ATHENA Awards Celebration


Our annual ATHENA Awards Celebration is held each year to recognize and celebrate women and the remarkable leaders fostering avenues of opportunity and professional growth for future generations.

The ATHENA Awards Program and ATHENA Young Professional Award are founded on the ATHENA Leadership Model® from ATHENA International, which identifies eight distinct attributes, called the ATHENA Tenets, that are reflective of women’s contributions to leadership: Authentic Self, Relationships, Giving Back, Collaboration, Courageous Acts, Learning, Fierce Advocacy, Celebration and Joy.

Announcing our 2015 ATHENA Award Recipient!

ATHENA-Peggy-Lawrence-BurnsWe are proud to be honoring youth and older adult advocate Rev. Peggy Lawrence Burns as our 2015 ATHENA Award recipient.

Peggy is director of Intergenerational Programs at Senior Neighbors (previously of Gerontology Network) as well as the founder of the nationally-known Traveling Grannies and Grandpas program and creator of several local elementary literacy programs.

The prestigious 2015 ATHENA Award recognizes Peggy for her leadership, mentorship, and remarkable contributions to the greater Grand Rapids community during her 40-year-long career as an advocate for youth and the elderly.

Please join us on September 17 as we honor Peggy, reveal the 2015 ATHENA Young Professional Award recipient, and present five ATHENA Scholarship awards!

ATHENA Awards Celebration

Date | Thursday, September 17, 2015
Time | 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Location | International Ballroom — JW Marriott, 235 Louis Campau
Cost | $50 members, $75 future members or late registration (after 5 p.m. on Friday, September 11), $700 corporate table of 10

Register Now!

ATHENA Award Finalists – 2015

Nikeidra Battle-Debarge, Wedgwood Christian ServicesManasseh Project
Mary Buikema, Habitat for Humanity of Kent County, Inc.
Jane Gietzen, Spectrum Health
Diane Griffin, Griffin Properties/Keller Williams Reality
Denise Kolesar, Kohler Expos, Inc.
Nicole McConnell, Spectrum Health
Jodi Peterson, Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy
Monique Salinas, Mind Meets Music
Sandi Frost Steensma, Kennari Consulting

Interested in contributing to the ATHENA Scholarship Fund for women who are returning to college?

You’re invited to join us on August 27 for a unique ATHENA Leadership Forum & Scholarship Fundraiser in support of women over 30 who are following their passions and pursuing higher education. The fundraiser keynote features Lou Anna Simon, President of Michigan State University, on the ATHENA tenet of Learning.

Direct donations to the ATHENA Scholarship Fund are always welcomed. If you are interested in contributing to the ATHENA Scholarship Fund, please contact Mercedes Cowper.

Special Thanks…


Special thanks to Salon Citrene for providing hair and makeup for the 2015 scholarship recipients who will be honored at the ATHENA Awards Celebration on September 17, 2015.

Exclusive Premier Sponsor

Exclusive Finalists Reception Sponsor

Diamond Sponsors


Spectrum Health

Emerald Sponsors

PNC Bank

Owen Ames Kimball


Ruby Sponsors

Chemical Bank
Clark Hill PLC
Consumers Energy
Davenport University
Grand Valley State University
Michigan State University College of Human Medicine
Plante Moran
The Rapid

Sponsorship Opportunities

Sponsorship of the ATHENA Award Celebration creates a partnership that connects your organization with a prestigious women’s leadership program and connects you to other prominent members of our community. A portion of each sponsorship additionally funds our ATHENA Scholarship program each year. We invite all Chamber Members to connect by participating in events and being a sponsor.

Click here for sponsorship levels and benefits or contact Joshua Verhulst for sponsorship information.