Excellence Awards News Conference

Each year, we announce our Small Business Person of the Year and ATHENA Award Recipient at our Excellence Awards News Conference and honor them as keynote speakers at the Excellence Awards Luncheon.

Small Business Person of the Year

The Small Business Appreciation Committee accepts nominations for the Small Business Person of the Year, and past recipients select the winner.

Todd Matthews (2018)  
David Sears (2017) David Pascall (2016) 
Edward Griffin (2015) Mike Coffey (2014)
David Holland (2013) Mike Simpson (2012)
Regina Webb (2011) Thad F. Connally, III (2010)
Joe Davis (2009) Carl Chaney (2008)
*Jim Smith (2007) David Chandler (2006)
Chris Thompson (2005) Tim Earnhart (2004)
Janet Henderson (2003) Jim Johnson (2002)
Steve Sheldon (2001) Doug Gorman (2000)
Curt Sullivan (1999) David Bradford (1998)
Mike Murphy (1997) Joe Natcher (1996)
Al Baker (1995) David Wiseman (1994)
Rick Kelley (1993) Harold Brantley (1992)
Mike Buchanon (1991) Bill Jackson (1990)
*Cornelius Martin (1989) *B.J. Booth (1988)
Carroll Hildreth (1987 Sandy Jones (1986)
Johnny Webb (1985)  















* Deceased.  


The ATHENA Award honors the local businessperson who contributes most greatly to the community and advancement of women in the business world. ATHENA International is dedicated to recognizing individual leaders who have opened doors of opportunity for women in the workplace and beyond. The prestigious ATHENA Award celebrates these positive role models – more than 3,000 women and men to date –on a local, state, national and international level.                                                 


Janette Boehman (2018)  
Vicki Fitch (2017) Shannon Vitale (2016)
Michelle Gorman (2014) Robbin Taylor (2015)
Sue Parrigin (2012) Connie Smith (2013) 
Anne Grubbs (2010) Tamara Vogler (2011)
 Amy Milliken (2008) Joy Rogers (2009)
Heather Rogers (2006) Regina Webb (2007)
Ann Jewell Patterson (2004) Kim Thomas (2005)
Mary Cohron (2002) Regina Parsley-Byrd (2003)
Pearl Taylor (2000) Ann Puckett (2001)
Dr. Georgia Childress (1998) Robin Hunt (1999)
Deborah Williams (1996) Sandy Jones (1997)
Sarah Glenn Grise (1994) Dr. Lynn Chism (1995)
Joyce Wilson (1992) Nancy Dixon (1993)
Doris C. Thomas (1990) Vickie Elrod (1991)
Peggy Loafman (1988) Ann Elliott (1989)
Romanza Johnson (1986) Betty Lovenstein (1987)

According to ATHENA International, the ATHENA Leadership Model tenets include Authentic Self, Celebration and Joy, Collaboration, Courageous Acts, Fierce Advocacy, Giving Back, Learning and Relationships, and provide a model for 21st-century leadership. Learn more about ATHENA International.


The Young ATHENA Award is a natural extension of the ATHENA Award, a program that honors the local businessperson who contributes most greatly to the community and the advancement of women in the business world.

The ATHENA Young Professional Award was introduced at the ATHENA International Conference in Chicago in April 2007. The recognition piece for the ATHENA Young Professional Award is symbolic of the cut crystal prism in the ATHENA Award sculpture, representing the multifaceted qualities of their leadership.

By presenting this award for the first time in Bowling Green in March of 2008, we are acknowledging the contributions and importance of our local emerging leaders. The Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce believes in the values underlying ATHENA International’s philosophy of incorporating the talent and expertise of women into the leadership of our businesses, our communities and our government.

Criteria for the Young ATHENA require that the individual:

Past Young ATHENAs

Rebecca Lee (2017) Danette Idlett (2016)
Jessica Yonts (2015) Lindsey McClain (2014)
Sarah Rascoe (2013) Jamie Spinks (2012)
Nancy Mitchell (2011) Kelly Ward Wiseman (2010)
Laura Simpson Goodman (2009) Jana Sublett (2008) 

Cornelius Martin ATHENA Scholarship

Because of generous giving to the Cornelius Martin ATHENA Scholarship Fund, the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce awards a $500 scholarship to a non-traditional undergraduate student attending Western Kentucky University.

The Cornelius Martin ATHENA Scholarship Fund was established as a perpetual trust within the College Heigts Foundation in memory of Cornelius Martin. Local ATHENA Award recipients have funded this perpetual trust because, through the ATHENA Foundation, Cornelius Martin recognized individual leaders who have opened doors of opportunity for women in the workplace and beyond.

Eligibility requirements for the scholarship are:

WKU's University Scholarship Committee selects the recipient for this scholarship prior to the academic school year.