Chair’s Corner: Recipe for Leadership

Greetings Women’s Network Members,

November for me is a time for family gatherings where we share special recipes and thankfulness around the table.   So, for November I wanted to pass on a wonderful recipe that I have learned through my involvement with Women’s Network and more specifically from the recipients of the ATHENA and Young Professional ATHENA Award.  The ATHENA Leadership Model blends together equal parts of living authentically, learning constantly, advocating fiercely, acting courageously, fostering collaboration, building relationships, giving back and celebrating.

For those of you who are not familiar, ATHENA International’s mission is to honor individuals for professional excellence, community service and for actively assisting women in their attainment of professional excellence and leadership skills.

Women’s Network bestowed the first ATHENA Leadership Award in Columbia in 1995 to Linda Arnold and the first Young Professional ATHENA Award in 2008 to Elizabeth Mendenhall.  Since then, annual nominations begin each November to recognize the most outstanding candidate in each category at our Spring ATHENA Leadership Award Banquet.

This summer I was invited to sit down with the past ATHENA recipients and over lunch I learned how this recognition holds so much more meaning than other trophies on their shelves.  In fact, one of the first distinguishing attributes of ATHENA is that they are recipients of this unique honor and not annual winners of the award.  To each of them it is truly about the recipe of being a good leadership model.

As I sat at one end of the table and looked down at the large group that had assembled for lunch that June day I was in awe of the strength, knowledge, power and grace that was gathered together.  Many of these ladies were pioneers in their male-dominated fields and had blazed the path for both equality and life balance.  As I went down the line I could check the attributes of ATHENA off for each seat:  authentic, advocator, collaborator, contributor.  But what really set them apart was their passion to champion other women to follow their own dreams and at what lengths these ladies would go to assist in that goal.

I often borrow the mantra of Sheryl Sandberg “Sit at the table” which she uses in her book Lean In to discuss how a simple seating choice can change us from spectators to participants.  But on this day I was honored just to be a participant who now had a strong desire to delve deeper into my own passions, with the aspiration to one day authentically sit at the ATHENA table.

At our November Luncheon you will not want to miss your chance to experience the wisdom of the ATHENA and Young Professional ATHENA recipients as they answer questions about their success, life and leadership.  I also want to encourage you to think about that very special mentor in your own lives.  Are they ATHENA or Young Professional ATHENA worthy?  Look for the upcoming link for nominations and show your gratitude and appreciation by submitting a nomination on their behalf.

To learn more about ATHENA INTERNATIONAL AWARD and the past local recipients

Have a Blessed Thanksgiving!

Michele Batye

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