Chamber announces ATHENA Leadership Award winner

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Tasha Blackmon Courtesy Grand Rapids Chamber

The Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce announced this year’s ATHENA Leadership Award recipient ahead of a ceremony that will honor leaders in three categories.

The Grand Rapids Chamber said Tuesday that it selected Tasha Blackmon, president and CEO of Cherry Health, as the 2020 ATHENA Leadership Award winner.

The award will be presented — and the winners in two other categories announced — at the chamber’s 31st annual ATHENA Awards celebration to be held virtually at 4 p.m. Sept. 24.

Registration for the event is now open online. In addition to event access, all attendees will receive a gift box curated by Pack Elephant that features goods from local, women-owned businesses.

Blackmon joins three decades of recipients recognized for their efforts supporting, developing and honoring local women leaders.

“I am thrilled to be recognized alongside four outstanding (category) finalists and included among a growing list of leaders paving the way for women in our community,” Blackmon said. “Together as women leaders, we have the ability to change systems for generations to come.”

The ATHENA Awards program began in Grand Rapids in 1989 to honor women and men for professional excellence, community service and active assistance of women in their attainment of professional excellence and leadership skills.

“We have seen tremendous growth in our ATHENA program this year in spite of the pandemic,” said Mel Trombley, director of leadership programs for the Grand Rapids Chamber. “While gathering in person is not a possibility, we are thrilled to debut a virtual celebration experience that combines the rich history of ATHENA tradition with new, creative elements that embrace a spirit of forward progression.”

The chamber honors recipients in three categories at the annual event: ATHENA Leadership Award, ATHENA Young Professional Leadership Award and ATHENA Organizational Leadership Award.

This year’s finalists and recipients, listed below, were chosen by the ATHENA council following an open nomination process.

ATHENA Leadership Award finalists

Tasha Blackmon, president and CEO, Cherry Health

Candace Matthews, chief reputation officer, Amway

Bonnie Nawara, CEO, Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women

Ana Ramirez-Saenz, president, La Fuente Consulting

Misti Stanton, assistant vice president and diversity and inclusion officer, Mercantile Bank of Michigan

ATHENA Young Professional Leadership Award finalists

Brandy Arnold, program manager, West Michigan Center for Arts + Technology

Elise Kutt, founder and photographer, Mod Bettie Portrait Boutique

Ashley René Lee, vice president of strategic communications, Grand Rapids Community Foundation

Ashley Ward, founder and CEO, Hire for Hope

Shannon Wilson, director of Medicaid outreach and quality, Priority Health

ATHENA Organizational Leadership Award finalists

Kids’ Food Basket

Lindo Mexico Restaurante Mexicano

Metric Structures

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