Murfreesboro Rotary member Dr. Liz Rhea is the recipient of the 2017 Rutherford ATHENA Award. The ATHENA Award ceremony, celebrating the accomplishments of 14 ATHENA nominees and 11 Young Professional nominees from the Rutherford County community, was held at Embassy Suites Murfreesboro on Thursday, April 27. Dr. Rhea is a retired radiologist and community philanthropist.
The ATHENA Young Professional Leadership Award recipient is Dr. Alicja K. Lanfear, an academic forensic anthropologist and lecturer in the Biology Department at Middle Tennessee State University.
The ATHENA Award recognizes an individual who has achieved the highest level of professional excellence, contributes time and energy to improve the quality of life for those in the community, and actively assists others, especially women, in realizing their full leadership potential. The Young Professional Leadership Award recognizes an emerging leader under age 40 who exemplifies the ATHENA attributes and serves as a role model for young women.
The event’s keynote speaker was Martha Mayhood Mertz, founder of ATHENA International and author of Becoming ATHENA. In her remarks, Mertz discussed the development of the ATHENA Leadership Model on which the ATHENA Award is based. The eight attributes of that model, she said, “affirm the methods of leadership we, as women, gravitate toward. As our journey toward self-discovery grows, our leadership becomes an instrument of change, a means of bringing people together in pursuit of a vision for improvement in the world.”
Nominated for the ATHENA award by Saint Thomas Rutherford Ambassadors, Dr. Liz Rhea earned her undergraduate degree from MTSU and her doctor of medicine from the University of Tennessee School of Medicine, Memphis.
While she grew up in a time when there were few female physicians, Dr. Rhea ultimately became chief of ultrasound and mammography at the V.A. hospital in Houston, Texas. Upon retirement she returned to Murfreesboro with her now late husband, Dr. Creighton Rhea, who shared her belief that, “a life not lived for others is not worthwhile.”
Dr. Rhea has served on numerous nonprofit boards in Rutherford County, including the MTSU Foundation Board, Alumni Board and Blue Raider Athletic Association, Saint Thomas Rutherford Foundation and Saint Thomas Rutherford Ambassadors. She has also served on the boards of the ACE Learning Center, American Heart Association and United way of Rutherford and Cannon Counties. In 2011, the Saint Thomas Rutherford Foundation named her the inaugural recipient of the award honoring her – the Dr. Liz Rhea Philanthropist Award.
“Dr. Rhea personifies the attributes of the ATHENA Leadership Model,” said 2017 Rutherford ATHENA Chair Anne Henslee. “These attributes include authentic self, relationships, giving back, collaboration, courageous acts, learning, fierce advocacy and, of course, celebration and joy.”
Young Professional Award recipient Dr. Lanfear was nominated by the American Association of University Women of Murfreesboro (AAUW). She earned her undergraduate degree from Cumberland University, master of science from MTSU and Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. In her training as a forensic anthropologist, she has assisted Tennessee law enforcement on more than 50 cases and uses this experience to speak to area students about careers in forensics.
Dr. Lanfear currently serves as membership vice president for AAUW, where she was recognized by AAUW National for her initiative in engaging members. She volunteers at Hobgood and McFadden Elementary Schools and has contributed to the preparation of the Expanding Your Horizons workshops at MTSU.
“Dr. Lanfear is an inspiration in the example she sets,” said Henslee. “She truly embodies the ATHENA Young Professional attributes of demonstrating excellence in her profession, giving back to the community, and serving as a role model for young women, especially in her advocacy for STEM education.”
In her remarks at the event, Henslee noted that the 2017 ATHENA Nominees come from all walks of life. “We have women whose work has taken place in the elementary classroom to the halls of academe; from the manufacturing plant to medical practice; from exemplary business leadership to exceptional civic engagement and volunteerism,” she said. “All are leaders and role models who have made a difference in the lives of others.”
The other 13 nominees for the 2017 ATHENA Award and their nominating organizations are:
Julie B. Corcoran – Nissan Smyrna Women’s Business Synergy Team, Lara Daniel – MTSU Jennings A. Jones College of Business, Anne Courtenay Davis – Junior League of Murfreesboro, Retta Gardner – United Way of Rutherford and Cannon Counties, Madelyn Scales Harris – League of Women Voters of Murfreesboro/Rutherford County, Dr. Mary Hoffschwelle – AAUW of Murfreesboro, Tara A. MacDougall – Junior League of Murfreesboro, Dr. Hilary J. Miller – MTSU June Anderson Center for Women and Nontraditional Students, Kathrina Margaret Reed – General Mills Murfreesboro, Tennessee Plant, Beth Reynolds – Portico, Deborah Roberts – RUTHERFORD Cable, Barbara Ann Scales – MTSU President’s Commission on the Status of Women, and Judy Gail Whitehill – Delta Gamma Society International, Delta Chapter.
The other 10 nominees for the Young Professional Award and their nominating organizations are:
LaEndia Buchanan – MTSU June Anderson Center for Women and Nontraditional Students, Carrie Beth Catron – Junior League of Murfreesboro, Mary Catherine Fluty, DoubleTree by Hilton, Murfreesboro, Julie Anne Harris – The Webb School, Emmalyne Head – Nissan Smyrna Women’s Business Synergy Team, Brook LaRoche – The City Schools Foundation, Julie Plummer Lewis – RUTHERFORD Cable, Karen Pfluge – Murfreesboro Young Professionals, Inc., Rebecca D. Upton – Saint Thomas Rutherford Ambassadors, and Asheton Winborn – Murfreesboro Chi Omega Alumnae Chapter.
In addition to founding sponsor RUTHERFORD Cable and community sponsors Pinnacle Financial Partners and Saint Thomas Rutherford Hospital, the 2017 ATHENA Awards are supported by sponsors Farrar|Wright Attorneys and Advisors, Guaranty Trust, Ascend Federal Credit Union, Deloitte, General Mills, NHC Murfreesboro, State Farm and Dempsey Vantrease & Follis.