MARTHA MERTZ (Athena Founder)
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.