ATHENA Award Winners Inspire Us All To Achieve Excellence
Recently I had an opportunity to interview Loretta Stoyka-Henderson, a well-known lawyer and community leader.
Although she has been described as a “force to be reckoned with” in her field of law, she has a soft spot and tears up whenever she talks about the ATHENA Scholarship Fund Windsor of which she is President.
The “ATHENA Scholarship Award” lifts up and gives its recipients more confidence, as well as positive pressure to live up to the award.
According to Stoyka, “It raises the bar and there are expectations to speak, continue to develop as a leader and give back to the community. We have never had less than 40 applicants and we are blown away by what they achieve. The selection committee usually leaves feeling we need to step up our own game. The winners are so grounded, globally informed about what is going on in the world and are looking to help others while on their path to achieving their academic goals.”
Stoyka adds, “I feel safe with these students as our future leaders, they are all involved in what is happening globally on their path to achieving their academic and community goals.”
At this year’s 20th annual “ATHENA Scholarship Luncheon” on November 1, 2019, Jessica Glazewski (St. Clair College, Child and Youth Care Program); Katherine E. Hirsch (University of Windsor, Master of Human Kinetics Program) and Kiara Clement (St. Clair College, Protection, Security and Investigation Program); were each awarded $5,000 scholarships. (As a side note, I also had the honour of introducing Canadian Senator Gwen Boniface who delivered a “Look at Leadership through the Rear View Window” keynote address).
As the founder of this scholarship program Stoyka also brought the “ATHENA Award” to Windsor, which has been a part of the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce “Business Excellence Awards” since 1996.
The “ATHENA Award” honours women and men who are recognized for business and professional excellence, for community service, and for mentoring and providing a role model to encourage women to achieve their leadership potential.
Previous “ATHENA Award” recipients include: Katherine Roth, Sandra Stanciu, Dianne Moore, Lee-Anne Doyle, Karen Behune Plunkett, Denise Hrastovec, Sue Zanin, Mary M.S. Fox, Shirley Linton, Mary Jean Gallagher, Aruna Koushik, Sandra Pupatello, Lynda Monik, Melissa McCormick, Charlotte Loaring, Maureen Lucas, Chantal Vallee, Dr. Michelle Prince, Kay Douglas, Loretta Stoyka, Shelley Fellows, Patti France, Patricia Souilliere and as of 2019, yours truly, Sherrilynn Colley-Vegh.
In 2015, Stoyka received the “ATHENA Award” and the Chamber’s “Lifetime Achievement Award” in 2009 for exemplary, sustained and enduring contribution to the community and has ascended to a level of extraordinary achievement in their business or profession.
She first heard about the “ATHENA Award” from Martha Mertz, founder of ATHENA International, who was excited at the opportunity to expand into Canada.
“I approached the board and there were only two women at the time so it was not easy — now they have more women than men on the board,” Stoyka reveals. “By the third meeting, I brought Mertz to the table and it passed.”
Stoyka became involved in the ATHENA International conferences and meetings with women from all over the United States and was inspired to start the scholarship program for men and women between 18 and 30. The intent is to shine a light on students who excel academically, exhibit extensive community involvement and serve as outstanding leaders, while also assisting other girls and women to achieve a better quality of life and reach their full potential as leaders.
With over 35 years of community service and leadership, Stoyka also founded the Women of Windsor Group (a group of 100 women who raised $700,000 in two months for the Chronic Care Hospital).
She is a specialist in the field of worker’s compensation law and co-authored the first Governance Policy for the Ministry of Labour. And Stoyka has chaired many boards including the Windsor Chamber and the Governance Committee of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) of Ontario.
I am sure you will agree, Loretta Stoyka is definitely one Windsor woman on a mission to inspire others in the community to achieve excellence. I look forward to writing about many more inspiring leaders in 2020.
Sherrilynn Colley-Vegh is an award winning leadership consultant and former Director of Leadership Windsor/Essex, Principal, Chief Communications Officer and business owner with over 30 years of experience in education, administration, mentoring, consulting and community leadership. If you know a leader in the community to profile here in this column, please email: [email protected]