Last year, I had the privilege of being a recipient of the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce ATHENA Award. It was an awe-inspiring experience that truly changed my perspective. Phoenix is a powerhouse for strong, leading women who have dedicated themselves to fostering a spirit of community in our very big, “small” town.
When I received notification that I had been nominated for the 2015 ATHENA Awards, I was surprised. I never thought of myself as an ATHENA. Throughout the selection process, I had the privilege to meet the other ATHENA nominees and finalists. And let me tell you, the women who were nominated are impressive in many ways. They are talented, passionate, committed, visionaries. Every single one of them is everything an ATHENA should be—a leader, mentor and community servant. It was an honor to meet them and to be nominated with them.
As I moved through the process—the application, the nominee reception, and the final interviews— I realized that I was like the other women nominated. I was worthy of being an ATHENA. My decades of work—abroad and in Arizona—made me a community leader. My passion for others made me an accessible mentor. My dedication to Phoenix made me a community servant. Without the ATHENA Awards, I would have never thought about myself in that way—a way that illustrated the daily impact that I was having through my work and my community service.
I am grateful for the experience that I had as an ATHENA. I am grateful for the group of women—ATHENA nominees and previous ATHENA recipients—that I had the opportunity to meet and work with throughout the award program.
I encourage you to make a list of women with whom you work. Do it now. Do you have your list? Good. Now, go and nominate every single woman on your list. It won’t take long, but it will give those women an experience of a lifetime. It will honor their determination, hard work and accomplishments. They deserve it.
-Melissa Sanderson, vice president of international affairs at Freeport-McMoRan Inc.
Melissa received the 2015 ATHENA Award for the Private Sector.
Learn more about nominations: www.phoenixchamber.com/athenanominations