Pickerington Times-Sun

Athena Awards recognize leadership by women

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The Athena Award, presented annually by the Pickerington Area Chamber of Commerce, reinforces Athena International's mission to support, develop and honor women leaders.

May 16, three Athena International awards were handed out to local women who have demonstrated exceptional leadership qualities in the community.

The Athena Award, which recognizes individuals for professional excellence, was awarded to Rita Ricketts of Pickerington.

"Rita has tirelessly served the community of Pickerington and Fairfield County for numerous years," said Suellen Goldsberry, director of the Pickerington Public Library and a previous Athena Award recipient.

"She is truly an inspirational example of leadership," Goldsberry said of Ricketts.

Ricketts operated Ricketts Farm with her late husband John for more than 48 years.

She was Pickerington's first woman mayor at a time of unprecedented growth for the city.

She also served on Pickerington City Council for 12 years and has been active in various agricultural organizations, including 4-H.

The Emerging Athena Award, given to an emerging woman leader in the community, was awarded to Jen Dear, membership director of the Pickerington Area Chamber of Commerce.

"Jen is a true ambassador to the Pickerington community," Goldsberry said.

"She daily offers successful solutions to the questions and issues of the Pickerington business community," Goldsberry said of Dear.

Dear was also commended for her extensive volunteer work with the Pickerington-Reynoldsburg Relay for Life.

"One event she takes very personally is the Relay for Life, where she can be found walking the track, working the concession stand or raising funds for the fight against cancer," Goldsberry said.

The 2014 Youth Athena Award went to Shayna Fowler, a recent Pickerington High School Central graduate who has been active in international mission work since age 12.

Fowler is founder of the Butterfly Project, an organization that holds school assemblies for grades 4-12 that focus on building self-esteem.

"She also spearheaded the creation of a video for the Katy Perry ... "Roar" contest that got (PHS Central) national media attention," Goldsberry said of Fowler.

"All three women are shining examples of what commitment, engagement and generosity of self can accomplish," Goldsberry said.

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