RUTHERFORD Cable's annual ATHENA International Leadership Award Dinner

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The founder of the ATHENA International Leadership Award Program will be the keynote speaker on April 27, when RUTHERFORD Cable presents the fourth annual ATHENA International Leadership Award dinner and ceremony at Embassy Suites Murfreesboro.

Martha Mertz is a recognized expert on women and leadership and internationally sought-after speaker.

In the early 1980s, Mertz worked with the Lansing, Michigan Chamber of Commerce to found the


ATHENA International Leadership Award Program, dedicated to supporting, honoring and developing women leaders. The award is now offered in more than 500 communities worldwide.

"We are thrilled to have Martha Mertz join us to honor and celebrate our 25 nominees," said event chair Anne Henslee. "These women are exemplars, leaders in their professions whose volunteerism and philanthropy truly make our community a better place."


The 14 nominees for the 2017 ATHENA Award and 11 nominees for the ATHENA Young Professional Leadership Award were introduced at RUTHERFORD Cable's February 14 Breakfast meeting. Dr. Rhea Seddon, recipient of the 2016 ATHENA Award, addressed the meeting, encouraging attendees to Go for Orbit and take advantage of the serendipitous opportunities life can present; Go for Orbit is the title of Dr. Seddon's recently-published book.

This year's ATHENA Award dinner and ceremony will begin at 5:30 p.m. with refreshments followed by dinner and the Award Ceremony at 6:00 p.m. Tickets are $60 per person and are available online at

"The ATHENA Award recognizes individuals who excel in their professions, give back to their communities and help raise up other leaders, especially women," said Henslee. "The ATHENA Young Professional Leadership Award, introduced to the Rutherford County Community in 2016, recognizes an emerging leader under age 40 who exemplifies the ATHENA values and serves as a role model for young women personally and professionally."

"As a part of the ATHENA mission of inspiring women to achieve their full potential," Henslee explained, "we provide a nontraditional scholarship, supported by our ATHENA Patrons Society members, which allows us to help a woman pursuing an associate's or bachelor's degree later in life. We have many generous supporters who make a $175 donation which includes their admission to the April 27 event as well as to a private reception held earlier in April." Information regarding the ATHENA Patrons Society may be found online at

In addition to founding sponsor Rutherford Cable, the 2017 Rutherford ATHENA Awards are sponsored by Pinnacle Financial Partners, Ascend Federal Credit Union, Deloitte, Farrar|Wright PLLC, Guaranty Trust, State Farm, NHC HealthCare, General Mills, Dempsey Vantrease & Follis PLLC and media sponsor VIP Murfreesboro.

The 2017 ATHENA Award nominees are . . .

Julie B. Corcoran

Nissan Smyrna Women's Business Synergy Team

Julie Corcoran is retired from a 31-year career in manufacturing and industrial engineering at Nissan North America. She has served on the Discovery Center board of directors and continues to volunteer at the Discovery Center, teaching students on field studies. Corcoran also serves on the board of directors of the Business Education Partnership and as a speaker for BEP's SPARK initiative. She is a ruling elder at First Presbyterian Church and chair of its strategy team for youth ministry.

Lara Daniel

MTSU Jennings A. Jones College of Business

Lara Daniel is a professor of business law and assistant dean for assessment in the Jones College of Business at Middle Tennessee State University. She has taught business law to undergraduates for 30 years, and recently was a visiting professor at Guangxi University in Nanning, China. Daniel is president of the Murfreesboro Breakfast Rotary Club, former president of the Discovery Center Board, a trustee of the MTSU Foundation, and serves on the boards of the League of Women Voters of Murfreesboro/Rutherford County and the Discovery Center.

Anne Courtney Davis

Charity Circle of Murfreesboro

Anne Davis is director of the Saint Thomas Rutherford Foundation and has been a dedicated volunteer for over 30 years. She is the First Vice President/President-Elect of Charity Circle of Murfreesboro and has served on the boards of directors of the Junior League of Murfreesboro, Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce and RUTHERFORD Cable. Davis served as president of RUTHERFORD Cable in 2014-2015, was the founding president of the Junior League of Murfreesboro, and was recognized by Murfreesboro Magazine as one of its 2014 Women in Business.

Retta Gardner

United Way of Rutherford and Cannon Counties

Retta Gardner is CEO and president of Guaranty Trust Company, a full-service mortgage lender headquartered in Murfreesboro which operates in 25 states in the United States. She has been an active supporter of the United Way of Rutherford and Cannon Counties for 19 years, serving on that organization's board, its community impact committee, and for several years delivering Meals on Wheels. Gardner has worked with the homeless women's ministry at her church, and also serves on several professional boards which support the mortgage industry.

Madelyn Scales Harris

League of Women Voters of Murfreesboro/Rutherford County

Madelyn Scales Harris is a member of the Murfreesboro City Council, having served since her first election in 2010. She is a retired State Farm Insurance Company business account underwriter and now offers motivational speaking to youth groups through her business, New Beginnings. Harris is active in many aspects of civic affairs in the Murfreesboro community, including the League of Women Voters, the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship Fund and the boards of United Way of Rutherford and Cannon Counties and the Linebaugh Public Library System.

Dr. Mary Hoffschwelle

American Association of University Women of Murfreesboro (AAUW)

Dr. Mary Hoffschwelle is the director of MT Engage, a new program at Middle Tennessee State University that promotes engaged learning across students' educational experiences. A member of the MTSU History Department since 1992, she teaches Tennessee, modern American, and women's history. Dr. Hoffschwelle has been an active member of the American Association of University Women for 24 Years and has served the Murfreesboro Branch as president. Before her career in academia, Dr. Hoffschwelle was executive director of Oaklands Historic House Museum.

Tara A. MacDougall

Junior League of Murfreesboro

Tara MacDougall is president and CEO of Discovery Center at Murfree Spring, the children's science museum and nature center. She is vice president of business development for the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce, a board member of the Convention and Visitors Bureau and a member of the Rutherford County Industrial Development Board. MacDougall is a founding member of RUTHERFORD Cable and is its immediate past president. She is a 2013 graduate of Leadership Middle Tennessee and in 2015 was recognized as one of Murfreesboro Magazine's Women in Business.

Dr. Hilary J. Miller

MTSU June Anderson Center for Women and Nontraditional Students

Dr. Hilary Miller is Director of the Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center at MTSU and teaches in the university's graduate education program. She has worked for more than a decade to assist military-connected students in making the transition from the military to college and/or the community. Dr. Miller was an advisor to the Governor's Veteran Education Taskforce and was a 2016 recipient of both the Department of the Army's Outstanding Public Service Award and the Trailblazer Award recognizing women in public service and government.

Kathrina Margaret Reed

General Mills Murfreesboro, Tennessee Plant

Kathrina Reed is senior quality and regulatory operations manager at General Mills in Murfreesboro. She has served for eight years as her company's representative on Tennessee's Food Safety Task Force, and serves as a mentor to help newer employees develop leadership and technical depth. Reed led the led General Mills' Doughboy 5K challenge for several years, raising funds for local charities. She has served on the board of directors of the Discovery Center and on the Allocations Committee of the United Way of Rutherford and Cannon Counties.

Beth Reynolds


Beth Reynolds is the former owner of On the Move, Moving and Storage, Inc. Now a full-time community volunteer, Reynolds continues to serve several nonprofit organizations including Portico, Doors of Hope and the Salvation Army. As a peer counselor for Portico for the past 10 years, she has assisted women in crisis pregnancy situations, while her time volunteering with the Salvation Army has allowed her to support those who feed, clothe and shelter the homeless in Rutherford County. Reynolds is active in the women's ministry at Kingwood Church of Christ.

Dr. Elizabeth Rhea

Saint Thomas Rutherford Ambassador

Dr. Liz Rhea is a board certified retired radiologist and community philanthropist. Since her retirement she has served on the boards of many nonprofits in Rutherford County, including the MTSU Foundation, MTSU Alumni Board, Blue Raider Athletic Association, Saint Thomas Rutherford Foundation, Saint Thomas Rutherford Ambassadors, ACE Learning Center, American Heart Association and United Way of Rutherford and Cannon Counties. The Saint Thomas Rutherford Foundation in 2011 named Dr. Rhea the inaugural recipient of the award created in her honor - the Dr. Liz Rhea Philanthropist Award.

Deborah Roberts


Deborah Roberts is internship director for the Tennessee Small Business Development Lead Center. A long-time volunteer with the American Cancer Society, Roberts has held numerous positions including Relay for Life team captain, board vice president, advocacy team leader and media spokesperson. Roberts serves on the Middle Half Marathon board of directors, which led to her receiving the 2016 Murfreesboro Parks and Recreation Volunteer Service Award. An active member of RUTHERFORD Cable, Roberts received Cable's 2015 Link Award and 2010 Spirit of Leadership Award.

Barbara Ann Scales

MTSU President's Commission on the Status of Women

Barbara Scales is director of the June Anderson Center for Women and Nontraditional Students at MTSU, where she develops programs and services to promote advocacy, student development and delivery of educational support services for female and nontraditional students and their families. At MTSU she serves on several university committees promoting student success and retention. Scales is active in the Association of Title IX Administrators, the School and College Organization for Prevention Educators and the American Association of University Women.

Judy Gail Whitehill

Delta Kappa Gamma Society International, Delta Chapter

Judy Gail Whitehill is retired from nearly 30 years as a teacher in the Murfreesboro City School System. Whitehill was appointed by Governor Ned McWherter in 1991 to a six-year term as the first active educator on the Tennessee Board of Education, and in 2002 was elected President of the Tennessee Education Association. Whitehill is active in the Rutherford County Retired Teachers Association, Rutherford County Democratic Women and the League of Women Voters, and has volunteered with Room in the Inn and Journey home.

The 2017 ATHENA Young Professional Nominees are . . .

LaEndia Buchanan

MTSU June Anderson Center for Women and Nontraditional Students

LaEndia Buchanan is a recruiting coordinator and advisor in the Career Development Center at MTSU, where she is also a faculty advisor with the National Society of Leadership and Success. She is active in the Junior League and has volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, Feed America First and Boys & Girls Club of Murfreesboro. Buchanan is a participant in the 2017 United Way Catalyst Program.

Carrie Beth Catron

Junior League of Murfreesboro

Carrie Beth Catron is the editor of VIP Murfreesboro Magazine, a position she assumed in 2016 after a 14-year career as an elementary teacher in the Murfreesboro City Schools. She is currently vice president of communications for the Junior League of Murfreesboro, and through that organization has volunteered in programs including the GIRLS Ranch and Little Leaguer community service project.

Mary Catharine Fluty

DoubleTree by Hilton, Murfreesboro, Tennessee

Mary Catherine Fluty is group sales manager for DoubleTree by Hilton in Murfreesboro. A 10-year veteran of the hospitality industry, she is an active volunteer at events for community organizations including the United Way, Special Kids, Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce and the V.A. Hospital. Fluty is a member of the Chamber's 2017 Diplomat program.

Julie Anne Harris

The Webb School

Julie Harris is director of admissions for the Webb School in Bell Buckle, a position she has held for 12 years. Harris is president of the Southeastern Association of Boarding Schools and is a graduate of Leadership Rutherford. She is active in the Junior League of Murfreesboro and has volunteered with the Boys and Girls Club of Bedford County and Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce.

Emmalyne Head

Nissan Smyrna Women's Business Synergy Team

Emmalyne Head is a production supervisor for Nissan North America, and has worked in several capacities in that company including production, supply chain management and quality control. She is an active volunteer for Southern Automotive Women's Forum, Society of Women Engineers and Alpha Kappa Aplha Sorority, Inc. Head received Tuskegee University's Alumni Recognition Award in 2014 for her dedication to recruitment, leadership and fundraising.

Dr. Alicja K. Lanfear

American Association of University Women of Murfreesboro (AAUW)

Dr. Alicja Lanfear is an academic forensic anthropologist and a lecturer in the Biology Department at MTSU. She is a founding officer of the Tennessee Association of Biology Teachers and currently serves as membership vice president of AAUW of Murfreesboro. Dr. Lanfear is an advocate for STEM education, volunteers at Hobgood and McFadden Elementary Schools and has participated in the Expanding Your Horizons (EYH) workshops at MTSU.

Brooke LaRoche

The City Schools Foundation

Brooke LaRoche is a community volunteer with eight years teaching experience, first in the Nashville inner city and then in the Murfreesboro City Schools. She is active with Charity Circle and has co-chaired its Duck Ball and Summer Supper event. LaRoche is a former member of the Discovery Center advisory board and is a board member and active volunteer with the City Schools Foundation.

Julie Plummer Lewis


Julie Lewis is a financial advisor with Pinnacle Financial Partners. She was a 2016 celebrity dancer in Dancing with the Nashville Stars, the Feed America First fundraiser providing food for the hungry in the Middle Tennessee community. Lewis is an active member of RUTHERFORD Cable, where she has served as technology chair and currently is development chair. She received Cable's Rising Star award in 2016.

Karen Pfluge

Murfreesboro Young Professionals, Inc.

Karen Pfluge is a realtor with Crye-Leike Realtors. She serves on the board of Murfreesboro Young Professionals and has actively participated in that organization's activities benefitting the United Way including Stuff the Bus, UW days of Action and MYP's Trivia Night and Ice Cream Bowl. Through Crye-Lieke, Pfluge has participated in Habitat for Humanity builds and food/clothing drives for Journey Home and other local missions.

Rebecca D. Upton

Saint Thomas Rutherford Foundation Ambassadors

Rebecca Upton is a certified public accountant with Dempsey Vantrease & Follis. She has been a member of the Saint Thomas Rutherford Ambassadors for nearly 10 years and serves as that organization's treasurer. Upton has held leadership roles in several area nonprofits, including the Junior League of Murfreesboro and Boys and Girls Clubs of Rutherford County. She was recognized as one of Murfreesboro Magazine's Young Professionals in 2014.

Asheton Winborn

Murfreesboro Chi Omega Alumnae Chapter

Asheton Winborn is the practice administrator for Stones River Dermatology. She serves as Chapter Advisor for the Zeta Theta Chapter of Chi Omega at MTSU as well as Social Chair for the Alumnae Board of Chi Omega in Rutherford County. Winborn volunteers as a reading clinic tutor at Buena Vista Enhanced Option Elementary School in Germantown, and has volunteered for several years with the American Red Cross Heart Ball Late Party.

For more information about the ATHENA Award Program, please contact Anne Henslee at

RUTHERFORD Cable is the premier leadership organization for women's professional advancement. The eight-year-old organization of more than 250 members provides professional and personal development as well as business growth through building long-term relationships, structured networking and referrals. The organization is the first chapter of 31-year-old Nashville Cable. Visit to learn more.

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ATHENA, ATHENA International Leadership Award Program, Murfreesboro news, NewsRadio WGNS, Rutherford Cable
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