A Message From The President

May 2015

April is a month which Athena members always look forward to and this year’s Dr. Sylvia Richardson Young Women of Promise recipients again moved us all by their accomplishments and caused us each to reflect on what we had accomplished at this point in our lives. Our recipients greeted us in fluent Chinese and American Sign Language, while another young woman spoke no English until five years ago and has now risen to the top of her class, as well as a story of overcoming Tourette’s Syndrome. We learned about a new non-profit with global reach and a dancer overcoming yet another obstacle. Their stories are an inspiration to us all. Thank you to the YWP committee and the leadership of Linda Devine and Mindy McLaughlin.

Through the leadership of Athena members who are on the Hillsborough County Commission on the Status of Women, April 14 was declared Equal Pay Day by Hillsborough County Commissioners and Tampa City Council. This was an effort that was championed and became a reality because of Athena members continuing to focus on advancing women’s issues and attracted the Florida Commission on the Status of Women to participate as well.

Our new member spotlight is Ven Thomas. Ven is the current Director of the City of Newport News. She is an experienced senior health and human services administrator, and during her distinguished career she has developed and implemented numerous initiatives that have resulted in the increased empowerment and economic independence of women and girls. Her B.A. in Journalism from Northwestern University and her MBA in Finance and Quantitative Analysis from Willamette University, Ven has been the recipient of numerous recognitions and awards: Outstanding Woman of the Year for leadership in advancing race and social justice; Vision and Courage Award; Champion of Diversity Award; Freedom Courage Award; and Undoing Institutionalized Racism Award. Ven is a champion for the status of women and we welcome her to Athena.