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Central Harlem Morningside Heights UWS  East Harlem

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Before joining the Borough President's Office, Athena was Director of Public Policy for the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, leading national health advocacy and legislative initiatives across the country in 11 cities. She was previously Associate Executive Director of the National Association of Social Workers-NYC Chapter. Athena also served as Executive Director of the Black Equity Alliance at the United Way of New York City and as a senior manager for the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies. As the Senior Manager for FPWA, she worked with more than 240 non-profits, multi-service centers, and settlement houses across New York City. Additionally, she served as a strategic planning consultant for the Administration of Children's Services, and focused much of her early career on children, youth, and family policy.

Her extensive community service also spans to her civic engagement as a member of the NAACP, NANBPWC and National Council of Negro Women. She is a current member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., where she is a Silver Star (31 years of service).

Athena has also served on several boards as liaison to various community-based and civic groups, among those:

  • Black Agency Executives

  • Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce

  • 125th Street Business Improvement District

  • Harlem Community Development Corp.

  • Community Police Precinct Councils 26, 28 & 32

  • Bradhurst Merchants Association

  • Harlem Cultural Collaborative

  • Manhattan Community Boards

  • Ending the AIDS Epidemic Steering Committee

  • GateKeepers Collective, Harlem Pride & LGBTQ Equality Coalition

  • African Immigrant Task Force

  • Administration for Children’s Services

  • Mt. Morris Park Community Improvement Association

  • West Harlem Reentry Advisory Board

  • Greater Harlem Coalition 

  • Harlem Business Alliance

  • Frederick Douglass Business Alliance

  • NYCHA Council of Presidents

  • East Harlem Community Visioning Task Force

  • WeACT for Environmental Justice

  • Friends of Morningside Park 

She is the recipient of numerous awards for her decades' long public service. Most recently, she received the Grand Marshal and Honoree for the African American Day Parade, Harlem Fashion Week Cultural Icon Award, the Pillars Community Service Award, the Joshua Uzoigwe African Spirit Community Service Award, New York Metropolitan Chapter of the American Society for Public Administrators, the Latino Social Work Award from the Puerto Family Institute, National Action Network Women's Auxiliary Community Service Award, and The Greater Harlem Real Estate Board Public Service Award for her tireless efforts in promoting black homeownership. Athena started her career working for the Bronx Borough President, NYC Parks, DC 37 Union-Municipal Employees Legal Services, and an internship on Capitol Hill in the US Congress.

 

Athena holds a B.A. from Oberlin College and an M.S. in Urban Policy and Management from the New School for Social Research. She is the Woodrow Wilson Public Policy Fellowship recipient at Carnegie Mellon and a graduate of the Nonprofit Senior Leadership Program at Columbia University. She has taught courses at New York University and Hostos Community College. A first-generation college graduate and the first in her immediate family to receive a Master's degree, Athena values the importance of education. She regularly continues to go beyond her job duties to mentor, support, and empower young people.

 

A "daughter of NYCHA," Athena grew up in low-income public housing in NYC. Her grandmother, a former sharecropper, raised her and her siblings; Athena's mother battled mental illness, and her dad, a Korean War veteran, lost his life to substance abuse when she was 6 years old. Athena has used her childhood experiences in overcoming adversity to guide her career and drive her passion for public service and helping others. She is the proud mother of a 15-year old daughter and a member of Harlem's historic Abyssinian Baptist Church.