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Kathy Morgan honored as Athena Award winner

Kathy Morgan is the 2021 Athena Award winner. [PAULA ROBERTS PHOTOGRAPHY] Kathy Morgan is the 2021 Athena Award winner. [PAULA ROBERTS PHOTOGRAPHY]

Kathy Streeter Morgan, a high school phys-ed teacher and coach and longtime Rescue Squad volunteer who became the squad's chief at the age of 69, was named the 2021 Athena Award winner Thursday during the annual Business & Professional Women's Luncheon at Kenmure Country Club.

A “female trailblazer” throughout her adult life, Morgan started teaching P.E. in 1974 at Hendersonville High as well as coaching volleyball, basketball and softball and serving as a role model for female athletes. After 26 years of teaching and coaching, she stepped up to the role of lead teacher and assistant principal at HHS, retiring in 2006. Retirement was not resting. Last year, at age 69, she became the first female chief of the Henderson County Rescue Squad, managing a $1.9 million budget. In a male dominated industry, Morgan helps women realize they can do anything with education, passion, respect and commitment. She embraces and empowers young people in all facets of life as she has considered education her mission field. It may be an understatement to say Morgan embodies the heart of a servant in her work and life. The list of awards for Kathy is long, and includes PE Teacher of the Year in 1996 and HHS Hall of Fame. In the words of her husband, Ray, “the word no is not in Kathy’s vocabulary when it comes to services and assisting anyone in need.”

Here are other nominees and the nominations:

  • Lee Ann Angel, nominated by Chris Angel. Dean of Health Sciences at Blue Ridge Community College, Lee is most often described as a coach who ensures that her faculty is equipped to provide a quality education for students soon to enter the healthcare system in our local communities. From assisting in the organizing of the Pardee/Blue Ridge partnership for the Covid-19 clinic to relating her journey through the nursing profession, she has a natural knack for deflecting accolades that come her way—but voicing she is member of a team. She doesn’t let her disabilities from MS stand in her way—but continues her dedication to staff, faculty and leadership at BRCC
  • Sandi Garcia Boyer, nominated by Maria Pilos. Organizing a program for struggling moms of children with disabilities was a natural for Sandi Boyer during her tenure at Irene Wortham Center. And now in her role as Executive Director for the N.C. Youth Camp Association, Sandi has encouraged industry cooperation among camps, directs camp-specific research and builds essential relationships for the camp industry to thrive. Riverlink, Leadership Asheville, Association of Fundraising Professions, and Nantahala-Pisgah Forest Partnership are recipients of her volunteer leadership. In her “free” time, Sandi serves as a Guardian Ad Litem volunteer.
  • Lisa Bryant, nominated by Kimerly Hinkelman. A teacher at heart, Lisa has brought her love for teaching from the classroom to Flat Rock Playhouse’s Studio 52 for youth to serving as Artistic Director for the Playhouse. Her efforts and dedication to the arts has increased theater enrollment by 500% and box office sales have surpassed all previous records at Flat Rock Playhouse. Throughout her career, Lisa has been a role model for girls and young women to explore the arts as a career. In 2018, Lisa was recognized as a Woman of Hope at Pardee Hospital, following her year-long treatment and recovery from breast cancer.
  • Leslie Carey, nominated by Amy Siegler. In 2018, Leslie helped bring Women Belong to North Carolina. This women-led women only leadership and networking group focuses on entrepreneurship, leadership and community development. She assists women as they strive to build strong businesses and helps network to build an empowering, supportive community. She often says “each person has the ability to be your own best cheerleader, I help empower the people I support and nurture to do just that."
  • Caroline Gunther, nominated by Larissa Griffin. A true advocate for business, and especially Hendersonville’s downtown business scene, Caroline is often seen creating videos and social media posts to promote the Hendersonville businesses and events. As a leader in #LoveHendo initiatives Caroline promotes monthly events for businesses, merchants and restaurants to lift up their work, as well as her own, WAG Pet Boutique. Giving back to her community is a priority through leadership with the Community Foundation of Henderson County, Blue Ridge Community College, Henderson County Chamber, and Rotary. Caroline also has a keen interest in mentoring middle school girls who are at-risk and giving them opportunities for success.
  • Sherri Holbert, nominated by Teresa Edwards- The common denominator of Sherri’s outgoing passion and DNA is that of helping other find their personal definitions of success and create a journey to accomplish their goals. As Foundation Director at Advent Health, Sherri forms relationships and approaches her work with a servant leadership mentality. In addition to her full-time “day job: Sherri operates Power-Up! a coaching company where she certified to administer personal development profiles for communication styles. Sherri is currently the Board Chair for the United Way of Henderson County and also serves on the Board for Flat Rock Playhouse.
  • Susan Lee, nominated by Kristin Dunn Susan is acknowledged as a servant-leader in the foster care and child development field. Susan has been the director of His Kids Child Development Center since 1989. With Susan’s leadership, His Kids provides paid education and professional development for employees which is incredibly rare in this field. Susan is Association President of Henderson County Foster Parent Association, a Board member of the Smart Start Partnership for Children. In her personal time, Susan ensures that young women aging out of the foster care system still have a safe home. She actively participates in the Voluntary Placement Agreement program, helping young adults learn to be more independent. Susan “lives and breathes” for the success of the next generation.
  • Andrea Martin, nominated by Michelle Huntley Andrea holds a great appreciation for design and loves her work as owner of Meliora Cabinets for over 20 years. Andrea has worked with numerous non-profit organizations but is most known for outdoor murals, Andrea has created 20 x 90 ft mural honoring veterans for their service, on a building in downtown Hendersonville. The work went on to gain national recognition winning Most Striking Public Wall Mural for the 2016 America in Bloom awards. For Hendersonville’s annual “Bear” contest, Andrea has designed four bears—to recognize several organizations. Her talent, emotion and sense of gratitude that Andrea pours into her work is infectious and she has helped others by setting an example in the community and encouraging future generations. Now she is undertaking a large mural next to Dandelion Café, giving women in domestic violence situations hope and confidence to move forward.
  • Kristin Martin, nominated by Tracey Gruver As Executive Director of Thrive since 2011, Kristen Martin demonstrates excellence, creativity and initiative where she works to improve mental health services and housing conditions in WNC. Under Kristen’s leadership. Kristen serves as a leader for the Regional Homeless Coalition, has been instrumental in the creation of the Hendersonville Connection Center, including serving on the board. She also serves on the board for Henderson County Partnership for Health and is active with Henderson County Chamber. She encourages her employees to work on their own leadership skills and provides resources for them to be involved in programs like VISION and Rising Leaders. During the COVID-19 crisis she went above and beyond to see that Thrive received the funding necessary to serve more clients with increased needs, garnering extra PPE supplies and distributing them to community organizations.
  • Brittany Maziarz, nominated by Susan Adell. Brittany’s own story of overcoming years of abuse to become successful continues to inspire the community. She is all heart and with a daunting schedule of work and child-care, she finds time to be a mother and friend to many. Coming out of a domestic abuse, Brittany became the leader of a cleaning business, Clean Streak and has dramatically expanded its reach. She streamlined processes, helped raise the wages and retention rates, and when needed jumps in as a cleaner. During COVID-19, she offered free cleanings to healthcare workers, churches and those most in direct contact with the disease. She offered her financial knowledge to others free of charge and helped 10 businesses in NC and SC apply for and receive PPP assistance. Through Clean Streak, Brittany started “Pink on the Green” golf tournament to raise money for women fighting cancer. Her nominator Susan says her passion should be “bottled and sold”!
  • Jennifer McDonald, nominated by Amy Siegler. Jennifer is the owner of Momleta and has provided over 300 women a complete support system in fitness, nutrition, and motherhood. Jen inspires women not to give up on themselves during motherhood, so they can continue to thrive in their health and work. Jen has created the Baby Boot Camp to help women prepare for birth and celebrate health, nutrition and fitness post birth, and she writes articles on diabetes, nutrition, pediatric nephrology and a variety of subjects. Jennifer has developed hospital Standards of Care for Pediatric Obesity, Pediatric Hemodialysis and Peritoneal Dialysis. Jen’s passion of optimal health for each person had included extensive customized nutritional education to children with chronic diseases. You might know Jen through the Hands-On! Mud Run or Turkey Trot run as she embodies her own values of fun, health and balance.