The Women's Business Council (WBC) of Marion, Ohio is honored to again sponsor the ATHENA Leadership Award®.  The ATHENA was inspired by the goddess of Greek mythology known for her strength, courage, wisdom and enlightenment - qualities embodied in the ATHENA Leadership Model®.  The Award is unique in both scope – local, national and international – and the ATHENA mission upon which it is based.  The ATHENA Leadership Award® is presented to a woman – or man – who is honored for professional excellence, community service and for actively assisting women in their attainment of professional excellence and leadership skills.

ATHENA nominations are solicited from community members.  The WBC honors all nominees with a luncheon and awards the beautiful ATHENA sculpture to the final recipient.  The ATHENA sculpture is to honor an individual in the community who meets specific criteria.  Recipients are individuals who have achieved the highest level of professional excellence, contribute time and energy to improve the quality of life for others in the community and actively assist others, particularly women, in realizing their full leadership potential.

The 2017 ATHENA will be presented at a noon luncheon Monday, March 13, in the Harding Room of META Solutions, formerly TRECA.  Last year’s recipient was Arnita Pittman, Executive Director and Founder, Arnita Pittman Community Recovery Center.

Terri Martin, chair of the Marion Women’s Business Council board, indicated, “Once again we have a strong list of nominees, and I know the judges will have a difficult time choosing a winner.”  She continued, “The quality of women in leadership positions throughout the Marion community is strong, and we are honored to provide a forum for those accomplishments to be recognized.”

Local companies championing the ATHENA recognition include Cummins Building & Maintenance, OhioHealth, and The Ohio State University Alber Enterprise Center.  Others are All Occasion Catering, Allstate Insurance Rob Hyburg, Custom Professional Accounting, Fahey Bank, iHeart Radio, Marion Community Credit Union, Marion Flower Shop, Marion OnLine, Marion Star, Marion Technical College, Marion Wealth Management, McDaniel Motors, Tom Milligan Agency Nationwide Insurance, Nucor Steel, Ohigro Inc., Sims Brothers, Sisler & Associates, Stifel Nicolaus & Company, The Union Bank, Wyandot Inc., Aqua Ohio, Carroll’s Jewelers, and The Power Factory.  

Modern Woodmen of America has once again committed to matching the funds, up to $2500, raised from the silent auction which will then be presented to the ATHENA Leadership Award® recipient’s non-profit charity of choice.

Marion Women’s Business Council is dedicated to inspiring women to reach their full potential through mentoring, networking education and recognition.   Visit for more information on the ATHENA or how to become a part the Marion Women’s Business Council.   Athena luncheon reservations are $18 each and may be made by sending an email to or by calling Elaine Evans, Membership Chair, at 740-389-9960, ext. 307.

Kelly Garrett

Site Direct, Gear Up Ohio at the Marion City Schools

Lead Cheer Coach, Ohio Xtreme Athletics

Nominated by Michelle Holmes

Non-profit donation choice:  Boys and Girls Club - Marion

Kelly Garrett is extremely passionate about making sure that all children have an opportunity to succeed and advocates for their success.  She is currently with Gear Up Ohio at the Marion City Schools, a program that helps students find and navigate their way to successful careers by helping them with educational decisions and opportunities.  Garrett has been instrumental in coordinating activities and events that help our local youth better understand their options post-high school and what paths they may need to choose during their school years in order to become successful adults.  She especially delights in helping a student who never thought they could go beyond high school see the infinite possibilities for their future.

In addition to her full-time career with Gear Up, Garrett is also a full-time cheer coach for Ohio Xtreme Athletics at Mid-Ohio Gymnastics.  Garrett has coached at this gym for approximately ten years, working with athletes from ages 3 through 19.  She teaches these young athletes cheer and dance skills that they use while participating in competitions across the state of Ohio, as well as elite championship competitions in other states.  The young athletes that Garrett teaches not only learn physical skills and become physically fit, but they also learn leadership skills that they can take into the classroom and out into the real world.  Garrett has coached teams that have won many local, regional and national championships.

In previous roles, Garrett was with The United Way of Marion County, where she helped raise millions of dollars to help various community organizations, The Marion County Family and Children First Council, The Salvation Army, and Ashland University.  She is currently on the Marion Community Foundation Grants Committee and is a member of Kiwanis.  She has served on several other boards in the past, but notably on the Salvation Army Board where she helped start the soup kitchens there several years ago. 

Nominator Michelle Holmes said, “Although I am unaware of any “named” awards she has won, most of Kelly’s achievements are quieter affairs made one young person at a time.   A student who recognizes her future potential because Kelly helped and encouraged her through the process.  A young group of athletes who work together to win first place in a tough competition … their trophy a testament to Kelly’s unselfish dedication and instruction. This happens repeatedly, day in and day out.  While these types of accomplishments don’t garner a lot of plaques on the wall, they do reap an immeasurable list of triumphs in the lives of those students.”

Brandy Gatrell

President/Chairperson, Saturday in the Park

Owner, Precision Quest

Nominated by Spencer Phelps

Non-profit donation choice:   Arnita Pittman Community Recovery Center/Buckeye Residential Housing

Saturday in the Park is an event that happens once a year at Lincoln Park with the sole goal of offering fun, free entertainment for families in Marion.  Brandy Gatrell, with some help from the event’s board, agreed to spearhead Saturday in the Park several years ago and has demonstrated excellence, creativity and initiative to keep functioning and growing.  Excellence in that the event continues to grow every year since Gatrell took the reins.  Creativity because the entertainment and activities available to children are always new and exciting.  And initiative because Gatrell is the driving force behind this events. 

Gatrell also founded and runs another non-profit organization called Marion’s Hometown Talent.  She uses her stage and events to give local performers a chance to showcase their talent to the people of Marion.  Marion’s Hometown Talent works with a number of existing events including the Marion Popcorn Festival, Kid’s Fest, and others.

Gatrell is also one of the founders of Marion Helping Hands which tries to help Marion area families with needs when other area agencies cannot.

Nominated by Spencer Phelps, he had this to say about Gatrell, “All of these amazing events, performance, and community programs are put together by a woman who also has a full-time day job and a full-time family.  Being able to juggle so many different responsibilities while also creating fun community events for Marion just for the sake of giving our town something to do and be proud of and opening opportunities for talented women of Marion to perform … well, it just blows me away.”

Pam Hall

President, Marion Area Chamber of Commerce

Nominated by Bob Hass

Non-profit donation choice:  The Homeless Shelter

Pam Hall is a lifelong Marion resident who, for the past 18 years, has led the Marion Chamber of Commerce as President.  During her tenure, the Chamber’s membership has remained strong and the Chamber has expanded business networking opportunities through events like Bagels and Business, Business after Hours, and Brown Bag Lunches.  Under Hall’s leadership, Chamber sponsored groups such as the Marion Area Safety Council, Manufacturers Council, Human Resource Council, and Ambassadors have flourished, providing a forum for Marion businesses to discuss common interests.  Hall has also been responsible for the Chamber-sponsored Leadership Marion program, which has helped hundreds of potential Marion leaders learn about our community and develop leadership skills that will help Marion prosper. 

As the Marion Chamber president, Hall has brought the Chamber into the 21st Century by creating opportunities for local businesses to market goods and services to other members, developing and implementing strategies for informal and formal networking, and ensuring that the Chamber is using the Internet in an effective way to promote Marion.  Hall has not acted merely as a “caretaker” of the Chamber – she continually looks for ways to improve services.

Hall began her career at Floyd Browne Associates, where she worked in various positions for 27 years and was the first and only female to be offered a partnership in the firm.  She left Floyd Brown and joined the Marion Chamber as its President in 1998.   

Hall is a long-time supporter of United Way, serving both as board chair and campaign chair in the past.  She has served on the boards of the Marion Community Foundation, the Marion Area Counseling Center, the Emanuel Lutheran Day Care, Rushmore Academy, the Marion CanDo! Marion Matters, Alber Enterprise Center, and the Army Corps of Engineers Restoration Advisory Board.  Hall is past President of Marion Noon Kiwanis, and a current member of the Blue Thong Society, the Marion Rotary Club, and DaySpring Wesleyan Church.

“I am not certain, but suspect that Pam is the first female Marion Chamber President in the Marion Chamber’s 100 year history,” said Bob Hass who nominated Pam.  “The fact that the male-dominated Chamber Board has chosen to continue Pam’s tenure as President speaks clearly about Pam’s leadership abilities.  Pam’s long service as the Chamber President is in itself an inspiration to women in business. Pam has shown that women can be successful in a business career – she leads and mentors by example. Pam was also a highly respected role model during her career with Floyd Browne Associates.”

Mary Longo

4-H Educator for The Ohio State University Extension

Nominated by:  Tami Galloway and Tami Dean

Non-profit donation choice:  Marion County 4-H

When you think of Marion County 4-H, you think of Mary Longo.  She has been a mentor, friend, colleague, role model, educator and most importantly supporter to many throughout the years.  Longo has been employed by The Ohio State University Extension program for over 23 years in the capacity of Family Consumer Science Educator, 4-H Youth Development, Extension Educator and Assistant Professor. 

Longo has been instrumental in providing comprehensive positive youth programs in Marion County through 4-H clubs, camps, after school and in-school programs, Cloverbuds, and other youth opportunities.  Through the years, Longo has worked closely with adult and youth volunteers to plan and conduct educational and fundraising events.  She serves as the Liaison between Junior and Senior Fair boards, and advisor for the Marion County 4-H Advisory Council and Camp Counselors.

Each year Longo interviews and “hires” 45 young people (30 young ladies and 15 young men) age 14-18 for camp counselor positions for the upcoming 4-H camp.  Candidates complete an application, submit a resume and complete interviews for the position.  Through this process, not only is she selecting the best candidates, but she is also teaching the applicants job search and interviewing life skills.  As she manages these young counselors, she empowers them to have a vision and see it through. 

Recognized nationally through receipt of National Extension Association of Family & Consumer Sciences (NEAFCS) Distinguished Service Award, Education Publication Awards and the Continued Excellence Award, Longo also received the Outstanding Young Professionals American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (AAFCS) Award.  Statewide recognition and other awards have been given to Longo, as well.

Having authored numerous 4-H project books, including Yeast Breads, Quick Breads, and Great Grilling, Longo also authored numerous fact sheets including Healthy Kids-Germ Free (internationally) and Children’s Nutrition Cards (statewide).  She has published articles in the Journal of Nutrition Education, has served on the LifeTime Editorial Board, and wrote a weekly column for The Marion Star for many years.

Nominators Tami Galloway and Tami Dean said, “Mary is so supportive of all youth.  She has the ability to see youth for their potential and help them see and build on that potential. She is always encouraging and supportive and instills excitement into today’s youth.  She challenges them when they need to be challenged, supports them in all aspects of their lives and is always their cheerleader.”  They concluded, “Mary has made Marion better just by being here and doing what she does best.  Her influence has been felt all across Marion County, and as those she has influenced mature into adults, her influence will live on.”

Theresa Lubke

Executive Director, Marion Family YMCA

Nominated By:  Karen Ream

Non-profit donation choice:  Marion Family YMCA

As Executive Director of the Marion Family YMCA, Theresa Lubke’s accomplishments are wide-ranging and encompass many aspects of the community.  Faced with a possible default due to an escalating principal payment, she was able to put the YMCA in a much stronger financial position by refinancing an eight million dollar debt.   In 2016 she once again led refinancing efforts securing a favorable interest rate that will save the Y approximately $50,000 annually.  Lubke is currently working with YMCA volunteers on a capital campaign to further reduce the YMCA’s debt and provide additional facility improvements.  This two million dollar campaign has currently raised $1,950,000.  She has expanded programming, added equipment, and increased support through the annual campaign, thereby making it possible for the Y to offer scholarship assistance to anyone with a demonstrated need.   This means that over 3700 individuals and families are able to become Y members or maintain their membership each year.  (The old Y only had 2700 total members with about 12% of those on scholarship.)   The Y currently has nearly 9000 members, and each year sees over 250,000 visits by members and guests. 

Among the expanded programming is the addition of a licensed preschool program, made accessible to every child in the community, as well as the return of the Y’s summer youth camp, now expanded to 10 weeks.  The Y has added a LIVESTRONG ® AT THE YMCA program for cancer patients and survivors, a Delay the Disease Program for Parkinson’s patients, and a diabetes prevention program.  Lubke has also partnered with the Marion City Schools on several projects including a mentorship program for youth most at risk and an after school program.

Lubke initiated the YMCA’s and Marion Public Health’s application in 2010 to become a Pioneering Healthier Communities designated community. This led to the formation of Pioneering Healthier Communities – Marion.  Lubke continues to serve as partner coach for this coalition working to ensure everyone in Marion is as healthy as they can be through policy, system and environmental change.  This work has resulted in bike lanes on Ohio 95, marked bike routes throughout the City of Marion, growth of community gardens including 20 beds at Christ Missionary Baptist Church. PHC – Marion’s work in community gardens was highlighted by YUSA through a video “story book” shared with YMCAs throughout the country.  This has helped to make Marion a better place to live for all citizens. 

Karen Ream, who nominated Lubke said, “The Marion Family YMCA has a long history of serving its community and Theresa has continued that tradition.    She puts her energy and passion into the causes and people she believes in.  She is tactical in her approach to strengthening the Marion community through building relationships between people first, then through organizations, working to identify common causes and pooling the energy, wisdom and resources of those around her.” 

Jacqueline Ringer

Executive Director, Marion County Children Services

Nominated by:  Angela Carbetta

Non-profit donation choice:  Boys & Girls Club of Marion County


As Marion County Children Services Executive Director since 2011, Jacque Ringer manages the agency’s operation, handles a $4 million annual budget, and oversees a staff of 35.   She began working there in 1999 as an intake caseworker, assessing child safety, then went on to train foster parents, supervise the agency’s re-accreditation process in 2008, guide child maltreatment referrals, and monitor delivery of services.  Ringer advocates for child protection through legislative contacts and state-wide advocacy events.   She was a 2012 Wild Child Conference presenter.

Ringer implemented the 2012 Ohio Alternative Response Pilot Project in Marion County as an alternative approach to the traditional child protective services investigations handling neglect cases.  The program is now used throughout the state. “The new response used a non-adversarial approach,” (John Jarvis, Marion Star).  The agency helps families address concerns and develop a service plan.  Ringer is quoted as saying, “We provide them with suggestions, but we want them to take the initiative.  The rapport we’re building with our families is amazing.  When I see one of my families if I stop at Walmart, you have kids come up and hug you. That’s a good feeling. What better feeling can you get than that?” 

In 2014 Ringer brought the “Safe and Together” model to the agency to help with assessments and safety plans for families affected by domestic violence.

Under Ringer’s leadership, Marion County Children Services received a $220,000 “Efficiency and Innovation” grant in 2015 from Ohio Department of Job & Family Services. They renovated the family visitation center to make it a more homelike setting for parents and children to visit. Visitation times increased. They also used funds to promote child abuse prevention efforts and increase transparency through social media and website expansions.

Another successful grant project to provide car seats for families who cannot afford them was awarded to Marion County Children Services from the Marion Community Foundation Buckles for Buckeyes Program, collaborating with the Marion County Board of DD.  Ringer also worked with Marion Public Health to expand Cribs for Kids.

Ringer authored the “Child Abuse & Neglect Reporting Training” program for Marion County, which is also used in other agencies; as well as developed the training curriculum called “Road to No Lice” for social workers and families.

Nominator Angela Carbetta said, “The excellent, creative, extraordinary part of all this is that Jacque does her work with great love for each and every child. She’s a relationship builder, helping parents and mending families.  Many of her days are rewarding and fun.  Others are extremely disturbing, as I’m sure you can imagine.  Regardless, Jacque remains strong, positive, committed, and even cheerful.  She’s a gem—such a life-saver and role-model for so many.”

Doris Schwartz

Independent Distributor, Advocare Nurtrionals

Dee’s Performing Artists

Nominated by Brandy Gatrell

Non-profit donation choice:  Downtown Marion, Inc.

Doris Schwartz has been an Independent Distributor with AdvoCare Nutritionals since September 2008.  Having some health and immunity issues of her own, AdvoCare Nutritionals helped to fulfilled her desire to not only get her health on the right track, but to also share health and nutrition products with others. Schwartz has been recognized several times for her efforts in this capacity and leadership events.

In her fourth year in another endeavor, Schwartz is also an independent promoter of four professional singer/songwriters (two solo men, one solo woman, and another women’s duo).  Dee’s Performing Artists promotes these clients regionally and nationally.  Due in part to her efforts, one of Dee’s Performing Artists has made the leap from part-time to a full-time nationally touring artist.  In conjunction with this endeavor, Schwartz created the Facebook page “Music Entertainment, Marion, Ohio” to not only promote her artists, but others, as well.  Schwartz wanted to provide a forum to prove Marionites do not need to leave their hometown for good, quality music.

In May of 2014, Schwartz became one of the founders of 100 Women Who Care, Marion.  To date, this chapter has contributed over $36,000 to local Marion charities.  The organization currently has 75 members, with a goal of 100, who each pledge to donate $100 to a chosen charity four times per year.

Schwartz was also instrumental in founding the Marion Ballroom Dance group which has been going strong for 10 years.  Schwartz is the group coordinator.

A retired executive secretary with GTE/Verizon and Frontier Communications with a career span of 29 years, Schwartz has used these skills to benefit a number of Marion organizations including Downtown Marion, where she is the executive secretary and chaired the New Year’s Eve Pop-N-Drop.  Past organizations have included IAAP/PSI, St Mary Church, Marion Catholic School Board, Brownie//Girl Scouts, and Marion Catholic Junior High Cheerleading Advisor.

“Doris is passionate about her hometown and always jumps in to promote, support and help with Marion’s Helping Hand and Marion’s HomeTown Talent,” said Brandy Gatrell who nominated Schwartz.  “Her heart far outweighs her petite size and proves anyone can get involved and make a difference.” 

Jeanine Tarantino

Founder/Director, Homeless to Home Animal Rescue & Cat Sanctuary

Nominated by Joelle DeFranks

Non-profit donation choice:  Homeless to Home Animal Rescue & Cat Sanctuary

Carrying the torch after her mother, Vivian (Jo) Esposito, Jeanine Tarantino has quietly been working most all of her life helping animals and the people connected to them.  She founded Homeless to Home Animal Rescue & Cat Sanctuary, an all-volunteer 501(c)3 organization.  Tarantino, along with a small group of caring volunteers, work tirelessly from her converted triple garage, which houses a cat sanctuary/adoption center.  Homeless to Home adopted the principles and mission of the Wyandot County Humane Society in that preventing suffering is the priority and no animal of any species is ever turned away from wherever they may come.

The Marion community has a stray and pet overpopulation problem.  Homeless to Home provides a service to the local community and beyond by receiving any and all animals in need of shelter.  People losing their homes, needing to rehome pets for whatever reason, or simply trying to help a stray animal, can find help for those animals.  When animals are turned away by shelters, they often suffer and die badly, which is inconsistent with the definition of humane.  Homeless to Home does not have time limits and seeks to rehome as many animals as possible.  Attempts are made to assist people to continue to care for their pets when possible.  The organization has helped over 1,000 animals a year (mostly cats) with the critical support of so many amazing caring people.  Tarantino's compassion and gentle spirit, inherited from her mother, has touched the hearts of countless people who have been helped and who have chosen to support the work of her organization.

Joelle DeFranks, who nominated Tarantino, said, “Jeanine has set a good example in our community for men and women in showing that one's passion to make a difference in lives can become reality, and that all lives matter - human and animal.  Her organization sets the example of humanity, whose synonyms are compassion, kindness and mercy.  She routinely volunteers and supports the missions of other organizations of the same mind.  Our community has a rare gem and we should support her good work any way we can.”

Beverly Young

Executive Director, Marion Area Counseling Center

Nominated by Betty Jo Medley

Non-profit donation choice:  Marion Area Counseling Center

Beverly Young is the Executive Director and CEO of the Marion Area Counseling Center (MACC), a place she’s called home since 1977.  The agency had only been in existence for three years when Young was hired in.   She’s held several positions within the organization over the years, and has been instrumental in its continual growth. 

Young has written and obtained many grants that have helped women, including the HAP grant through the Ohio Department of Development that benefits the local Housing Task Force with funds used to prevent homelessness in Marion County.  She has also written and received grants for the Marion Victim Assistance Program, Contact Care-Line, PEER, the Ohio Department of Mental Health for the creation and funding of Jody’s House and Dave’s House, which are Recovery Houses, as well as funding from HUD to build Monarch Place Apartments and funding for Viceroy Place, providing housing for the Severe and Persistently Mentally Ill populations.

Being a leader in a very female-heavy field, Bev has had the opportunity to help direct the career paths of many women … a number of which have used MACC as a spring board to start their careers right out of college.  MACC is also known for its intern program which has helped hundreds of young women get started in their career paths as case manager or counselor assistants.  Young has made sure there are advancement opportunities for young women, and helped them to define which career paths were best for them. 

“Overall,” said Betty Jo Medley who nominated Young, “for 40 years, her work to assure that mental health and substance abuse treatment services are available, accessible and of the best quality, sets her apart.   Bev works consistently in partnership with other human and social services professionals in the Marion community like United Way, the ADAMH Board, Juvenile Court, Family Court, Municipal Court, Boys and Girls Club, Family and Children First Council, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, and other local entities to increase access to services and improve the environment within Marion County to plan and implement programming that is in the best interest of women, children and families.”