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Athena Committee

The ATHENA Award is presented to one exceptional individual who has achieved excellence in her/his business or profession, has served the community in a meaningful way, and has assisted women in reaching their full leadership potential.

The ATHENA Award, started in Lansing, Michigan in 1982, is presented in hundreds of cities in the United States and Canada. The award takes the form of a hand-cast bronze sculpture symbolizing the strength, courage, and wisdom of the recipient. Slidell believes in the values underlying the ATHENA Foundation's philosophy of incorporating the talent and expertise of women into the leadership of our businesses, our communities, and our government. The Spirit of the ATHENA Award program is captured in a quotation from Plato. "What is honored in a country will be cultivated there." By honoring exceptional leaders, others will be encouraged to excel.

In 2011, the East St. Tammany Chamber also added the ATHENA Young Professional Leadership Award. This award honors emerging women leaders who demonstrate excellence, creativity and initiative in her business or profession, provides valuable service to improve the quality of life for others in her community and clearly serves as a role model for young women both personally and professionally.



2016 Athena Leadership Award Recipient
Kelly Rodriguez
Kelly Rodriguez was presented the 2016 Athena Leadership Award® during the East St. Tammany Chamber of Commerce Second Wednesday luncheon held Oct. 12 at the Northshore Harbor Center near Slidell. The Athena Leadership Award® celebrates exemplary leadership, community service, and active assistance to women in achieving their full leadership potential.

A banker with more than 35 years of experience, Rodriguez is a Senior Vice President at Resource Bank, specializing in commercial lending and business banking. She has been a volunteer with the East St. Tammany Habitat for Humanity since 2004, including serving as its chairwoman. A 2010 Leadership Northshore graduate, Rodriguez worked to link the St. Tammany Parish school system to the Naval Lab through the Math Counts project. She was a leader in the project that built a Kids Unlimited Playground at Camp Salmen Park, and was an organizer of the 2014 Louisiana Veterans Festival. She also has been a recipient of the prestigious Bill Lowry Service Above Self Award from the Rotary Club of Slidell.

Presented as part of the Athena program was the Athena Young Leadership Award. Like the Athena Leadership Award, the Athena Young Leadership Award recognizes women who live authentically, learn constantly, advocate fiercely, act courageously, foster collaboration, build relationships, give back, and celebrate. The 2016 Athena Young Leadership Award was presented to Shasta Leininger, Chief Development Officer with the New Orleans Firemens Credit Union.


2016 Athena Young Professional Leadership Award Recipient
Shasta Leininger
In April 2007, Shasta Leininger moved to Slidell with her husband Jacob and two daughters Ren and Libby. She accepted a job with Firemen's Federal Credit Union in the marketing department. She now serves as the Chief Development Officer, seeking out opportunities to empower low wealth communities.

Since 2007, Shasta has been involved in several community organizations. Her first volunteer experience upon moving to Slidell was joining the Slidell Women's Civic Club. This afforded her an opportunity to meet new people and get involved in the community, and she fully embraced the SWCC membership. During her time as a SWCC member, Shasta served as Chair of the Christmas Under the Stars committee and encouraged staff members of Firemen’s Federal Credit Union to get involved by riding on the Melting Pot float in the parade, donating supplies to the Caring Center, donating blankets and other items to the homeless shelter, and purchasing Christmas gifts for needy families in Slidell. In 2014, she was chosen as a maid in the Krewe of Slidellians royal court. 

 In addition to her contributions to SWCC, her other civic accomplishments include: member of East St Tammany Chamber of Commerce; Board Member of Children’s Hospital Guild of New Orleans since 2013; 2015 Leadership Northshore Graduate, Mentor For Leadership Northshore for the past two years, 2012-2015 Steering Committee Member for Louisiana Young Professionals Network, cofounder Irma Cry Education Foundation, 2012 DeJardins Award of Excellence in Financial Literacy, 2012 City Business MoneyMaker Award, 2011 Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Award, and member of National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions.

In May of 2012, Shasta volunteered to be a participant in a paired donor kidney exchange program at Tulane Hospital in New Orleans. Her platform is organ donation. Shasta's hope is that by her example, she will inspire others to consider signing up to be an organ donor.

Shasta is honored to be named the 2016 Young Athena Leadership Award Recipient. She accepts this award on behalf of all past and present women in her life who have paved the way for Leadership.



 2016 Athena Leadership
Award Nominees

2016 Athena Young Professional
Leadership Award  Nominees

Past Athena Leadership Award Recipients
1989 Carol Wolfram 2006 Irma Cry
1990 Gilda Perkins 2007 Dr. Jeanne Reeves
1991 Patricia Hedges 2008 Brenda Case
1992 Judy Wood 2009 Mary DuBuisson
1993 Marilyn Faust 2010 Sylvia Stanton Black
1995 Stephanie Schedler 2011 Sharon Newton
1996 Dr. Joan Archer 2012 Tara Ingram Hunter
1997 Suzanne Parsons Stymiest 2013 Kim Harbison
2004 Lydia Alford 2014 Kathy Lowrey
2005 Pearl Williams 2015 Laurie Jugan
    2016 Kelly Rodriguez


Past ATHENA Young Professional Leadership Award Recipients

2011 Linda  K. Larkin                                                    
2012 Dionne Graham
2013 S. Michele Blanchard
2014 Amanda Hover
2015 Kristen Stanley-Wallace
2016 Shasta Leininger

Nominations are accepted at the East St. Tammany Chamber of Commerce. For more information on nomination forms and criteria, click the appropriate links below or email info@estchamber.com.

> 2017 ATHENA Leadership Nomination Form (Click Here)

> 2017 ATHENA Young Leadership Nomination Form (Click Here)
East St. Tammany Chamber of Commerce
1808 Front St, Slidell, LA 70458 | (985) 643-5678

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