ATHENA awards celebrating 25 years

The Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce and Girls Inc. will be hosting the 25th annual ATHENA Award presentation on March 28 at 11:30 a.m. at the Owensboro Convention Center.

The 2023 event will have a record number of nominations, according to Sue Napper, chairperson of the program.

“There are 19 nominations from the community, with an amazing variety of backgrounds, experiences and community contributions,” she said. “Each one has a remarkable story that has positively impacted this community and women. It’s an honor to celebrate their work.”

Napper said looking back, the ATHENA board feels there are several factors that have helped increase the acceptance of the award.

“It is a community-based award and anybody from the community can nominate someone,” she said. “It’s not just a small group selecting the nominees. Then the selection process is done outside the community with a group that has no connections to Owensboro.”

Because of this, Napper said she thinks that’s given a lot of credibility to the award.

Tish Osborne, CEO of Girls Inc., said the organization is “thrilled” to be celebrating the milestone this year.

“Through the vision of a small group of people a the chamber over 25 years ago and later through the partnership with Girls Inc., the ATHENA Award has grown and evolved into a premiere event,” she said.

Osborne said it is inspiring to not only reflect on past recipients and their impact on the community and women, but also how the community has supported and embraced the program.

“The ATHENA Award is important to our community and we have so many worthy nominees who need to be celebrated,” she said.

The March event will also act as a fundraiser for Girls Inc. through ticket sales and sponsorships. Girls Inc. will continue to post information about nominees on their Facebook page.

German American Bank and Southern Star Central Gas Pipeline are the presenting sponsors. Tickets are $100 per person or $800 for a table of eight, which may be reserved by calling 270-684-7833 or at

The 2023 ATHENA Award nominations are:

  • Edna Syra Barnes, Riney Hancock CPSs
  • Marcia Kuegel Carpenter, Owensboro Innovation Academy, retired
  • Vikki Lynn Embry, United Way of the Ohio Valley
  • Caleb Farkas, Hospice and Palliative Care of Western Kentucky
  • Wanda Figueroa Peralta, RiverValley Behavioral Health
  • Kara Howard, Wendell Foster
  • Haley Huskisson, Valor Oil and CrossRoads
  • Lisa Payne Jones, Circuit Court Judge
  • Jennifer Keller, Aflac and Red Bird Press
  • Maria Kelly, Nona’s Catering
  • Olga Rowan McKissic, H.L. Neblett Center, Western Academy
  • Amanda Owen, Puzzle Pieces
  • Vicki Chandler Quisenberry, Foundation for Daviess County Public Schools
  • Michelle Ruckdeschel, Heritage Park High School
  • Crystal Sapp, St. Joseph Peace Mission
  • Joanna Shake, Green River Area Development District
  • Amy Shutt, Daviess County Public Schools
  • Angel Welsh, My Sister’s Keeper
  • Debbie Zuerner, Owensboro Health

 By Karah Wilson, Messenger-Inquirer