A Message From The President

October 2021

“Part of being a member is being a sister, and being the nice sister who says, `Do you know Athena has this?’”  Candy Olson, Community Action Committee member

The most energizing aspect of this illustrious group may be your initiatives, followed by your dedication, time, and effort to put them into action.  So many of you volunteer: “I have this idea.  Can I team up and run with it?”

A few examples:

  • At the mental health subcommittee meeting, Sarah Combs and Clara Reynolds challenged Athena to help destigmatize the topic of mental health.  Linda Goldstein shared that the years spent taking care of her brother made her become “a stigma buster.”  Linda suggested, with strong committee backing, that Athena convene small groups to enable members to confide in each other about grief and other challenges.  That way, Candy Olson said, part of supporting each other becomes sharing with each other, which Bonnie Saks calls “filling the loss.”

  • On October 12th, Marian McCulloch will talk to Athena members about her own losses, including the death of her stepson on Bayshore Boulevard last year, as well as how she recovers and nurtures others.

  • This same desire for intimate connection echoes across Athena now.  The Programs Committee suggested a Leadership Council, where Athena women can disclose struggles in addition to, and as part of, success.  Separately, the Bonus Committee discussed a group geared to raising the next generation of leaders within the organization.  Finally, while participation has boomed thanks to the ease of meeting virtually, some newer members, accepted just before the pandemic hit, are still searching for a way to enter the conversation, citing feelings of “imposter syndrome” and greater comfort interacting in person.

  • Molly James, a relatively new member who has had pivotal roles in multiple nonprofit organizations, connected us to Love IV Lawrence, created to destigmatize suicide in the wake of young Lawrence Dimmit’s death.  The powerful changes spearheaded by Vevie and Mallory Dimmit, along with the rest of Lawrence’s family and friends, will surely inform this year’s programs.

  • Andrea Floyd and Amy Haile have attracted a record number of members to the PR Committee.  Together, they hope to create a system to publicize Athena’s myriad events and opportunities, including compelling graphics and promotion, so that members don’t miss out.  Our Athena Facebook page already reflects the committee’s innovative videos.

  • Linda Saul-SenaMarsha Rydberg, and the Voter Justice subcommittee are working like women on fire to bring attention to voter redistricting, advocating for transparency and public input.

  • Mimi Stamps directed attention to Community Tampa Bay’s Racial Equity and Mental Health panel, then Genet Stewart introduced us to a showstopper who has now agreed to be one of our speakers in November.

  • Mary Scriven and the Career Assistance Grants committee may encourage applicants to discuss mental health as part of their submissions, reflecting and underscoring its importance as the focus of Athena’s vision this year.

  • Adelaide Few did a stellar job researching for, and engaging, Athena’s book club in discussing The Code Breaker.

  • The Medical and Legal Task Force provides such valuable insights that the Board made it an ad hoc committee of Athena.  Each month, the Task Force recommends whether Athena can safely meet in person, as well as how to handle difficult dilemmas related to the pandemic.  We thank the following for their expertise: Erin Aebel, Barbara Bachman, Susan BucklewMoira Burke, Robin Delavergne, Keri EisenbeisKassie Grizzard, Marian McCullochDonna PetersenBonnie Saks, Susan Steen, Leslie Stein, Kem Toole, Marketa Wills, and Gwynne Young.

Anyone can build castles in the sky.  Instead, Athena members toil over the blueprints, hire the contractors, and hammer the last nail in, passing tools from one to another in recognition of each other’s talents and capacities.  Here’s to you.