ATHENA, Our Stories

KristineThis space is being dedicated to the stories of our members as they encounter the eight principles that make up the ATHENA Leadership Model®. The model was developed through a foundation grant from the Kellogg Foundation in 1998. The participants had found their voices as leaders without all of the initials behind their names. They emerged as leaders because they attracted and inspired followers. Three things were prominent: they had individual talents and expertise, they were passionate about the purpose and potential of their pursuits and they had the ability to communicate their vision and hopes for the future. None of the principles identified by the participants were those taught in business schools or covered in career track models.

The eight distinct principles of the Model are reflective of women’s contributions to leadership: Authentic Self, Relationships, Giving Back, Collaboration, Courageous Acts, Learning, Fierce Advocacy, Celebration and Joy.  Please click below to continue reading…

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These are not exclusive to women. However, they do represent the kind of leader that I want to be. I have operated within these principles my entire life. There were times when I felt I was not fully me. I passed the California Bar Exam in 1979 and had 180 clients in 18 months with my own practice. I appeared in court in front of the predominantly male judiciary and felt the wrath of these judges because I was a women. Recognizing that my clients were the ones that could suffer, I chose a different path within McDonnell Douglas. I had a great career there—partially because I don’t think senior management knew what to do with me. I was given amazing opportunities which included developing the Corporate sexual harassment complaint investigation process in the early 1980’s, supervising the employment function when we needed to hire 6,000 employees in 14 months. I always thought outside the box and was the founder of the Amelia Earhart Society—one that continues today under the Boeing banner.

I consider myself a change agent. I have collected initials and credentials only because I love to learn. I have been privileged to consult with senior teams, serve on for-profit, non-profit and public boards. When I moved to Arizona 4 years ago, I felt the calling of my sisters. My first adventure was to try to start Women as Peace builders and link with a United Nations initiative to train women in the peace process. Then I felt called to travel to China to work with young women in a leadership academy who would say “if you try to stop me, I will just try harder”. These women made me ashamed of my efforts to support women as leaders here at home. In August, I convened a group of women and we called ourselves Women CAN (Change Arizona Now) with the intention of trying to make a difference on any issue for women in Arizona.

Just a month ago, I met Martha Mertz, the founder of ATHENA, International. Her story inspired me. the eight principles rattled my soul into awareness and I folded back on myself to realize that I had been living the principles my entire life as an advocate, author, speaker, and organizer. The first two principles of Authentic Self and Relationships have driven how I formulate myself as a leader. The next three principles of Giving Back, Collaboration and Courageous Acts are how I move to action. The final three principles of Learning, Fierce Advocacy, Celebration and Joy are how I encourage others to live their leadership potential.

Finally I have found a model and a set of principles that can be recognized in other women and from there I can always be in celebration and joy.

I hope you will join me as ATHENA Valley of the Sun expands to support, honor and develop women leaders. I am thrilled to join with sister organizations such as those in Raleigh, North Carolina and Akron, Ohio. There is so much to learn from amazing women and it is our joint calling to help others find their own identity as leaders. I am proud to be the ignition for ATHENA Valley of the Sun!

Feel free to post your story in this space.


Dr Kristine Quade, JD, EdD, MSOD

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Relationships need trust and boundaries

Mariaon Douglas provided unique insight in the importance of trust and boundaries in our relationships. Conversations are important in building trust, setting boundaries and strengthening relationships.

• Be honest with yourself and your relationship
• Use grace, don’t assume the worst when a person breaks trust-consider if there is enough value to work on the relationship
• Relationships are like an investment portfolio-some are cheap, some are expensive and some take awhile to see the dividends. We need to evaluate both from time to time

• Set boundaries as you establish relationships-if you know what the boundaries are then you know when they have been crossed
• Not everyone is fit to be in a relationship with you
• Believing in yourself is one of the most important foundations for feeling confident in setting boundaries.
• Boundaries are to stand on or to stand for, but not to stand behind
• Boundaries are not laws-when trust is broken communication might be the solution

What boundary will you set?  How will you strengthen your relationships.

#MeToo, Don’t be silent

In our last women’s leadership meeting we brought in the topic of MeToo that went through social media prior to our event. MeToo is powerful becuase it is showing the size of the issue, from the abuse, to the power plays, to accepted conversations that treat women as objects. However, the movement won’t be effective unless we take action.  Here were some of the thoughts that came from our discussion:

• Most women we talked to had experiences where they were discounted or treated less-than,
• Inappropriate conversations and/or behavior is real for women and men in the workplace
• Our young women and young men are seeing constant ads teaching both of them that women are valued for their body or for sex
• Standing up was painful-fear of retribution, blacklisted, exclusion by peers
• Treated poorly, looked down upon when reported situation at work-peers badmouth victim as much or more than abuser

#MeToo Culture Shift/moving forward
• Feel, Deal, Heal
• Find strength in yourself and trust that it can be better
• Know your value and claim it
• Awareness-then Conversation-then Education
• Educate-be agents of change, role models
• Create impact in our circles of influence: families, work department, friends
• Focus on educating our youth with positive examples
• Teach respect and appreciate differences in gender
• Educate youth on how to set boundaries
• Have the courage to initiate conversations even if they are uncomfortable
• Teach others direct phrases to say when they see, hear inappropriate behavior or conversations

What conversation will you initiate to help create change?

ATHENA International in China

Andrea Conner

ATHENA International President, Andrea Conner made the cover of SHE POWER magazine in China.  SHE POWER educates and connects women mentees and mentors together to grow women leadership in China.  Andrea Conner was a speaker at SHE POWER’S women’s conference earlier this year and helped develop an ATHENA International affiliate in China in support of recognizing and developing women leaders through the ATHENA Leadership Award® and the ATHENA Leadership Model™.


Leading from Within

Martha Mertz and Patricia Wheat started off our meeting discussing the ATHENA Leading from Within program that they teach at Perryville women’s prison in Glendale.  In numbers 67% of the inmates once released end up returning, however the women that complete the ATHENA Leading from Within Program with Gina’s Team only have had 9% return.  Quit the drastic difference in numbers and in changes that these courageous women are able to go through.  We also had the opportunity to hear from Autumn Moss a graduate of the program herself and the courage she had to embrace being her authentic self.

It was a powerful and moving afternoon of stories that were shared of psychological prisons that each of us have to break free from, whether we put ourself there or someone else’s actions did.

Martha and Patricia shared that every leader at times needs to be courageous that is why it is one part of the ATHENA Leadership Model.  The model asks us to see every act of courage from the subtle to the roar.  We need to find our own voice and have the courage to express ourselves and represent our own core beliefs, so in the really difficult moments we have the capacity to lead.

Thoughts that were generated from the meeting:

  • Courage usually means risk
  • Courage is intentional
  • Society doesn’t give honor to all the courageous acts that women do
  • Courage for some can be an everyday process
  • Being judgmental can get in the way of courage, if we worry about what other’s might think, or if we decide it’s not the right type of crowd, group, the right time, we might not act.
  • We must understand the power of ourselves
  • Teach other’s the power and capability they have within themselves
  • There is Power in telling your story-gives others courage
  • A woman’s arms should always be outreached, one forward to allow others to lift and lead us and one hand backward to help another.

The ATHENA model helps us to look at what we are within-we find courage in ourselves-what it looks like to us and how we will use it.

Gina’s Team is committed to giving each inmate that enters the ATHENA Leading from Within program their own book to help them through the process. If you would like to help with the costs of books and help make a difference in our community you can Donate Here

Change your relationship with money

Change your relationship with money

Seed Thought Leader Judi Price, led us through an evaluation with ourselves and our perceptions of money.  Is our parents or childhood views of money still driving our decisions?  Does discussing money make us feel uncomfortable or emotional?  As ATHENA leaders we challenge ourselves to always be authentic in all of our relationships.  We used the Live Authentically leadership principle to evaluate how we really feel about money and the beliefs systems that could be hindering our progress and views on how we handle money in our relationships and business endeavors.  Here are a few comments and ideas that came from our learning discussions:

  • Money is currency to serve our family and community
  • Net worth is not my worth
  • My identity is not defined by the money I have
  • Discussions need to happen about money-often and early
  • We can have it and loose it, it can be cycle where we rebuild or we can shrink from the experience-it is all a choice
  • Money strategy has to be flexible to account for good and down times in business

Judi pointed out that money is just a means to an end. It has no energy by itself.  We give it the energy and emotion.  Old philosophy’s can sneak in even when we try to feel differently about money, don’t let these thoughts impact our future actions.  Make money a neutral conversation.

What new agreement’s will you make with yourself about your relationship with money?


Arizona Money Month Host

ATHENA Valley of the Sun is proud to be part of Arizona’s Money Month

Four weeks dedicated to women biz owners and everything money in AZ.

Money–the ability and confidence to make it directly, spend it wisely, and get it in the form of investment dollars or loans–is a key issue facing women-owned firms. We believe that if we can educate and inspire women around money with Valleywide community events and online tools, we will create an immediate economic impact in the fastest-growing entrepreneur population in the country, women.

ATHENA Valley of the Sun believes in Honoring, Supporting and Developing women leaders.  To do our part our September 7th Event will be looking at our relationship with Money with Seed Thought Leader Judi Price.

With Money Month we are launching the AZ WBO Survey, to help gather critical data to create an effective strategy to leverage the growth of women owned firms to create a stronger future for Arizona. This survey is available through the month of September. Take the Survey


Women in the Workplace

Women in the workplace





The 2016 Women in the workplace study conducted by LeanIn.Org and McKinsey, based on data from more than 130 companies and over 34,000 men and women.  Discovered the following key findings:

  • Women remain underrepresented at every level in the corporate pipeline.
  • Women negotiate for promotions and raises as often as men but face more pushback when they do.
  • Women also receive informal feedback less frequently than men—despite asking for it as often—and have less access to senior-level sponsors.
  • Corporate America promotes men at 30 percent higher rates than women during their early career stages
  • Women of color face the most barriers and experience the steepest drop-offs with seniority

The report suggests that we are falling short in translating top-level commitment into a truly inclusive work environment. Even when top executives say the right things, employees don’t think they have a plan for making progress toward gender equality, don’t see those words backed up with action, don’t feel confident calling out gender bias when they see it, and don’t think frontline managers have gotten the message.

Women in the workplace is a comprehensive study of the state of women in corporate America.  To read the entire report or to participate in the 2017 study go to





We hope you were inspired and motivated by the April 4th ATHENA Award event. We learned a lot from each other, loved the pictures being posted on Facebook and relished the stories of appreciation afterwards.  We hope you were inspired by the stories of the recipients and the grace with which they offered their hard-earned lessons. To view the stories of our ATHENA Leadership Award recipient Barbara Barrett or our 6 HAIL award recipients: Jody Farley, Maraion Douglas, Dr. Nadia Katrangi, Dr. Claire McWilliams, Annie Groth, Dr. Brenda Combs please go to Our Stories tab on our website and select videos from the drop down menu.  Or you can view on our youtube channel.  We are so grateful to these women and the positive impact that they make on our Arizona community.

Besides thanking the Awards Committee, the Sponsors and the Young ATHENAs (weren’t they amazing!), we wanted to acknowledge that the program was printed by the women in Perryville Prison who are enrolled in an ATHENA “Inspired from Within” program. This leadership program is taught by ATHENA members as a way of helping to prepare the women for re-entry. One of their ways of earning money to ensure independent sustainability is through work in the print shop. These women are using the ATHENA Leadership Model to create their guideposts for re-entry and we are pleased we could be a part of that journey.

We hope you will consider regular attendance at our meetings or reaching out to one of the recipients to see how you can contribute to their cause. Or you may now see how we can all help each other with new causes that are calling for action.


Sharing your Passion with the World

Anne Hanyak & Dr. Kristine Quade

Our Seed Though Leader, Anne Hanyak said her passion started by seeing lots of inequality and barriers for women.  Advancement for women became her passion and she started to devote more time and energy to the cause until she quit her job and made it her full-time work.

Anne asked our group to discuss the following questions:

  • What is your passion that you would like to share with others.
  • What is/are the next step(s) that you can take to embrace your passion and share it with the world?

Using the 8 Leadership Principles:

  • Which is your greatest area of strength that will best enable you to successfully take the necessary steps to share your passion?
  • Which is a potential area of weakness which could negatively impact your ability to share your passion?

Our table discussion brought up the following:

  • Don’t get distracted by BSO (bright shinny objects) focus on what you want to achieve
  • Collaborate with the many women out there-ask how you can help their organization
  • Talents and interests change as time goes on, or your skill set evolves and your passion can evolve too.
  • Target the relationships that you need to help you develop your passion.
  • There are lots of women organizations/groups/individuals out there who are willing to help. Lets support each other, find and ask for help.

We challenge you to ask yourself these same questions and see where you are at in following your passion.

Serving on a Board of Directors

Board of Directors

A big shout out of Thanks to Phoebe Swan for sharing her thoughts, learnings, and experiences from serving on Boards of Directors.  Below are some Key learnings from the event and the contention scenario that Phoebe presented to us.

Key Learnings by Principle:

  • Act Courageously: Listen to your heart, take a stand, give yourself time to diffuse if there is high emotions involved.
  • Learn Constantly: Seek more knowledge, it can help prepare  you to ask the correct questions.  Meet face to face to address a situation, you will get a more positive result.
  • Foster Collaboration:  Remember when there is differences that we are here to serve others, ask what works best for the organization.
  • Live Authentically:  Asses the situation (context and character), stay true to yourself, might need damage control in certain situations where others were involved-talk to those who were affected.
  • Build Relationships:  Look for the reciprocity-are you helping the Board and is the Board helping you, ensure it is good for both of you.
  • Collaborate:  Ask others to help you understand a different perspective

General Key Learnings:

  • Ask the person to share where they are coming from and take notes to show you are really considering/listening actively to their concerns.
  • Put ego aside, and do what is best for organization
  • Choose principles not personalities in working and collaborating with others
  • Declare your intent that you wish to learn about their perspective and perceptions
  • Personal growth comes from the learning experience
  • Help others to be part of the solution in order to produce a positive collaboration
  • Be willing to address issues openly based on size of group and have it become a learning experience
  • Care about people not just a cause.

Phoebe was also kind enough to share some recommended reads to help continue our learning:

True North by Bill George-Helps you zone in about what motivates you.
Speed of Trust by Steven Covey-Helps to teach how to declare intent and move quickly
The EQ Edge, Emotional Intelligence and your success by Steven Stein and Howard Book-Helps you to see through someone else’s lens
The Power of Servant Leadership, by Robert K Greenleaf-Helps show the power of serving those you lead and your community
The Coaching Habit by Bungay Stanier-Contains some great coaching phrases