WESTERLY — A banker, a restaurant owner, a dentist, an administrator and an executive director are the nominees for this year's Athena Award, according to Lisa Konicki, president of the Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce.
One of the five women will be named Athena 2019 during the annual Athena Award banquet, an event run by the Ocean Community Chamber Foundation, on Oct. 23 at Lake of Isles golf club in North Stonington.
Beth D’Amato, a vice president for commercial lending at Dime Bank; Amanda Nall, owner of Bogue’s Alley in Pawcatuck; Angela Smith, the longtime administrator at Westerly Medical Center; Beth-Ann Stewart, executive director of the Stonington Community Center and Rebecca Woodward, who co-owns a dental practice, have all been nominated for the award, which recognizes outstanding business and professional women for their contributions to their communities.
In addition to her banking career, D’Amato, a Westerly resident, serves on the boards of the Pawcatuck Neighborhood Center, the Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce and the Rhode Island Bankers Association. She has volunteered for the United Way, the WARM Center, Always Home and St. Vincent de Paul Society and has served on the auxiliary of L&M Hospital. She is a corporator at Milford Hospital and a member of the Southeastern Connecticut Women’s Network.
Nall, a Westerly resident, became immersed in the downtown Westerly-Pawcatuck business community soon after purchasing Bogue’s Alley in 2014. She has forged relationships with small business owners and actively participates in roundtable discussions with the police department, first selectman and chamber of commerce on matters such as community safety, speeding, shoplifting, vandalism and parking. She has come to the aid of her fellow business owners during emergency situations and supports many nonprofit organizations.
Smith, recently recognized as a “Living Legend of Westerly," "has built a life around community engagement and volunteerism," Konicki said. Smith, a Westerly resident, has been the administrator at Westerly Medical Center for more than 42 years. She has spent many years as a board member of the Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce and served on dozens of committees and a term as chairman. She joined the Westerly Lions Club and rose through the ranks to become the first female president. She supports the Friends of the Westerly Library events, has served on the Athena Committee and Westerly 350th Committee, has chaired two galas and serves on the Light Parade Committee.
Stewart, a Groton resident, has spent her career working as a probation officer, a domestic violence victim’s advocate, a special education counselor, a therapist, a mental health consultant and a social services executive. As Stonington’s Human Services Director, she built sustainable programs including a Community Garden, a teen prom shop, counseling services and summer camps. She chaired mentoring programs, procured resources for Board of Education projects and founded holiday events. Her grant writing generated over $5 million in funds. She joined the Stonington Como in 2012 and led a major renovation, adding new programs, updating their racket sports and establishing a STEAM program. Stewart has volunteered for the Higher Order Thinking School Committee, the West Vine Street School enrichment program, the Chorus of Westerly, and the Rotary Club.
Woodward, a Westerly resident, is a practicing dentist and business partner with her husband, Adam Kaufman, at Rebecca Woodward and Adam Kaufman DMD, where she has worked for 28 years. Her volunteer service includes serving on the YMCA Board of Directors as a member of the Camp Committee and as fundraising captain. She volunteers to teach preventative care at pre-schools and health fairs, has coached youth lacrosse and soccer, served for six years as treasurer of the Westerly High School Sports Boosters, has mentored high school students and Girls Scouts, and has volunteered for Relay for Life. A painter and amateur photographer, Woodward often contributes original works to support local charity fundraisers.
Although tickets to the event are sold out, Konicki said people interested attending are urged to call the chamber and have their names placed on a waiting list. Donations are also still being accepted to support the Athena scholarship program, as are auction items. A number of scholarships will also be awarded during the ceremony including the annual Athena Scholarship, sponsored by First Physical Therapy, for a local graduating high school senior; the annual Falguni B. Hauser Memorial Scholarship; the Konicki Family Scholarship; the Mary Lou Serra Memorial Scholarship; the Sandy Bliven Scholarship and the Maddie Potts Scholarship.
Athena Leadership Awards have been presented in more than 500 communities and eight countries since 1982, when the program was created by Martha Mertz, the only female on the board of directors of the Lansing, Mich., Regional Chamber of Commerce. She created the award to recognize outstanding local business and professional women.
Locally, the program began in 2003 when Misquamicut businesswoman Barbara Stillman was named the region's first Athena recipient.
For more information, visit oceanchamber.org or call 401-596-7761.