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"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."
- Proverbs 3:5-6
April 2024
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By Lindsay Hansen - Thursday Oct 13, 2022
The Greater Phoenix Chamber announced the 2022 ATHENA private sector, public sector, and young professional award recipients at its 35th Annual ATHENA Awards.

Delma Herrera, Vice President of Field Sales, West Region, Cox Communications, was awarded the 2022 ATHENA Businesswoman of the Year Award in the private sector. Jennifer Caraway, Founder & Executive Director, The Joy Bus, earned the 2022 ATHENA Businesswoman of the Year Award in the public sector. Veronica Aguilar, Vice President, Teach for America, took home the 2022 ATHENA Young Professional Award.

“The Greater Phoenix Chamber’s ATHENA Awards celebrates the most inspiring women leaders in the Valley,” said Todd Sanders, president & CEO of the Greater Phoenix Chamber. “These influential women are dedicated to building a brighter future and ensuring our community remains strong. They embody the best of the Arizona business community, and we look forward to seeing how they will carry the legacy of ATHENA through their work.”

The ATHENA Awards, an internationally prized honor through ATHENA International, recognize the achievement of businesswomen across the Greater Phoenix region.

“It’s an incredible honor. I’m thinking about the women that I stood on the stage with today, but most importantly all the women who’s shoulders we stood on to get here. I am so proud, so excited, and just grateful,” said Delma Herrera, the 2022 ATHENA Award recipient in the Private Sector.

A self-described “little immigrant with big dreams,” Delma Herrera subscribes to the philosophy that we must put in the hard work, learn the job, then do it better than anyone thought it could be done. With 30+ years of sales and telecommunications experience, Delma leads a team of nearly 550 people and oversees a $56 million budget as Vice President of Field Sales, West Division, for Cox Communications. Delma is passionate about guiding women into non-traditional roles through mentoring, teaching confidence, strategy, and challenging them never to stand in the back. She currently serves as the Vice Chair for Chicanos por la Causa and is a recipient of the Valle del Sol Profiles of Success Rosa Torrez Humanitarian Award.

As the Founder & Executive Director of both The Joy Bus and The Joy Bus Diner, Jennifer Caraway is fulfilling a promise made to her friend, Joy, who lost her battle with ovarian cancer, that something good would come from her fight. A Valley entrepreneur dedicated to building a hybrid organization that is both commercial and yet non-profit, Jennifer supports people in our community who are most greatly in need. Jennifer has leveraged her deep knowledge of the food industry to establish The Joy Bus Diner, a breakfast and lunch hotspot that funds her established non-profit The Joy Bus program, which delivers gourmet meals, friendly conversation, and education programs free of charge to homebound cancer patients.

“I’m thrilled that hard work really does pay off, and I am beyond honored to be in the room with such amazing successful women,” said Jennifer Caraway, the 2022 ATHENA Award recipient in the Public Sector.

As a proud Mexican-American and Arizona native, Veronica Aguilar’s parents instilled morals and values that helped her succeed in her educational journey. After the financial crisis in 2008, Veronica’s worldview was changed, and she knew graduating from Arizona State University (ASU) would alter the destiny of poverty for her family. This was a turning point for Veronica because she witnessed firsthand the inequities that exist in our education system, which is why she dedicates her life to service, empowerment, and education for all. Veronica’s ability to overcome adversity allowed her to beat the odds as a first-generation student, graduate Summa Cum Laude from ASU, and be selected for Teach For America (TFA) because of her deep belief that all students can receive an exceptional education.

“It’s an honor to be named the ATHENA recipient Young Professional and to be part of this amazing network and community that cares deeply about mentorship, service, and leadership. I will be forever thankful for this opportunity and will strive to be a role model to young women to help break barriers, like my mentors did for me,” said Veronica Aguilar, the 2022 ATHENA Award recipient in the Young Professional category.

Delma Herrera, Jennifer Caraway, and Veronica Aguilar were chosen from among 11 ATHENA finalists selected from a large group of nominees. The following is a complete list of the 2022 ATHENA finalists:

Private Sector finalists:

Deb Gullett, CEO, Arizona Association of Health Plans
Delma Herrera, Vice President of Field Sales, West Region, Cox Communications
Sissie Roberts Shank, President & CEO, Chas Roberts A/C & Plumbing Inc.
Marcia Veidmark, Owner, Founder, CEO & Chairman of the Board, SSC Underground (Specialized Services Co.)

Public Sector finalists:

· Jennifer Caraway, Founder & Executive Director, The Joy Bus

· Christine Mackay, Director, Community & Economic Development, City of Phoenix

· April A. Salomon, Executive Director, Musical Instrument Museum (MIM)

· Kate Smith, Ed.D., President, Rio Salado College

Young Professional finalists:

· Veronica Aguilar, Vice President, Teach for America

· Lindsey Beagley, Senior Director for Mirabella at ASU, ASU Enterprise Partners

· Amber Cordoba, Director of Business Education and Consulting Services, CPLC - Prestamos CDFI

About the Greater Phoenix Chamber
Representing 2,400 businesses across the Greater Phoenix region, the Greater Phoenix Chamber promotes regional prosperity by serving as a catalyst for economic vitality and strong communities. The Chamber pursues this mission by collaborating with business, political and community leaders to grow the regional talent pool, create a regional approach to economic development, and drive a pro-Arizona agenda.

About the ATHENA Award
The ATHENA Award, an honor awarded internationally, recognizes exemplary achievement and challenges its recipients with a continued sense of responsibility, support, and leadership. The ATHENA Award honors women who have consistently invested in themselves, their profession, their community, and especially other women. They have achieved the pinnacle of success within their industry, have mentored women throughout their career, and have dedicated themselves to the community through various activities and charities.

About the ATHENA Young Professional Award
ATHENA International established an award to honor emerging young leaders in our community. The ATHENA Young Professional Award officially launched at the 2007 International ATHENA Leadership Conference, and Phoenix was proud to be one of the first cities to present it within their community. These are the “women to watch.”