A Message From The President

February 2019

Athena members are always busy and this month is no exception.  However, you won’t want to miss our February 7th luncheon which will focus on entrepreneurs, innovation and new Ideas.  Key women in these areas will walk through emerging opportunities for women in technology fields and related professional activities.  These leaders and influencers, identified by Program Chair Diane Egner and her sharp-eyed committee colleagues, are prepared to share their expertise and I look forward to learning a thing or two from the attendees, as well.

This year’s Black History Month is full of events and celebrations featuring our members.  One very special presentation will unfold on February 10th at the former Tampa Bay Hotel where Maggie Stroud, an African American woman was employed as a laundress during the 1920s.  Maggie Stroud’s granddaughter is our own Doretha Edgecomb, who will share personal memories of her grandmother at the event.  Thankfully, opportunities for Black women and men have changed significantly in the last 100 years.  We can always strive to do better and many Athena sisters are part of that effort.

February will highlight a number of our long- held Position Statements, including the Equal Rights Amendment, the signature issue in the beginning days of Athena.  Our Programs and Community Action Committees are discussing the ERA. Why now? It’s because the 2019 session of the Florida Legislature, set to convene on March 5th, could very well be the setting for hearings on resolutions dealing with the passage of the ERA – one in the House (HCR 209) and its companion in the Senate (SCR 266).

Under Nancy Ford’s leadership in the mid 1970s, Athena vowed to play a role in passing the ERA.  Florida is yet again positioned to become the last state in this long struggle for approval of this crucial constitutional amendment.  Senator Arthenia Joyner led legislative efforts in past years and the renewed endeavor is a continuation of her fight.  However, it won’t be easy. We’ll learn more and add our collective voice once again. Stay tuned.

Other issues will be debated by the Legislature including funding education, protecting women’s rights and addressing sexual harassment.  Following our last luncheon presentation on reducing violence and limiting access to guns and assault weapons, the Board of Directors approved a letter to all members of the Hillsborough and Pinellas legislative delegations informing them of our concerns.  In this regard, legislation has already been filed to ban assault weapons. We’re pleased and proud that Athena member Representative Fentrice Driskell will be among others voting on some of these measures in the House.

But wait . . . there’s more!  March 5th is Election Day in the City of Tampa.  If you are a Tampa resident, you will play a role in determining who will lead the City for the next four years.  Vote by mail ballots are already out and must be returned by March 3rd.  Early voting is February 25 to March 3.  Remember to vote. While it may be seen as just a “Tampa Election,” there’s a lot at stake for all of Tampa Bay.  But then, savvy Athena sisters already know that.