A Message From The President

December 2021

“We envision Athena as an organization that has a culture that is welcoming and ensures a safe, nonjudgmental environment, where authenticity and support of one’s fellow members thrive.”

Athena Society Long Range Plan 2018-2022

“In the spirit of telling you everything, I kind of fell apart in April of this year,” Linda Devine confided to an intimate group as part of Athena Shares.  All three heroines of this story – Linda, Trimeka Benjamin and Mindy Murphy — agreed to disclose their struggles in the brave hope of serving and uniting Athena members.  To protect the sanctity of Athena’s bond, they requested readers not share this message outside our Athena Society circle.

“I wound up in the ER.  I thought I was having a heart attack,” Linda says.  Hours later, the doctor asked Linda if something had happened in her life in the past few months.

For more than a year, Linda had worked around the clock with emergency management as Vice President of Operations and Planning at the University of Tampa, showing up in person even on weekends when the rest of us worked from home, all while leading a substantial audit as part of the university’s five year accreditation process, helping her husband fight cancer in both his lung and brain with a 19% survival rate, and caring for her 92-year-old mother on dialysis until she passed away in February.

“Sometimes you just have to know when to hit the stop button.  That weekend I had to hit pause because it was just too much.  You all should know that, and I’m not embarrassed about that,” Linda says.

“You just work, you get up and try to do the best for the people around you because a lot of them are hurting.  I had been so strong for so long.  My primary care doctor said, `You are grieving.  You are grieving a world you thought you had and knew pre-COVID, your mother leaving is another form of that, and you just need to cry.  When’s the last time you cried?’  And I couldn’t remember. So, I practiced crying. Every day I took myself on a five- to six-mile walk and cried.  I had bottled it up for so long.”

Trimeka Benjamin points out that no one expects women at the top of their game to struggle.  Even as Trimeka calls the pandemic the worst era of her life, all three women model Athena at its best: Successful women leaders supporting each other, revealing vulnerability, and sparking action.

“I came out of the womb with a glass-half-full mentality and humor, which gets me through a lot,” Mindy Murphy says, but the last two years tested this CEO of The Spring of Tampa Bay.  “There’s only so far you can roll with that glass half full.”  … Click here to continue reading