My first dose of humble pie after joining the military came on my second day of basic training. At West Point, they called this period “Beast.” After waking up at the crack of dawn, we assembled and quickly took off on our first run; I remember that I finished, but just barely. Our platoon had 10 women who — I thought — likely couldn’t hang with the men once we started our quick pace. Soon enough, I discovered there was one woman who kept pace with us upfront, and then left most of us in the dust. I still remember how deflating it was to my ego, used to being first, let alone losing to a woman. Later, I found out that she was a triathlon runner, which all made sense.

Soon after this, many challenges both in sports and professionally, proved that my preconceived notions of the roles of men and women, or what your background was supposed to allow you to achieve, needed to change. My military experience was very positive in this way. It encourages people to thrust themselves into new environments beyond their comfort zones, and question what they suppose to be true.
Our cover feature this issue continues the ATHENA® Awards, returning from our inaugural program last year, celebrating women business professionals and their efforts here in Greater Cincinnati. We had hoped for an attendance of 150 at last year’s awards luncheon; that soon doubled to 300. This made us feel that this should be an annual feature in the magazine and a program that should continue to grow.

The women being recognized, like those before them, are at the top of their fields and truly embody the values of the ATHENA® Foundation while helping other women achieve their full leadership potential. These finalists were selected from among a very strong pool of nominations. In fact, all those who participated in the nomination process agree that the quality of the nominations this year grew exponentially. I would like to formally thank all those who volunteered their time to serve on our nomination and event committees, many who returned for the second year:

   Marion Allman
   La Donna Altman
   Frankie Carlson
   Kathy Ivie
   Joan Kaup
   Sister Nancy Linenkugel
   Kathy Rambo
   Sandra Vogel
   Gerry Waits
   Jennifer Wolfe
   Dan Woodring

Being a part of this process and reading about the extraordinary efforts of these women continues to humble me, just as in that fateful morning run many years ago. It’s no longer about gender, but admiration of professionals such as these here in Cincy. We can embrace all these finalists for their courage to break away and overcome any challenges. We look forward to meeting many like them and to follow in the paths they blaze.