The 9th Annual Rutherford ATHENA Awards has announced the 2022 nominees for this year’s award; 12 area women representing 12 Rutherford County organizations have been nominated, along with 7 young professional women (see below for a complete listing and bio of each nominee).
The community-wide celebration of this year’s nominees is open to the public and will be held Friday, April 29, at the Embassy Suites Hotel, 1200 Conference Center Boulevard. The luncheon event begins at 11:30 a.m.
In addition to honoring the accomplishments and contributions of Rutherford County women, the Rutherford ATHENA Awards also provides a $3,000 educational scholarship to a Rutherford County non-traditional female student who has been out of high school for at least five years. The local program is part of ATHENA International, a nonprofit organization that seeks to support, develop and honor women leaders. Since its founding in 1982, more than 8,000 ATHENA awards have been presented in eight countries.
The Rutherford ATHENA Awards 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. We are proud to introduce to you the 2022 Rutherford ATHENA Nominees.,” said Lori Cutler, 2022 Rutherford ATHENA chair.
“In addition to recognizing remarkable women for their accomplishments and their contributions to our community, this program provides a scholarship each year for a local woman who is returning to school to further her education,” RUTHERFORD Cable President Amelia Bozeman said.
Tickets to the Rutherford ATHENA Awards luncheon are $65 per person or $600 for a table of ten. To reserve a seat at the luncheon, visit rutherfordcable.org/Athena.
2022 Rutherford ATHENA Awards nominees
Leslie Akins in an Adult Nurse Practitioner who is currently working at The Journey Home Wellness Clinic. She has focused her 44-year career on providing primary healthcare access for underserved and at-risk populations such as veteran, homeless, uninsured and low-income individuals. Leslie graduated with honors from both Union University (BSN) and UT Memphis College of Health Sciences (MSN) and was recently privileged to serve a 7 ½ year gubernatorial appointment to the Tennessee Board of Nursing. She is the mother of 4, wife of Dr. Mark Akins, Charity Circle member for 12 years, and has called Murfreesboro home since 1995.
Donna Anderson serves as Assistant Vice-President of Branch Delivery for Ascend Federal Credit Union. Her career has evolved over 34 years, serving in a leadership capacity for the past 18 years. Anderson especially excels in career development and mentorship. She has mentored hundreds of women with many being placed into leadership roles. She works closely with Ascend’s Rutherford County staff to support emerging leaders in the community. Donna also supports efforts for Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital, Habitat for Humanity, American Red Cross, United Way, Second Harvest, Girl Scouts, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Susan G. Komen and Special Kids.
Laura A. Bohling
Laura was born in Chicago, Illinois, growing up in Northwest Indiana. Football brought Laura and her family to Tennessee, where she now resides in Christiana. Her first job was sacking groceries at Strack & VanTil’s grocers. Her most exciting job is a tie between the Tennessee Titans and Rutherford County Circuit Court Clerk. Her hardest job was every election campaign she ran — either her own or others since 2010. Her most rewarding job is her steadfast, enduring volunteer efforts with different organizations/events from Habitat for Humanity and JazzFest to BoroPride and the Rutherford County Democratic Party and Democratic Women.
As Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce Chief Operating Officer and Leadership Rutherford Executive Director, Stephanie Brackman has shaped the business landscape for burgeoning professionals to engage, connect and serve. Her career began at Whittle Communications in Knoxville after earning her bachelor’s degree in psychology and master’s in education from the University of Tennessee. Brackman then worked at Middle Tennessee State University for six years with the Athletic Department and the President’s Office. In 1999, she joined the Chamber and helped form Rutherford CABLE. She has dedicated her career to helping move women forward. She is a graduate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute of Organization Management, Leadership Middle Tennessee, Leadership Rutherford, and past President of the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce Executives Association. She is a board member of Tennessee Association of Community Leadership and Leadership Middle Tennessee, and was recently awarded the Robert M. Smith Outstanding Leadership Educator Award.
Mylikia Franklin is the Co-Owner of Franklin’s Fruit Tea and the founder of Black Culture Connected/ DBA Black Murfreesboro, a 501c) nonprofit. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Management and is a Certified Professional Coder (CPC) through the AAPC. Mylikia was born in Southfield, Michigan to serial entrepreneur parents, which fostered within her a love for business at a very young age. For over a decade, Mylikia owned a healthcare business that catered to consulting with independent healthcare professionals and small businesses across the USA. After spending over a decade running her own small business and helping others do the same, Mylikia gained expertise at taking an idea and turning it into a viable business. Mylikia currently lives in Murfreesboro, TN with her husband Germayle and their 4 children. She volunteers countless hours of her time in the Murfreesboro and Nashville communities, enjoys mentoring, and is a member of several charitable organizations.
Diana Constanza Kooper, MD
Dr. Coni Kooper is the first female Vice Chief of Staff for Ascension Saint Thomas Rutherford hospital where she also serves as Medical Director of the Progressive Care Unit. She currently serves on the Wellness Committee, Physician Excellence Committee, and the Physician Planning Committee at the hospital. A devoted patient advocate, she is Board Certified in Internal Medicine. Dr. Kooper received her undergraduate degree from the University of Florida in microbiology and cell science, and her M.D. from University of South Florida College of Medicine where she also completed her residency at Tampa General Hospital. A native of Columbia, South America, she sees herself “a full-hearted American lady.”
Mariah Phillips has been a community advocate, educator, and business leader in Rutherford County for 16 years. While managing a multi-million dollar business and raising 5 children, Mariah graduated from MTSU in 2012 with a degree in US Government, then earning her Masters in Educational Leadership from Lipscomb. Putting her degrees to good use, Mrs. Phillips became a US Government teacher, earning recognition as teacher of the year. Mariah ran for US Congress in 2018 and inspired many women within Rutherford County to step up and run themselves.
Jane Sharp, born in Columbia, TN, has lived in Middle Tennessee for most of her life. At Harding College, she met and married Cliff Sharp. Together they raised their three daughters Cindy, Candace, and Christy in Searcy, Arkansas. In the 1980s, Jane and Cliff moved back to Tennessee and became involved serving in local ministries and their church. Jane and Cliff began volunteering in the Jackson Heights neighborhood in the late 1990’s and started Greenhouse Ministries to bring volunteers and clients together.Over the last twenty years, Jane has helped lead the ministry to plant hope in the ‘Boro.
Michelle Shrader is an Agent Recruiter and Owner of Adventures Tours and Travel. Born and raised in California, Michelle and her husband, Mike moved to Murfreesboro in 2005 with their children Gabby and Riley. Michelle is an active member of Junior League of Murfreesboro, Women United and 100 Women Who Care. In 2021, Michelle served on the Education and Advisory Education Teams for State Farms Diversity & Inclusion Committee. This year, she looks forward to co-leading one of those groups. For Michelle, relationships are what matter most. “All the money in the world cannot buy quality time with family and friends”.
Dr. Ellen K. Slicker
Ellen K. Slicker is a licensed psychologist with a private practice in Murfreesboro. She also taught in the Psychology Department and the Professional Counseling Program at MTSU for over 25 years. Dr. Slicker received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Kansas University, Ed.S. from University of Northern Colorado, and Ph.D. in Psychology from Texas A&M University. She currently serves on the United Way Board, American Heart Association Board, and Murfreesboro City Schools Foundation Board. She has also served on the boards of Insight Counseling Center, Special Kids, the hospital Ambassadors, Rutherford Cable, and the ATHENA Award Program (2019 chair).
Rev. Martha Touchton
Rev. Martha Touchton serves as the Minister of Education at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church. She directs Christian education, adult, children, and family ministries, and leads in worship, congregational care, and spiritual formation. Martha 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, Martha is involved with the P.E.O. Sisterhood, Read to Succeed, Lionheart Chamber Orchestra, Habitat for Humanity, and the Ditsy Dots women’s trio.
Lori Williams is a seasoned accounting professional and CPA with more than 30 years’ experience. As Controller for Middle Tennessee Electric (MTE), Lori holds ultimate responsibility for the organization’s $375 million revenue assurance. Highly skilled in financial matters, Lori is equally known for her compassionate communication and friendliness. An accountant with a personality, she uses her skills to build relationships and serve as a mentor. In her leisure time, Lori enjoys being with her family: husband Kevin, son Austin, daughter Allison, and especially granddaughter Claire. Lori loves to travel and plans to visit all 50 states during her fifties.
2022 Rutherford ATHENA Awards Young Professional Nominees
Nicole is a long time Murfreesboro resident and alongside her husband, they own Goodness Gracious and have made the big decision to return to Murfreesboro after an 8-year stint at the Readyville Mill. Nicole is currently pursuing her Master’s in Business Administration at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Nicole and her Husband have two children, Jackson and Bailey who attend FRCS, following in the footsteps of their dad. Along with pursuing higher education, running a vibrant small business, and raising two future Rutherford County volunteers, Nicole fuels her passion for her community by aiding nonprofits. Not only does she donate her time to these charities, but she donates catering services or delicious dishes to fundraising events as often as she can.
Tosha Price serves as a Strategic Partnership Specialist for Ascend Federal Credit Union, where she has worked for over seven years managing financial education partnerships with local high schools and universities, helping students prepare for financial success after graduation. Price currently serves as President of Murfreesboro Young Professionals, diplomat for Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce, member of the Nashville Chamber New Member Advisory Council, member of the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center Board of Governors and mentor for tnAchieves. She holds a bachelor of business administration degree with a minor in accounting from Middle Tennessee State University.
Lili is a teacher currently pursuing her Early Childhood (Primary, ages 3-6) Montessori teaching credential, and she has been teaching dance at a local studio for 6 years. She also serves as the chair of the Public Relations committee for the Rutherford County Democratic Women and a lead organizer for the Rutherford County Action Council, working closely with the Tennessee Advocates for Planned Parenthood. She was a lead organizer of the October 2nd Bans Off Our Bodies rally for reproductive justice and hopes to develop a community education program to teach people how to be proactive members of their communities.
Realtor Robin Seay has a strong passion and love for serving others. Robin learned early on that each family she is afforded the opportunity to help is unique in their own way. With this understanding, she works to provide a custom experience for her clientele at Parks Realty, where she specializes in new construction, listings, and first-time homebuyers. Robin also serves with organizations, such as United Way of Rutherford and Cannon Counties, Leadership Rutherford, and Murfreesboro Young Professionals. Because of her service, she was named Humanitarian of the Year by Parks Realty, MYP Volunteer of the Year twice, and 20 Under 40 honoree by Murfreesboro Magazine.
Vicki Sheridan is the Business Development Manager at Morter Family Chiropractic and has over 6 years of experience in relationship management and leadership with a passion for helping small businesses. Vicki is the owner of @murfreesborotneats on Instagram where she spotlights local restaurants free of charge. Vicki owns an online boutique, Everyday Lady, which focuses on helping women feel confident with sizes ranging from S-3XL. She graduated with a degree in Elementary Education from Murray State University. Vicki is a Diplomat for the Rutherford County Chamber and a member of RUTHERFORD Cable where she serves on the Diversity & Inclusion and Marketing Committees.
Grace Tant is a life-long resident of Rutherford County. She graduated from Middle Tennessee State University with a degree in Organizational Communication. After graduation, Grace dove into the world of real estate by getting her real estate license. She uses her vast real estate knowledge to not only help others buy & sell homes, but as a transaction manager for American Community Investments, a local real estate investment firm. Grace serves on the boards for multiple local non-profits, including Murfreesboro Young Professionals & Possibility Place. In her free time, Grace loves to cook and play kickball with her husband Kyle.
After 15 years working in higher education, Ella Weaver recently transitioned to nonprofit work with a role at United Way of Rutherford and Cannon Counties. As Director of Strategic Initiatives, Ella works with smart and passionate individuals to improve the lives of all in our community. An enthusiast of good books, good music and good wit, Ella spends time as a stationery designer, connecting with her Rutherford Cable network, engaging with her faith community, and laughing with friends. She and her husband John are thankful to be raising their sons, Bramblett, nine, and Huck, seven, in middle Tennessee.