The annual ATHENA Awards were held Thursday at the Owensboro Convention Center. The awards luncheon, through a joint effort of the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce and Girls Inc. of Owensboro Daviess County, promotes the message of Girls, Inc. of empowering women, and the award is presented to someone who has attained and personified the highest level of professional excellence in business or profession; has devoted time and energy to the community, and has generously assisted women in attaining their full potential.
Eight local women were nominated for the 22nd ATHENA Award, and Kirk Kirkpatrick, who emceed the event presented the 2020 ATHENA award to Alma Randolph.
Detailing how the selection committee narrows down the winner and ATHENA International engraves the award.
“She has been a champion of women for decades,” Kirkpatrick told the almost-600 attendees.
Kirkpatrick told of Randolph’s barriers growing up that did not deter her and discussed how when given lemons, Randolph could have chosen to use them as a crutch, but instead, she chose to make lemonade.
“She always had a sense of purpose,” he said.
Randolph has held several professional positions in the city and other businesses, but “she did not stop there,” Kirkpatrick said.
She owned and operated Higher Ground Consulting from 2011-2019, founded the Alma Randolph Charitable Foundation, that to date has raised over $1.2 million and has provided shoes and clothing for over 16,000 local children. In 2016, she started Hands Up To Succeed (HUTS), a division of her foundation that upgrades the living conditions of families.
“Thirty-three families to date have benefitted,” Kirkpatrick told the audience.
Randolph has also served — and continues to serve — on numerous local and state boards.
“She is much more than a voice in our community,” Kirkpatrick said.
Randolph, who had prepared an acceptance speech at the request of a friend who told her she probably wouldn’t win but to do it anyway, said that she was “beyond elated” to receive the award, and said she was going to use a quote from Halle Berry’s 2002 Oscar acceptance speech where she was the first black woman to win best actress.
“This moment is so much bigger than me,” Randolph began and then listed all of the people who have supported her efforts, including past and present Alma Randolph Charitable Foundation board members, her numerous family members and special friends, the many donors and the support she has received from the Marilyn and William Young Foundation.
“This is for the little girl who walked through the door on the first day of school without a new outfit,” Randolph said before putting herself in the position of being one of the Girls Inc. members who spoke at the luncheon.
“So many girls like me will walk through the doors of Girls Inc. who are like me,” she said, adding that when they see her and know that she received the award, each will know it is possible.
This year’s Legacy Award was given posthumously to Olive Burroughs, who Kirkpatrick said was a woman of action and vision in developing the neighborhood alliances, Youth Council, substance abuse programs and also served on many national and local communities. Her son and daughter accepted the award.