A Message From The President

August 2021

I’ve been a member for a long time, and we’ve never talked about this.

So said Mimi Stamps, Vice President of Athena’s Community Action Committee, at Athena’s first Visioning Summit.  Board members and committee chairs convened last month to create a united vision statement, so Athena’s work this year can truly move the needle.  

The result:

2021-22 Athena Visioning Statement: Promote mental health and emotional wellness for ourselves and our community.

2021-22 Athena Values: Authenticity, Empathy, Courage, Honesty, Compassion, Openness, Reflection, Pragmatism, Joy, Acceptance, Adaptability, Trust

These also serve to advance Athena’s organizational mission. After all, how can we improve the status of women through equality, broader acceptance of women in business, and expanded educational and career development …  if we do not first target our own health and healing?  If we do not maximize our strength and resilience?  

The pandemic – its uncertainty, its loss, its economic damage and danger – continues to deal blow after indelible blow to what Athena holds most dear.  At the Visioning Summit, Jessica Muroff, who has a masters’ degree in strategic foresight, led us to list what Athena members are thinking, feeling, seeing, hearing, saying and doing – your pain points and your gain points – so that we best address your needs.  

We discussed the lack of treatment providers, increasing suicide rates, social media’s impact on mental health, and the stress of caretaking and careers.  We talked about the undue impact on women, small businesses, and communities of color.  We gave ourselves permission to put our own oxygen mask on first, centering ourselves over, or in addition to, caring for loved ones.  We prioritized working together transparently, confronting each other directly when problems arise.  And we agreed to give members specific calls to action, including:

  • Education: Learn first.  What needs to be done to affect change?
  • Mutual courage and support:
    • Build a foundation of trust, a safe place to ask questions without judgment.
    • Show up to show support, even when a topic does not apply to one’s own life.
    • Connect intentionally, valuing intimacy and helping even one person.
  • Tangible outcomes, such as:
    • Create Athena Room within local organization staffed at least part-time with mental health experts.
    • Encourage workplace initiatives: ie. mental health days with no explanation necessary.
    • Sponsor support groups for young women.
    • Encourage mental health workers to apply for Career Assistance Grants. 
    • Conclude luncheon programs with a follow up action step for members. 
    • Encourage members to be vulnerable as part of our Athena Shares series, inspiring positive change in each other. 
    • Host conversations between members through the PR Committee’s new “Athena Chats.”
    • Build bonus events which address substantive topics and others that enhance joy.
    • Commit to at least one personal mental health and emotional wellness check-in. appointment for ourselves without fear, in honor of members we have lost.

“This is not something we can gloss over,” Susan Freeman urged as part of this year’s first Bonus Committee meeting.  “Mental health is such an important topic especially as we navigate the pandemic, a once in a hundred years event.”

We want your input.  We need your insight.  Let’s celebrate Athena’s impact on Tampa Bay and, more than ever, on each other’s every day. 

For full access to what we created together at the Visioning Summit under the leadership of Jessica Muroff, please click here.