A new program by ATHENA Valley of the Sun (AVOS) is helping high school women in the East Valley develop important leadership skills through its mission to “Leave No Women Leader Behind.” On March 8, 2018, International Women’s Day, the nonprofit will be celebrating 10 Young ATHENAs, girls in grades 11 and 12, for their participation in the program at the 2018 ATHENA HAIL Awards at the Phoenix Airport Marriott.

The idea for developing a program to inspire young women to become leaders was conceived during an AVOS committee meeting in early 2016.

According to the nonprofit’s founder, Dr. Kristine Quade, “Young women seldom receive any type of leadership training. We wanted to create a program to teach essential leadership principles and also publicly applaud students for their efforts. When one woman leads she encourages others to follow in her footsteps.”

AVOS is an official Arizona affiliate of ATHENA International, an organization which has recognized 7,000 women leaders in over 500 communities worldwide.

The East Valley young women to be recognized at the 2018 ATHENA HAIL Awards are Abbie Tyhurst, Ali McAuliff , Kalena Oorlog, Lauren Colson, Lydia Durret, Raquel Moore, Jennifer Equiha, , Sarai Perez Jauregiu, Soniyah Robinson and Maitri Bhakta.

The program is being offered to young women in grades 11 and 12 who reside in Mesa, Tempe, Chandler and Scottsdale. Participants in the program receive training on the ATHENA Leadership Principles, are asked to develop a “give back to the community” project and learn to demonstrate their leadership skills through workshops on public speaking and other topics.

The 2018 YA program began last October and will continue until the end of the 2017-2018 school year. Applications for the 2018-2019 YA program will be announced in late spring.

The Young ATHENA’s will be acknowledged for their efforts and serve as emcees at the ATHENA HAIL Awards on March 8. The event will recognize an ATHENA Leadership Award honoree, renowned psychologist Dr. Eileen Borris, and six HAIL (Honoring ATHENA Inspired Leaders) honorees selected through an extensive nomination process. The HAIL honorees also mentor the YA’s leading up to the event.

The young women were selected based on interviews and their exemplification of one of the ATHENA Leadership Principles: Live Authentically, Learn Constantly, Build Relationships, Foster Collaboration, Advocate Fiercely, Act Courageously, Give Back and Celebrate.

The Volunteer Chair for the program is Jennifer Anderson, Lead Counselor with Westwood High School. Working with AVOS, Anderson has developed a process for girls to apply for the program online and through each school’s career counseling center.

Anderson says, “The 2018 Young ATHENA’s represent a multitude of interests and achievements. They are global minded citizens who hold aspirations of becoming future change agents in the areas of social justice, medicine and technology. They are impressive human beings.”

According to Quade says she hopes to expand the program with the intent of serving young women in economically disadvantaged Title 1 schools. Robin Massey, AVOS Leadership Team member, will be assisting with the implementation of the program into more schools in the East Valley.

“We want to let all young women girls identify with the leadership attributes they have within themselves and give them access to special training that they wouldn’t receive otherwise. Down the road, we hope to be in as many schools as we can to help build the next generation of women leaders,” says Quade.

The ATHENA HAIL Awards will be held on March 8, 2018, International Women’s Day, from 11 am – 1 pm at the Phoenix Airport Marriott. Tickets are $85 and include the luncheon and awards ceremony and are available at www.athenaaz.com. Proceeds will benefit the YA and other leadership programs for women and girls in the East Valley.

For more information on ATHENA Valley of the Sun and the Young ATHENA program, call 480-420-7277 or email jennifer@athenaaz.com