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City of East Lansing’s First Diversity Equity and Inclusion Administrator to Be Honored During Television ATHENA Awards Program Thursday, March 25

Elaine Hardy, the City of East Lansing’s first Diversity Equity Inclusion Administrator and Chair of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commission of Mid-Michigan, has been named the 2020 ATHENA Leadership Award recipient by the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce (LRCC). Elaine Hardy will formally receive the award during a special ATHENA Awards program on Thursday, March 25, at 7 p.m. The program will be televised on WLAJ-TV and live-streamed on

I am honored to be selected as this year’s ATHENA Award recipient and to join distinguished members from our region who exemplify the ideals of principled leadership, innovation, and service to humanity,” said Hardy. “These individuals have blazed a trail that is leading us to a stronger, more inclusive, and noble community.”  

“Elaine Hardy’s dedication and commitment have been instrumental in advancing the cause of diversity, equity, and inclusion within the City of East Lansing and throughout the region,” said Tim Daman, president & CEO, LRCC. “She has worked tirelessly through the years serving others, mentoring youth, and advancing the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. She epitomizes what the ATHENA Leadership Award is all about.”

Elaine Hardy is currently serving as the City of East Lansing’s first appointed Diversity Equity and Inclusion Administrator. She is responsible for leading the City organization and its 600 employees through a full cultural realignment.

Elaine began her professional career in Lansing in 1993 at the Downtown Lansing YMCA. While there, she piloted the development of one of the region’s most successful teen development programs. She remained with the YMCA as the Director of Youth and Family Programs until 2001 when she went to the City of East Lansing as the Coordinator of the City’s newly established community center, then still under construction. She is still actively involved with the YMCA of Lansing. She serves as the Director of the YMCA of Lansing “Y” Achievers Program, a hugely popular and well-respected college readiness, leadership development, and mentoring program for teens. 

She served for 19 years as the manager of East Lansing Hannah Community Center’s day-to-day operations, a 10 million-dollar, multi-use flagship recreation and enrichment facility. Over the past two decades, Elaine has helped expose over 3,500 at-risk teens to historically black colleges, college programs, and professional careers during the annual Y-Achievers college immersion tour. She works tirelessly to encourage students to pursue college as “the next step,” often reminding them that a college education should not be an optional life choice. Her work annually involves personally working with teens and their families, planning and coordinating one of the mid-Michigan region’s most successful college tour programs, and speaking to groups about the importance of mentoring.

In 2008, Elaine was responsible for escorting twenty students to the historic Presidential Inauguration of America’s first African American President-Elect Barack Obama. Elaine is the current Chairperson of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commission of Mid-Michigan, representing the City of East Lansing. Her passionate dedication to and belief in the legacy of Dr. King drives and motivates her to find ways to honor his legacy in her life by serving others. Elaine is committed to seeing youth reach their full potential and devotes her time as a mentor and life coach and supporting youth advocacy for social justice. Other community involvement includes serving as a lodging committee advisory board member to the Greater Lansing Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, Trustee of the Sigma Phi Beta Education Fund, and YMCA of Lansing. Elaine has been a resident of East Lansing, Michigan, for the past 30 years.  She is the mother of two adult children, Jasmine 38, and Malcomb 36 and two bonus sons, Ayden 9, and Asher, 4 years.

The ATHENA Award is presented annually in over 500 communities internationally. It recognizes individuals for professional excellence, providing valuable service to the community and actively assisting women attaining of professional excellence and leadership skills. lo