What We Do


ATHENA Orlando Women’s Leadership, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) that evolved from the vision of a group of women who came together and dared to dream. First introduced in 2012 by founders, Karen Keene, Jennifer Johnson and Traci Smith, the organization hosted Orlando’s inaugural ATHENA Women’s Leadership Luncheon.  The annual luncheon has grown to over 600 attendees and intentionally brings together established women leaders with their up and coming counterparts to engage in dialogue about mentoring, entrepreneurship and guiding principles that are characteristic of women leaders.  The purpose of the luncheon is to bridge the gap between generations of women and serve as a platform for the women’s mentoring movement in Central Florida.  The event’s success is a direct result of the investment from community leaders such as Helen Donegan, Sandy Hostetter, Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs and many other established women leaders.  Proceeds from the Leadership Luncheon are gifted towards a $100,000 endowment through the UCF Foundation, Inc.

Today, ATHENA Orlando Leadership, Inc. has three core programs in Central Florida, including the ATHENA Women’s Leadership Luncheon, ATHENA NextGen Thought Leadership Series and the ATHENA Leadership Award.  These initiatives are designed to provide dynamic programing around the ATHENA Leadership Model® and ATHENA’s Eight Leadership Principles:

1.    Live Authentically

2.    Learn Constantly

3.    Advocate Fiercely

4.    Act Courageously

5.    Foster Collaboration

6.    Build Relationships

7.    Give Back

8.    Celebrate

For more information or questions on ATHENA Leadership Orlando, Inc. visit our get involved page.


ATHENA Orlando Women’s Leadership, Inc. has established a $100,000 endowed scholarship fund, ATHENA International Fellowship Award, for female graduate students established through the University of Central Florida Foundation, Inc.  Proceeds from the ATHENA Women’s Leadership Luncheon over the past three years, have resulted in charitable gifts towards the endowment totaling $62,000.  Past scholarship recipients include:

  • 2013 Recipient – Stephanie Bolyard, Graduate student for Environmental Engineering (PhD) at the University of Central Florida
  • 2014 Recipient – Kadie Hayward Mullins, Ed.D. in Educational Leadership, Doctor of Education, Educational Leadership at the University of Central Florida
  • 2015 Recipient – Sara Strickhouser, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Sociology at the University of Central Florida College of Sciences. Received Master of Arts in Applied Sociology and a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies and Spanish
  • 2016 Recipient – Sanna F. Siddiqui, B.S.A.E., M.S.M.E., Ph.D. Candidate, NSF GRSP Fellow, 2015 Amelia Earhart Fellow, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Central Florida


Suzi Gaiser, VP of Alumni Relations


“ATHENA NextGen was a life changing experience. I am more self-confident and prepared to be a better woman business leader. Most importantly, I have learned to be a well rounded woman for myself and my family. ”

— Lindsay Freeman, Financial Advisor at Edward Jones

“Thank you all again for allowing me to be a part of the inaugural ATHENA NextGen group. I found the classes and the socials to be valuable and encouraging. Have told many other women professionals about my experience and they are beyond excited to know something like this exists. ”

— Melanie DiVirgilio, Vice President Commercial Relationship Manager at BB&T

“I wanted to thank you for all your hard work in making the ATHENA NextGen Program a huge success. Over the past eight months, I have grown so much (both, professionally and personally). I can’t thank you enough for that. ”

— Jennifer Dickerson, President at EnRep, Inc.
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