Athena Leadership Award
Each year, the Global Women's Leadership Network presents the prestigious Athena Leadership Award. Inspired by the goddess of Greek mythology who stands for strength, courage, and wisdom, this award is presented to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to women's leadership in the international credit union movement. The award is presented at our Networking Reception of the Global Women's Leadership Forum at the World Credit Union Conference.
As an owner of Ser Technology, Shana Richardson has donated
significant time and resources to World Council and Global Women initiatives over the past 10 years. She has traveled globally to participate in World Council activities and regularly looks for opportunities to offer Ser Technology’s technical background and engage with clients, educating them on the importance of World Council’s mission.
Her efforts in Asia have made significant industry impact. In support of the 2015 Asian Confederation of Credit Unions conference, Shana created content and provided technical expertise to advance the federation’s objective of formalizing underwriting practices. She has been an avid supporter of Global Women since its founding in 2009, increasing Ser Technology’s commitment in 2016 that enabled all men and women with the chance to attend the Global Women’s Forum event especially those who could not have afforded the opportunity otherwise. Her participation in the 2015 Empowerment Grant helped launch four Philippine Sister Societies and initiated the opening of the Business Development Center empowering hundreds of women entrepreneurs living in rural communities.
Elenita (Leni) San Roque, first female CEO of the Asian Confederation of Credit Unions, received the 2016 Athena award for her execution of building a business development center in the Philippines that trains female credit union members on enterprise management and one-on-one support to enhance their trade such as soap-making, basket weaving, necklace designs and other crafts. Through her work, thousands of members have received financial literacy training and four chapters called “Sister Societies” were created in Asia to further advance women’s leadership and connect women to the Global Network.
In lieu of our 5 year anniversary and the amazing men and women that support the Network, we selected two Athena Award recipients this year.
Lois Kitsch has an infinite passion for credit unions and an extensive history in the movement. She is currently the national program director of the National Credit Union Foundation's REAL Solutions program, which helps credit unions serve financially underserved consumers. She also directs the Foundation's Development Education program, which helps credit union leaders experience a transformational learning experience and maintain cooperative principles as the foundation of their cooperative business model. Lois has championed experiential learning programs where students learn by doing in contrast to rote learning which results in a more profound learning experience. Through four different experiential learning programs, thousands of students and consumers are better managing their finances and are building assets and wealth towards a better future.
Lois is passionate about traveling and her work is widely recognized. She thrives on international projects and has completed outreach projects focused on building financial capability through cooperatives in some of the poorest regions of the world. Her work has taken her to the White House, Clarence House and to more than 40 countries including the Philippines, Afghanistan and Haiti. Lois inspires others to provide access to those in need. Her lifestyle embodies the mission of the Network by improving lives and building communities.
Marquetta White has demonstrated a lifetime commitment to making a difference through her professional career and volunteer opportunities. She is a current board member and past chair of the Arizona State Credit Union a founding sponsor of the Network and scholarship supporter. She was selected to sit on the first Volunteer Leadership Committee with CUNA and used that experience to engage others in the mission of the Global Women's Leadership Network. She served on the Civil Rights and Social Action committee to advocate on behalf of social/public policies and volunteered for Region One's Area Agency on Aging. She has organized donations to shelters, women's clothing drives, senior centers and community programs on behalf of the Network and World Council.
Marquetta became the chair of the Arizona Sister Society in 2012 and has since grown the group to be one of our strongest, independent chapters nationwide. She has also planned Network events in the Mountain West region (CO, WY, AZ) and has helped Nicole Brusewitz to launch the Colorado Sister Society. She invited Chair Sue Mitchell to speak to the Arizona Credit Union Board to ensure all members remain committed to the World Council resulting in a three-year sponsorship. Marquetta is constantly advocating and recruiting for the Network and has travelled as far as FirstOntario Canada to speak on our behalf.
Louise Aubusson, Executive Manager of Sales and Lending at Encompass Credit Union Limited was selected because of her dedication to the Women in Mutual's effort in Australia. She has volunteered and worked closely with the association to develop a women's initiative. Louise traveled to the US and attended the Sister Society Group Leader's meeting to learn more about Network and develop a strategy for Australia to expand the Sister Society movement and engage women on a regional basis.
Louise supported and encouraged all of the Women in Mutual members to join the Network in 2014. She also drove the initiative to secure a local sponsor for our Leadership Forum keynote speaker. Louise actively engages with other credit union women to encourage personal and professional development. She is a Development Educator, well connected, and very passionate about advancing women in Leadership.
Roxy Ostrem, board chair at Ventura Credit Union, won our 2013 Athena Leadership Award by proving herself a key leader in the international movement through her introduction of PDA technology. Her expansion of financial services to an underserved population has improved the lives of hundreds of people at Ventura Credit Union.
Under her leadership, agricultural workers who are unable to leave their jobs during business hours can now conveniently access their funds without being charged outlandish fees.
Dolores Rivera Ramírez, general manager of Caja Zongolica in Veracruz, Mexico, won the 2012 Athena Award. Rivera has consistently proven herself a key leader in the international movement since starting a credit union in 1994 to meet the needs of poor residents of her rural community in the state of Veracruz, Mexico. Under her leadership, the credit union has grown to more than 40,000 members. has worked with World Council since 2003 to implement savings mobilization and outreach programs in Mexico. She was among the first to help pilot handheld transaction technology to deliver financial services remotely to credit union members in rural Mexico, a program that has already begun to expand to other countries.
Our 2011 winner was Greta Greathouse, who directed World Council's Haiti development program for just seven months before a devastating earthquake struck the Caribbean island nation in January 2010, taking more than 330,000 lives and rendering more than 1 million people homeless. The program lost its headquarters building, but all staff members survived and immediately set about rebuilding Haiti's credit union movement.
"Greta exemplifies the leadership that we all aspire to," said Brian Branch, World Council's President and CEO. "When the earthquake happened and most expats left the country, Greta stayed. She took care of her staff and let them find their families, then had them report back to work. Credit unions were back up and operating out of tents days after the disaster, well before other financial institutions."
Stan Hollen, president and CEO of CO-OP Financial Services, received the first Athena Leadership Award. Hollen was recognized for his ongoing support not only of individual U.S. women credit union leaders, but also of the Global Women's Leadership Network, according to Mitchell. At Hollen's direction, CO-OP Financial Services sponsored the Network's inaugural golf outing, an event that raised more than $40,000.
Stan was quoted saying, "It is with pleasure that I accept this award from World Council and the Global Women's Leadership Network," said Hollen. "I believe in supporting the credit union industry and leadership development is of critical importance as we face future challenges. It is an honor to know that I have helped to create opportunities for women."
"Stan Hollen is a key leader within the credit union industry," said Susan Mitchell, Network chair and CEO of Mitchell, Stankovic & Associates. "He believes in developing future leaders — especially women leaders — throughout the credit union movement. His actions support the Network's vision to provide women with the resources to make a measurable difference in the lives of each other, of credit union members and their communities."