Attendance for the Athena Award Luncheon was at a record high Monday as two outstanding female leaders in the Pittsburgh community were honored.
Barbara McNees, President of the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce, said this is Pittsburgh's 21st year hosting the award program. She said the Pittsburgh Athena Award is part of an international event. "Athena started in Lansing, Michigan by a woman named Martha Mertz who sat on their chamber, looked around the room, and saw men being honored for many things but not women," said McNees. "So she actually started the Athena program there to honor women in their community."
M.J. Tocci, principal at Trial Run Inc., won this year's Athena Award for her advocacy in teaching women to negotiate. " Women are absolutely terrific negotiators for everyone in their lives but themselves," said Tocci. "So that's been the focus of my work with the Women and Girls Foundation, on whose board I am, and also I'm on the Board of Progress, and I am now launching a brand new negotiation institute for women at Carnegie Mellon."
Tocci said she is starting that institute because many leadership programs for women fail to teach them to negotiate. She said she wants women to be able to better resolve everyday and business-related conflicts.
The institute will offer 10 sessions split into two daytime periods in the spring. Linda Babcock, an economics professor at CMU, is partnering in the planning.
Barbara McNees said this was their first year presenting an Athena Young Professional Award which honors a woman under 35 who has been a role model and mentor for other women. She said their decision to include this award is because the face of Pittsburgh is changing and becoming younger. Jennifer Cairns, a partner at McGuire Woods LL, was the award's first recipient.