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Greater Phoenix Chamber names 3 businesswomen as 2022 ATHENA award winners

Winners of the 2022 ATHENA awards in Phoenix
The ATHENA Awards, an internationally prized honor through ATHENA International, recognize the achievement of businesswomen across the Greater Phoenix region. 2022 winners above are Delma Herrera, Jennifer Caraway and Veronica Aguilar. (File Photos/

ATHENA awards salutes businesswoman across the globe

Staff Reports | Digital Free Press

The Greater Phoenix Chamber announced the 2022 ATHENA private sector, public sector and young professional award recipients at its 35th Annual ATHENA Awards.

Delma Herrera, vice president of field sales of the western region of Cox Communications, was awarded the 2022 ATHENA Businesswoman of the Year Award in the private sector.

Jennifer Caraway, founder & executive director, The Joy Bus, earned the 2022 ATHENA Businesswoman of the Year Award in the public sector.

Veronica Aguilar, vice president, Teach for America, took home the 2022 ATHENA Young Professional Award.

“The Greater Phoenix Chamber’s ATHENA Awards celebrates the most inspiring women leaders in the Valley,” said Todd Sanders, president & CEO of the Greater Phoenix Chamber. “These influential women are dedicated to building a brighter future and ensuring our community remains strong. They embody the best of the Arizona business community, and we look forward to seeing how they will carry the legacy of ATHENA through their work.”

The ATHENA Awards, an internationally prized honor through ATHENA International, recognize the achievement of businesswomen across the Greater Phoenix region, according to a press release.

“It’s an incredible honor. I’m thinking about the women that I stood on the stage with today, but most importantly all the women who’s shoulders we stood on to get here. I am so proud, so excited, and just grateful,” Ms. Herrera, the 2022 ATHENA Award recipient in the private sector, said in the release.

A self-described “little immigrant with big dreams,” Ms. Herrera subscribes to the philosophy that we must put in the hard work, learn the job, then do it better than anyone thought it could be done.

Ms. Herrera leads a team of nearly 550 people and oversees a $56 million budget at Cox Communications. Ms. Herrera says she is passionate about guiding women into non-traditional roles through mentoring, teaching confidence, strategy, and challenging them never to stand in the back. She serves as the Vice Chair for Chicanos por la Causa and is a recipient of the Valle del Sol Profiles of Success Rosa Torrez Humanitarian Award.

As the Founder & Executive Director of both The Joy Bus and The Joy Bus Diner, Ms. Caraway is fulfilling a promise made to her friend, Joy, who lost her battle with ovarian cancer.

A Valley entrepreneur dedicated to building a hybrid organization that is both commercial and nonprofit, Ms. Caraway supports people part of the Phoenix community who are in need. Ms. Caraway has leveraged her deep knowledge of the food industry to establish, The Joy Bus Diner, a breakfast and lunch hotspot, funds her established nonprofit The Joy Bus program, which delivers gourmet meals, friendly conversation and education programs free of charge to homebound cancer patients.

“I’m thrilled that hard work really does pay off, and I am beyond honored to be in the room with such amazing successful women,” Ms. Caraway, the 2022 ATHENA award recipient in the public sector, said in the release.

As a proud Mexican-American and Arizona native, Ms. Aguilar says her parents instilled morals and values that helped her succeed in her educational journey. After the financial crisis in 2008, Ms. Aguilar’s worldview was changed, and she knew graduating from Arizona State University would alter the prospect of poverty for her family. This was a turning point for Ms. Aguilar as she witnessed firsthand the inequities that exist in the public education system.

Ms. Aguilar has an ability to overcome adversity that allowed her to beat the odds as a first-generation student, graduate Summa Cum Laude from ASU, and be selected for Teach For America because of her deep belief that all students can receive an exceptional education.

“It’s an honor to be named the ATHENA recipient Young Professional and to be part of this amazing network and community that cares deeply about mentorship, service and leadership. I will be forever thankful for this opportunity and will strive to be a role model to young women to help break barriers, like my mentors did for me,” Ms. Aguilar, the 2022 ATHENA award recipient in the young professional category, said in the release.

2022 ATHENA Award finalists

The three women were chosen from among 11 ATHENA finalists selected from a large group of nominees.

Private Sector finalists:

Deb Gullett, CEO, Arizona Association of Health Plans
Delma Herrera, Vice President of Field Sales, West Region, Cox Communications
Sissie Roberts Shank, President & CEO, Chas Roberts A/C & Plumbing Inc.
Marcia Veidmark, Owner, Founder, CEO & Chairman of the Board, SSC Underground (Specialized Services Co.)

Public Sector finalists:

Jennifer Caraway, Founder & Executive Director, The Joy Bus
Christine Mackay, Director, Community & Economic Development, City of Phoenix
April A. Salomon, Executive Director, Musical Instrument Museum (MIM)
Kate Smith, Ed.D., President, Rio Salado College

Young Professional finalists:

Veronica Aguilar, Vice President, Teach for America
Lindsey Beagley, Senior Director for Mirabella at ASU, ASU Enterprise Partners
Amber Cordoba, Director of Business Education and Consulting Services, CPLC – Prestamos CDFI

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