Scholarships and Awards

Women’s Network Scholarships

Leadership Columbia

Each year Women’s Network awards one scholarship to the Chamber of Commerce Leadership Columbia program. This scholarship is designed to increase the visibility of the network in the community and allow a member with financial limitations to participate in this excellent program.

The Leadership Columbia scholarship was originally established in the name of Ron Marley, a local Shelter Insurance agent who understood the power of what Women’s Network had to offer and had the courage to become our first male member. Ron and several members of his family passed away in a car accident in 1991. His memory lives on through this important scholarship for women’s advancement.

Leadership Visit Scholarship

Women’s Network provides a yearly scholarship to one Women’s Network Member to attend the annual Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Visit. The scholarship covers the entire registration fee which covers all costs for the event.

Criteria for Eligibility

Women’s Network Awards

Debin Benish Outstanding Businesswoman Award

To honor Debin Benish’s memory of volunteering and supporting small businesses, the Women’s Network, in conjunction with Delta Systems Group, selects a businesswoman who has achieved great success in her business to receive the annual Debin Benish Outstanding Businesswoman Award.

Debin’s Legacy

Debin Benish started Delta Systems Group at a time when women were not encouraged to venture out on their own, not to mention in a technology field. During her 18 years in business, Debin and her staff trained thousands of people in Mid- Missouri on many different software programs and provided computer network support to hundreds of companies. In addition to achieving great success in her company, Debin was actively involved in the Chamber and Women’s Network. She served on the Chamber Board of Directors, Accreditation Task Force, Business Conference and Showcase Committee, Government Affairs, Education, Leadership Columbia, Women’s Network Business Owners Committee, and Ambassadors.

Debin had a philanthropic heart. She and the Delta Systems staff quietly assisted many charities and non-profits with their technology needs, such as the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri, as she served on countless technology committees and boards. Among the most noteworthy accomplishments are the revolutionizing of the registration process for the biannual MU blood drives by creating the system that is still used to this day to assist in minimizing donor wait times. For all these reasons and her corporate mantra of providing excellent customer service and caring for projects, the Chamber honored Debin and Delta Systems as the 1992 Small Business of the Year and again in 2005 as a Small Business of the Year Finalist.

Nomination Criteria

A Columbia business woman who:

2024 Debin Benish Outstanding Businesswoman Award Nomination

  • Submit a nomination

    Please answer the following questions regarding your nominee. If you wish, you may submit up to three (3) letters of recommendations in support of the nomination.
  • How has she provided leadership in supporting small business and small business owners in our community, state and/or nation?
  • What is her record of volunteering in the community and the impact or difference her service made?
  • How has she been a mentor to other businesswomen both inside and outside her organization?
  • How has she influenced, created, or assisted positive change in the lives of people in our community, state and/or nation?
  • Drop files here or
    Max. file size: 256 MB.

    Past Recipients

    2005 Lili Vianello, Visionworks Marketing Group

    2006 Lynda Baumgartner, Retired, Greater Missouri Leadership Foundation

    2007 Melody Parry, Zimmer Communications

    2008 Kim Trabue, PW Architects Inc

    2009 Rose Ditter, KeLani Salon & Spa

    2010 Karen Miller, former Boone County Commissioner

    2011 Michele Spry, Midway Electric, Inc.

    2012 Anne Williams, Job Finders

    2013 Mary Ropp, Central Bank of Boone County

    2014 Susan Hart, Reinhardt Construction

    2015 Nancy Fay, Mary Kay Cosmetics – Fay

    2016 Nancy Allison, Retired, Shelter Insurance Agent

    2017 Erica Pefferman, COMO Magazine 

    2018 Lindsay Young-Lopez, The Food Bank of Central and NE Missouri

    2019 Michele Batye, Dave Griggs Flooring America

    2020 Jennifer Schenck, The Connection Exchange

    2021 Dr. Janice Dawson-Threat, Grade A Plus Incorporated

    2022 Dr. Arminta Phelps, Achieve Balance Chiropractic

    2023 Adonica Coleman, A2D Events/COMO 411

    ATHENA Leadership Awards

    ATHENA International’s mission is to support, develop and honor women leaders, inspire women to achieve their full potential and create balance in leadership.

    The ATHENA Leadership® Model focuses on personal traits of strong, successful leaders. The model captures the spirit and collaborative leadership style often exemplified in women leaders, while also recognizing the importance of traits such as courageous acts and fierce advocacy in the pursuit of excellence.

    Women’s Network awarded the first ATHENA Leadership® Award in Columbia, MO in 1995 to Linda Arnold. Since then, the Special Events committee has annually honored a business leader from the community at the ATHENA International Award Banquet.

    ATHENA Leadership® Award

    ATHENA Leadership® Award recipients are chosen for displaying excellence, creativity and initiative in their business or profession, providing valuable service to improve the quality of life in their community and helping women reach their full leadership potential.

    ATHENA Young Professional® Award

    The ATHENA Young Professional® Award is presented to an exceptional individual who is an emerging leader in her/his business or profession, who gives back to the community in meaningful ways and who clearly serves as a role model for young women both personally and professionally.