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Sister Joan Lescinski, CSJ, Receives 2011 Athena Award in Davenport, Iowa

by Jennifer DeWitt, March 23, 2011, Quad-City Times 

As six Quad-City women were recognized Tuesday, March 22, as the 2011 Athena honorees, each thanked their circles of families, friends and co-workers without whom they would never have achieved their successes.
“Nobody ever does anything alone. The sooner you learn that, the better off you are,” Sister Joan Lescinski, CSJ, the president of St. Ambrose University, said after receiving the top honor of the awards ceremony. “You’re only as good as the people who surround you, and in my case, they are remarkable.”
Sister Joan, the first female president in the 125-year history of the Davenport college, was announced as the 2011 Athena Award recipient at the sixth annual awards event. She and her fellow honorees were celebrated during an awards ceremony at Jumer’s Casino and Hotel, Rock Island, attended by more than 400 regional civic and business leaders, family members and friends.
The other 2011 honorees are Julie Bechtel, publisher of the Quad-City Times; Denise Bulat, executive director of Bi-State Regional Commission; Caroline Ruhl, president of Ruhl & Ruhl Realtors; Jackie Staron, president of River City Tire Co.; and Ginny Wilson-Peters, president of Integrity Integrated.
The awards, organized by the Quad-Cities Chamber of Commerce and The Women’s Connection, are presented by Missman Stanley & Associates.
This was the first year that a single Athena recipient was selected from the group of honorees, which occurred as a result of the local program’s affiliation with Athena International. Previously, several women were recognized as Athenas each year.
Each recipient was presented with a sterling silver lapel pin created by Mindy Diaz, the owner of Inspiredesign, Rock Island. Sister Joan also received the Athena International granite statue that is presented to all its award winners.
Dianne Dinkel, Athena International’s president and chief executive officer, was on hand to welcome the local program into the international organization, based in Chicago. “Over 100,000 people gather each year under the name of Athena,” she said, adding that the organization has more than 200 chapters in the United States and in seven other countries.
In its 28-year history, Athena International has honored more than 6,000 recipients, she said. As part of her role, Dinkel retroactively inducted all the past Quad-City Athena award winners into the program, calling each up on stage.
“It’s always inspiring to me to hear the stories of the nominees,” she said. “These women are role models for each of us that are paving the way for others.”
Colleen Rafferty, of TWC, and Tara Barney, of the Quad-Cities Chamber, introduced each 2011 nominee, describing their efforts in their career fields and the community. A video presentation with individual interviews allowed each nominee to talk about their careers as well as their first jobs, leadership styles and advice for other women.
Lescinski was recognized as a role model for women across all walks of life and professions. She recalled that The Women’s Connection was the first Quad-City organization she spoke to after being named St. Ambrose president in 2007. A member of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, St. Louis, Mo., since 1965, Lescinski is a native of Albany, N.Y.
This year’s six Athena honorees were selected from more than 30 nominations by last year’s Athena winners.
In accepting her award, Sister Joan said the honor is a “humbling reminder” of work that is yet to be done. “But it also is a celebration of all women and what we have accomplished together.

Sister Joan Lescinski, CSJ, (center) at St. Ambrose University