Pickerington Times-Sun

Chamber's Athena program honors women leaders

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The Pickerington Area Chamber of Commerce conducted its annual Athena International workshop, luncheon and awards ceremony, titled "A Day of Athena," Friday, May 17, at Ohio University-Pickerington.

Athena International is a non-profit organization that seeks to support, develop and honor women leaders.

Each year Athena International presents an award to recognize women who excel in their professions, give back to their communities and help raise up other leaders, especially women.

PACC President Helen Mayle said three awards were presented this year: Youth Athena, Emerging Athena and the Athena Award.

"This was the best Athena workshop," Mayle said. "I really enjoyed the speakers and the round table discussions.

"Several of the high school girls (Youth Athena candidates) really enjoyed the ability to hear the speakers and participate in the discussions with successful businesswomen," Mayle said.

"PACC is proud to continue to provide the Athena workshops and luncheon."

Mayle said "nine Youth Athena nominees were invited to attend both the workshops and luncheon."

Mayle said the "Youth Athena" award, presented to "a Pickerington Local School District resident of high school age," was given to Emily James.

James, a Pickerington High School Central student, co-founded "Shades of Strength," a non-profit organization designed to help youths with serious illnesses. She also planned "Rose's Gala" to raise money for a local student fighting leukemia.

Mayle said the "Emerging Athena" award was presented to a Pickerington resident that is "a high school graduate and beyond."

The 2013 "Emerging Athena" recipient was Jayme Gates.

Gates, a graduate of LEADS, a leadership skills program conducted by the chamber, was recognized for her leadership skills at her company, Storage One, and within the chamber.

Gates was also recognized for helping to complete the "Play-A-Palooza Project," the goal of which was to raise funds for Pickerington students that needed help paying their participation fees for extracurricular activities.

The "Athena Award" is an "internationally prestigious award," Mayle said, and it honors individuals who demonstrate excellence, creativity and initiative in their profession.

Suellen Goldsberry, director of the Pickerington Public Library, was chosen as the 2013 "Athena Award" recipient.

Goldsberry was acknowledged for her leadership role at the library.

She was at the helm of the library's successful 2009 levy campaign, promoted the redesign of the building's physical environment and helped implement the library's Homework Help Center.

Goldsberry was additionally lauded for working to establish user-friendly self check-outs at the library, which, in turn, freed up library staff to allow for increased customer-service interactions with patrons.

"In her many years of service to the library, Suellen has shown exemplary dedication and leadership in making the Pickerington Public Library a community jewel," said Library Trustee Kimberly Murray, who nominated Goldsberry for the award.

Each award winner received an engraved sculpture at the Athena luncheon.

The day also featured a "Women's Executive Workshop" sponsored by OhioHealth.

Keynote speakers at the conference were OU-P Professor Candice Thomas-Maddox; Jean Halpin, COO of OhioHealth; Dixie Jeffers, head coach of Capital University's women's basketball team and Liza Lee, head of Columbus School for Girls.

Fairfield Federal, Bella Cosmedica, Pickerington Manor Jaw and Facial Surgery and Kristal & Forche Orthodontics also sponsored the event.

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