The Spirit of Athena in our community

Larry Frei

Larry Frei

ATHENA International is a global organization dedicated to the recognition and cultivation of leadership in women throughout the world, and its founder is one of our Village neighbors.

Martha Mayhood Mertz initiated a real estate career in Michigan and earned her degree in psychology and women's studies from Michigan State.

In real estate, she specialized in the first time buyer market considered unattractive by her peers due to the extra time and lower commissions involved. Martha, however, enjoyed educating her clients on financial matters and guiding them to homes they could both cherish and afford.

Martha's trustworthiness eventually won her a stable clientele of return buyers enabling her to establish her own business, Mayhood /Mertz, in 1978. It was a courageous step for a woman at the time. Adding her middle name to the title so commercial real estate investors could imagine that she had a male partner, Martha forged her own way to massive success.

In 1980 she was asked to serve on the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. Noting that she was the only businesswoman on the board, Martha asserted that board membership demographics "did not reflect the realities of the community." Her male colleagues agreed, and the board began a process of advocating and recognizing leadership by women in business and professions throughout the region. The first ATHENA Award for excellence in leadership was granted by the chamber in 1982.

During the ensuing 28 years Martha's courage and resolve took the ATHENA concept and organization around the globe including programs in Africa, China, India, Russia and the Middle East. (Yes, I would definitely say, "courage.")

In addition to worldwide speaking engagements, Martha has published the book, Becoming ATHENA: Eight Principles for Enlightened Leadership. It contains inspirational stories of leadership and related concepts that are of value to both genders.

For additional information visit the ATHENA International website.

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