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ATHENA Award
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The ATHENA Award honors women and men who strive towards the highest levels of professional accomplishment, who excel in their chosen field, have devoted time and energy to their community, and who pave paths for other women to follow.

To nominate someone, please fill out the application. Due date is Monday, October 24, 2016.

The ATHENA Award celebrates the potential of all women as leaders of the community and recognizes those who support them.

The ATHENA Award was created by former Lansing Chamber President Martha Mertz in 1982 and has since spread around the world. More than 6,000 awards have been presented in over 500 communities in the United States, Canada, China, Russia, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom.


2015 Recipient - Sarah Jennings, Maner Costerisan

Sarah Jennings, an outstanding certified public accountant (CPA) and certified fraud examiner (CFE), saw the need for a strong women’s advocacy group in Mid-Michigan. Along with four other women, Jennings founded the Women’s Interest Network (WIN). WIN became an organization that offered professional development, education, mentorship, access to informal mentors (Lansing’s most influential women), and networking opportunities to women in Lansing.

Working closely with the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce, ATHENA WIN was created and organized under the Lansing Regional Development Foundation. Jennings looked to expand this program further. Achieving this effort, The Emerging Leaders program was purchased through ATHENA International. Here, participants discuss one topic per month based on the ATHENA Leadership Model and Becoming ATHENA, written by Martha Mertz.

Jennings was also instrumental in the decision by ATHENA International to bring its annual convention, IGNITE to Lansing in September 2016.

In addition to all that she does with ATHENA WIN, Jennings also supports and volunteers fearlessly in other organizations in Lansing. Jennings supports First Tee of Mid-Michigan where young people are introduced to Nine Core Values while learning golf, similar to the Eight Tenets of Leadership taught in Becoming ATHENA. Jennings also supports the American Red Cross and Lansing Symphony Orchestra, while staying involved at her son’s preschool. Jennings’ latest community endeavor is Hatching, where she provides answers and advice to local entrepreneurs on accounting start-up questions and attends monthly meetings with other professionals. 

ATHENA Award Recipients

2015 - Sarah Jennings

2014 - Dr. June Pierce Youatt

2013 - Kelly Rossman-McKinney

2012 - Stella Cash 

2011 - Nancy McKeague

2010 - Nell Kuhnmuench

2009 - Tiffany Dowling

2008 - Rachelle Neal

2007 - Paula Blanchard-Stone

2006 - Sheri Jones

2005 - Paula Cunningham

2004 - Lou Anna K. Simon

2003 - Theda Rudd

2002 - Carol Conn

2001 - Mary Ellen Sheets

2000 - Virginia Hilbert

1999 - Suzanne Beekman Mills

1998 - Sandra Draggoo

1997 - Marianne E. Samper

1996 - Joan E. Bauer

1995 - Priscilla J. Peterson

1994 - Helen Pratt Mickens

1993 - Dawn E. Springer

1992 - Patrick D. Hanes

1991 - Eva Evans, Ph.D.

1990 - The Honorable Debbie Stabenow

1989 - Mildred Erickson

1988 - Hortense G. Canady, Ph.D.

1987 - Marcia Jensen Spencer

1986 - Martha Mertz

1985 - Alyson W. Steele

1984 - Sister Mary Janice Belen

1983 - Lucille E. Belen

1982 - Dr. MaryLee Davis

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