Chamber names young ATHENA winner


Sara Lachman accepts the ATHENA Young Professional Award at the JW Marriott in downtown Grand Rapids. Courtesy Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce/Adam Bird

An emerging leader in Grand Rapids was recognized Thursday with the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce’s 2015 ATHENA Young Professional Award.

Sara Lachman, an attorney with Miller Johnson, was presented with the award at the chamber’s 26th annual luncheon.


A practicing lawyer since 2004, Lachman is an experienced civil litigator at Miller Johnson, known, the chamber said, for her “thorough, imaginative and professional advocacy.”

She is the creator of Miller Johnson’s current mentorship program, chairs the firm’s recruiting and was previously its volunteer coordinator.

She has received accolades as one of 30 women in Michigan named a 2014 Women in the Law by Michigan Lawyer's Weekly.

The chamber said Lachman is a “committed young professional dedicated to helping others within her field and within the community” and has actively engaged in many organizations and causes.

She serves as chair of the Grand Rapids Bar Association’s Litigation Section, on the East Grand Rapids Planning Commission and as a member of the board of trustees for the Grand Rapids Public Museum Foundation, where she also served as co-chair for the museum’s Night on the Nile event.

She is a 2008 graduate of Leadership Grand Rapids, a 2014 graduate of Leadership Advantage and a council member for the Center for Community Leadership.

Lachman is also the founder and president of Good Seeds, a program dedicated to educating people about the personal and societal impacts of nutritional choices with the aim to help move people towards healthier diets.

She volunteers for Kids’ Food Basket, serves suppers at Degage Ministries and through Inter-Faith Hospitality Network and has previously sat on boards and committees for the Fulton Street Farmers Market, Local First, Safe Haven Ministries, Grand Rapids Ballet, Friends of Grand Rapids Parks and John Ball Park Zoo.

“Sara truly exemplifies the tenets of the ATHENA Leadership Model through her leadership, professional excellence and community involvement,” said Rick Baker, president and CEO of the chamber.

ATHENA Young Professional Award

Lachman was one of 10 finalists for the award.

The young ATHENA award was created in 2007 by ATHENA International and adopted by the Grand Rapids chamber in 2008.

It recognizes emerging leaders in communities with ATHENA programs.

The ATHENA program honors those who have demonstrated leadership in their field, opened doors of opportunities for women, contributed time and talent to the community and are role models to others — particularly young women — in the community.

Other presentations

The luncheon also featured the chamber’s 2015 ATHENA Award presentation to Rev. Peggy Lawrence Burns, director of Intergenerational Programs at Senior Neighbors, formerly Gerontology Network, and founder of the Traveling Grannies & Grandpas Program.

The event also included the presentation of $7,500 total for ATHENA scholarships given to five women over 30 who have returned to college to complete their degrees.

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