Leader Spotlight: Martha Mayhood Mertz of ATHENA International

Q: Where do you live?

A. I live in Sedona, Arizona but the most significant work I've done was in Michigan.

Q: Tell us about your organization.

A. ATHENA International is a non-profit devoted to developing, supporting, and honoring women as leaders, lifting community awareness about the excellence and values women exemplify, and in so doing, teaching every woman and girl ways to believe in their strengths, then strive to reach their full potential.

Q: What is the one piece of advice you would like to share with other women looking to start an organization?

A. Know yourself. We call it "Live Authentically" and it is the single most important aspect of any person embarking on their personal, passionate journey. Know WHO you are and what you value. AND do you live your values? Because others will see through your words to your core and you need to be in alignment or you won't inspire others to be drawn to you.

Q: How can WorldWideWomen readers get involved in what you are doing?

A. At ATHENA International, we know the value of emerging and transformative styles of leadership that are closely tied to the intuitive strengths that women bring to leadership. The ATHENA Leadership Model, of which our programs and awards are based, captures these principles for use in contemporary settings while acknowledging that they have been handed down from women across the world and over generations.

In short, the ATHENA Leadership Model meets the needs of emerging leaders and speaks convincingly to women leaders who will head the organizations of the future. Get involved through our programs or start one in your own community. We will be there to guide you and provide support along the way! From the classroom to the boardroom we are eager to develop, support, and honor women leaders in your community and around the world.

Q: Who is the greatest female influence in your life?

A. Women who take an ATHENA leadership class offered locally.

Q: Please share with us something that you want other women around the world to hear.

A. The ATHENA Leadership Model is like a circle, people working side by side with a focus on the process and the project, rather than the importance of any individual. The underlying motivations of these leaders is more often passion and commitment rather than position and prestige. What is ATHENA Leadership? Start with authenticity. These individuals know themselves and their values, strive to be ethical, and pursue a balance of mind, body, and spirit. Regardless of professional achievements, they engage in continuous learning, the “art of listening”, and seek diversity in the voices around them. They build trusting relationships and foster collaboration. They are fierce advocates for a just and humane society, bringing courage when needed to challenge the status quo. Giving back is at the heart of this model, success and fame sidelined by the wish to leave a different legacy. Finally, these leaders value gathering together to memorialize the sharing of their experiences and humanity. It is entirely likely that, as women occupy more seats of influence, they will change the look and definition of strong, wise leadership to include these principles. Expanding the practice of leadership would serve our current heads of commerce and state, and us, in remarkable ways.

Q: What do you feel is your greatest achievement?

A. It has to do with VISION; seeing the way society has consistently downgraded, disregarded, and ignored women as leaders and pledging to change that, even if the length of my reach at the time was only one boardroom. That was 37 years ago. What I didn't know then was that my vision was soon to be shared by thousands of others and now has become the gold standard of women's leadership.

Connect with Martha and ATHENA International through her LinkedIn page!

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