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History was made on October 14, 2006 at the Taj Mahal Palace in Mumbai, India.  The ATHENA Award was presented for the first time there, marking the inauguration of a prestigious event which will be continued in Mumbai and in other Indian cities in the years to come. 


The ATHENA Award is presented to an outstanding individual, most often a woman, who has achieved the highest level of professional excellence in her profession, given of her time and talent back to the community, and opened leadership opportunities for others, particularly for women.  It is named after the Greek goddess Athena, known for her wisdom, courage, strength and enlightenment, characteristics needed for truly outstanding leadership.


This award was first presented in 1982 in Lansing, Michigan and has grown to include honors for more than 5,000 individuals in hundreds of cities in the United States as well as in Canada, China, Russia and the United Kingdom. The award takes the form of a hand-cast numbered bronze sculpture symbolizing the strength, courage and wisdom of the recipient. 


Ms. Bakul Patel was honored as the 2006 ATHENA Award recipient in Mumbai.  Ms. Patel has held leadership positions in diverse fields of business and corporate management as well as socio-economic development.  She is currently Chairperson & Managing Director of Neo-Indcom Consultancy Pvt. Ltd.  She has been associated with Merchant Media Ltd., publishers of “Business Barons” and “Banking and Finance” For 3 1/2 years she chaired with distinction a public sector company, Maharashtra State Financial Corporation.  She has been instrumental in helping women develop their own home-based businesses and was recognized for her excellence by being named Sheriff of Mumbai in 1992-1993.  She exemplifies leadership qualities that make her an outstanding role model for others.  Ms. Patel has the quiet dignity of a person who is fully authentic with her values, is one who gracefully places the needs of others ahead of her own, and one who is creating a different kind of legacy for the people and especially the women in Mumbai and beyond. 


The Founder of ATHENA International, Martha Mayhood Mertz, came from the U.S. to participate in this auspicious occasion.  “Presenting the ATHENA Award to Bakul Patel in the company of her colleagues and friends was a truly memorable moment for me and for our organization.  She is a striking example of women who have found their leadership voice and have used it, not only for themselves, but for the good of all.  She will join the network of other outstanding leaders who have been honored in this way”. 



Ms. Priti Rao was honored as the 2006 ATHENA Finalist.  Ms. Rao leads as Senior Vice President & Development Centre Head for Infosys Technologies Ltd.  She has built a +100 Million Dollar service unit employing +2000 people worldwide, with a high percentage of women, which enjoys the highest level of employee morale in the entire corporation.  She is a founding member of IWIN (Infosys Women inclusivity Initiative) with over 20,000 members.  She created and has encouraged funding and partnerships for the Hinjawadi Foundation, a volunteer organization of Infosys employees.  Their work includes funding initiatives for a school for blind girls, visits and aid to orphanages, rehab centers for street children and much more.  Ms. Rao exemplifies ATHENA leadership. 


Ms. Rita Singh, formerly of New Delhi and now a prominent business owner in the U.S., who is herself a 2004 Cleveland, Ohio ATHENA recipient was the driving force in bringing these awards to India.  “I personally experienced the power and inspiration of the ATHENA Award and of the ATHENA philosophy.  I now have the vision of not only bringing this to India, but seeing it grow into a nationally recognized honor to be presented in many cities so as to empower and encourage all women to achieve their full potential”.


ATHENA International is a non-profit organization headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, U.S.  The mission of the organization is to achieve a balance in the voices of leadership worldwide by encouraging, supporting and honoring women leaders, inspiring women to achieve their full potential, and thereby creating a balance in the voices of leadership globally.

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