Fiorella earns 2018 ATHENA Award

March 9, 2018

A record crowd of nearly 500 attended the 20th ATHENA Awards luncheon Thursday at the Owensboro Convention Center.

Cindy Fiorella

Cindy Fiorella, vice president of WorkForce Solutions at Owensboro Community & Technical College, earned the honor. She was one of 16 nominees — another record for the ATHENA Awards.

Fiorella was unable to attend the ceremony, but Helen Mountjoy, the 2013 winner, accepted the award on Fiorella’s behalf.

“This award could not go to anyone more deserving,” Mountjoy told the crowd.

She noted that Thursday was International Women’s Day, which gave birth to the #PressforProgress social media campaign. #PressforProgress asks people to promote gender equality,celebrate women’s achievements and challenge stereotypes, among other actions.

“(Fiorella) has been a champion and has pressed for the progress of women in better-paying jobs,” Mountjoy said. ” … My generation — Cindy’s generation — has helped fracture the glass ceiling, but it not yet broken.”

The ATHENA Award, given annually by Girls Inc. and the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce, goes to someone who is a tireless champion for women, devotes time and energy to the community and demonstrates a high degree of excellence at work.

“(Fiorella) has earned a notable reputation for innovation and leadership in state and national workforce development initiatives,” Kirk Kirkpatrick, the event emcee, told the crowd.

Her work has gained attention in several publications. She has served as a speaker and panelist in state and national forums. In addition, she has served on several national advisory panels.

As far as community support, Fiorella has served on the boards of the Green River Area Development District, Career Center of Owensboro and Theatre Workshop of Owensboro.

Lyric Payne, 18, a senior at Daviess County High School, earned three scholarships totaling $7,000 at the luncheon.

Payne started attending Girls Inc. when she was 6 and very shy.

“Yet, as time passed and my tears dried, I began to open up,” Payne told the crowd.

As she matured, Girls Inc. remained a stabilizing force in her life. The staff reached out to her during later battles with depression.

“It’s as if anytime I strayed from the right path, Girls Inc. somehow led me back to it,” Payne said.

After volunteering for the nonprofit, Payne now works at Girls Inc. She plans to earn a degree in film production from the University of Arizona.

At Thursday’s luncheon, Sue Napper, the event’s chairwoman, presented the second Legacy Award honoree — Nannie Locke.

The Legacy Award goes to trailblazers who championed women’s rights. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Locke worked tirelessly to improve the lives of Owensboro’s black residents.

“Her story is one of courage, faith and tenacity,” Napper said.

By Renee Beasley Jones, Messenger-Inquirer

Community Contributions November 2017

November 29, 2017

Members of Girls Inc. participate in Women for Girls event

Women for Girls held a Women in Education event Nov. 2 in the Moore Center at Brescia University. Women for Girls is a community of women committed to empowering one another and girls through connection and education. One of the initiatives is to connect the girls with Girls Inc. to women role models in the community. This is done by connecting not only the girls at Girls Inc. to strong, influential women but for the women within the group to benefit from meeting and connecting with one another.

The Women for Girls Kick-Off event was May 11. Since then, the initiative has carried on through Girls Inc. with women hosting girls at their workplace, such as the Women of Southern Star Central Gas Pipeline, along with several women who brought their skills and expertise to Girls Inc. to offer classes on agriculture, yoga, internet safety, leadership and STEM prograFor more information, please visit or call Jaimie Moore at 270-684-7833.

Women in Education

Women from various areas of educaton worked with members of Girls Inc. during Women in Education at Brescia University

Members of Girls Inc. Participated in the November Women in Education event n the Moore Center at Brescia University

Raymer wins ATHENA Award

March 10, 2017

Kathryn Raymer, an executive vice president and mortgage lending national operations manager with U.S. Bank, is this year’s ATHENA Award recipient.

Photo by Alan Warren, Messenger-Inquirer

Photo by Alan Warren, Messenger-Inquirer.  Kathryn Raymer smiles as she thanks everyone after receiving the 2017 ATHENA Award.

She accepted the Girls Inc. and Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce honor Thursday during a luncheon at the Owensboro Convention Center.

Raymer, who leads a group of more than 1,000 employees from across the nation out of her Owensboro headquarters, provides support and funding for more than $37 billion in originated and purchased loans annually. She was recently recognized as a member of U.S. Bank’s Top Women in Banking and was one of Brescia University’s three distinguished alumni.

But Thursday, she was thanked not only for her distinguished professional career, but also for how she’s used it to mentor and guide other women in her footsteps. Kirk Kirkpatrick, who emceed the awards luncheon, said she encompasses the vision and essence of ATHENA.

“She believes that the act of women supporting other women is essential for our overall success and development as individuals, and she sees the beneficial relationships derived from mentoring strengthening communities and companies,” he said. “She has been committed to the idea that promoting an attitude of support and inclusion promotes diversity, opportunity and unity.”

It’s the 19th time Girls Inc. and the chamber have partnered annually to offer a local affiliate of the nationally recognized leadership award. It’s designed to highlight business and professional leaders who support and uplift women.

And while Raymer doesn’t consider herself all that much of a champion — she said she has spent her career doing simply what she thought was right and expected of her — she did express an ongoing interest in the role that women can play in inspiring others.

“As a young, single mother starting out, I struggled,” she said. “I struggled for all the reasons that all young, single women do.

As I’ve been fortunate enough to grow in my career, it was only natural for me to reach out to other young women. In fact, I think for any of us to be successful, we have to be surrounded by other people who are willing to help and support one another. I couldn’t have gotten to where I am today without surrounding myself with people who were better than me. I think it’s really important to give that back.”

And that was a theme on which almost all of Thursday’s speakers touched.

Young girls just reaching their reading milestones, high schoolers ready to graduate and keynote speaker Whitney Hanley — a Girls Inc. alum who will soon begin her doctorate study in exceptional education at the University of Central Florida — each thanked the crowd for helping them succeed through Girls Inc.

While Raymer wasn’t a member of Girls Inc. as a child, she said such organizations play an influential role that can’t be understated in narrowing the professional gender gap. Their successes, she added, have been built upon by strong, decisive women before her who laid a foundation for equality.

One of those women was honored as the region’s inaugural Legacy Award. The late Clara Oldham, a graduate of the University of Alabama and Tulane University, worked at Duke University Hospital and the New Orleans Health Department as a medical social worker. She moved to Owensboro in 1950 to raise her children, but she later taught at Kentucky Wesleyan College and worked for the Kentucky Department of Child Welfare and Mercy Hospital.

She and her husband marched, organized and testified tirelessly for women’s rights, ATHENA Chairperson Sue Napper said during the presentation. She was a co-founder of the Owensboro Chapter of the National Organization for Women and served as a representative to the Kentucky Women’s Agenda; the Kentucky Pro-ERA Alliance; the Owensboro Coalition of Women; and the White House Conference on Family. She was a founding member of Citizens Against Rape and the Center for Creative Choices and was an active member in a number of human rights and medical advocacy organizations.

She campaigned for the Equal Rights Amendment and played a crucial role in helping found what is today known as OASIS Women’s Shelter for victims of domestic violence.

“Every woman in this room has been touched by Clara,” said Napper. “For those who were fortunate to know her, she taught them courage, about stepping up and speaking out, about expecting the most from themselves. She helped them pursue careers. She made them feel they could do anything. She made them understand why inclusive language was necessary if women are to be whole and equal.”

March is Women’s History Month, and Tish Correa Osborne, local Girls Inc. CEO, said days of recognition and the people that champion them are turning a tide and calling attention to the plight of underserved, abused or neglected women.

“There are so many things locally that we can do to break down obstacles and barriers,” she said. “If we all do a little bit, we can affect the change we want to see happen.”

Austin Ramsey, Messenger-Inquirer

Angel in Los Angeles

Published November 29, 2016

Phillabaum introduces top female executive at national Girls Inc. event

Angel in Los AngelesAngel Phillabaum says she never imagined she’d be where she is today.

The 18-year-old Daviess County High School graduate is finishing her first semester at the J. B. Speed School of Engineering at the University of Louisville as a Girls Inc. National Scholar — one of just 15 young women from around the country who were truly inspired to be strong smart and bold.

And earlier this month, Phillabaum returned from Los Angeles where she joined a handful of other national scholars who represented their local affiliates and states at an annual Girls Inc. Celebration Luncheon. There, she shared the stage with influential women such as actor and producer Reese Witherspoon and Shannon Ryan, an executive vice president at Fox Television Group.

“I’ve been told my whole life that I can’t do things,” Phillabaum said. “But because of Girls Inc. and strong female role models, I kind of changed my outlook. If you say you want to do something and you have that drive, you can do it.”

Some of those role models were her mother and Girls Inc. of Owensboro-Daviess County CEO Tish Correa-Osborne.

Phillabaum is originally from Tennessee, and she said when she was young, her mother and father divorced. Her mother, she said, was trying to escape her father, who abused both of them at times verbally, physically and sexually. For some time, she was in the state foster care system while her parents fought an intense legal battle, and when her mother finally regained custody of her, the two fled the state to Owensboro. For some time, she said, her mother worked three jobs to support them and wanted her daughter to grow strong, independent and empowered, despite her early childhood trauma.

So at just 6 years old, Phillabaum became a member of Girls Inc., where she learned to come out of her shell and excel in ways she said she would have never imagined. Girls Inc. was a reliable and safe place for her to realize her passions and grow in the areas of science, mathematics and technology. They were confirmed for her when she attended an engineering camp for girls, where a passion for building, fixing and developing the world around her was lit. And none of it, she said, would have been possible without the help, love and support of Girls Inc.

“I could have easily fallen through the cracks,” she said, “but Girls Inc. reached out and grabbed me.”

That’s the message Phillabaum said she gave to the crowd of entertainment leaders at this year’s Girls Inc. luncheon. The event was held at the Beverly Hilton on the same stage as the Golden Globe Awards. She introduced Ryan, but other national scholars told their own stories of how Girls Inc. established their successes and introduced speakers such as Witherspoon, ABC Entertainment Group Senior Vice President Ayo Davis, Sonja Hoel Perkins, managing director of The Perkins Fund, and award-winning songwriter Diane Warren.

To stand on stage with such talented and successful women was both terrifying and empowering, she said. She was honored by the experience and her trip to Los Angeles was something she said she’ll never forget.

Osborne has been a personal mentor of Phillabaum for many years. Phillabaum, Osborne said, is an example of how Girls Inc. can reshape the life of a young woman and build her up to be a bold leader in today’s world.

“She had unreal life circumstances growing up, and prevailed, excelling beyond belief,” she said.

Phillabaum is studying both electrical and computer engineering in Louisville. She was inspired by a promise she made to her late grandfather, a retired electrician. She hopes to take her skills abroad to help those less fortunate in Third World countries. She says she is driven and prepared to meet the challenges of the future.

“I have gone from the lowest to the highest I can be,” she said. “I’ve taken it upon myself to be the strong and help others.”

Austin Ramsey Messenger-Inquirer
Photo courtesy of Alex J. Berliner, Berliner Photography


Dew receives 2016 Athena Award

Published February 25, 2016

Retired history professor and environmental activist Aloma Dew was named the 2016 Athena Award recipient at the 18th annual award luncheon Wednesday at the Owensboro Convention Center.

Aloma Dew, left, recipient of the 18th annual Athena Award, accepts the awardfrom Amy Jackson of First Security Bank at the annual awards luncheon Wednesday at the Owensboro Convention Center.

Aloma Dew, left, recipient of the 18th annual Athena Award, accepts the awardfrom Amy Jackson of First Security Bank at the annual awards luncheon Wednesday at the Owensboro Convention Center.

Hosted by the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce and Girls Incorporated of Owensboro-Daviess County, the luncheon benefits Girls Inc.

“Each year, the Athena Award honors someone from our community who has attained and personifies the highest level of excellence in their profession, has devoted time and energy to the community in a meaningful way and most especially, has opened doors of opportunity for women,” emcee Kirk Kirkpatrick told the crowd of several hundred people. “Today, we honor a very special individual who has not only led a successful career but has been a tireless champion for women, the environment, social justice and human rights.”

Before naming her the Athena recipient, Kirkpatrick listed many of Dew’s accomplishments.

“Our honoree’s work has been characterized by a theme of empowerment,” he said. “… She works to increase the level of autonomy and self-determination in people and communities and in doing so, she has assisted them in overcoming their sense of powerlessness and lack of influence and to represent their interests in a very proactive, responsible and self-determining way.”

When she took the stage, Dew told the crowd she felt “truly humbled.”

“As I listened to all of the names of the women who could have or should have won, I think this is probably just part of the luck of my life, that I lucked out today,” she said. “But I want to say to all of you, when I left Owensboro, I never intended to come back — I say this particularly to you young girls — but thank goodness you can come home again, and I’ve been able to be a part of this community. I want to say to the young people, don’t ever, ever, ever give up because you can do anything. Women have fought for so long for equality and we are not there yet, but by George, we will be, certainly within the next generation. The young people who were up here today have no bars in their way, or certainly very few … Go forth and do whatever you want to do.”

Afterward, with award in hand, Dew said she was in shock.

“You know, you do what you do because it needs to be done, not looking for recognition, but I have to admit it feels awfully good to be recognized,” she said. “I did not expect it, so I didn’t have anything prepared. All of the things I had thought I would say when I got up there were totally gone out of my mind.”
Her fellow nominees were capable and deserving too, she said.

“I am a feminist and a liberal and I believe very much in giving people power and helping women to become all they can be and to not to let anything stand in our way,” Dew said. “There is absolutely nothing we cannot do. And if I can see my granddaughter move that much further ahead, then I will die a happy woman.”

The award announcement came after a number of speeches from Girls Inc. members as well as keynote speaker, Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton.

“I love this group,” Hampton said.  She told the audience that her position has no constitutional duties, but Gov. Matt Bevin has given her the leeway to work on several issues “near and
dear to my heart. No. 1 is reaching kids.

“Growing up poor in Detroit and having the experiences that I had, it is so important that we reach kids,” Hampton said. “I’m grateful there is an organization like Girls Inc. I truly am, because my experience growing up in Detroit, I had to counter a lot of negative voices. These were my peers, other kids. There was tremendous pressure to fail, tremendous pressure to conform.”

Addysanne Stout of Henderson County High School, center, reacts along with Angel Phillabaum of Daviess County High School after they were each awarded a $20,000 scholarship from Girls Inc. at the Athena Awards Luncheon.

Addysanne Stout of Henderson County High School, center, reacts along with Angel Phillabaum of Daviess County High School after they were each awarded a $20,000 scholarship from Girls Inc. at the Athena Awards Luncheon.

It was also announced Wednesday that two Girls Inc. members, Addysanne Stout and Angel Phillabaum, were two of nine girls nationwide to receive a national Girls Inc. scholarship. Both girls received $20,000.

“If you think your investment doesn’t matter, I want you to stop and think about these girls,” Girls Inc. CEO Tish Correa Osborne said after making the announcement. “Without you and what you’re doing, this would not be possible. You are truly changing lives, real lives that many times go pushed to the side and not taken seriously. They’ve been taken seriously and I guarantee you we’re going to be seeing and hearing about them in the future.”

Stephanie Salmons, Messenger-Inquirer


Four on the Floor

Published January 4, 2016

The quadruplets have arrived at Girls Incorporated of Owensboro Daviess County.

Two of the four new Girls Incorporated transit vans park in front of the RiverPark Center on December 22 as children from the organization unload to take a tour of the facility. The vans were purchased with grants from Impact 100 and the Marilyn and William Young Foundation and replace older, aging club vehicles. Photo by Greg Eans

Two of the four new Girls Incorporated transit vans park in front of the RiverPark Center on December 22 as children from the organization unload to take a tour of the facility. The vans were purchased with grants from Impact 100 and the Marilyn and William Young Foundation and replace older, aging club vehicles. Photo by Greg Eans.

Four bright red transit vans, purchased with grants from Impact 100 and the Marilyn and William Young Foundation, replaced the organization’s aging vans, affectionately called Me Maw 1 and 2 and Granny 1 and 2.

The new vans have been dubbed Martha, Marianne, Marilyn and Bill in honor of the founders of the foundations.

The club’s old vehicles, which were 10 to 15 years old, had more than 100,000 “stop-and-go miles,” CEO Tish Correa Osborne said.

With the wear and tear, and safety issues, the amount the organization was spending on repairs  was “killing our budget and putting us and our kids in a bad situation,” she said.

The four new 2016 transit vans are equipped with backup cameras and hands-free phone connections, and the children will be able to stand up as they’re entering or exiting the vehicles, which Osborne said was “another safety thing.”

“It’s such a relief for us,” she said of the new vehicles. Girls Inc. travels more than 30,000 miles a year on field trips, transportation from school and drop-offs at home, said Osborne.

“We have to know we have dependable (transportation). We have found the greatest majority of our kids do depend on us for transportation, not just to our sites, but getting them out into the tri-state area … (The vans) are critical to us.”

Osborne is hopeful the vans will last through the next decade. By that time, “hopefully we’ll have an endowment built up” so purchasing replacements won’t be so difficult, she said.

According to a press release from Girls Inc., three of the old vans went to two other organizations and the fourth was used as trade-in.

Osborne said she loves what has happened with the old vans, and “I just think that’s been a blessing and a good feeling for us, to turn around and do something for someone else.”

There was an additional curriculum component with the Impact 100 grant called Girls Under the Hood, where the girls learned about cars, vehicle maintenance and care, tips on how to purchase a car and more, according to Osborne.

“It’s been a real community effort to make this possible for the girls,” she said.

Stephanie Salmons, Messenger-Inquirer

SHOP and support Girls Inc. at the same time!

Are you a Kroger shopper?

By registering your Kroger Plus Card at you can help Girls Incorporated of Owensboro Daviess County. Visit the link above, and create a Kroger account, if you don’t already have one. If you already have one, just click on the ‘sign in’ button, and after putting in your e-mail and password, click on My Account. You will need either your Kroger Plus Card number OR your phone number.

Under Community Rewards, the organization number is 40055. Click save, and Girls Incorporated of Owensboro Daviess County is earning rewards each time you shop at Kroger!

Don’t have a Kroger Plus Card? Just visit the customer service desk at any Kroger!

Amazon Smiles

Do you use Amazon for on-line shopping?

You can shop and support Girls Inc. at the same time! Amazon will donate 0.5% of the price of eligible AmazonSmile purchases to Girls Inc. when you shop on AmazonSmile.

Same Amazon you know. Same products, same prices, same service. Just go to and log in to your Amazon account or sign up. It’s that easy!

To sign up you need to go to Then log into your Amazon account or you can create an account. At the top of the page it says supporting charity, click on that and it will have a drop down where you will be able to click to change a charity or pick a charity in general. When you click the link it will have where you can search and type in Girls Incorporated of Owensboro-Daviess County. Then any Amazon purchase you make on AmazonSmile will donate money to our local Girls Inc.

Thank you for helping Girls Incorporated!