The Greater Phoenix Chamber (GPC) announced the 2019 ATHENA Award winners last month.
GPC recognized the 2019 ATHENA private sector, public sector and young professional award recipients during the 32nd Annual ATHENA Awards Luncheon Nov. 15.
The ATHENA Awards are named after the Greek goddess of courage and wisdom and is a division of ATHENA International, a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating leadership opportunities for women.
“We are incredibly proud to celebrate an inspiring group of leaders as this year’s recipients of the Greater Phoenix Chamber’s ATHENA Awards,” Todd Sanders, GPC president & CEO, said. “These influential women are dedicated to building a brighter future and ensuring our community remains strong. They embody the best of the Arizona business community and we look forward to seeing how they will carry on the legacy of ATHENA through their work.”
GPC named the following award winners:
- Cindy Dach, CEO of Changing Hands Bookstore — and co-founder of MADE art boutique and the Roosevelt Row arts district — won the ATHENA Businesswoman of the Year Award for the private sector;
- Sherri Collins, executive director of the Arizona Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, won the ATHENA Businesswoman of the Year Award for the public sector; and
- Reyna Montoya, CEO and founder of Aliento, won the ATHENA Young Professional Award.
“The ATHENA Awards empower and connect a network of impactful women who are shaping the future,” said Dach. “As leaders, it is important for all of us to simultaneously link arms and hold out our hands. We must lead with kindness because kindness creates hope. And hope brings us to our next task at hand, to listen, and then ask how can we help?”
GPC said Dach won ATHENA Businesswoman of the Year in the private sector because during her nearly 20 years at Changing Hands Bookstore, she not only set a national standard for successfully operating the “art of being an independent bookstore” but also transformed the business by curating an elite speaker series, fostering community connections and increasing annual sales by $5 million.
Dach also established diverse and innovative revenue streams for her business by “breathing life” into the arts and culture scene of Phoenix as an instrumental player in the creation of Roosevelt Row.
Dach said her advice to women just starting their career is: “Be humble and confident. Listen. And be fearless.”
Collins said, “This is a recognition of the hard work I’ve done in the community. I hope that with this recognition that I can be a community partner with everybody to remove barriers and improve [people’s] quality of life.”
As executive director of the Arizona Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing for more than a decade, Collins has been a lifelong advocate for the deaf and hard of hearing and has moved mountains in order to raise awareness for the community.
She also serves as the President of the Board for the National Association of State Agencies of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. She recognizes herself as the first and only deaf lobbyist in the country, and has championed regulatory changes to improve the lives of individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing.
“The ATHENA Award is a special recognition. And, I’m so honored to have been selected as a candidate. I am just humbled to have been considered for this award. I am so fortunate to have the opportunity to return the favor through my career,” said Collins. “I wish every woman could benefit from the ATHENA Award as I have. The ATHENA network, connecting with women across the valley, and industries. It creates a stronger community across the valley.”
Montoya said continued success means “being able to stay true to your values and being able to share your gifts with others.”
According to GPC, Montoya is a “fierce advocate for justice in her community” and is a dedicated social entrepreneur who founded Aliento, an Arizona community organization that harnesses resources to educate and empower immigrants, in 2016.
Through her work at Aliento, Montoya is redefining what it means to fight for social justice using her experiences as an undocumented student herself to convene communities and develop collaborative solutions and create spaces that support immigrant students and their families.
“As I walk away from this stage, I hope that you remember my story—that you remember the contributions, creativity and humanity of all immigrants,” Montoya said. “I hope that you remember that we have a choice to nurture, to serve, and to lead with love in so much darkness. You have a voice to be a light.”
Montoya was also named on Forbes Magazine’s 2018 edition of its 30 Under 30 list of budding business leaders in the social entrepreneur category.
Dach, Collins and Montoya were chosen from 11 ATHENA finalists.