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Adrienne Andrews, Chief Diversity Officer at Weber State University, is the recipient of the Athena Leadership Award. She poses with the award at the Athena Awards Ceremony at Timbermine in Ogden on Jan. 24. (Dalton Flandro/The Signpost)

The Ogden-Weber Chamber of Commerce Women in Business hosted the 29th Annual ATHENA Leadership Award Luncheon on Jan. 24. Adrienne Gillespie Andrews, Chief Diversity Officer at Weber State University, became the 2017 award recipient.

“Having worked with her for the last four years in our diversity initiative, I just thought there’s really nothing that is not wonderful about Adrienne in every way,” Bill Cook, Ogden City Council executive director said of Andrews.

Cook nominated Andrews for the ATHENA Leadership Award. Her calming presence, skilled demeanor and her ability to be a fountain of wisdom were a few of the qualities that Andrews possesses which motivated Cook to nominate her.

“People gravitate to her… without her we would not have been able to calm the seas when necessary. She has a gift for facilitating and leading people,” Cook said.

According to Athena International, the ATHENA® Leadership Award is presented to a woman — or man — who is honored for professional excellence, community service and for actively assisting women in their attainment of professional excellence and leadership skills.

Six other women were nominated for the award. Andrews noted what a humbling honor to be the recipient for 2017. As a believer in networking and building connections, she says this is not a competition but a collaboration.

“I don’t think I’m doing anything special,” Andrews said of the honor. “I want to be supportive and encouraging to all women and men. I want to be that gentle reminder that we can do this and we don’t have to do it alone,”

The message of ATHENA is balance in leadership. Having grown up in a home where civil rights and social justice work have been the cornerstone, Andrews is always looking for topics like equity and fairness.

Andrews is one of numerous Wildcats who have received this award, including former President F. Ann Millner and Kristie Nielsen, Director of Marketing and Communications for Continuing Education. This past year Nielsen has been able to spread the message of ATHENA as the 2016 award winner.

According to Nielsen, the women who were nominated, including Andrews, demonstrate the Athena leadership principles.

“We are about getting results not just about getting credit. We are about making a difference not just making a dollar. We are about lifting others up with us not about leaving them behind. We accomplish that by building strong relationships with each other. That is why we are here today, to honor all these women in our community that make a difference by building strong relationships and making wonderful things happen,” Nielsen said.

During her acceptance speech, Andrews directed many of her thoughts towards the students of WSU. She extended an invitation to all students to reflect on their opportunities outside of the classroom.

“Now is such an incredible opportunity. You’re setting the foundation for your future,” Andrews said after the ceremony. “By getting your education, you are starting to determine which path you will have access to.”

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