“I want to rub this to see if it will continue to bring me luck,” Taylor joked.
Aimed at recognizing those who have made a contribution to the Grand Rapids community, exhibited professional excellence as well as a commitment to providing leadership opportunities for women, the ATHENA Award has been a Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce community program for many years.
Taylor, vice president for diversity and cultural affairs at Davenport University, has given support for the advancement and leadership development of women throughout her career both on a personal level and through the involvement of many organizations.
She has accomplished many firsts in her career. She was the first woman vice president at Lansing Community College and the first woman to sit on the president’s cabinet at LCC. She also was the first female president at Fulton-Montgomery College in Johnstown, N.Y.
“Dr. Taylor is dedicated to education, mentoring and supporting both students and her peers,” said Randy Flechsig, president of Davenport University. “She is an advocate for leadership opportunities for women and men and is always looking for opportunities for others to further their careers and be successful community contributors and members.”
Along with her diversity work and cultural affairs work at Davenport, Taylor oversees the Grand Rapids Area Pre-College Engineering Program, which introduces female and minority students to the fields of science and engineering.
She is secretary of the Greater Grand Rapids Women’s History Council and president of the World Affairs Council of West Michigan.
Organizers pointed to those achievements when bestowing the award on Taylor. The ATHENA Award was created in Lansing in 1980 by Martha Mayhood Hertz and sought to recognize the many outstanding professional and businesswomen in the community and to incorporate them into leadership positions within local chambers of commerce. The first award was presented in 1982.
ATHENA Awards now are presented in cities throughout North America, in Moscow and, beginning next month, in China.
“This award is a true symbol of achievement,” said Taylor. “It is also not an end, it is a step on the continuum of building, inspiring, encouraging and perpetuating the values of women, to demonstrate to them to achieve their own dreams and meet their own goals.”