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ATHENA Awards: Rainey-Moore takes home a coveted honor

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Corinda Rainey-Moore, a woman described as a true leader and champion for segments of society who have had doors slammed on them, and whose advocacy for the mentally ill has helped bring people out of the shadows, has won the 2017 ATHENA Award.

Rainey-Moore, a community-outreach and engagement coordinator for the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, received the honor Tuesday evening during the 20th annual ATHENA Awards ceremony at the Madison Concourse Hotel. The ATHENA Award program, hosted by The Business Forum, celebrates women who demonstrate excellence and leadership in their professional endeavors, make significant contributions to the community, and help other women reach their leadership potential.

In the case of Rainey-Moore, her professional and personal endeavors have included public policy and advocacy on behalf of underserved — and many times ignored — populations. “I truly appreciate this,” she said when accepting the award from last year’s winner, Shiva Bidar-Sielaff. “I didn’t expect it. I’m just honored to be nominated, and I’m honored to be here.”

Lending a voice

Nia Enemuoh-Trammell, an administrative law judge with the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, nominated Rainey-Moore for the ATHENA Award. According to Enemuoh-Trammell, Rainey-Moore has often lent her voice for people who are underserved, including frequent advocacy at Dane County Board hearings in support of increased funding for programs that serve people with mental illness. While she’s been in her current post for almost two years, Rainey-Moore has been an advocate for people with mental illness for nearly 30 years, working to boost services and remove the stigma attached to mental illness, a condition one in five Americans have.

Rainey-Moore was the first and only African American to serve as chair of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. She served two terms as president, helping the organization raise over $300,000 for programing over a two-year period, and she currently serves as chair of the organization’s education committee. Her professional affiliations also include Journey Mental Health Center in Madison and the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Nursing.

As the stigma of mental illness gradually fades, Rainey-Moore is gratified that the “whole of the person” is coming into clearer focus, which is critical to changing public perception. However, she knows there is still a great deal of work ahead, especially in the area of suicide prevention and improving access to services and employment opportunities. “What I know about mental health issues is that when people are ready for the help, the services need to be available because people can’t wait a month down the road or two or three months down the road,” she states.

A native of Chicago, Rainey-Moore is the first person in her family to attend and complete college, at UW–Madison, and she earned a master’s degree at UW–Whitewater. She is working to compete her doctoral degree in educational leadership at Edgewood College, and her dissertation is about the academic resilience of higher education students with mental health challenges.

Rainey-Moore also has demonstrated leadership in her volunteer work. Whether it’s devoting time as a mentor for elementary students through the Madison Reading Project or serving as a mentor for Madison College’s Women Scholars Program, or advocating for organizations such as the Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness, many nonprofits and the people they serve have benefited from Rainey-Moore’s spirit of volunteerism.

“To me, giving back is not an option, it’s a necessity,” she states.

Enemuoh-Trammell knows of no other person who has volunteered as much as Rainey-Moore, and she attributes this to her being the first in her family of six children to attend college. “To be the first in her family to reach this milestone has given Corinda a higher purpose, obligation, and responsibility to open the doors for others who have faced obstacles, challenges, or barriers to opportunities,” Enemuoh-Trammell states. “When I talk to Corinda about where she draws her inspiration, you sense a raw authenticity and passion for uplifting vulnerable or at-risk members of our community.”

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