  
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By Tim Daman, President and CEO

The annual presentation of the ATHENA Leadership award is, without question, one of the most inspiring moments of the year. Through ATHENA, the community recognizes one of its truly outstanding leaders who is a role model that has contributed to their organization, the community and the lives of those around them.

The 2017 ATHENA Leadership award recipient, April Clobes, is a prime example of an individual whose career has been dedicated to principles that define what ATHENA is all about. April’s rise through MSU Federal Credit Union (MSUFCU), eventually becoming CEO in 2015, is a testament to her incredible work ethic and integrity. Her commitment to the development of every member of her team, her willingness to meet personally with every staff member, her commitment to mentoring women at all stages of their careers, and her dedication to our community are recognized by everyone that knows her. MSUFCU is a demonstrated philanthropic leader in our community, as the organization makes substantial financial commitments and its employees volunteer thousands of hours to worthwhile organizations.

We are most proud to have April serving as the 2018 Chair of our Board of Directors. It is especially gratifying for the Chamber to play a role in supporting the growth of more women into important community leadership positions. It is well known that Martha Mertz started the ATHENA program right here in Lansing in 1982. Martha has publicly stated that when she joined the Chamber board, she felt uncomfortable about being the only woman on the board. That is not the case anymore. There have been nine women board chairs in Chamber history — four in the past six years, including:

  • Nanette Martin 1978
  • Martha Mertz 1985
  • Linda Cook 1992
  • Marianne Samper 1996
  • Barb Lezotte 2003
  • Nancy McKeague 2012
  • Paula Cunningham 2013
  • Deb Muchmore 2017
  • April Clobes 2018

The ATHENAPowerlink program has also made a significant contribution in the growth of women in business, as one deserving woman business owner a year receives invaluable professional support to help her business grow and prosper. We are pleased that Kellie Johnson, owner Kellie’s Consignments is the 2018 PowerLink recipient. The Chamber is also proud of our partnership with ATHENA WIN, which is bringing women together in important networking, educational and leadership forums.

The Chamber is a reflection of the business community and we are pleased to see women making considerable progress in leadership positions throughout our region. There is much more work to be done before we can say the glass ceiling is completely shattered, but we can see considerable progress as witnessed by programs like ATHENA and the incredible people doing such amazing work in our community. It has been 35 years since ATHENA began her journey in Lansing. Her impact is being felt globally. Let’s celebrate the progress and pay tribute to what ATHENA symbolizes.

Click here to download the December issue of FOCUS.


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