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Event salutes Athena Award nominees

They have created agencies to help women and children in need or in crisis, been leaders of business, had impressive second acts in retirement and helped mentor, teach and boost young women.

The 11 nominees for the fifth annual ATHENA Award were honored Tuesday at a Tea at the Cedars presented by Judy Stroud of State Farm Insurance and Mike Kai of Morris Broadband. The award is presented in memory of Vanessa Y. Mintz, a longtime community volunteer, real estate saleswoman and business leader. The Award honors individuals who strive toward the highest levels of personal and professional accomplishment, who excel in their chosen field, devote time and energy to their community in a meaningful way, and forge paths of leadership for other women to follow.

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."

Myra Grant, (Elizabeth Moss), Pardee Hospital Foundation, Executive Director Pardee Hospital, Vice President of Philanthropy. "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."

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.' "

The winner will be announced at the Business and Professional Women's Luncheon on Thursday, May 24, at Kenmure Country Club.