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Chamber announces Athena award nominees

The Henderson County Chamber of Commerce, along with the Athena Committee and sponsoring partners, announced seven the nominees for the 13th annual Athena Award.


The award nominess are Ruth Birge, Marcia Caserio, Kimerly Hinkelman, Dr. Laura Leatherwood, LoriKay “LK” Paden, Joy Ponder and Mayor Barbara Volk. The Athena Award is presented by Pardee UNC Health Care, with support from Morris Broad Band and Judy Stroud –State Farm Insurance.

The nominees will be honored at a reception presented by Judy Stroud – State Farm Insurance this Fall. The recipient of the 13th annual ATHENEA Award, presented in memory of Vanessa Y. Mintz, will be announced at the Business and Professional Women’s Luncheon on Thursday, Sept. 24, at Kenmure Country Club. The Athena Award honors individuals who strive toward the highest levels of personal and professional accomplishments, 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. The award is co-sponsored by the Henderson County Chamber of Commerce.

The Business and Professional Women’s Luncheon is hosted as part of the Henderson County Chamber’s Small Business Week celebration to honor the work that women are doing in area businesses and the community. The celebration was originally scheduled for May 14 but was postponed because of the COVID-19 mandates for social distancing. This year’s luncheon will feature a keynote from Leah Wong Ashburn, owner and operator of Highland Brewing Company in Asheville.

“The Athena Program is a way to honor and celebrate the contributions individuals in our community have made to the cause of women’s leadership,” said committee chair and 2018 recipient Lee Henderson-Hill. “When you look at the history of Henderson County, you see how much of how our community is shaped today as a result of female leadership. We want to celebrate and continue that work.”

The Athena of Henderson County programming continues throughout the year with quarterly women-centric networking events called Empower Hours. The next Empower Hour will be held virtually through Zoom 4-5 p.m. Thursday, May 14. For more information on the Athena Award and related programs, or to make your reservations to the Business and Professional Women’s Luncheon, please call The Chamber at 828-692-1413.