Rutherford ATHENA

2022 Rutherford Athena awards Seeking Nominations

The ATHENA Award®, named for the strong, enlightened goddess, goes to individuals who excel in their professions, give back to their communities and help develop other leaders, especially women.

Today, ATHENA International is a global program. Since the program’s inception, more than 7,000 awards have been presented in over 500 communities in the United States, Canada, China, Russia, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom.

The ATHENA Leadership Model® was developed through a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and identifies eight distinct attributes that are reflective of women’s contributions to leadership.

Nominees for the Rutherford ATHENA and Young Professional Awards must live or work in Rutherford County. If the nominee lives outside of Rutherford County, she must work in Rutherford County.

2022 Rutherford athena award presented to Rev. Martha Touchton

Robin Seay and Rev. Martha Touchton

Ashley Carter (2022 ATHENA Co-Chair),Robin Seay, Rev. Martha Touchton, Lori Cutler (2022 ATHENA Chair)

The Rev. Martha Touchton is the 2022 Rutherford ATHENA Award recipient, Rutherford CABLE announced.

The ATHENA Award recognizes an individual who excels in her profession, gives back to the community, and helps raise up other leaders, especially women. Touchton was honored along with 11 other ATHENA nominees and seven Young Professional nominees at a luncheon held April 29 at Embassy Suites in Murfreesboro

Touchton said in her ATHENA essay that she represents the ATHENA Leadership model — live authentically, build relationships, giving back, foster collaboration, courageous acts, life-long learning, fierce advocacy, and celebration and joy — as a female member of the clergy.

“Only a handful of female clergy are employed in Rutherford County, thus every week I encounter someone for whom I am the first female minister they have ever met,” Touchton said. “Often I must defend my gifts, call, and ordination with kindness and grace. It is by using the ATHENA attributes of relationships, collaboration, and courageous acts that I am able to serve as an effective leader in my personal and professional life.”

Touchton serves as the Minister of Education at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church, where she directs Christian education, adult, children, and family ministries, and leads in worship, congregational care, and spiritual formation. Touchton earned her bachelor’s degree at Westmar College in accounting and Christian education before completing her master’s degree in religious education at Scarritt Graduate School. 

In 1999, she was ordained Deacon, authorized to create ministries of compassion, service, and justice. Outside of church and family, Touchton is involved with the P.E.O. Sisterhood, Read To Succeed, Lionheart Chamber Orchestra, Habitat for Humanity, and the Ditsy Dots women’s trio. 

“While it is often a great challenge for female clergy to foster meaningful relationships outside of their church, being a member of the P.E.O. Sisterhood affords me an opportunity to develop much-needed, long-lasting friendships,” Touchton said, exemplifying how she lives up to the ATHENA ideals. “At home, my husband and four children show me every day what God’s love and grace looks like. I am blessed with life-giving and faith-building relationships that inspire creativity, encourage collaboration, and incite courage in every endeavor.”

Touchton was honored along with the 2022 Athena class: Leslie Akins, Donna Anderson, Laura A. Bohling, Stephanie Brackman, Mylikia Franklin, Dr. Diana Constanza Kooper, Mariah Phillips, Jane Sharp, Michelle Shrader, Dr. Ellen Slicker and Lori Williams.

“The ATHENA program showcases the caliber of professional, committed leaders we are fortunate to have here in our community. These women excel in their careers, give back to their community and help develop other leaders making our community a better place to live,” said Lori Cutler, 2022 Rutherford ATHENA chair.

2022 ATHENA Nominees

Meet our 2022 ATHENA and Young Professional Nominees
and learn more about all they do in our community.


About the ATHENA Award

Have questions about nominating a local leader? Contact 2022 ATHENA Chair, Lori Cutler:

ATHENA Awards Ceremony

When: April 29, 2022
11 am registration
11:30 am Program begins

Where: Embassy Suites Murfreesboro, 1200 Conference Center Blvd, Murfreesboro, TN  37129  

2022 Award Recipient

Rev. Martha Touchton

2022 ATHENA Award Recipient



ATHENA Young Professional Leadership Award

The Young Professional Leadership Award recognizes an emerging leader under age 40 who demonstrates excellence, creativity and initiative in her profession, gives back to the community and serves as a role model for young women.

ATHENA Patrons Society

The ATHENA Patrons Society provides an ongoing foundation of sustainability to the Rutherford ATHENA Award Program. Contributions to this annual fund support the Program and its ATHENA Nontraditional Scholarship.

ATHENA Nontraditional Scholarship

The Rutherford ATHENA Award Program bestows a scholarship annually to women who have embodied ATHENA’s characteristics of wisdom, strength, and justice in their own life and endeavors.


2022 ATHENA Sponsors

For more information about the Rutherford ATHENA Award® Program, please contact Lori Cutler, 2022 ATHENA Chair, at
For more information on the ATHENA International Leadership Award, please visit