Rutherford ATHENA

The ATHENA International Leadership Awards Program of Rutherford County announces the 2023 ATHENA Nominees. This year’s Traditional class includes 10 outstanding leaders from the Rutherford County Community.


Amanda Moore

League of Women Voters of Murfreesboro and Rutherford County

Chandra R. Story

American Association of University Women-Murfreesboro Branch

Christa Gassler

Rutherford County Democratic Women

Jessica Warner

Junior League of Murfreesboro

Martha Tolbert

United Way of Rutherford and Cannon Counties

Mary Beth Hagan

Locally Owned Murfreesboro

Megan Keen

Junior League of Murfreesboro

Missy Lay

100 Women Who Care- Rutherford County

Sherri Harris, BSN, RN-BC

Rutherford County Democratic Party

Sheryl Chesnutt

Junior League of Murfreesboro

About the ATHENA Award

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

“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

“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.


Have questions about nominating a local leader? Contact 2023 ATHENA Chair, Ashley Carter

ATHENA Awards Ceremony

When: May 12, 2023
11 am registration
11:30 am Program begins

Where: MTSU Student Union

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.


2023 ATHENA Sponsors

For more information about the Rutherford ATHENA Award® Program, please contact Ashley Carter, 2023 ATHENA Chair, at
For more information on the ATHENA International Leadership Award, please visit

Special Thanks