Supporting, Developing and Honoring Women Leaders
"What is honored
in a country will be cultivated there" - Plato
in 1982 by Martha Mayhood Mertz, ATHENA International is a non-profit
organization that seeks to support, develop and honor women leaders. The program inspires women to reach their
full potential and strives to create balance in leadership worldwide.
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, she quickly
recognized that the Chamber’s boardroom did not reflect the reality of the business
more Mertz observed, the more she became convinced: If women’s strengths and
contributions as leaders were publicly acknowledged, they could no longer be
dismissed. In 1982 in Lansing, Michigan, Mertz spearheaded a new leadership
award program: The ATHENA Award®, named for the strong, enlightened goddess.
The award would go to individuals who excelled in their professions, gave back
to their communities and helped raise up other leaders,
Mertz conceived more than a quarter-century ago is now a global movement. Since the program’s inception, more than 6,000
awards have been presented in over 500 communities in the United States,
Canada, China, Russia, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom.
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.”