The Athena Awards: The nominees ARE all winners!

The pronouncement of the Athena Award winner is going to be made Tuesday, March 13 at the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center. That night, every nominee will believe the seven others standing next to them are more deserving of winning, and no way will they expect to hear their name called when the winner is announced. (One of them will be wrong.)

The 2012 nominees include:

  • Christi Andringa, President, Candringa! Productions
  • Angela B. Bartell Mediator, Arbitrator, Reserve Judge, Bartell Dispute Services
  • Shiva Bidar-Sielaff, Director, Community Partnerships & Interpreter Services, UW Health
  • Jenni Collins, Executive Director, Madison Public Library Foundation, Inc.
  • Janet Amundsen Gietzel, Executive Director, Madison Community Foundation/A Fund for Women
  • Jaimes Johnson, Director of Community and Campus Relations, UW Credit Union
  • Lisa McGlynn, Director of Nursing, Attic Angel Place, Inc.
  • Ruth Ann Schoer, Director of Major Gifts, The Salvation Army of Dane County

The Business Forum sponsors the Greater Madison awards program, which is a version of a program repeated in over 400 communities worldwide. The Athena Award is presented for outstanding achievement, service, and assistance to women in reaching their full personal and leadership potential. One nominee per event will be presented with the top award, a bronze sculpture hand-casted by designer Linda Ackley in Tampa, numbered as one of a select edition.

Business Forum members advise not to say “winner” but rather “Athena Award recipient,” as all the candidates are winners by making it past the selection committee. However, it clearly lists “Athena winners” (versus recipients) on its website, so I’ll speak in that same lingo to describe past honorees (wanna bet that website gets changed soon :)?)

Past winners include Carol Toussaint (1998), Jean Manchester-Biddick (1999), Gloria Jones-Bey (2000), Deborah Thomas (2001), Marian Walluks (2002), Mary David Walgenbach (2003), Molly Carnes (2004), Jody Glynn Patrick (2005), Nancy Young (2006), Fabiola Hamdan (2007), Penny Chase (2008), Eileen Mershart (2009), Laurie Benson (2010), and Lauri Binius Droster (2011).

So yes, I have a bias for the award, so I nominated Ruth Ann Schoer this year to be sure the awards program continues to include the same stiff competition I faced. And I’ll be there for moral support for her that night. I know how it goes: In 2005, I was so impressed by the other nominees that I scoffed at the idea of writing down even the briefest acceptance speech, and so (after overcoming shock and then awe at the magnitude of the mistake they’d made when they called my name), I got up on shaking legs to say a quavering, impromptu thank you. It was a Sally Field moment for sure, and I rarely have those.

To be nominated alongside my personal hero, the late Doris Hanson, and to join a group that included Gloria Jones-Bey, a woman held in my heart and mind in the highest possible regard, was impossible to fathom then – and still is.

I hope Ruth Ann has that same humbling and thrilling experience this year. She, like all the other nominees, deserves it.

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