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Women in Leadership – Athena International  

Last Updated: Mar 3, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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Back in the early 80’s, ATHENA International’s founder, Martha Mertz was asked to serve on the Board of Directors of the Lansing Michigan Regional Chamber of Commerce. After finding herself to be the only business woman serving on the Board and discovering that her Chamber had only once honored a woman, Martha quickly recognized that the Chamber’s boardroom did not reflect the reality of the community. Martha worked with her Chamber to recognize the leadership of outstanding professional and business women in the community and advocated to provide opportunities for them to move into leadership positions. The first ATHENA Award was presented in 1982—and the ATHENA spirit was born.

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free

We hold these truths to be self evident that all women are created equal

I have a dream

Martha’s initial action, based on a concept seeking to achieve a balance in the faces and voices of leadership, gave rise to ATHENA International. Think about Rosa Parks, who from the authenticity of her core, refused once again, to go to the back of the bus. Consider Mother Theresa who expressed her leadership by the touch of her hand, by the healing of her voice, by the power of her presence—always giving hope. These are but two examples, albeit great examples, of women’s ways of leading that have changed the world.” (Excerpt from Martha’s opening remarks at the 2005 International ATHENA Leadership Conference in Chicago.)

Martha’s small, seemingly insignificant action was based upon a concept seeking to achieve a balance in the faces and voices of leadership, which gave rise to ATHENA International.

What is honored in a country will be cultivated there
This concept led to the idea of acknowledging and honoring those quiet leaders, mostly women, whose efforts were adding immensely to the fabric of their communities while they remained unacknowledged and not visible as leaders. The ATHENA Award® was created to raise up one outstanding role model each year in a community to put a familiar face and voice to the idea of leader. After 2½ decades of fierce advocacy on behalf of women leaders, ATHENA celebrates a global reach as this message resonates around the world.



ATHENA INTERNATIONAL | PO BOX 811188 | CHICAGO, IL 60681 | 312.580.0111
© 2011 ATHENA International. All rights reserved 




Supporting, developing and honoring women leaders
Inspiring women to achieve their full potential
Creating balance in leadership worldwide



The ATHENA Leadership Model is unique in that it focuses on personal traits of strong, successful leaders. It captures the spirit and collaborative leadership style often exemplified in women leaders, while also recognizing the importance of traits such as courageous acts and fierce advocacy in the pursuit of excellence. The ATHENA Leadership Model tenets include Authentic Self, Celebration and Joy, Collaboration, Courageous Acts, Fierce Advocacy, Giving Back, Learning and Relationships, and provide a model for 21st Century leadership.

The ATHENA Award is represented by an original bronze and marble sculpture inspired by the goddess of Greek mythology known for her strength, courage, wisdom and enlightenment—qualities embodied in the ATHENA leadership model. The Award is unique in both scope---local, national and international---and the ATHENA mission upon which it is based. The ATHENA Award is presented to a woman ---or man--- who is honored for professional excellence, community service and for actively assisting women in their attainment of professional excellence and leadership skills.

A business mentoring program designed to increase the growth and profitability of women owned businesses.
The premise is simple—a panel of volunteers advises a woman business owner on important issues specific to her business with the goal of increasing the development and success of her business. The program “links” a woman business owner with an Advisory Panel, recruited from the local community, to work with her at no cost for one year. These professionals, which may include a banker, lawyer, accountant, and marketing or human resource specialist, provide guidance regarding networking skills, how to achieve access to capital, implementation of best practices and other issues identified by the woman business owner as necessary to reach the goals she has for her business.

ATHENA’s target market is unique in its broad inclusiveness, including women in for-profit, non-profit, business, service, education and other professional positions, contrasted with the more targeted focus of other women’s organizations. ATHENA’s unique leadership model and programs, broad geographical scope and target market inclusiveness offer significant opportunities to partner with other women’s organizations.


ATHENA INTERNATIONAL | PO BOX 811188 | CHICAGO, IL 60681 | 312.580.0111
© 2011 ATHENA International. All rights reserved 


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