Rev. Martha Touchton, of St. Mark’s UMC, Receives 2022 Rutherford ATHENA Award


The Rev. Martha Touchton is the 2022 Rutherford ATHENA Award recipient, Rutherford CABLE announced.

The ATHENA Award recognizes an individual who excels in her profession, gives back to the community, and helps raise up other leaders, especially women. Touchton was honored along with 11 other ATHENA nominees and seven Young Professional nominees at a luncheon held April 29 at Embassy Suites in Murfreesboro.

Touchton said in her ATHENA essay that she represents the ATHENA Leadership model — live authentically, build relationships, giving back, foster collaboration, courageous acts, life-long learning, fierce advocacy, and celebration and joy — as a female member of the clergy.

“Often I must defend my gifts, call, and ordination with kindness and grace. It is by using the ATHENA attributes of relationships, collaboration, and courageous acts that I am able to serve as an effective leader in my personal and professional life.”

Touchton serves as the Minister of Education at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church, where she directs Christian education, adult, children, and family ministries, and leads in worship, congregational care, and spiritual formation. Touchton earned her bachelor’s degree at Westmar College in accounting and Christian education before completing her master’s degree in religious education at Scarritt Graduate School.

In 1999, she was ordained Deacon, authorized to create ministries of compassion, service, and justice. Outside of church and family, Touchton is involved with the P.E.O. Sisterhood, Read To Succeed, Lionheart Chamber Orchestra, Habitat for Humanity, and the Ditsy Dots women’s trio. “While it is often a great challenge for female clergy to foster meaningful relationships outside of their church, being a member of the P.E.O. Sisterhood affords me an opportunity to develop much-needed, long-lasting friendships,” Touchton said, exemplifying how she lives up to the ATHENA ideals. “At home, my husband and four children show me every day what God’s love and grace looks like. I am blessed with life-giving and faith-building relationships that inspire creativity, encourage collaboration, and incite courage in every endeavor.”

Touchton was honored along with the 2022 Athena class: Leslie Akins, Donna Anderson, Laura A. Bohling, Stephanie Brackman, Mylikia Franklin, Dr. Diana Constanza Kooper, Mariah Phillips, Jane Sharp, Michelle Shrader, Dr. Ellen Slicker and Lori Williams.

“The ATHENA program showcases the caliber of professional, committed leaders we are fortunate to have here in our community. These women excel in their careers, give back to their community and help develop other leaders making our community a better place to live,” said Lori Cutler, 2022 Rutherford ATHENA chair.

In addition to founding sponsor RUTHERFORD Cable, the 2022 Rutherford ATHENA Awards are sponsored by: Pinnacle Financial Partners, First Horizon Bank, Smith Wright Law, PLLC, State Farm, Holloway Accounting Services, Dr. Ellen Slicker, Redstone Federal Credit Union, Ascension Saint Thomas Rutherford, Ascend Federal Credit Union, Deloitte, Locally Owned Murfreesboro, Adams Place, Amazing Lash Studio, Brass Horn Coffee Co, Franklin’s Printworks, Olive Branch Bakery and VIP Murfreesboro Magazine.

Realtor Robin Seay is the 2022 ATHENA Young Professional recipient

ATHENA-Awards-SeayThe ATHENA Young Professional Leadership Award recipient is Robin Seay. 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.

Seay has a strong passion and love for serving others. Robin learned early on that each family she is afforded the opportunity to help is unique in their own way. With this understanding, she works to provide a custom experience for her clientele at Parks Realty. Seay also serves with organizations, such as United Way of Rutherford and Cannon Counties, Leadership Rutherford, and Murfreesboro Young Professionals. Because of her service, she was named Humanitarian of the Year by Parks Realty, MYP Volunteer of the Year twice, and 20 Under 40 honoree by Murfreesboro Magazine.

Seay was joined by 2022 ATHENA Young Professional nominees Nicole Ford, Tosha Price, Lili Rembold, Vivki Sheridan, Grace Trent and Ella Weaver.

MTSU student Khadijah Alnassari is the 2022 Rutherford ATHENA Scholarship Recipient

ATHENA-Awards-KhadijahRutherford Athena also presented a scholarship to Khadijah Alnassari, who suspended her education in 2001 following widespread Islamophobia after the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks. She re-enrolled at MTSU and brought her three triplets along with her in the fall of 2020.

Since then, Alnassari has devoted herself to outreach, education, and the inclusion of Muslims at MTSU. She is currently lead researcher on two teams at MTSU, and the President of Al- Wahda “A United Muslim Association,” which is dedicated to the understanding and inclusion of Muslims on campus. This spring, Khadijah put together and hosted the “Festival of Veils” at MTSU.

She plans to use her scholarship to continue her education in biology at MTSU.

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