Mission and History
Athena’s mission is to widen the bridge to advance
one million women leading in STEM by 2030
ABOUT ATHENA | Athena is a premier women's advocacy organization that fast tracks women in STEM through leadership development. By transforming scientists and technologists into corporate leaders, the goal is to widen the bridge to advance1 million women in STEM, by 2030. Its 20+ year history of advancing women in a global STEM hub marks Athena as a premier women’s empowerment advocate. Founded in 1998, Athena members feature executives, aspiring leaders, entrepreneurs, and academia from all sectors of life sciences, technology, engineering, mathematics, healthcare, defense, as well as the associated service providers.
HISTORY | In 1998, no women’s organization existed to support and develop executives leading inside San Diego’s STEM community. They say necessity is the mother of invention, and Athena was born of pure necessity. At a time when a handful of remarkable executive women lacked the social capital and market insights of effectively navigating inside these male-dominated industries, they converged with a clear vision and launched Athena. Over twenty years later, the "Athena Effect" is stronger than ever. While women are grossly underrepresented in the STEM economy, the Athena community is unwavering in its pursuit to deliver innovation through diversity. Athena members range from tech entrepreneurs to members of academia to life sciences CEOs, all of whom benefit from the gold-standard leadership development that Athena offers to STEM professionals.
1998 | Athena San Diego launched as an executive women's networking group to support female STEM executives and was affiliated with UCSD CONNECT; San Diego's flagship entrepreneurial program.
2001 | Athena San Diego became a stand-alone, member-based organization under the auspices of UCSD Extension and then UCSD/Rady School of Management.
2001 | Athena San Diego Foundation established as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization to award merit-based scholarships to young women pursuing undergraduate degrees in sciences, technology, engineering, and math.
2008 | Athena San Diego became an independent 501(c)(6) non-profit organization governed by a Board of Directors.
2017 | Athena San Diego removes “San Diego” from its name reflecting its expanded market impact and growth goals.
2018 | Athena marks its 20-year service advancing STEM women’s leadership and announced its collaboration with the United Nations Global Compact.
2019 | At the United Nations HQs in New York, Athena and the New York Academy of Sciences announced their partnership to launch the “Athena Assembly” in efforts to publish a data-driven “playbook” for STEM companies to drive corporate performance through gender equality.
What Sets Athena Apart
Several factors differentiate Athena from other women’s leadership organizations:
Women In STEM Focused
Offer Both Executive & Aspiring Leaders Career-Level Services
Collaborator with the UN Global Compact: SDG5 | Gender Equality
Headquartered in Global STEM Hub
No National Affiliation
Athena offers corporate partnerships to STEM companies and the service providers that support them to advance their D&I goals and social impact objectives.
Athena offers individual memberships to STEM professionals accessing our suite of leadership development, mentoring and advocacy initiatives.
Athena's niche is in providing custom, purpose-built platforms with the latest leadership training offerings that allow members to advance their careers in STEM.
San Diego Councilmember
The most invaluable benefit of Athena membership is the enduring power of its network. The privilege to connect with a diverse and sophisticated group of professional STEM women and learn from one another produces trusted business relationships and priceless friendships."
Leadership & Team
THE ATHENA TEAM
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
ATHENA EMERITUS AND FOUNDING BOARD MEMBERS
We are grateful to the leaders and visionaries that enabled Athena’s 20+ year impact in advancing professional women in STEM. Their collective insights and dedication drove the success in building a robust member portfolio serving STEM executives, managers, educators, entrepreneurs and service providers. We salute and honor these founding members for executing on a vision where the world views women’s contributions to innovation as a core strategic value.
Sara Wilensky Napoli
Linda Le Beau*
Sandra Louis Schmid
Donna Caley Leach*
Susan Ten Eyck Mallory*
*Founding Board Member