A Message From The President

January 2024

I hope that you enjoyed the holiday season and that your 2024 is off to a good start. (If it’s not so much, no pressure. Tomorrow is a new day and you can “Happy New Year!” all over again.)

This is the season/time of year of where there’s a lot of reflection and hopes/dreams for the future. This naturally had me looking at our theme for the year: Future-Proof, looking at where we’ve been and where we’re going.

Our Retreat covered a range of topics impacting women. Some of the usual like advocacy, caregiving, time-of-life and mindfulness, and also some obvious future-focused topics, for instance:

Gaming/eSports: As an entry point for girls/women in STEAM (science, tech, engineering, arts, math) careers

Influencer Lifestyle: A new career path resulting in six and seven-figure incomes

Artificial Intelligence: From portions of our program guide being written by ChatGPT (thanks to Trimeka Benjamin and her Swim Digital Group team) to looking at the worldwide usage of AI that can unfortunately (especially if more women don’t get involved), discriminate and alienate under-recognized groups

Conservationism: If we don’t take care of our planet, well, the aforementioned could all very well not matter (no planet, no problems)

This all brings me to Florida politics and our democracy. Athenian and Rep. Fentrice Driskell and guest speaker, Rep Michele Rayner addressed both topics at our retreat.

One of our position statements, Women in Government, encompasses these very issues. When it comes to women running for office and voting, how are these topics preparing us for the future? Future-proofing our organization?

Haven’t we been there and done that? Yes. And also, no.

51.1% of the state’s population is women. Our politics (well, everything IMHO), should reflect that.

We still need more women running for office.

In Florida, 66 of 160 (41.3%) legislators in the state House and Senate are women (33% of state legislators nationwide are women).

We still need to support more women running for office.

There are congressional redistricting plans that may now reach the Supreme Court (due to being deemed unconstitutional and affecting elected officials and Black voters).

And finally, this year, 41 million members of Gen Z (ages 12-27 this year, born between 1997-2012) will be eligible to vote. Nearly half of this new group of Gen Zers are youth of color and will drastically impact the political landscape in the South (as well as in the West).

And in Florida, many Gen Zers have not shown up to vote. (Across the country, their confidence in the country’s leadership and political system is low.)

While there have been improvements, there is still more work to do.

So if things look familiar, it might be because women today are facing some of the same issues (professionally, personally and sometimes in new strategic ways) that were being addressed at the formation of the Athena Society.

Each and everyone’s voice (and action) is essential to the progress and growth of the organization (and beyond).

In the October newsletter, I discussed power and influence ~ and women stepping into their power. The Nov 2023 issue of Marie Claire addressed this topic with women of our time weighing in.

It would be great to hear what women in Athena felt about the subject. Please share your insight and wisdom here so we can create our own power list of tips and stay encouraged. And I hope to see you at Thursday’s luncheon for our program, Vote Lift.

Looking forward to what we all do together in 2024.

To your brilliance (and another year),
Nancy Vaughn