Three Phoenix Businesswomen Announced as 2023 Athena Award Recipients

Jeri Royce, Melody Lewis, and Naquana Borrero.

The Greater Phoenix Chamber announced the 2023 ATHENA private sector, public sector, and young professional award recipients at its 36th Annual ATHENA Awards.

Melody Lewis, Owner & Founder, Indigenous Community Collaborative, was awarded the 2023 ATHENA Award in the private sector. Jeri Royce, President & CEO, Advance Community, earned the 2023 ATHENA Award in the public sector. Naquana Borrero, CFRE; Director of Development and Communications Jazz in Arizona/The Nash & Owner, Bella Vita Consulting Group, took home the 2023 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, recognizes women across the Valley for achievements in leadership, community service, and mentoring.

“The biggest thing for me is representation. I am the first Native American from my community to win this award,” says Melody Lewis, 2023 ATHENA private sector recipient. “To be here to represent my people and Indigenous people overall. This award means to me, ‘Hey she did it, I can do it too.’ So representation is the most meaningful and impactful to me right now.”

Melody Lewis stands as a passionate community advocate and a trailblazing Indigenous entrepreneur, wholly committed to the resurgence of Indigenous communities and the amplification of Indigenous voices. At the heart of her mission is the Indigenous Community Collaborative (ICC), an organization she spearheads. Through ICC, Melody engages in vital consultations with various entities, propelling initiatives centered around workforce development, economic growth, diversity, inclusion, and education, all while nurturing the unique cultural identity of Indigenous communities.

Jeri Royce boasts an impressive career spanning over three decades, during which she has made significant contributions to both profit and nonprofit organizations, locally, nationally, and internationally. Currently, she holds the esteemed position of president & CEO at Advance Community, making history as the first female to assume this role in the organization’s half-century history. Her extensive experience and track record of building strong partnerships and successful teams continue to shape her illustrious career.

“It’s amazing! Such an honor to be among such incredibly talented women, and I am grateful for every minute of it. I am grateful to the Chamber and all of the sponsors,” says Jeri Royce, 2023 ATHENA public sector recipient.

Naquana Borrero, CFRE, is a seasoned nonprofit executive and fundraiser, currently contributing her expertise to Jazz in Arizona/The Nash. As a vital member of the organization’s executive team and chief fundraiser, Naquana leads all philanthropic fund development and communications efforts, both for the performance venue and the educational programs at Southwest’s premier jazz venue. She also owns a consulting firm specializing in fund development and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the nonprofit and political realms, with clients spanning various sectors, from local to national nonprofits and political entities.

“I am feeling grateful, overwhelmed, and excited,” says Naquana Borrero, 2023 ATHENA young professional recipient. “This platform will help not only me but a lot of other organizations that I represent. I am excited for all of us to have this platform. I am also very excited to be the first black woman to win this award in this category, and that’s something that means a lot to me.”

Melody Lewis, Jeri Royce, and Naquana Borrero were chosen from among 11 ATHENA finalists selected from a large group of nominees. The following is a complete list of the 2023 ATHENA finalists:

Private Sector finalists:

  • Ginger Clayton, CEO, Elontec
  • *Melody Lewis, owner & founder, Indigenous Community Collaborative
  • Jen Scrivner, chief operating officer, Goodmans
  • Kristen Shroyer, co-founder & chief impact officer, ONEHOPE

Public Sector finalists:

  • Tara Jackson, president, Arizona Town Hall
  • *Jeri Royce, president & CEO, Advance Community
  • Lorraine Tallman, founder & CEO, Amanda Hope Rainbow Angels
  • Dawn Trapp, CEO, Civitan Foundation, Inc.

Young Professional finalists:

  • Ashlee Atkins, diversity manager, ASU Enterprise Partners
  • Heather Vana, senior director of external communications, Avnet
  • *Naquana Borrero, CFRE; director of development and communications Jazz in Arizona/The Nash & owner, Bella Vita Consulting Group

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