ATHENA Awards Received by Three Phoenix Businesswomen

Posted By on November 14, 2017
The Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce announced its three 2017 ATHENA Businessswoman of the Year Award recipients — Mi-Ai Parrish, Michelle Just and Drena Kusari Berisha — during its 30th Anniversary ATHENA Awards Luncheon at the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa last month.
“We are thrilled to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the Greater Phoenix Chamber’s ATHENA Awards with such a distinguished group of leaders as this year’s recipients,” said president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce Todd Sanders. “These women embody the spirit of ATHENA in all that they do, and their collective work in our community is continuing to make the Valley strong. Their passion for the causes they serve, their mentorship of others and their dedication to create a brighter tomorrow are an inspiration.  It is an honor to highlight their achievements and celebrate their leadership and vision.”
Mi-Ai Parish, president of Republic Media, was awarded the 2017 ATHENA Businesswoman of the Year Award in the private sector. She is the first minority woman president of the company as well as the first Korean-American mainstream publisher — one of only three Asians in the role.
“I’m just so proud to be able to thank the people who helped me and to celebrate women and their accomplishments” said Parrish “To be a part of a tradition like this is just really meaningful to me.”
Michelle Just, president & CEO of Beatitudes Campus, earned the 2017 ATHENA Businesswoman of the Year Award in the public sector. Just is recognized nationally as a leader in her field, with 19 years of experience in aging services, long-term care and life plan community management.
“For me being an ATHENA is such an overwhelming experience,” said Just. “I look at the women that I’m sharing this experience with, and I think it shows that there’s strength in numbers and we can continue to have a voice and make a difference.”
Drena Kusari Berisha, General Manager of the Southwest Region, of Lyft and Kosovo war survivor, took home the 2017 ATHENA Young Professional Award. Under her leadership, Lyft has quadrupled the number of rides and active users in Greater Phoenix in just over a year.
“It’s a very basic belief, but I believe that it’s really all about hard work – there is no substitute for it,” Berish said of the key to her success. “It’s hard work toward the things that you care about and that you believe in.”
Parrish, Just and Berisha were chosen from among 11 ATHENA finalists, who were selected from a large group of nominations received in August. Below is a complete list of the 2017 ATHENA finalists:

ATHENA Private Sector finalists:
Susan Anable, Cox Communications
Roopali Desai, Coppersmith Brockelman PLC
Judith Dworkin, Sacks Tierney P.A.
Mi-Ai Parrish, Republic Media
ATHENA Public Sector finalists:
Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, ASU Gammage
Michelle Just, Beatitudes Campus
Jodi Liggett, Planned Parenthood Arizona
Kate Wells, Children’s Museum of Phoenix
ATHENA Young Professional finalists:
Michelle Donati-Grayman, AAA Arizona
Drena Kusari Berisha, Lyft
Jenny Poon, CO+HOOTS
  • Recipients with Todd Sanders, President & CEO of the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce
  • Recipients with Andrea Conner, President of ATHENA International, and Martha Mertz, Founder of ATHENA International
  • 2017 ATHENA finalists
  • Mi-Ai Parrish, Private Sector, Drena Kusari Berisha, Young Professional, Michelle Just, Public Sector
Jamie Killin

About Jamie Killin

Jamie Killin is the web editor for Frontdoors Media. She also is a freelance journalist who has been published in Thrillist, Phoenix Magazine, So Scottsdale!, The Arizona Republic and more.
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