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:

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.