BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) -- Area leaders met to honor eight nominees for this year's Athena Award. The Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce and the Martin Group have awarded 28 women with the award thus far.
"The Athena Award really represents role models in women in business in our community, and we're so fortunate to have so many nominated each year," said Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce VP of Partnership Services Tonya Matthews.
This year it was Connie Smith President and CEO of Commonwealth Health Corporation who earned the honor.
"I'm just very thankful and appreciative for the opportunity to be part of a great community," said Commonwealth Health Corporation President and CEO, and 2013 Athena Award Winner Connie Smith.
A community she's worked to make better with quality healthcare for most of her life.
"I've worked for Commonwealth Health Corporation for 32 years, and I started as a nursing assistant going to nursing school. Once I received my RN license, I started working as an RN and worked in critical care in several areas before I got into management, but I've spent most of my career in administration," said Smith.
She has been the CEO since 1998, and her coworkers say her passion is contagious.
"Most importantly, she is passionate about our mission to care for people, and improve the lives of people in the Bowling Green/ Warren County/ South Central Kentucky Community. That goes not only for patients and families, but our employees. She's a huge mentor for the other women in our workforce, and the hospital is a predominately female workforce, so it just makes her a natural," said Commonwealth Health Corporation Executive VP Jean Cherry.
Commonwealth Health Corporation is the area's largest private employer, many as Cherry said, are women she continues to inspire.
2013 Athena Award Nominees:
Pam Elrod, Carr, Riggs &Ingram, LLC
Michelle Gorman, U.S. Bank
Rho Lansden, Friends of the Lost River Inc.
Ann Mead, Western Kentucky University
Cathy Palmer, General Motors Bowling Green Assembly Plant
Connie Smith, Commonwealth Health Corporation (winner)
Robbin Taylor, Western Kentucky University
Meredith Thornton, Independence Bank