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Eight prominent women business and professional leaders take 2019-20 leadership roles at Athena Society




TAMPA, FL – Eight of the Tampa Bay area’s leading business and professional women have been named as Athena Society officers for 2019-20. The organization, founded in 1976 to support the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment, is made up of professional women committed to the promotion of equality and opportunity for all women.

The group advocates for working women and offers scholarships to high school females who demonstrate leadership, along with academic grants to women who need support to advance their careers. The new officers were announced by Doretha Edgecomb, past Athena Society President and Chair of this year’s Nominating Committee. 

The Athena Society’s 2019-20 officers are:

Lorna Taylor

Lorna Taylor, President

Taylor is CEO of Premier Eye Care, a national managed eye care company providing optometric, ophthalmologic, and full administrative services to health plans and their members. Premier is often ranked as one of “Florida’s Best Companies to Work For” and was named one of the “75 Best Places to work for Millennials” by the Center for Generational Kinetics.

Taylor has received numerous honors for her achievements in the workplace and the community. She has held volunteer leadership positions with such organizations as the Dali Museum, the Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum, Preserve Vision Florida, Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence Foundation, Tampa Bay Businesses for Culture & the Arts, and Arts Conservatory for Teens.

Betty Castor, Immediate Past President

Castor has devoted much of her life to public service, most notably as the first female President of the University of South Florida, Florida Commissioner of Education, and President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Her public career began with her election to the Hillsborough County Commission and she served three terms in the Florida Senate.

Kem Toole, President-elect

Toole was a partner at Bush Ross P.A. in Tampa before working for the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. for 20 years. When she returned to Tampa Bay, she worked for Hill Ward Henderson in Tampa. Toole is an advocate of public school education and upon retiring from the practice of law, she became certified and now teaches in underserved schools.

 Linda D’Aquila, Vice President, Community Action Committee

D’Aquila is retired as LifeLink Foundation’s Vice President of Corporate Administration and Director of the LifeLink Legacy Fund. She serves as the League of Women Voters of Hillsborough County’s representative on the county’s Commission on the Status of Women Voters. This is one of many roles she has had for the League of Women Voters, as well as for the Kiwanis Club of Tampa and National Organization for Transplant Enlightenment.

 Ann Madsen, Vice President, Programs

Madsen is executive director of The Helen Gordon Davis Centre for Women. In the past seven years, she has led the transformation of the 42-year-old nonprofit introducing innovative strategies to help women across Tampa Bay succeed personally and professionally.  She was recruited to Tampa Bay by the Poynter Institute to lead its advancement efforts. Her experience across academic, corporate and nonprofit sectors has contributed to the evolution of the Centre’s programs, including the only SBA-designated Women’s Business Centre on the west coast of Florida to help female entrepreneurs and a new workforce development program called Tampa Bay Works for Women. On the national level, she serves as a Board member for the Association of Women’s Business Centers.

 Becca Tieder, Vice President, Membership

Tieder is a Florida-based activist who speaks about sexual assault prevention and consent nationwide. Since 2003, she has traveled up to 150 days a year speaking about sexual assault awareness, prevention and empowerment on more than 500 college campuses, military bases and The White House. Tieder co-created the Sexversations educational tool, and co-founded the international nonprofit One Student, which provides students and their allies with programs, resources and opportunities to address sexual violence.

Simone Gans Barefield, Secretary

Barefield is President and Chief Executive Officer of the Gans, Gans & Associates, an executive search and human resources firm. She has developed an outstanding reputation for the design, implementation, and management of a broad array of executive search projects, human resources and management and consulting programs, especially programs that involve assessing and managing diversity in the workplace.

Zoe Gustafson, Treasurer

Gustafson is Chief Financial Officer of strategic communications firm Vistra Communications. Building on eight years of experience at Ernst & Young, she has more than 25 years’ experience leading accounting, financial and human resources teams at employers such as the Tampa Zoo at Lowry Park and the Florida Holocaust Museum. She has been actively involved in the Tampa Bay community since moving here in 1985, and is a member of Leadership Tampa Alumni, serves on the Advisory Board of the Gasparilla Festival of the Arts and is a founding member of the Krewe of St. Brigit. 

Athena Society’s incoming at-large board members are:

  • Ruth Bell, Senior Vice President, Public Affairs at LifeLink Foundation.
  • Marian McCulloch, Attorney, Allen Dell P.A.
  • Keri Eisenbeis, Vice President, Government and Community Relations, BayCare Health System.

Returning at-large board members are:

  • Bonnie Carr, retired from Hillsborough Community College after serving as Vice President for Administration/CFO and Controller.
  • Carlye Morgan, Principal, Shumaker Advisors
  • Mindy McLaughlin, Partner, Bevtin, McLaughlin, McLaughlin, O’Hara, Kinman & Bocchino, P.A.
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