The inspiration for the ATHENA Foundation originated in 1980, when Martha Mayhood Mertz, owner of Mayhood/Mertz Realtors, Inc., was asked to serve on the Board of Directors of the Lansing (MI) Regional Chamber of Commerce. Finding herself to be the only working woman serving on the Board, she also discovered that in the 75 years of presenting community awards, her Chamber had only once honored a woman.

Martha recognized that, “The world was changing, and the Chamber boardroom did not reflect the reality of the world outside.” The time had come to bring into focus the many outstanding professional and business women in our community and to incorporate them into leadership positions within the Chamber. Through this “Voice of Business,” they, too, would participate in guiding the present and shaping the future. The first ATHENA Award was presented in 1982, and the ATHENA spirit was born.

Since then, thousands of women and men have received the ATHENA Award in communities through the U.S. and Canada and in Russia, China and the United Arab Emirates. With the growth of the Award program, the reach of the Foundation has expanded to include programs that create opportunities for networking and development. The Foundation also provides innovative perspectives that help to move individuals along their paths of leadership.

The mission of the ATHENA Foundation is to help individuals and organizations open doors of leadership opportunity for women. The Foundation works with hundreds of organizations, including chambers of commerce, universities, major corporations and small businesses to implement ATHENA programs. The Foundation attracts an outstanding caliber of individuals and organizations inspired to provide valuable grassroots support of our mission.

The Macomb Foundation has presented this award in Macomb County exclusively since 1999. Since then, many area individuals have been presented with this prestigious honor.

ATHENA Award Recipients

2016: Mashell Carissimi, JMC Electrical Contractor, LLC

2015: Debra Guido-Allen, Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer at Beaumont Hospital, Troy

2014-Leslie Wilson-Smith, U.S. Army TACOM Life Cycle Management Command

2013-Jennifer Morgan, Martha T. Berry Medical Care Facility

2012-Mari Kay Scott, General Motors

2011 – Jamie Spriet, Health Alliance Plan

2010 -Barbara Rossmann, Henry Ford Macomb Hospital

2009 – Lisa Satawa, The Droste Group, Inc

2008 – Joni Nelson, Ilitch Holdings, Inc.

2007 – Sue Coats, CEO & Deb McPeek, Turning Point, Inc

2006 – Kristina Marshall, Winning Futures

2005 – Sue Walker, Henry Ford Macomb Hospital – Warren Campus

2004 – Donald Morandini, Macomb County Planning & Economic Development

2003 – Camille Colatosti, Ph.D., Berklee College of Music

2002 – Jennifer Kluge, Michigan Business & Professional Association

2001 – Silvia Karlsson, General Motors Corporation

2000 – Shirley Trewyn-Corkins ,Small Wonders Early Learning Centers, Inc