A warrior and protector known for her fierce determination, wisdom and enlightenment, the goddess Athena was deservedly revered and celebrated in ancient Greece.
Closer to home and closer to now, mid-Michigan pays honor each year to area residents who embody those leadership traits with the annual ATHENA Award.
The deadline is quickly approaching, but the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce will continue accepting nominations for the 2019 ATHENA Award through 4:59 p.m. Oct. 3. The award honors women and men who strive toward 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.
Inspired by the goddess of Greek mythology, the ATHENA Award was created by former Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce President Martha Mertz in 1982 and has since spread internationally. More than 7,000 leaders in over 500 communities have received the ATHENA Award in the United States, Bermuda, Canada, China, Greece, India, Russia, Unite Arab Emirates and United Kingdom. By honoring exceptional leaders, the ATHENA Leadership Award Program seeks to inspire others to achieve excellence in their professional and personal lives.
According to the ATHENA International website, the award is unique in both scope – local, national and international – and the ATHENA mission upon which it is based. The award is presented annually by chambers of commerce, women’s organizations and universities. The ATHENA Award is established through local host organizations in partnership with ATHENA International’s national underwriters, local businesses and individual sponsors.
Last year, Michigan State University women’s basketball head coach Suzy Merchant was recognized by the Lansing Chamber as the 2018 ATHENA Award Winner.
“Suzy Merchant is a great leader on and off the basketball court,” Tim Daman, president and CEO of the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement. “Her success in building the MSU women’s basketball into national prominence is matched by her work in preparing student athletes for life after basketball. Her leadership in the community, most notably in founding the empowHER leadership retreats, is inspirational. She is truly a role model who embraces qualities that all great leaders should possess.”