A Message From The President

May 2020

“Pull a thread here and you’ll find it’s attached to the rest of the world.”
― Nadeem Aslam

In this time of separation that was so quickly thrust upon us, the threads of our Athena sisterhood connect us.  Rather than creating space between us as we navigate social distancing, many of us have found new paths of connection in how we show up for each other, our loved ones and our communities.

Throughout our years, from our founding by Nancy Ford and the original members, to today’s membership, our Society nurtures a personal bond of sisterhood. The woven threads of our friendships sustain us during this time apart, and surround Mary ScrivenMarian McCullochJane Peppard, and Doris Weatherford, as they mourn the loss of beloved family members.

Beyond our circle, Athena’s articulated mission to improve the status of women through equality connects us outward. From the beginning through today, our Society has created a forum for interaction and collaboration by championing “broader acceptance of women in business, the professions, and other positions of responsibility, and expanded educational and career development opportunities” that link us through professional, civic activities, and service.

Athena Society has worked diligently to give women a seat at the table as decision makers and community shapers. We affirm our commitment to the advancement of women through our grant and scholarship programs.

In honor of our program’s namesake, Phyllis P. Marshall, the Career Assistance Grants Committee, under the remarkable leadership of Chair Denise Jordan, awarded grants to eight very worthy recipients this month. In this newsletter, we have included their inspiring stories, as well as, excerpts from their thank you letters.  For many recipients, these funds are transformative and I am grateful to Denise and this year’s outstanding CAG committee for their stewardship in identifying these impressive grantees.

The CAG Committee provided each honoree a formal letter of congratulations, a framed Certificate of Achievement, and a copy of Michelle Obama’s book, Becoming.  In addition, a grant of $2,125 is being forwarded to the educational institution of each 2020 CAC recipient.  And this year, thanks to the vision of Philanthropy Chair Judy Ryan and her committee, each recipient received $500 for living expenses which is in keeping with the original intent of the CAG program.

These Career Assistance Grant recipients and our 12 Young Women of Promise Scholarship honorees are an investment in our Society’s future as these young women advance the status of women in business, government, and civic affairs.  We look forward to celebrating each of these women once the social restrictions have lifted.

That thread of connection also extends to the women of our region through monthly programs, collaboration with other women-focused organizations, and the efforts of individual member’s service throughout Tampa Bay. Through the leadership of Linda D’Aquila as VP of the CAC and Ann Madsen as VP of Programs, we have expanded our partnerships across the fabric of Tampa Bay with the League of Women Voters, the Commission on the Status of Women, Moms Demand Action, and numerous other entities and efforts, and extended our interconnectedness and voice.

Our shared hope is that our individual and collective efforts to bring women to a level footing in all endeavors, will continue to radiate into this community we treasure.  As Athena ‘the warrior’, ‘the strong and empathetic leader’, our imprint is strong in Tampa Bay and Florida through the many threads that connect us to each other.