A Message From The President

December 2023

Hope everyone enjoyed the holiday of giving, gratitude and good food this past month. As we close out the year, I’ve written a two-part message. Consider it a “choose your own adventure” style newsletter. Part I is The Person. Part II is The Professional.

Part I: The Person
I’m not one of those people who says: “I can’t believe it’s [insert day or month] already!” Until now. Where did this year go?

I wish I could say it was all fun getting here, but it wasn’t. This year was hard. In so many ways. And for so many people.

On its own, this is the time of year that comes with mixed reviews. It’s certainly a magical time ~ with families coming together for the holidays, remembrance of honoring the miracles and love of Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, singing and humming of holiday songs, and the joy and laughter from people enthusiastic about the season of giving (and often, receiving). The creation of extra special moments that will be cherished for years to come. Definitely one of my favorite times of the year.

It’s also a time of deep sorrow as some people hold on to the memories of this time (positive, negative and/or stressful) and sometimes it is without their loved ones ~ due to those loved ones passing, serving in the military or simply distance and being far away from one another (whether that be physically and/or mentally and emotionally). These are the times where I hope the peace and tenderness of this season reminds you of how deeply you love, have loved and are loved, and what a gift that is.

And for some people, this time of year is just lonely, for various reasons. Poet David Whyte wrote: “Inside of everyone is a great shout of joy waiting to be born.”

I hope that each of us can find some joy in this season. If not for the sake of joy and happiness, then as a leader and as an act of resistance. And if the Athenian “doer” in you needs a little more than happiness with all of the injustices going on in the world, I’m reminded of #MeToo activist, Tarana Burke sharing how her existence is her resistance.

That’s right ~ remembering that your existence alone ~ the beauty of you being you, here on Earth, at this time in history ~ is your resistance. And is enough. I hope that you all will give yourself at least a day (or if that’s too much, a few hours) to bask in that reality. To slow down, pause, and just be. To embrace the peace (and power) of your existence.

“We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless furnace of this world.” ~Jack Gilbert (Read the full poem: A Brief for the Defense here.)

Wishing you and yours a beautiful holiday season.

To your greatness,
Nancy Vaughn


Part II: The Professional

We have a whole month before we close out the year ~ revisit our goals, intentions, to-do lists… and review if things are on track or went as planned. Who knows what one can get done in a month, right?

As I’ve shared, the future-proofing of this organization requires all voices. None of us can predict the future, so creativity and experimenting will be required. However, the past has a lot of value in thinking through the future. And some of the same issues ~ from the ERA to reproductive rights to affirmative action ~ are still a concern today (or have become one as they were years ago).

I’ve spent some time looking in the Athena archives to see what has happened, where we’ve been, what has worked ~ and the energy that got us here was and is strong. From expectations of Athena members to visibility in the community, the foundation is solid.

While change is constant, with commitment to Athena’s mission and the 2030 Long-Range Plan, I’m confident Athena Society will continue to be a force in the region and beyond.

While researching, what was equally great was seeing some familiar faces doing big things. I encourage you to check out the Athena archives periodically for inspiration and reminders of general amazingness and leadership of women in this organization.

As incentive, we’re dropping some pics here. First person to identify all featured members will win a special Athena gift. Send in your responses to Johanne here.

Wishing you and yours a beautiful holiday season!

With gratitude and respect,
Nancy Vaughn

P.S. Hope to see you at the holiday party on Dec. 10!