Home > Jenn Van Dam is 2017 Recipient of the Barbara McNees Spirit of ATHENA Scholarship

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Jenn Van Dam is 2017 Recipient of the Barbara McNees Spirit of ATHENA Scholarship


(PITTSBURGH – July 18, 2017) – The Allegheny Conference has announced that Jenn Van Dam was selected as the 2017 recipient of the Barbara McNees Spirit of ATHENA Award Scholarship.

A transplant to Pittsburgh from New York City and an ImaginePittsburgh.com Neighbor, Van Dam is the digital and community engagement manager at Innovation Works, a nonprofit investing capital, business expertise and resources into high-potential, tech economy companies in southwestern Pennsylvania. As this year’s scholarship recipient, she will attend, tuition-free, the 2017-2018 session of the Carnegie Mellon Leadership and Negotiation Academy for Women: a six-month, 100-hour academy executive education certificate program at CMU’s Tepper School of Business. The session begins on Sept. 15.

The scholarship was created to honor and extend the legacy of Barbara McNees, who retired in 2013 after 16 years as president of the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce, an affiliate of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development – one of the country’s premier civic leadership organizations. McNees was the first female president in the chamber’s 132-year history. In 1990, she co-founded the ATHENA Awards Program of Greater Pittsburgh, which recognizes female leaders who mentor other women. McNees also advocated for the creation of the ATHENA Young Professional Award for emerging female leaders.

“Women in Pittsburgh are increasingly playing significant roles in for-profit and nonprofit settings. As leaders, strategists and mentors – and in many other capacities – women are leveraging their education, acumen and attitude to further transform our region in unique and impactful ways. The Spirit of ATHENA scholarship annually assists a local professional female with further sharpening her already impressive skills. It delights me to know that she'll put these skills to work to make the region an even better place for other women and for all who call Pittsburgh home,” said Barbara McNees.

“I am beyond honored and thankful to the committee for selecting me for a scholarship,” said Van Dam. “By developing critical leadership and negotiation skills at the academy, I can be an even better advocate for local people of color, LGBTQIA folks, women and underserved communities so that they can prosper in tech and entrepreneurship. I am inspired by how Barbara McNees looked beyond herself to see the bigger picture of developing women leaders across the region, because that’s what our region needs to grow.”

Van Dam will be introduced at the annual Greater Pittsburgh ATHENA Awards luncheon on Monday, Oct. 2. Attended by nearly 900 people, the event is among the largest ATHENA events in the world. Tickets for the luncheon may be purchased at ATHENA-Pittsburgh.com. Sponsorships for the luncheon are still available; email inquiries to ATHENA@alleghenyconference.org.

The Barbara McNees Spirit of ATHENA Scholarship is currently sponsored by the following: UPMC; UPMC Health Plan; Allegheny Conference on Community Development; Elsie H. Hillman Foundation; Highmark Health; Jones Day; Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC; Eat'n Park Hospitality Group; Ellwood Group, Inc.; and the Wendy & David Barensfeld Family Charitable Fund.
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The Allegheny Conference on Community Development and its affiliates – the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce, the Pennsylvania Economy League of Greater Pittsburgh, LLC and the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance – work in collaboration with public and private sector partners to improve the economy and the quality of life in southwestern Pennsylvania. Learn more at AlleghenyConference.org.
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