A Message From The President

January 2020

The beginning of a new year, and a new decade, offers us an opportunity to celebrate past milestones and to reaffirm our shared commitment to creating an equitable, just environment for women to grow, develop and succeed.

It is fitting that this first month of 2020, we are welcoming Janet Echelman, an Athena ‘Young Woman of Promise’ recipient (1982). Janet has fulfilled that promise as an artist who has built her successful and lauded professional career on inspiring and effecting change. A committed artistic ally to equitable community development, Janet’s projects invite dialogue about creative place-making.

Arts-based, creative interventionists like Janet Echelman transcend the physical and social environment, and create a ‘sense of place’ and belonging. Creative place-making is about influencing and shaping characteristics – economic, physical and social – through artistic initiatives that are often a nexus point where some of the most pressing issues converge, including threats to social equity, inclusion and justice. Successful creative place-making projects can inspire a community to go beyond boundaries, instigate and catalyze actions, affect positive social change, and advance the collective good.

There are parallels.  Since our founding, Athena has in many ways been about ‘place-making’ and belonging. Athena is a unique forum where we come with mutual understanding of the challenges faced by women, to build connections, network and collaborate in addressing issues that impact women’s ability to succeed. Through our shared social activities, programs, panels/lectures, position statements, community action initiatives, scholarships and grants, we stand together as powerful examples and advocates for gender equity and inclusion.

Our Athena sisterhood can draw inspiration from Janet’s creative place-making.  Through her dynamic process, Janet Echelman weaves connections between communities and art forms that foster the aesthetics of belonging, that uplift and inspire.  In large, the founding of Athena was a form of place-making by bringing accomplished women together and uniting us around the shared purpose of “Advancing the Status of Women through Equality, Acceptance, Education, Opportunity.”  Our position statements and community actions through the unique lens of each decade continually renew our purpose.

I look forward to 2020 and a new decade of friendship and professional collaborations within Athena.  And more, to our work together to remove barriers for women, and seek out new ways to inspire and uplift our sisters and women everywhere. For in so doing, we stand to create the best ‘sense of place and belonging’ and raise up all of our community.