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The Business Forum announces ATHENA Young Professional Award finalists

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This week, The Business Forum announced seven finalists for the ATHENA Young Professional Award. In its second year, the ATHENA Young Professional Award honors emerging community leaders whose professional and personal achievements make them ideal role models for young women.

The winner will be announced at an event on November 11, 2009, 5:30 - 8:30 pm, at the Inn on the Park's Top of the Park. Cost is $35 and registration is open here (PDF). Networking with cocktails and hors d'oeuvres at 5:30 pm with the award presentation at 7:30 p.m.


Valentina "Tina" Ahedo
Program Coordinator, Madison Area Technical College
Tina coordinates initiatives designed to recruit and retain diverse populations at Madison Area Technical College (MATC). Through her efforts, MATC received the Association of Community College Trustees Central Region Equity Award in 2008. When the UW was looking to start a mentoring program, Tina was one of the first UW Alumni to mentor current UW students. Her nominator, Bettsey Barhorst, states, "Tina is a role model not only for young women, but for anyone who has had to overcome major barriers to achieve his or her goals."

Jane Tereba
Senior Manager / CPA, Grant Thornton LLP
In both her career and volunteer efforts, Jane supports the advancement of women. She served on the board of YWCA since 2003. During 2005 and 2006, Jane successfully co-chaired the Circle of Women luncheon for the YWCA, raising over $100,000 for the organization each year. She also leads her firm's "With the Women of Grant Thornton" initiative focusing on recruiting, retaining and promoting women within her workplace. She also serves as a mentor to women at the firm.

Dustin Maher
Owner & Trainer, Fit Fun Boot camps
Dustin started his own fitness classes and has tripled his client base. He is very involved in the community, creating videos and spots for local morning news and television. He also speaks on fitness at workplaces, on local radio and with contestants on "The Biggest Loser." Dustin provides positive motivation to help his clients achieve their personal goals, and local health clubs have now developed boot camp classes similar to Dustin's.

Rachel Rasmussen
Owner & Founder, Rescue Desk, LLC
After a 12-year career in publishing and communications, Rachel started Rescue Desk with a goal of helping small businesses succeed. She was appointed a member of the Small Business Advisory Council for the Madison Chamber/City of Madison in 2008 and served on the planning committee in for the 2009 Madison Small Business Conference. She has been featured in several local publications and television programs for her expertise in small business entrepreneurship and virtual assisting. Rachel also co-founded and is president of the Wisconsin Virtual Assistant Network.

Kelly Hora
Owner, Bluestem Acupuncture
As the owner of Bluestem Acupuncture, Kelly understands the connection between a person's mind and body, and the impact one person can have on his or her surroundings. In addition to building a successful acupuncture practice, she gives free lectures and workshops for parents on nutrition and natural medicine. In 2008, Kelly brought together volunteer acupuncturists to start the Madison Veteran's Project. The Madison Veteran's Project offers free, community-style acupuncture to veterans and their families to help them alleviate the symptoms of acute stress and trauma.

Elisabeth Norton
Vice President & Coach, A Really Big Life
Elisabeth Norton has been a leader in the specialized field of myofascial release and has taught massage therapy students in Missouri and Wisconsin since 1998. In 2006, Elisabeth decided to take her training and expertise to help build a Really Big Life, Inc., a business coaching firm and products company. In 2009, Elisabeth and business partner, Hannah Roth, established The Rainbird Foundation, a Madison based non-profit organization committed to ending child abuse.

Skye Tikkanen
Substance Abuse Counselor, Connections Counseling
Having overcome the disease of addition herself, Skye Tikkanen has an inexhaustible passion for her profession and clients. Specializing in treating teenagers and young adults, she uses a new counseling approach that helps individuals focus on their strengths as leverage to overcome addiction. Skye's most recent initiative to improve lives is aimed at reversing the increasing number of fatal overdoses among teens and young adults. She is working to build support to pass the Good Samaritan Law in Wisconsin. Skye also volunteers at the Recovery Foundation.

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