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by Terri Hogan
Senior Staff Writer
Pamela Spears is the recipient of the 2017 ATHENA Award for Greater Olney-Sandy Spring — a program she is credited with bringing to the community.
Presented in memory of Brooke Grove Foundation founder and registered nurse Eleanor Howe Marston, the ATHENA program was adopted by the Brooke Grove Foundation and the Olney Chamber of Commerce to honor women who have demonstrated “a dedication of self and a generosity of spirit” through professional and personal leadership and community service.
“I am truly grateful, honored and overwhelmed” Spears said. “I have always been awestruck by the depth and breadth of the generosity of the people here.”
After moving to Olney from Pennsylvania, it was Spears who brought the award to the community in 1996 as a way “to honor the women who were doing such great things.”
She suggested it to the Chamber of Commerce and then took the idea to Brooke Grove.
“It would not exist without the generosity of Brooke Grove, the leadership of the chamber and a community so dedicated,” she said.
Since then, the ATHENA Award has become a rite of spring, celebrated at a tea held at Brooke Grove.
More than 80 people attended this year’s event on May 4.
“It’s quite fitting, in a full-circle kind of way, that Pam’s professional achievements and community involvement have led to her taking home the 2017 award,” Olney Chamber of Commerce executive director Jon Hulsizer said of Spears, who chaired the ATHENA committee for 10 years.
Spears said seeing the award continue and the way the community has supported it is tremendously gratifying for her.
“There are many local institutions founded and led by women,” she said. “Getting to know these women leaders and seeing them recognized and embraced is a special joy — truly a dream come true for me.”
Spears is a Certified Fundraising Executive and communications professional and has raised millions of dollars to advance the causes of local, national and international charitable organizations over the last three decades.
As executive director of the Montgomery General Hospital Health Foundation, she raised funds to support a host of programs, services and equipment.
Spears has worked as a fundraiser for several foundations and associations in the Washington, D.C, area, and currently serves as director of major gifts and planned giving for the Jewish Social Service Agency.
Hulsizer said Spears has played a big part in the chamber’s success for close to two decades, as a volunteer, a board member and president.
“I served on the chamber’s board during Pam’s first term and was blown away by her passion for improving the local business climate and dedication to the greater Olney-area community,” he said.
Spears also served as the first hospital Women’s Board auxiliary member, on the Olney Theatre Center board of directors, as a flutist with the Olney Community Band, and as a volunteer for Sandy Spring Museum, the Women’s Board and Round House Theatre.
“Pam truly has demonstrated what it means to be a part of a community,” said Toni Davis, Brooke Grove’s regional director of marketing.
All 2017 ATHENA nominees were honored at the tea. They are Karen Allyn, producer/host, Forward Motion, Montgomery Community Media; Barbara Falcigno, past president, Greater Olney Civic Association; Mimi Hassenein, board of trustees, Sandy Spring Museum; Mary Jordan Lodge, executive committee, Olney Relay for Life; and Marilyn Simonds, ex-officio director, Olney HELP.
Molly Stickell, a senior at Our Lady of Good Counsel High School, was honored as this year’s Athena Scholar. She is the recipient of a $1,500 scholarship, which is awarded annually to a local high school senior who demonstrates the ATHENA values.
Previous Greater Olney-Sandy Spring ATHENA winners are Kelly Mazzeo, 2016; Robyn Holstein-Glass, 2015; Alison Bawek, 2014; Peggy Lyn Speicher, 2013; Dee Hawkins, 2012; Paula Kahla, 2011; Helene Rosenheim, 2010; Kulley Bancroft, 2009; Robyn Quinter, 2008; Lisa McKillop, 2007; and Carolyn Snowden, 2006.
Pamela Spears (center) is the recipient of the 2017 ATHENA Award for Greater Olney-Sandy Spring. The other nominees are (left to right) Barbara Falcigno, Mary Jordan Lodge, Mimi Hassenein, Spears, Marilyn Simonds and Karen Allyn, and Athena Scholarship recipient Molly Stickell. Photo credit: Judith Hruz/The Greater Olney News
Terri Hogan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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