A Message From The President

September 2019

It is an honor to serve the members of this esteemed organization as the 2019-2020 Athena Society President.  I am enormously grateful to Betty Castor and Doretha Edgecomb, our immediate past presidents, for their ongoing gifts of time and counsel, as well as to the past presidents who have generously shared their experience and insights.  It is my further privilege to work with Kem Toole, President Elect, and our outstanding Board of Directors and Committee Chairs who bring tremendous enthusiasm, intellect and commitment to our Athena initiatives.

Since being confirmed on June 24th, our Officers, Board and Committee Chairs have been actively planning a full and purpose-driven year.  We continue to build on the momentum of our membership’s commitment to meaningful impact through our Community Action Committee (CAC).  Following in the steps of Bonnie Carr and Kem Toole, Linda D’Aquila brings strategic and visionary leadership to Athena’s efforts. You will not want to miss her update in the Action on the CAC Front column.

The substantive panel discussions at this year’s retreat on The Culture Connection: Exploring the intersection of Gender and Culture, resonated with so many of us on how far we have come, while illustrating the gender gap that we continue to encounter in nearly every area.  Those discussions reinforced our CAC initiatives and calls to action on the ERA, Gun Safety, Education and Violence Against Women.

 With the recent ratification of the ERA in two additional states — bringing us to 37 of 38 required — we are energized to press forward with the purpose on which we were founded in 1976.  Continuing the work of last year’s CAC, we are building bipartisan coalitions and support for Florida’s ratification of the ERA. Our September 5th luncheon meeting will be filled with representatives of organizations that are standing with us on this issue.  My remarks to the St. Petersburg City Council in support of the ERA Resolution contain our general talking points and are available here.

Our work will most likely not stop after the 38th state ratifies.  For the September CAC Newsletter column, we invited Kem Toole, who has taught constitutional law, to address what happens after the 38th state ratifies.  This is a question often discussed in ERA strategic planning sessions and Kem gives a clear summary of the issue.

This past month, yet again, the nation witnessed multiple tragedies.  On August 3rd a gunman shot and killed 22 people and injured 24 others at an El Paso Walmart.  Just 13 hours later the tragedy was repeated when 10 people were killed and 27 others injured in Dayton, Ohio.  And four weeks later, on September 1st, another 7 people were killed and at least 22 others injured when a gunman armed with an AR type assault rifle rampaged in Western Texas.  Nationally we are seeing a bipartisan call to stop the mass shooting epidemic. Together we are finding common ground on universal background checks, a ban on semiautomatic weapons and improved approaches to treating mental illness.  Athena’s CAC is partnering with The League of Women Voters to champion our gun safety initiative.

Close to home and near to our hearts, our membership was deeply sorrowful for the loss of our sister, Dena Gross Leavengood.  Dena had an unyielding belief that tomorrow matters and advocated tirelessly to make our community better for every member.  In her honor, we have shared with Dena’s family the following Athena Society Resolution in loving memory of her life and legacy.  Click here to view.

We continue our work in honor of each of the members we have lost whose commitment to community service and effectuating positive change distinguishes The Athena Society.  We stand on their shoulders.

Lorna Taylor