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Holly Smithson is Chief Executive Officer of Athena, a premier women's advocacy organization that fast tracks women in STEM through leadership development.

She’s successfully led the launch, merger, and financial turnaround of three California, member-based advocacy organizations in the cleantech, biotech and STEM sectors, respectively. Previously in Washington DC, Smithson was appointed by President G.W. Bush as a “Presidential Appointee” to advance his legislative agenda inside the U.S. EPA and the U.S. State Department, and also served as a registered lobbyist for several trade associations. Smithson began her career in broadcast journalism as a News Director and Anchor for television and all-talk radio stations. She is a graduate of the Harvard Business School Executive Leadership Program and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in broadcast communications from East Carolina University. 

She is recognized throughout California as a disruptive and innovative leader by multiple organizations as “Top 500 Most Influential Leaders” in 2021 by San Diego Business Journal, “CEO of the Year” and “Businesswoman of the Year” in 2019 by the San Diego Business Journal, as “Champion of Women” by Connected Women of Influence in 2019 and was an Appointed Delegate by California Governor Jerry Brown in his Cleantech Trade Mission to China in 2013.