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Olivet College is gearing up for the second annual Cultivating Women Leaders (CWL) event on March 2, held in the Cutler Event Center from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Under the theme of Pioneering the Future, the event will inspire and equip young women to embrace their inner strength and realize their potential as responsible leaders. Registration is now open, and there is no cost to prospective Olivet College students, current Olivet College students, faculty and staff, or a parent or mentor who accompanies a prospective student. For all others, registration is $50, which includes lunch.

The event includes speed networking and a panel discussion with some of Olivet College’s most successful alumni. Participants will also learn about professional communication skills through interactive sessions that address confrontation, negotiation and establishing boundaries presented by many of Michigan’s finest women business leaders. The highlight of the event will include an address by keynote speaker Martha Mayhood Mertz.

Mertz is the founder of ATHENA International and author of “Becoming ATHENA: Eight Principles of Enlightened Leadership”. Carving out a career in the 1970s, Mertz experienced what many skilled women faced: what was acclaimed in men was often overlooked in women. The more Mertz observed, the more she became convinced that if women’s strengths and contributions as leaders were publicly acknowledged, they could no longer be dismissed. In 1982 in Lansing, Mertz spearheaded a new leadership award program, The ATHENA Award, named for the strong, enlightened goddess. The award would go to individuals who excelled in their professions, gave back to their communities, and helped raise up other leaders, especially women.

“We work to achieve a balance in the voices of leadership. Time tested women’s ways of leading have become the gold standard for both genders, and the building blocks for success in today’s global environment,” says Mertz.

What Mertz conceived three decades ago is now a global movement. ATHENA International is a non-profit organization headquartered in Chicago that seeks to support, develop and honor women leaders, inspire them to reach their full potential, and create balance in leadership worldwide. In it’s 36 years, ATHENA International has fostered leadership recognition, mentoring and training programs in more than 500 U.S. cities and six foreign countries, and presented over 7,000 awards. Mertz was president of ATHENA International from its beginnings to May of 1999. Now, a global board leads ATHENA and Mertz serves as a board member and ambassador, traveling the globe to share the message that women bring a distinctive, transforming approach to leadership – an approach that goes beyond gender to speak to all who would lead in the 21st century.

In addition, Mertz is a successful real estate entrepreneur, as president and owner of the Michigan-based firm Mayhood/Mertz Investment, Inc.

Mertz has been honored as one of the Top 25 Women Business Owners in Michigan by the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), and selected as the Michigan Women-In-Business Advocate by the U.S. Small Business Administration. Other awards she has received include the Visionary Award from Office Depot, in 2004; the Vassilissa Award in Moscow, Russia; and induction in 2006 into the Enterprising Women’s Hall of Fame.

The CWL event will culminate with the presentation of leadership certificates to OC ATHENA International Women’s Leadership Program participants, a year-long development program for current female students utilizing ATHENA International’s well-recognized Leadership Model. Over the course of the academic year, the young women are receiving the building blocks for success in today’s global society while gleaning from some of Michigan’s most dynamic women leaders.

Register for the event to hear more about Mertz’s journey, and learn about all of the exceptional women leaders who will be presenting. For more information about Olivet College, contact the Office of Admissions at 800.456.7189 or admissions@olivetcollege.edu.

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