A Message From The President

June 2020

The pandemic caused by the novel Corona virus-19 has been one of the most challenging moments in our recent history. Athena members have provided community leadership in the face of tremendous uncertainty as unemployment and business closure rivaled the crisis of school closures, childcare, and hunger that swept throughout the community. Many Athenians have been on the front line of government, healthcare, industry and banking, and social services. They have collaborated to bring Tampa Bay through this crisis, joining others in philanthropic initiatives to meet the needs of those at greatest risk.

And against this backdrop, the events of recent weeks have brought national focus to the longtime pandemic of systemic social injustice with the realities of health inequity and the most recent killings of Eric Garner, Philando Castile, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd. We are standing at a critical flashpoint in a 400-year history of racial disparity.

Within our diverse Athena membership, are women who have been at the forefront of civil rights, economic justice, and equity for all women and men. Furthering our history of leadership, and supported with our friendships and collaborative efforts, Athena will continue to give voice and action to the call for reformation and healing.

Within and beyond this extraordinary time, our Society’s 2019-2020 has been a memorable year. I am enormously grateful to the leadership team, and our shared vision to continue to elevate our voice in support of Athena initiatives promoting all women. From the launch of our Athena ERA website and leadership on a statewide level, to the elevation of gun safety with key community guidance, Athena continues to stand as a thought leader bringing clarity to complex issues and our shared purpose to elevate of the status of women.

My deepest thanks to a strong and clear-sighted Board of Directors who never shied away from courageous conversations, and consistently showed up and leaned in for the good of the membership: Immediate Past President Betty Castor; President Elect, Kem Toole; VP Community Action, Linda D’Aquila; VP Membership, Becca Tieder; VP Programs, Ann Madsen; Secretary Simone Gans Barefield; Treasurer Zoe Gustafson; side by side with at-large Board Members Ruth Bell, Bonnie Carr, Keri Eisenbeis, Marian McCulloch, Mindy McLaughlin and Carlye Morgan. This talented circle of leadership included outstanding Chairs and dedicated committee members who brought fresh ideas and energy to the table while building on the strong work of prior years.

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