Women’s leadership in Western Michigan companies, organizations recognized at the 2021 ATHENA Awards


GRAND RAPIDS – Jo Ellyn Clarey, former President and Director of Grand Grand Rapids Women’s History Council, has worked to promote the often overlooked roles women have played throughout local history.

On Wednesday, Clarey – a literary scholar with decades of experience researching local women’s history – received the leadership award at the ATHENA 2021 awards hosted by the Grand Rapids Region Chamber of Commerce.

“Today I want us to be aware of how much there is – and remains to be learned – about the women who have always been committed workers and social contributors,” Clarey said at a ceremony. at the JW Marriott in downtown Grand. Fast. “Despite recent efforts, they remain largely uncredited.”

The 32nd edition of the ATHENA Awards recognized local women who have demonstrated professional excellence and leadership in their careers.

The ceremony also paid tribute to Kiara Baskin, founder and director of Bump to Birth Doula Services LLC, with the Young Professional Award 2021, and New Paths of Destiny Inc. with the 2021 Organizational Leadership Award.

Accepting the ATHENA award on Wednesday, Clarey said women were the founders and first supervisors of local hospitals in western Michigan before being replaced by men. Grand Rapids women also began running for office in 1887, much earlier than most people realize, Clarey said.

“Just knowing women’s history can both support our activities and warn us to fight the ever-present attractions to a past that never happened,” Clarey said. “Women have never lived in isolated domestic spaces, leaving all the work to men. Women’s history is not what a lot of people think it is.

Krashawn Martin, who serves as recreation supervisor for community services in the Wyoming City Parks and Recreation Department, chaired this year’s ATHENA board.

“It has been amazing to see the impact of shifting our dollars to women-owned and led by women organizations, increasing representation in leadership and evaluating data to ensure progress,” he said. Martin said at the event. “These organizations are giving back to the wider community of women and girls by providing and supporting leadership development opportunities and initiatives. “

Other finalists for this year’s Leadership Award were: Gabriella De La Vega, host at Grand Rapids Community Media Center; Judy Welch, Executive Director of West Michigan Michigan Women Forward; Melissa Collar, Chief Counsel at Rockford Construction Co.; and Roya Bruce, Category Manager at Steelcase Inc.

The finalists in the Young Professional Leadership Award category were: Dani Dubay, Director of Operations at In the picture; Elisa Pérez-Arellano, Founder and CEO of Inclusive Empowerment Services LLC; Lisa Nuyens Heyne, Executive Director, Superintendent and Director of Grand Rapids Discovery Center for Children; and Verónica Quintino-Aranda, Kent County 4-H program coordinator at Michigan State University Extension.

Also, Erhardt Construction Co. and Express employment professionals were also nominated in the Organizational Leadership Award category.


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