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Stevenson recipient of Athena Award

WORTHINGTON -- When Julie Stevenson moves from Worthington later this year, she will leave her mark on the community.

During the 9 years she's lived in Worthington, Stevenson has been involved with the American Red Cross, where she was previously employed as executive director of the Southwest Minnesota Chapter; and Minnesota West Community and Technical College, where she is currently employed as the campus marketing-community liaison and an adjunct faculty member.

But her efforts have extended well beyond the requirements of employment, benefiting organizations such as Big Brothers/Big Sisters, United Way, YMCA, Youth Area Baseball Association, Junior Achievement, Nobles County Integration Collaborative and the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce, to name a few.

Stevenson and her family -- husband Eric and sons Drew and Blake -- will soon move to Aberdeen, S.D., where Eric has accepted a new job. To recognize Stevenson's efforts on behalf of the Worthington community in advance of that departure, she was named as the recipient of the 2006 Athena Award at the annual Salute to Women Banquet Monday night at the Worthington Travelodge.

"This year's Athena Award recipient has touched the lives of many people during the short time that they have been in Worthington," said presenter Karla Talsma, who was the 2005 Athena Award recipient. "If you were to describe her personality, you would use words like honest, sincere and caring. No one is quicker to answer a call for help than this year's award winner. She has touched the lives of many people in our community."

As Stevenson walked up to the podium to accept her award, she struggled to hold back tears.

"We have a rule in Julie's world at the office - no tears," she laughed. "I will do my best."

Even as she told the crowd she didn't know what to say to such an honor, she managed to find the words.

"It is going to be hard to move from a community that is so wonderful," she said. "I thank you. It is a great honor and it has been a pleasure."

The Athena Award is presented annually to a woman who demonstrates excellence, creativity and initiative in her business or profession; provides valuable service by contributing time and energy to improve the quality of life for others in the community; and actively assists women in realizing their full potential.

In her current role on the Minnesota West campus, Stevenson has implemented some unique programs and events to bring the college and community together, including the Winter Wonderland, Golf the Links at Minnesota West and Kids College, which has been chosen as a finalist for the Carter Partnership Award. She has solicited support for events such as Career Exploration Days for high school students, job fairs and sporting events.

Stevenson served as a co-host for the United Way telethon, as mistress of ceremonies at the "Amazing" Worthington City Band concert and as a trainer for Teen Asset Building Workshop through Thrivent Financial for Lutherans. As an adjunct faculty member at Minnesota West, Stevenson redesigned current course curriculum for an online format.

In nominating her for the Athena Award, Stevenson's co-workers at Minnesota West said, "She is an amazing woman and role model for all. She works tirelessly for the college, community and family. She is a fair, honest, hard-working and accommodating individual. She will always put others first. If she was on a sports team, her coach would have to describe her as both a 'role player' and the 'go-to player.' She not only has the capacity to serve in any role you throw at her, she will also step forward and lead where needed. This is because she does not seek glory or recognition."

Past recipients of the Athena Award are: 1989 Fredi Lowry; 1990 Margaret Kunerth; 1991 Bonnie Karl; 1992 Zuby Jansen; 1993 Marie Neeb; 1994 Jan Rickers; 1995 Betty Demuth; 1996 Marcia Anton; 1997 Mary Beth Blegen; 1998 Pat Remme; 1999 Darlene Macklin; 2000 Beve Vajgrt; 2001 Elaine Schuster; 2002 Kathy Gallagher; 2003 Becky Berning; 2004 Becky Schilling; and 2005 Karla Talsma.

Beth Rickers

Beth Rickers is the veteran in the newspaper staff with 25 years as the Daily Globe's Features Editor. Interests include cooking, traveling and beer tasting and making with her home-brewing husband, Bryan. She writes an Area Voices blog called Lagniappe, which is a Creole term that means "a little something extra." It can be found at  

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