Mission: Develop, support and honor women leaders and those who inspire them to reach their full potential by offering unique, impactful leadership development and award programs.

Vision: Creating a balance in leadership worldwide.




From childhood through motherhood and into a successful career, Martha Mayhood Mertz saw women she considered skilled and inspiring denied recognition for and access to leadership.  If women’s strengths as leaders were publicly acknowledged, she reasoned, they no longer could be dismissed.  

“Women lead.” Said Mertz, “we may not always get credit for it, or paid for it, or thanked for it—but in more ways and places than any other time in human history, women lead.”

So in 1982 Mertz launched a new leadership award program, the ATHENA Award, named for the strong, enlightened goddess.  The award would recognize individuals who excelled in their professions, gave back to their communities, and helped raise up other leaders, especially women.  

What Mertz conceived more than a quarter century ago is now a global movement that has created recognition, mentoring, and training programs.  

Martha has served as President of ATHENA International from its beginnings in Lansing, Michigan in 1982 to May of 1999. Now, a global board leads ATHENA International and Mertz serves as a board member and ambassador, traveling the globe to share the message that women bring a distinctive, transforming approach to leadership; an approach that goes beyond gender to speak to all who would lead in the 21st century.  






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Andrea Conner is a change agent and strategic relationship builder. Through her success in global leadership roles spanning four countries, she promotes corporate social responsibility, leadership development, and gender equity.

 As President of ATHENA International, Andrea leads the organization in its mission to support, develop and honor women leaders. In doing so, she brings an international approach and global awareness of the challenges facing women’s educational and equal opportunity advancement.

A servant to the global community, Andrea serves on the Board of the Sias International University Foundation that supports a private post-secondary school in rural China, and is a Governing Body Board Member for the Raleigh Chapter of the US National Committee for UN Women. She is a consultant for the World Academy for the Future of Women and previously worked on assignment for United Nations Women-Beijing.  

Andrea holds a master’s degree in Global Leadership from Duquesne University and a bachelor’s degree in economics and business from Edinboro University. Currently residing in North Carolina, Andrea advocates fiercely for issues important to the advancement of the world’s women and global citizenship.




Cori McWherter, Human Resources & Fiscal Manager

Emily Harris, Program & Communication Manager

Jessica Jones, Administrative Manager