Athena Awards 2019 Honors Local Women And Organizations In Lakeland
by James Coulter
When Perianne Boring, Founder and President of the Chamber of Digital Commerce, founded her organization five years ago, the blockchain-based technologies it specialized in was still a relatively new innovation. As of now, the technology is less than ten years old.
However, Boring and her company have accomplished big things within the past year to further their mission to promote the acceptance and use of blockchain-based technologies and other digital assets. To date, they work with some of the world’s leading innovators, including Microsoft, IBM, and NASDAQ.
Her accomplishments have allowed Boring the honor of being named one of America’s Top 50 Women in Tech by Forbes and one of the 10 Most Influential People in Blockchain by CoinDesk. Through it all, she has realized that there is no dream too big that a small person such as herself cannot accomplish.
“Don’t let anyone tell you that you cannot achieve your goal. Who is anyone in this world to tell you what you can or cannot do, or to stand in your way?” she said. “It is the people who are crazy enough to believe they can change the world who do.”
Boring shared her life story and accomplishments, along with her words of wisdom, during her keynote speech at the 2019 ATHENA Awards, hosted by the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday.
The annual awards ceremony was hosted at Haus 820 in Downtown Lakeland. The awards honor local women and women-led businesses and organizations for their accomplishments in their community through service, entrepreneurship, and their support of other women.
Started in 1982 by the Lansing, Michigan Chamber of Commerce, the ATHENA Awards program have been hosted in more than 375 US cities. Since their inception, the awards have honored more than 8,500 women and men for their services.
This year’s awards and recipients honored that evening were as follows:
Athena Organizational Leadership Award: Top Buttons
Like most women interested in the fashion industry, Sarah Powers wants other women to look and appear the best that they can be; however, her organization seeks to allow them to do that without having to sacrifice their personal values to meet worldly standards.
Powers brings with her 18 years of experience teaching young people, both men and women, the importance of self-worth and purpose through mentoring, teaching, and management and leadership skills.
Using that experience, in 2012 she created Top Buttons, a faith-based non-profit organization dedicated to empowering young women with leadership skills and values while allowing them to gain experience in fashion.
She founded her organization, according to the awards program, “with a passion to encourage young women to know their value in Christ and to present it to the world without compromise,” providing them with fashion resources that “filter out the unnecessary sexually-related material that is commonly associated with the fashion industry.”
Athena Young Proffesional Leadership Award: Laura Lear
Laura Lear has a big heart towards helping people within her local community, whether it’s through her day job as a financial advisor for Edward Jones, or as a volunteer through several local organizations.
She moved to Lakeland in 2011 after being transferred from her original work location outside of Chicago. Since then, she has been heavily involved with her local community. To date, she has served within SPCA Florida, Hospice Women of Giving through Good Shepherd, and Estate Planning Council of Polk County.
As honored as she was to receive this award, she humbly confessed how she felt that there were many more women in the room more deserving of it than her, and that each and every one should be honored just as much.
“I truly get up and go to work every day and give back to the community and supporting other women and developing other women, and it is not because I won an award, it is just because of who I am,” she said. “I truly want to say thank you to everyone in this room and this community, and I just want to say that you all are just as deserving as me.”
Athena Leadership Award: Anna Wood
Anna Wood has dedicated her life to the pursuit of knowledge and the utilization of that knowledge to help her fellow man and woman within her local community.
She received her education in international business through her bachelors from Lynn University and her masters from the University of Miami, as well as executive studies from Harvard University, University of Florida, Florida State University, and Disney University.
Through the education she has received, as well as the values tempered into her through her family, Wood has shared her knowledge with others through teaching and mentoring STEM. She has even served on several national committees to help develop debris management protocols post 9/11.
“Wood’s success is a beautiful blend of her parent’s well-calibrated, guiding, moral compass, her late husband’s wisdom, and industry knowledge illuminating her path, and the support of friends and colleagues,” the program states.
Upon receiving her award, Wood mentioned how speechless she was to receive it, holding back tears as she did so. She mentioned how she managed to reach this far in her life because of the help and support of her family, including her late husband.
“My life has been a mosaic of many, many people, experiences,” she said. “My husband helped me a great deal. He was my mentor, my lover, my friend, my everything, and thanks to him, I was able to penetrate the industry. It was very difficult to do as a female. I never saw boundaries, I only saw opportunities.”