Rutherford Cable Announces Launch of 2021 ATHENA Awards


Rutherford Cable is seeking nominations for the 2021 Rutherford ATHENA International Leadership Award and ATHENA Young Professional Leadership Award.

“Many accomplished and dedicated individuals are not necessarily in the public eye; there are unsung heroes and quiet warriors among us who deserve recognition,” said Julie Lewis, ATHENA 2021 chairwoman. “The ATHENA committee invites businesses, nonprofits, and organizations throughout Rutherford County to submit their nominations.”

Now in its eighth year, the 2021 Rutherford ATHENA Award ceremony will be held as a luncheon on Friday, April 23, 2021, at the Embassy Suites Murfreesboro. The ATHENA 2021 Awards Ceremony will feature inspiring video conversations with nominees as well as with representatives from their respective nominating organizations.

Nominations Sought for 2021
The ATHENA Award, named for the strong goddess of Greek mythology, is an international program founded in 1982. Rutherford Cable is the founding sponsor of the local ATHENA program.

“We are committed to representing and celebrating our wonderfully diverse community in the nominating process, as well as to ensuring independent objectivity in the judging process,” Lewis said. “A panel of judges will be selected from the community at-large and trained; nominees are judged strictly on the material each submits and not by public opinion or title. Results will then be independently audited to ensure fairness.”

The ATHENA Leadership Model was developed through a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and identifies eight distinct attributes that are reflective of women’s contributions to leadership. The tenets of an ATHENA woman include authentic self, growing relationships, giving back, collaboration, courageous acts, learning, fierce advocacy, celebration, and joy.

Nominees for the Rutherford ATHENA and Young Professional Awards must live or work in Rutherford County. If the nominee lives outside of Rutherford County, she must work in Rutherford County.

The 2020 ATHENA Award recipient was Diane Cummings Turnham, who was nominated by The United Way of Rutherford and Cannon Counties. Turnham serves as senior associate athletic director and as senior women’s administrator with MTSU Blue Raider Athletics. Throughout her career, Turnham has advocated for scholarships, access, and parity in women’s sports. She began her 38-year career at MTSU as an assistant basketball coach.

She currently chairs the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Committee for the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship. Turnham earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Lipscomb University and a master’s degree in public health from Austin Peay State University.

Previous Rutherford ATHENA Award recipients are Dr. Linda Gilbert, Dr. Sherry Galloway, Dr. Liz Rhea, Dr. Rhea Seddon, Dr. Jill Austin, and Dr. Judith Iriarte-Gross.

ATHENA Young Professional Award
Like the ATHENA Award, the Young Professional Leadership Award recognizes an emerging leader under the age of 40 who exemplifies the ATHENA attributes and serves as a role model for young women.

“The ATHENA Young Professional Leadership Award recognizes an emerging leader under age 40 who exemplifies the ATHENA attributes and who serves as a role model for young women both personally and professionally,” Lewis said.

The 2020 ATHENA Young Professional Award Recipient is LaShan Dixon, nominated by The United Way of Rutherford and Cannon Counties. Dixon earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education as well as her master’s degree in health and human performance from MTSU. Dixon serves as assistant public health county director with the Rutherford County Health Department. In 2015, she developed and implemented the first Community Baby Shower with the Rutherford County Health Department in partnership with the United Way of Rutherford and Cannon Counties.

Previous recipients of the Young Professional Award are Erin Rains Moore, Yolanda Greene, Dr. Alicja Lanfear, and Lindsey Grissom Jennings.

Organizations interested in sponsoring the awards should contact ATHENA Chair Julie Lewis at

Rutherford Cable is the premier leadership organization for women’s professional advancement in Middle Tennessee. It is a 200+ member organization with an established network of diverse professionals committed to connecting women and opportunity. The organization is the first chapter of the 30-year-old Nashville Cable. Visit to learn more.