Rutherford Cable to honor 14 Women on Thursday

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On Thursday, May 15, RutherfordCABLE presents the first annual ATHENA International Leadership Award Program, naming one recipient and honoring the 14 nominees.  Each nominee was put forth by a local organization because of her exceptional professional and personal leadership, accomplishments and contributions.    

The evening begins at Stones River Country Club at 5:15 p.m. with a Welcome Reception and continues with the Program and Ceremony at 6 p.m.  ATHENA Founder Martha Mayhood Mertz is the keynote speaker for the May 15 event.            

The public is invited to attend; tickets are $50 per person and available online at  First Tennessee Bank, Saint Thomas Rutherford Hospital and Murfreesboro Electric Department are event sponsors. 


A committee of RutherfordCABLE members has been working for one year to bring this inaugural program to Rutherford County.

“Our community is a great place to live and work,” said Dr. Jean Anne Rogers, 2014 Rutherford ATHENA Chair.  “We brought this prestigious award to Rutherford County this year because we have many women right here who deserve to be recognized for their contributions. 


“Each local organization selected an outstanding leader from their ranks as their nominee, a person who exemplifies leadership, commitment to community, and unselfish assistance to women and girls while excelling in their careers. These nominees are our role models.”

More than 500 communities throughout the United States, Canada, China, Russia, United Arab Emirates, Bermuda, Greece, India and the United Kingdom have honored exceptional women who inspire others to achieve excellence in their own professional and personal lives with the ATHENA® Award. 

This year, four communities in Tennessee:  Nashville, Roane County, Blount County and Rutherford County will present ATHENA awards; more than 200 communities worldwide will honor ATHENA nominees and recipients this year.

The ATHENA International Leadership Award was founded in 1982 by Martha Mayhood Mertz. The ATHENA non-profit organization seeks to support, develop and honor women leaders, inspiring them to reach their full potential and create balance in leadership worldwide.

The award is named after Athena Parthenos, the first child of Zeus, known for her courage, valor, strength and reason. She was valiant in battle but known equally as a diplomat, and for bringing the olive tree, whose branch symbolizes peace to the Greeks.

The 2014 Rutherford ATHENA® Program Nominees:

Dr. Barbara Ayne Cantrell, American Association of University Women of Murfreesboro

“My feminist advocacy colors all I do—whether learning, building relationships and collaborating with others, or ‘paying it forward’ by helping other women succeed.”

Melanie Clifford Cavender, Rutherford County Family Young Men’s Christian Association  

“In 2006, one of the worst days of my life began the most fulfilling journey I could ever imagine, leading ABC, After Breast Cancer. God has allowed me to co-pilot with breast cancer survivors on a trip no one wants to go on.”

Meagan Nicole Flippin, Junior League of Murfreesboro

“I strive to cultivate a culture that is empowering, professional, mission-focused, results-oriented, and fosters collaboration. I always try to bring another employee in on every meeting or event I attend for learning and training, and I constantly ask other staff members to lead segments of our staff, board and organizational meetings.”

Dr. Judith Iriarte-Gross, Middle Tennessee State University June Anderson Center for Women and Nontraditional Students

“As a leader and mentor, I share the following: Don’t be afraid of nitric acid. Celebrate friendships, birthdays and good grades. Treat people well. Give back to your mentors and mentees. Fight for what is right. Go after your dreams. Move forward. Give back.”

Yolanda Faye Johnson, League of Women Voters of Murfreesboro/Rutherford County

“I was once asked why I had leadership roles in two very different community programs--hospice and the League of Women Voters. It’s simple: both have an appreciation of and respect for the dignity of people. My life is centered on advocacy that honors a single core value: respect for a person’s dignity.”

Tara A. MacDougall, RutherfordCABLE          

“I challenge myself to learn something new every day; advocate for what I am passionate about; act courageously even if I am the only one standing; foster collaboration and build relationships so good work can be accomplished; give back as I pay it forward; and take time to celebrate successes.”

Shelby C. Moore, Rutherford County Democratic Women    

“With the Women’s Mission Group at my church, I help feed young women and children, and mentor and serve as a positive role model.”

Amy Stokes Painter, Zeta Tau Alpha, Murfreesboro Alumnae Chapter   

“It is the responsibility of citizens to make their community the best possible. My greatest satisfaction comes from using my experience to serve area nonprofits.”

Felicia Perdue Shirley, Nissan Smyrna Women’s Business Synergy Team      

“If I do not take ownership for my part in making a difference, I am not encouraging other women to step up, take an active part in this world and make a difference. As Helen Keller once said, ‘I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something.’”

Jill Spry, Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce Business Women’s Council

“My life’s work is to help women of all ages learn to love themselves as authentically as possible. Whether I achieve this in my career as I coach others on their career path, Bible class at my church or camp, Celebrate Recovery, or simply as I walk through life day to day, does not matter to me.”

Carolyn B. Tumbleson, United Way of Rutherford and Cannon Counties

“I do what I know how to do best – connect people with what they care about.  It is important for women to tell their stories, even the challenging parts, and position themselves for success.  I’m living toward confidence.”

Dr. Jacqueline Elizabeth Wade, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Pi Nu Omega Chapter 

“I have devoted my entire adult life to the socio-cultural, political and economic empowerment of African American women, specifically, and to all other people of color, generally. I am very committed to using my natural talents, intellectual attainments, and professional skills for significant and lasting social transformation.”

Lori Jobe Williams, Chi Omega Fraternity  

“I believe in accountability, starting with holding myself accountable. I value ‘being here now’ and following through with commitments. In mentoring sessions with professional women or young girls in scouting or at church, I emphatically stress that being present gives you a voice when it is time to speak. Then, and only then will your voice be heard.”           

Maridel Williams, Doors of Hope    

“I founded and became Executive Director of Doors of Hope, Inc. in March 2011, after discovering Rutherford County had no re-entry program for people exiting incarceration.”

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