The ATHENAPowerLink program began in 1992 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania when two businesswomen recognized that female entrepreneurs often lack access to valuable advisors and mentors. The premise was simple – panels of volunteers willing to advise women business owners on important issues could help them achieve greater success. Since 1999, the ATHENAPowerLink Program has been helping women-owned businesses expand profitably through the use of professional advisory panels. The Central Florida program was established by the Rollins MBA Center for Advanced Entrepreneurship and founding sponsor Foley & Lardner in 2006.
Supporting, Developing and Honoring
Founded in 1982 by Martha Mayhood Mertz, ATHENA International has been developing, supporting, and honoring women leaders in more than 500 communities have received the prestigious ATHENA Award in the United States, Bermuda, Canada, China, Greece, India, Russia, Unite Arab Emirates and United Kingdom. To date, over 6000 award recipients have been recognized.
Martha developed her vision for ATHENA International, while serving on the Board of Directors of the Lansing Michigan Regional Chamber of Commerce. As the only woman on the Board, Martha quickly recognized that the Chamber’s boardroom did not reflect the reality of the community. Martha worked with her Chamber to recognize the leadership of outstanding professional and business women in the community and advocated to provide opportunities for them to move into leadership positions. The first ATHENA Award was presented in 1982—and the ATHENA spirit was born.
“What is honored in a country will be cultivated there” – Plato
Martha’s initial action, based on a concept seeking to achieve a balance in the faces and voices of leadership, gave rise to ATHENA International. This concept led to the idea of acknowledging and honoring those quiet leaders, mostly women, whose efforts were adding immensely to the fabric of their communities while they remained unacknowledged and not visible as leaders. The ATHENA Award® was created to raise up one outstanding role model each year in a community to put a familiar face and voice to the idea of leader. After 2½ decades of fierce advocacy on behalf of women leaders, ATHENA celebrates a global reach as this message resonates around the world.
In a recent ATHENA International Leadership Conference, Martha noted: “think about Rosa Parks, who from the authenticity of her core, refused once again, to go to the back of the bus. Consider Mother Theresa who expressed her leadership by the touch of her hand, by the healing of her voice, by the power of her presence—always giving hope. These are but two examples, albeit great examples, of women’s ways of leading that have changed the world.”