The Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce announced three ATHENA Leadership Award winners on Oct. 26 during the 29th Annual ATHENA Awards Luncheon.

The three honored at this year’s luncheon were Catherine Alonzo, founding partner of Javelina, who received the Young Professional Award, Rebecca Clyde, co-founder and CXO of Ideas Collide, winner of the Businesswoman of the Year Award for the private sector, and Maria Harper-Marinick, Ph.D., chancellor of Maricopa Community College district, who took home the Businesswoman of the Year Award for the public sector.

The ATHENA leadership awards program is a part of ATHENA International, an organization dedicated to encouraging women business leaders. The awards program gives recognition to women, or men, not only for success in their field but also for their dedication to community service and their assistance to women in achieving professional excellence.

“All of the 2016 ATHENA Award finalists do more than push the boundaries of achievement, they shatter them,” stated Todd Sanders, president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce.

“These businesswomen and role models are respected leaders who embody the spirit of ATHENA and understand that giving back is a major component of personal success. Their altruism, passion, mentorship and dedication are an inspiration and make a positive impact on our community. It is an honor to highlight their achievements and celebrate their leadership and vision,” Sanders stated.

Alonzo moved from the United Kingdom to the U.S. to get her master’s degree at Arizona State University in public administration. Immediately following school in 2007, she was offered a job as an assistant, and by 2012 she was co-founding a company.

“A lot of people talk about being fearless but it’s not about not having fear, it’s about doing it anyway,” Alonzo said.

The Young Professional Award winner said it is important to her that she dedicates herself to causes she is passionate about. She believes giving in your personal life can benefit your career by learning about and being exposed to new things and by building relationships.

Alonzo has straightforward advice for those who wish to be successful.

“Take every opportunity that comes your way that you’re excited by, give it your all and see what happens,” Alonzo said.

Alonzo said her long-term goal for Javelina is to grow a company that will out-live its founders and that will substantially contribute to and shape the community.

Clyde, Businesswoman of the Year for the private sector winner, said that from the beginning, her company has also been focused on giving back.

“We were constantly making it a part of our business, at the very core, the notion of giving back and being part of the community,” Clyde said.

Clyde said that receiving the ATHENA award is both a recognition and a responsibility; a responsibility to venture more and bring more women along with her.

“I really want to make sure that I am finding ways to advance the role and influence of women in marketing and technology in particular. We are under-represented in the leadership of technology,” Clyde said.

Clyde co-founded Ideas Collide 11 years ago, and is currently working on a start-up that would use artificial intelligence to automate some marketing functions using natural language processing.

Clyde’s advice for success has three parts: every mistake is an opportunity to learn, never shy away from hard work and get involved in the community.

Maricopa Community Colleges Chancellor Maria Harper-Marinick said success begins with a clear vision.

The Businesswoman of the Year for the public sector has always been passionate about education, and remembers wanting to be a teacher when she was five-years-old when she when she was growing up in the Dominican Republic.

“If one person’s life becomes better because of the work I do, then it is worth it,” Harper-Marinick said.

Harper-Marinick was named chancellor just earlier this year. She has worked at Maricopa Community Colleges since 1991.

Winning the ATHENA award was a “reflective process” for Harper-Marinick.

“It made me think, ‘What does it mean to accept the award?’ and to me it means that while the award celebrates who I am as a woman and the work I have chosen to do, I think it comes with greater responsibility,” Harper-Marinick said.

Clyde, Harper-Marinick and Alonzo were chosen from among 11 ATHENA finalists, who were selected from a large group of nominations received in August.

2016 ATHENA finalists included:

  • ATHENA Young Professional finalists:
    • Catherine Alonzo, founding partner, Javelina
    • Julia Meyerson, founder and executive director, Vista College Prep
    • Vanessa Valenzuela Erickson, workforce strategy director, Partnership for Economic Innovation
  • ATHENA private sector finalists:
    • Rebecca Clyde, co-founder and CXO, Ideas Collide
    • Nicole Goodwin, shareholder, Greenberg Traurig LLP
    • Catherine Scrivano, president, CASCO
  • Financial Group:
    • Susan Wilder, MD,fFounder and CEO, LifeScape Premier and and LifeScape Medical Associates
  • ATHENA public sector finalists:
    • Maria Harper-Marinick, Ph.D., chancellor, Maricopa Community College District
    • Kristine Morris, chief deputy superintendent, Maricopa County Education Service Agency
    • Carrie Smith, COO, Foundation for Senior Living
    • Elena Zee, president and CEO, Arizona Council on Economic Education.