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Chamber honors Athena Award winner

Myra Grant thanks Business and Professional Winner for Athena Award. Myra Grant thanks Business and Professional Winner for Athena Award.

FLAT ROCK — Myra Grant, the first director of the Pardee Hospital Foundation and a mentor to many women at her workplace and in the community, on Thursday was named the 2012 recipient of the Athena Award, which is given in the memory of longtime community activist and businesswoman Vanessa Mintz.

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IMG 0021Laura Simmelink, left, nominator Elizabeth Moss and Pardee CEO Jay Kirby applaud selection of Foundation's Myra Grant for Athena Ward.Grant was nominated by Elizabeth Moss, a Pardee development officer. "Whether it's providing healthcare for uninsured women, helping young women get an education or reading with a young girl, Myra truly embodies the guiding principles and spirit of an ATHENA recipient," Moss wrote in a nomination letter.

 Grant was recognized as one of the first advocates for women's health issues and for her work to establish the Pardee Foundation, which raises money for the county-owned hospital. She requested that the money raised for an endowment in her honor be directed to health programs benefiting women.

Grant became the first executive director of the foundation in 1996, leading the organization since then to raise more than $28 million, "creating a legacy of giving that will nurture the health of our community for years to come," Moss wrote.

One emblematic fundraising event is Women Helping Women, which Grant launched in 1998 along with a team of women volunteers. The event raises money to help needy and uninsured women get breast cancer screenings and other procedures. It has raised more thn $1.6 million and paid for cancer-prevention screenings for more than 1,000 women.
Grant, who is retiring in July, was selected from among 11 nominees. The nominees for the fifth annual ATHENA Award, presented by the Business and Professional Women, were honored at the annual awards program at Kenmure Country Club. The program also included keynote speaker Meridith Elliott Powell, the author of "The Power of Choice: 3 Secrets to Move from Frustration to Freedom."

Mintz, who was murdered in 2011, helped initiate the Athena Award locally. State Farm insurance agent Judy Stroud told the luncheon that the sale of red and black ribbons commemorating her death would raise money for families of murder victims, women who wanted to travel on a mission trip and education for women.

Stroud's State Farm agency and Morris Broadband were the main sponsors of the awards luncheon.
Here are thumbnail sketches of the nominees, their role, nominators in parentheses, and a quote:

  • Maurean Adams, founder, Children and Family Resource Center. "Her passion lies with making a difference in her community, being an advocate and impacting the lives of women and children."
  • Susan Adell, (Kim Everett), Clean Streak Inc., Office manager/marketing head. "By learning every aspect of a company and pouring focus into its weak areas she can succeed in any area."
  • Tanya Blackford, Mainstay, executive director (Karyn Spreeman). "Tanya believes i fun and investing time and attention in volunteers, staff and clients and has an open door policy for all."
  • Bessie Bright, (Sandra Walker), Spearman Furniture Company, retired assistant manager. "Throughout her professional work with Spearman Furniture Company, Bessie encouraged management to hire more women — eventually salespersons became predominantly women."
  • Karen Caruso, (Mind Your Business staff), Mind Your Business Inc., owner/CEO. "Karen is a self-motivator and it shines through her personality and becomes contagious as soon as she walks into the room."
  • Donna Hastie, (Karen Yagerhofer), Hendersonville Symphony Orchestra, president, board of directors. "After a storied career, it would be easy to wipe your hands clean and kick back and relax but instead Donna kicked it up a notch and embraced her commitment to the Hendersonville Symphony Orchestra as a full-time position."
  • Rena McCraw, (Elizabeth Ogle), McCraw Insurance, owner. "Rena served as a mentor to potential new agents and offered her time and office space free of charge in an effort to help new young women agents complete their coursework."
  • Rebecca Poplin, (Kathy Revis), Upward Elementary School, Henderson County Public Schools, principal. "Rebecca listens intently, makes decisions empathetically, and models patience and understanding."
  • Kelly Schofield, (Kristen Walter), Dana Elementary School, Henderson County Public Schools, principal. "In a profession dominated by women, Ms. Schofield leads by example. She is compassionate yet strong and encourages her staff to look to each other as leaders and problem solvers."
  • Jan Stanley, (Sara Bagwell), Henderson County Public Schools, retired educator. "A former player says of Jan: 'Love and hard work, these are the basis of her success and this is what she taught me. As a mother of two sons, I have tried to instill in them the same things I learned from Coach Jan... love your family and friends and always do your best.' "