ATHENA of the Triangle, Recipient

Gabriella Terry, a young restaurant owner, was making her mark in the restaurant, catering and event-planning industries. When the pandemic struck, Terry—like many othersA panel of speakers at an event. in the industry—had to make tough decisions. The pandemic was not the end of her story. Instead, it marked the beginning of a remarkable pivot that would not only redefine her career but also establish her as a strong leader within the community. Embracing the values championed by ATHENA of the Triangle, an organization that empowers and enables women to grow their leadership and entrepreneurial skills, Terry added additional lines of business and began mentoring other women business owners. Through Terry’s guidance, her mentees have a better grasp on the essentials of finance, branding, marketing and more. Cultivating power and innovation The organization’s commitment extends across a range of programs designed to nurture leadership skills and confidence among women. One program, ATHENA Enlightened Leaders, assists professional woman at all stages of their career on their leadership journey. ATHENA in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) encourages middle and high school students to participate in STEM classes and exposes them to STEM companies in an effort to build the pipeline of women in STEM careers. A third pillar of the organization, ATHENAPowerlink®, pairs women business owners with an advisor board. The board works to drive significant change in their business over the course of one year. Terry, having participated in this program, understood how to move on from a devastating event and continue toward new success. Leadership in the limelight Recognizing local leadership and contributions is a key initiative of ATHENA of the Triangle. “We host an annual awards program to recognize women who make significant contributions that align with our organization’s mission and values,” said Dr. Tiamesha Walker-Smith, executive director. “We also recognize a young professional and male champion of gender equality.” Awards are presented at an exclusive luncheon in September, where the community comes together to nominate and celebrate exceptional individuals. This event includes awarding finalists with an ATHENA statue and showcasing videos that highlight their careers and community work. What’s more, 10th-grade girls are invited to experience the event and interact with the attendees. This exposure to role models and leaders is invaluable, fostering a sense of possibility and ambition among the next generation of female leaders. Marking milestones with memorable event gifts ATHENA of the Triangle is one of 500 communities under a larger global network—ATHENA International. The parent company recently underwent a rebrand, and therefore the suborganizations were also rebranded. ATHENA of the Triangle used a one by one grant to purchase laptop cases—imprinted with the organization’s new logo—to use as an upcoming event gift. “This year is our 10th anniversary. We plan to host a 10-year celebration event and unveil the new logo and hand out the laptop cases to our attendees,” Walker-Smith said.

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