Towner and Jacobs Honored as 2019 ATHENA Award Recipients

Two women with ties to Harford Community College were named award recipients at the ATHENA Leadership Award Breakfast on March 1 at the Richlin Ballroom. The ATHENA Young Professional Leadership Award, presented by Harford Mutual Insurance, was awarded to Jennie Towner, associate vice president for student development at Harford Community College (HCC). Sharon Jacobs, CEO, Strategic Alliances Group, Inc. received the ATHENA Leadership Award. Sharon is a member of the Harford Community College Foundation’s Board of Directors.

ATHENA Awards are presented to individuals who have demonstrated exemplary leadership in their career and assisted the advancement of women in their professional communities. The presenting sponsor for the ATHENA Leadership Award Breakfast was The Daily Record.

For 12 years, Jennie has spent her time investing in student success at HCC, and her impact is wide-ranging. From creating and implementing the My College Success Network to bridging attainment gaps, to highlighting the importance of inclusion for the LGBTQ+ community, Jennie is a natural leader. Along with a colleague, she conceptualized and co-chaired HCC’s first annual Women’s Leadership Conference, an opportunity for young female students to be encouraged and mentored by female leaders and speakers.

Jennie places special emphasis on mentorship opportunities outside of her workplace as well, participating in 4-H programs where she has the ability to lend her time, expertise and horses to young girls with less experience or opportunity. She believes it is vital that the younger generation sees women in leadership roles. Jennie also volunteers for Harford Family House and sits on numerous boards and committees that promote excellence in higher education, including acting as co-chair for the Achieving the Dream initiative at HCC. Her honors include being named an Excellence Award Winner by the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) and receiving the Outstanding First-Year Student Success Advocate Award in 2018.

Sharon runs a project management consulting firm that provides support to the defense industry. As a veteran and small business owner, Sharon brings a unique point of view to her industry, which has allowed her to continually expand her business and community influence. Her initiative and excellence is demonstrated in her personal ambition of working to complete her doctorate in business administration as well as her creation of N-STEP, a nonprofit organization that exposes young persons to career opportunities and provides guidance and mentorship in selecting a focus.

Sharon has filled authoritative roles in various organizations, including two terms as president for the Women in Defense Mid-Atlantic Chapter. She is a strong and prominent voice for both the professional promotion of qualified women and the encouragement of women to seek greater career leadership. Sharon is the recipient of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Harford & Cecil Counties’ Women & Youth Award and the 2018 Veteran Champion Business Owner of the Year Award.

Hosted by the Harford Community College Foundation, the ATHENA Leadership Award Breakfast is part of ATHENA International, which is dedicated to creating leadership opportunities for women and recognizing their achievements in their communities and on the national level. Event proceeds are designated to the ATHENA Leadership Scholarship, a $1,000 award given to adult students returning to college who exemplify professionalism and commitment to the community. This year the Foundation was able to award six ATHENA scholarships.

An additional $500 Emerging Leaders Scholarship is also funded. Lynnette Mitchell-Grady, this year’s scholarship recipient, addressed the crowd of over 200 and shared the impact that receiving the financial award has had on her journey. Her goal of graduating from Harford Community College this spring and attending UMBC to earn her BA/MA degree in Information Systems with a minor in Finance and certificate in Cybersecurity Informatics received a standing ovation.

The ATHENA Awards highlight what recipients have accomplished in addition to paving a path for future successes. By honoring exceptional leaders, the ATHENA Leadership Award Program seeks to inspire others to achieve excellence. Nominations for next year’s award will open in fall 2019.

Past Award Recipients
  • 2018 - Dr. Lisa Feulner
    (ATHENA Leadership Award)
    - Brittany Trocher
    (ATHENA Young Professional Award)
  • 2017 - Kathy Walsh
    (ATHENA Leadership Award)
     - Paige Boyle
    (ATHENA Young Professional Award)
  • 2016 - Carolyn Evans
  • 2015 - Stephanie Hau
  • 2014 - Dr. Mary Teddy Wray
  • 2013 - Jayne Klein
  • 2012 - Denise Carnaggio
  • 2011 - Tamera Rush

  • 2010 - Lucie Snodgrass
  • 2009 - Content McLaughlin
  • 2008 - Pat Scott
  • 2007 - Karen Green
  • 2006 - Sheryl Davis Kohl
  • 2005 - Deborah Smith Williams
  • 2004 - Jane Howe
  • 2003 - Pat Donovan
  • 2002 - Kim Wagner



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