Murfreesboro City Schools Director Dr. Linda Gilbert who has shaped generations of children and educators in Murfreesboro has been named the recipient of the 2019 ATHENA Leadership Award.
Nominated by United Way of Rutherford & Cannon Counties, Gilbert was honored at the
ATHENA Award ceremony, which celebrated the accomplishments of all 16 ATHENA nominees and seven Young Professional nominees from the Rutherford County community.
The luncheon ceremony was held Friday, April 12 at Embassy Suites Murfreesboro.
The ATHENA Award recognizes an individual who excels in her profession, gives back to the
community, and helps raise up other leaders, especially women.
Throughout her career, Gilbert has embodied the spirit of the ATHENA Award by creating
positive change in the community.
“In any life or organization, each new experience, new responsibility, new proficiency we
encounter creates change. And while change is inevitable, growth is not. In fact, positive change that moves us forward will only occur in an environment authentic enough to encourage change,” Gilbert said.
Throughout her career, she has worked tirelessly to create an environment for positive change by helping establish Read To Succeed, Saint Thomas Health’s Ministry in Motion, Prevention Coalition for Success Rutherford County and Rutherford County’s Books from Birth. In all, she has written and received more than $16 million in grants for schools and community organizations.
Since she was appointed in 2010, MCS was named 2018 Exemplary ACCESS District for
providing all students with high-quality instruction and intervention. MCS has also implemented programs to improve student nutrition both in and out of school.
Gilbert was honored along with the other Athena nominees who were Dr. Yuan-ling Chao,
American Association of University Women of Tennessee; Kristin Coile Demos, Saint Thomas Rutherford Foundation Ambassadors; Judge Lynn England Alexander, Middle Tennessee Lawyers Association for Women; Cherillyn A. Maddox, Goco Center for Aesthetics; Betsy Maples Taylor, MTSU Jennings A. Jones College of Business; Elizabeth McPhee, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated, Pi Nu Omega Chapter; Celeste Middleton, Boys & Girls Clubs of Rutherford County; Dr. Mary T. Moss, Charity Circle of Murfreesboro; Judge Donna Scott Davenport, Junior League of Murfreesboro; Sharon Seibert, Murfreesboro Breakfast Rotary Club; Nancy Skinner, Guaranty Trust Company; Dr. Barbara F. Turnage, MTSU President’s Commission on the Status of Women & June Anderson, Center for Women & Nontraditional Studies; Gina W. Urban, RUTHERFORD Cable, and Mary M. Wade, Murfreesboro Branch of
Like the ATHENA Award, the Young Professional Leadership Award recognizes an emerging
leader under 40 years old who exemplifies the ATHENA attributes and serves as a role model for young women.
A native of Murfreesboro and MTSU alumna, Rains worked for 14 years as a travel nurse and in critical care nursing before graduating as a family nurse practitioner.
Over her career she has lent her knowledge to a variety of professional organizations, her
workplaces and the community at large through volunteering.
But Rains’ impact on the community can best be seen in her work with the Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Center.
“My voluntary work with the Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Center reflects my struggles and triumphs in my personal life,” she said. “I’m a victim, a survivor, and now an advocate speaking out against domestic violence and sexual assault.”
As a member of the board and her past as a victim of domestic violence, Rains saw a way to help victims by helping guide the decision to provide a safe, private place to perform sexual assault examinations.
She helped the center relocate to a new office building in efforts to provide many of these
exams in a more comfortable, private space.
Rains has also worked to create and refine its annual fundraisers. In 2017, she created the plans and vision for Boots & Brews, a fun-filled night of live music, food, and craft beer tasting, which is the newest fundraiser for the Domestic Violence & SexualAssault Center.
In its second year, Boots & Brews raised more than $15,000 and doubled attendance. Rains also revamped the center’s annual Tip Your Waiter luncheon, making last year’s event the most successful to date by raising more than $21,000.
Rains was honored along with the 2019 ATHENA Young Professional nominees were Jayme
Brunson, American Association of University Women of Tennessee; Courtney E. Chavez,
United Way of Rutherford & Cannon Counties; Dr. Amy Hodgin, Junior League of Murfreesboro; Kenzi Keene, RUTHERFORD Cable; Becky Lanham, Murfreesboro Kiwanis; and Kim N. Page, Chi Omega Alumnae of Murfreesboro.
In addition to founding sponsor RUTHERFORD Cable, community sponsors Pinnacle Financial Partners and Deloitte. Partner sponsors First Tennessee and Guaranty Home Mortgage Corporation and Sustaining Sponsor TriStar StoneCrest Medical Center. The 2019 ATHENA Awards are supported by sponsors State Farm, Ascend Federal Credit Union, First Tennessee,
Visit rutherfordcable.org to learn more.