Austin College Announces 2019 Athena Award Finalists

Austin College will welcome Ann Ross ’66, Austin College senior trustee and a descendant of early Texas matriarch Emily Austin, to the annual ATHENA Award luncheon May 2, at noon in Mabee Hall of Wright Campus Center. Interested individuals may register for the luncheon at by April 29 at a cost of $25 per person.

Ross will be joined by retired educator Kay Kinkler Casey ’68 of Denison in a conversation about Emily Austin, an original benefactress of the College and sister to the College’s namesake, Stephen F. Austin. Ross and Casey will explore Austin family history and discuss the qualities of leadership in women. The recipients of the prestigious ATHENA leadership awards will be announced at the luncheon.

The annual award luncheon is sponsored by the Austin College Center for Community & Regional Development and the Texoma Women Get Connected program. The ATHENA Leadership Award® is presented to individuals who have attained and embody the highest level of professional excellence in their business or profession, devote time and energy to improve the quality of life for others in the community, and actively assist women in realizing their full leadership potential. Austin College reinstated the local honors, given previously by the chambers of commerce, and began presenting the awards to qualified professionals living and working in Grayson, Fannin, or Cooke counties in 2014.

This year’s ATHENA Leadership Award finalists are Kelly Ashmore, Grayson County district clerk; Sandy Barber, executive director of Fannin County Children’s Center, Tamra Bragg, vice president of human resources for Douglass Distributing; and Dr. Dava Washburn, vice president of instruction for Grayson College.

ATHENA Young Professional Leadership nominees are emerging women leaders who demonstrate excellence, creativity, and initiative in their business or profession; provide valuable service to improve the quality of life for others in their community; and clearly serve as role models for young women both personally and professionally.

This year’s ATHENA Young Professional Leadership finalists are Tiffany Dancer, clinical director for Child and Family Guidance Center of Texoma; and Lindsay Wright, association executive of Greater Texoma Association of Realtors.

Event sponsors and table sponsors are sought for the event. For information on sponsorship opportunities, please contact Ginger Nye at 903.813.2834 or

The Austin College Center for Community & Regional Development and Texoma Women Get Connected will debut a new mentoring program that connects professional women with Texoma ATHENA Awards alumnae in mentoring relationships. Prospective mentees can register at the luncheon and will be matched with a mentor in time for the Speed Mentoring Happy Hour (& a Half) on June 4, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at Austin College.

The ATHENA Leadership Award Program is administered by ATHENA International, a non-profit women’s leadership organization, along with licensed host organizations and sponsors. Over 6,000 awards have been presented in the U.S. and around the world since the program’s inception in 1982. Recent recipients include Condoleezza Rice, Billie Jean King, the late Pat Summit, and Gabby Giffords. A list of all known local recipients is included on the Austin College Athena Award website.

Austin College was founded in 1849 and is the oldest institution of higher education in Texas operating under original name and charter. During the 2018-2019 academic year, the campus recognizes 100 years of co-education and has hosted several events commemorating the history of women and accomplishments of current alumnae. Austin College is one of 40 schools profiled in Loren Pope’s influential book Colleges That Change Lives and boasts a welcoming community that embraces diversity and individuality, with 46 % of students identifying as persons of color.

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