2018 Athena Leadership and Young Professional Leadership Award Winners
Austin College recognized two outstanding leaders from the region on April 27, awarding the prestigious ATHENA Leadership Award® to LuAnn Daniel, founder and chief executive officer of Women Rock Inc., and the ATHENA Young Professional Leadership Award to Amber Pilcher, banking services manager of Landmark Bank-Denison.
The event was presented by the College’s Center for Community and Regional Development and Texoma Women Get Connected program.
The ATHENA Leadership Award® is presented to individuals who have attained and embody the highest level of professional excellence in their business or profession, devote time and energy to improve the quality of life for others in the community, and actively assist women in realizing their full leadership potential.
Daniel, the region’s 2018 honoree, founded Women Rock Inc., in 2010 to serve women who face breast cancer diagnoses. She has grown a highly visible and effective organization that serves more than 700 women yearly. Daniel is certified as a nonprofit executive, nonprofit consultant, and development executive. She is described as the “rock of Women Rock.”
Other finalist honorees for the ATHENA Leadership Award were Stephanie Chandler, director of community Investment with United Way of Grayson County; Deborah Estes, president of Deborah G. Estes, Ed.D., Consulting; and Tonya Price, chief nursing officer at Wilson N. Jones Regional Medical Center.
ATHENA Young Professional Leadership nominees are emerging women leaders who demonstrate excellence, creativity, and initiative in their business or profession; provide valuable service to improve the quality of life for others in their community; and clearly serve as role models for young women both personally and professionally.
ATHENA Young Professional recipient for 2018, Pilcher was described during the award announcement as a dedicated banker and community servant. Along with her career, she serves on the Chamber of Commerce Board, Zoning Board, Denison Service League, and North Texas Young Professionals. In addition to her civic service, she serves as a teacher at her church and camp counselor for young girls.
The other finalists for the 2018 Young Professional Leadership Award were Kristina Quinlan, member services and events director at Sherman Chamber of Commerce; and Melanie Truxal, Main Street coordinator for Denison, Texas.
The luncheon included a keynote address from Kate Murphy ’10, senior child welfare policy associate for Texans Care for Children in Austin, Texas. She spoke to the large group gathered about the qualities of significant women who have shaped her choices and career. The ATHENA awards are held in conjunction with a Nonprofit Symposium sponsored by the College and community partners.
Sponsors for the 2018 event included Texoma Health Foundation; Austin College Institutional Advancement staff in honor of Jill Joiner Roberts; Kristine McKinney ’78 in memory of Clara Blackford Smith; Gary and Marilyn Murphy in honor of Kate Murphy ’10; and Wilson N. Jones Regional Medical Center. Event sponsorships benefit the College’s Social Entrepreneurship for Poverty Alleviation (SEPA) summer intern program.
Austin College reinstated the local awards in 2014, with nominations open to leaders in Cooke, Fannin, and Grayson counties.
Austin College, a private national liberal arts college located north of Dallas in Sherman, Texas, has earned a reputation for excellence in academic preparation, international study, pre-professional foundations, leadership development, committed faculty, and hands-on, adventurous learning opportunities. One of 40 schools profiled in Loren Pope’s influential book Colleges That Change Lives, Austin College boasts a welcoming community that embraces diversity and individuality, with more than 40 percent of students representing ethnic minorities. A residential student body of approximately 1,275 students and a faculty of more than 100 allow a 13:1 student-faculty ratio and personalized attention. The College is related by covenant to the Presbyterian Church (USA) and cultivates an inclusive atmosphere that supports students’ faith journeys regardless of religious tradition. Founded in 1849, the College is the oldest institution of higher education in Texas operating under original name and charter.