Plato said, "What is honored in a country will be cultivated there." This quote is the basis of The ATHENA Awards program that "supports, develops, and honors women leaders."

ATHENA International was founded in 1982. Kelli Cole-Wagner, Publisher of The Medina County Women's Journal, brought the ATHENA Awards to this county in 2013.

For the seventh year, The Women's Journal presented these prestigious awards to inspiring women of the community. The October 9 event, held at Williams on the Lake, "honors exemplary women leaders who are improving the quality of life for others in our community." To date, 60 Medina County women have been celebrated for their accomplishments.

Cole-Wagner told the audience in her opening remarks that the gift of time is the greatest gift a person can give. She thanked everyone for their support before announcing the 2019-2020 Women's Journal Advertising Grant recipients: Medina County Women's Endowment Fund, Children's Center of Medina County, Newbridge Place, Garage Ministry/Wadsworth Youth for Christ, and Life is Good No Matter What.

Cole-Wagner gave special thanks to Platinum Sponsor Root Candles, Diamond Sponsor Westfield, and Bronze Sponsors Armstrong, Brunswick University Center, Crystal Clinic, and Huntington Bank.

Greater Medina Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jaclyn Ringstmeier introduced the two nominees for the 2019 ATHENA Young Professional Award: Suzanna Muniak/Branch Manager-Brunswick Library, and Brooke Kaylor/owner, Brooke Kaylor Fitness and Training. Muniak was tapped for the honor.

Associate Publisher of The Medina County Women's Journal Tara Haley invited the audience to watch the "Women of Our Community" video that featured the nominees answering key questions such as what inspires them (the Lord, wanting to help others), how they keep going during tough times (their faith, knowing there is a need), their words to live by (compassion, integrity), and what animated character they would choose to be (Wonder Woman, Casper the Friendly Ghost, and Lassie were among those fun answers).

The 11 distinguished, deserving women nominated for the ATHENA Leadership Award were: Laurie Beal/Garage Ministry/Wadsworth Youth for Christ; Shannon Caperton/Shine Acupuncture and Wellness; Diane Dermody/Highland-Medina County District Library; Anna Guy-Leach/The Children's Center of Medina County; Kristene Hawk/Westfield Insurance; Sandra Jenkins/Dog Gone Crazy,Inc.; Patty Moutes/Wadsworth Public School; Diana Riley/RPM International Inc.; Ann Salek/Critchfield, Critchfield & Johnston; Susan Vlcek/Resident and volunteer; and Rhonda Wurgler/The Children's Center of Medina County.

The 2018 ATHENA Leadership Award recipient, Michelle Powell, addressed the audience and shared some of her own feelings of excitement and humility when she was chosen last year. The highly respected woman who truly makes a difference received a standing ovation before announcing this year's recipient.

The 2019 Medina County ATHENA Leadership Award was presented to Laurie Beal, who said she was honored to be in the company of these recognized women. She encouraged the audience to be inspired, to become involved with others, and to celebrate love.

A special thank you was extended to: Root Candles for the favors and centerpieces, Nothing Bundt Cakes for the cake favors, Minuteman Press for the programs, C&C Video Productions for the video, Brooklyn Media LLC for the nominees' photos, and Eyedeal Graphics who provided and designed the WOC Award.

Additional community sponsors and partners were Critchfield, Critchfield, & Johnston, Legacy Hair Studios, Skin Care Solutions, Greater Medina Chamber of Commerce, Wadsworth Chamber of Commerce, Northern Medina County Chamber Alliance, and Williams on the Lake and its staff.