View 2009 Athena Honoree Videos


IL QC Chamber and The Women's Connection Announce
2009 Athena Award Winners

The Illinois Quad City Chamber of Commerce and The Women's Connection today announced the recipients of the 2009 Athena Business Women's Awards, honoring those women within the Quad City Region excelling in their business or profession and making a significant difference in the community. The 2009 Athena Business Women's Awards are presented by Missman Stanley & Associates.

According to Rick Baker, President of the Illinois Quad City Chamber of Commerce, and Colleen Rafferty, Executive Director of The Women's Connection, five honorees were selected from nearly 30 nominations to receive the distinguished 2009 Athena Business Women's Awards. "We received nominations from numerous business and non-profit sectors," says Rick Baker. "The caliber of professionalism, dedication and selflessness represented in these women leaders is exceptional."

The 2009 selection committee was comprised of last year's Athena Business Women's Awards recipients, including Linda Newborn, Deere & Co.; Janet Masamoto, JTM Concepts; Heidi Schultz, Management Resource Group; and Christy Kunz, J.A. Worldwide. The honorees were selected based on the following criteria:

  • Honoree is a leader in business or her profession.
  • Honoree serves as a role model to other women in her profession and community.
  • Honoree displays creativity and innovation and contributes these talents to the growth of her profession.
  • Honoree contributes time and energy to community betterment.

                           View 2009 Athena Honoree Videos
The 2009 award winners are as follows:

Kim ArmstrongKim Armstrong, Ph.D., Assistant Dean of Student Support Services, Black Hawk College
Dr. Kim Armstrong received her B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. from Howard University in Washington, D.C. in Physiological/ Neuropsychology, with an emphasis in Childhood Development. Her strong family upbringing instilled in Dr. Armstrong the importance of education and civic responsibility.

In her role at Black Hawk College, Dr. Armstrong provides administrative leadership for student engagement, enhancement and retention. She also provides focus to diversity and student leadership initiatives, as well as direct oversight to the Center for Elderly Learning. In her work at Black Hawk College, Dr. Armstrong lives her personal motto, "I believe the children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way."

Dr. Armstrong applies this same motto in her community involvements. A devoted mother of two daughters, she has mentored countless students, focusing on empowering young women through education. Dr. Armstrong has served on the Balm of Gilead "National Black Church Awareness of HIV/AIDS;" as an advocate for the Mental Health Department; on the board of Churches United, on the board of trustees for Trinity Medical Center, as chairperson for the Target Neighborhood Committee for United Way, Success by 6; as a board member for the Witness Project, to educate African-American women about breast cancer; on the board of United Way of the Quad Cities; on the board of Bethany for Children and Family; on the board of Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois, and on the board of The Women's Connection.

Dr. Armstrong has conducted research in Electrophysiology and was responsible for developing health initiatives for African-American and Amish populations. She co-authored a report for the National Science Foundation on "Diversity in the Work Place," and prepared and presented a report for the U.S. Congress on "Mental Health Services in Rural Minority Populations."

Dr. Armstrong resides in Milan with her two daughters.

Dr. Lisa Brothers ArbisserDr. Lisa Brothers Arbisser, Co-founder of Eye Surgeons Associates, P.C.
A world-renowned cataract surgeon, Dr. Lisa Brothers Arbisser co-founded Eye Surgeons Associates, P.C. 25 years ago, along with her husband, Dr. Amir Arbisser. Today, Eye Surgeons Associates has grown into a multi-subspecialty eye care practice - one of the largest in the region - with five locations and a staff of more than 100.

Dr. Lisa, as she is fondly known among her thousands of patients, received her undergraduate degree from Princeton, attended medical school at Tulane University and the University of Texas Medical School at Houston, and completed her residency and associate fellowship in anterior segment surgery at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. Dr. Lisa has completed many "firsts" in her career, including the first Quad Cities surgeon to offer outpatient cataract surgery, the first to use the Yag Laser, the first to introduce topical anesthesia using eye drops instead of injections, and the first to introduce a no-stitch incision technique for surgery.

In addition to her busy practice, Dr. Lisa is an adjunct clinical associate professor at the University of Utah John A. Moran Eye Center and a former president of the American College of Eye Surgeons. A devoted advocate for education and prevention of eye disease, Dr. Lisa teaches worldwide and has performed live satellite interactive surgery at major national and international meetings.

Dr. Lisa also has made numerous contributions to the Quad Cities community in the areas of arts and education. She is a charter member and Chariman of the Board emeritus of the Davenport Schools Foundation; is a member of the Presidents Club in support of Hancher Auditorium at the University of Iowa; serves on the Ethics Advisory Board of Augustana College; serves on the board of the American Board of Eye Surgery and the Arunodaya Charitable Trust, New Delhi, India. She is on the editorial board and or a reviewer for ophthalmic publications and the American Academy of Ophthalmology. She is co-founder with her husband of the See Life Clearly Foundation to advance the quality and availability of eye care in the region.

The recipient of numerous awards and honors, Dr. Lisa was honored as a "Woman of Excellence" by the March of Dimes, won the Living Legend in Iowa award from the American Medical Women's Association, named a Junior League "Woman of Distinction," is the recipient of the American Academy of Ophthalmology Achievement Award, and, along with her husband, was named Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame Laureates and received the Illinois Alliance for Art Education Industry Award for their dedication to arts for youth.

Dr. Lisa lives in Davenport, and, along with her husband, Amir, are the parents of four, and new grandparents of one.

Cheri BustosCheri Bustos, Vice President of Public Relations and Communications, Iowa Health System
With a diverse career that has included 17 years as a newspaper reporter and editor, seven years in health-care management, and two years on the East Moline City Council, there is one theme that runs through Cheri Bustos' work - her commitment to public service and her passion for furthering public policy.

Cheri earned her bachelor's degree in Political Science from the University of Maryland and her master's degree in Public Affairs Reporting from the University of Illinois at Springfield. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Springfield's Legislative Staff Internship Program, and she served as a delegate of the Illinois Women's Institute for Leadership, a statewide organization that develops future political leaders and is led by a board that includes Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, the Honorable Dawn Clark Netsch, Loretta Durbin and Anne Roosevelt, the granddaughter of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt.

In her current role as Vice President of Iowa Health System, Cheri oversees all marketing, communications and public relations for Iowa's first and largest integrated health system. With 25 hospitals and nearly 20,000 employees, Iowa Health System is one of Iowa's largest employers, serving the health needs of one in three Iowans. It is a $2 billion a year organization and is the seventh largest nondenominational health system in America.

Cheri is tireless in her advocacy for women's leadership and health. She is founder of the Iowa Outdoor Women's Association in Des Moines; on the board of directors for the Iowa Sports Foundation; on the board of directors for the Iowa Statewide Poison Control Center; on the board of directors for the YMCA of Greater Des Moines; and vice president of The Women's Connection Board of Directors. Cheri also has devoted her time to Big Brothers/Big Sisters; Junior Achievement; Skip-A-Long Child Development Services Board of Directors; the Two Rivers YMCA; and the WVIK Board of Directors. Additionally, Cheri was a college athlete and is in the Illinois College Sports Hall of Fame.

Cheri and her husband, Gerry, live in East Moline and are the parents of three sons: Tony, an engineer in the Chicago area; Nick a junior at Illinois College in Jacksonville; and Joey, a freshman at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Hon. Linda NeumanHon. Linda K. Neuman, Retired Member of the Iowa Supreme Court, Attorney at Law
The Honorable Linda Neuman made history in 1986 when then Governor Terry Branstad appointed her the first woman to serve on the Iowa Supreme Court. Her words during her swearing in ceremony -- "the work that we are about is neither women's work nor men's work, but a solemn responsibility" - reflect Linda's commitment to fairness for all and her lifelong belief in the universal rights and responsibilities of citizenship.

Linda Neuman earned her bachelor's and law degrees from the University of Colorado, and her master of laws degree from the University of Virginia. Earlier in her career, Linda was a partner in the law firm Betty, Neuman, McMahon, Hellstrom and Bittner in Davenport. She also worked briefly as vice president and trust officer for Bettendorf Bank and Trust before her appointment in 1980 as judicial magistrate for Scott County, a part-time position that enabled her to achieve balance between her career and a growing family.

In 1982, Linda was appointed District Court Judge for the 7th District of Iowa by then Governor Robert Ray, before her historic appointment to the Iowa Supreme Court in 1986. Retiring from the bench in 2003, today Linda teaches courses in legal ethics and appellate courts at the University of Iowa College of Law. Highly respected in the legal community, Linda is known for her well-crafted and researched opinions, her application of the law, and her dedication to the judicial system.

During her busy career, Linda always has made time for civic responsibility and leadership. She serves as a trustee for St. Ambrose University, on the community advisory committee for the Augustana College Center for the Study of Ethics, as a friend of the Davenport Museum of Art, as a member of the Past-President's Council for the Marriage and Family Counseling Service, and as a reader for the sight-impaired. She has been honored as the recipient of the Mississippi Valley Girl Scout Council "Exceptional Achievement Award," the University of Colorado "Award for Distinguished Achievement," and received a gubernatorial commitment to the National Commission on Uniform State Laws.

Linda and her husband, Henry, reside in LeClaire and are the parents of two grown daughters, Emily and Lindsey.

Dana WilkinsonDana Wilkinson, Founder and CEO, Paragon Commercial Interiors, Inc.
In 1983, at the age of 26, Dana Wilkinson lost her interior design job because she was seven months pregnant. She looks back on this discrimination as a defining moment in her life, enabling her to take the risk of opening her own interior design business. That business, today known as Paragon Commercial Interiors, has grown to a staff of 15, was named one of the "Best Places to Work" by Quad City Magazine, and was honored for its "Excellence in Commerce" by the Illinois Quad City Chamber of Commerce.

With a degree in interior design from Iowa State University, and several years spent working for a design firm in Chicago, Dana recognized after moving to the Quad Cities, that no other design firms in the area emphasized the aspect of interior design in commercial buildings. Wilkinson introduced the concept of corporate image to Quad City businesses and began implementing ergonomic principles into her designs, enabling employees to work more efficiently at a time when typewriters were the norm. Ever the innovator, Dana and her partner, Darla Evans, advocate the green building philosophy, encouraging clients and contractors to embrace it as well.

Paragon Commercial Interiors has been involved in many large commercial construction projects in the Quad Cities and worldwide. Local project include Russell Construction, Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center, ORA, John Deere Parts Distribution Center, Eye Surgeons Associates' Bettendorf office, the John O'Donnell Stadium Suites and Lounge, and the River Music Experience. Globally, projects include locations throughout the US, India, Russia, China, Canada and Mexico.

As part of the architect selection committee for the Figge Art Museum, Dana traveled the globe meeting world-renowned architects. She then was chosen to serve as executive director of the Museum of Art Foundation, successfully leading fundraising for the $47 million building project.

While Paragon regularly donates interior design services to area non-profits, including the United Way, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Skip-A-Long Day Care Center and Gilda's Club, Wilkinson's commitment to community is not limited to design and architecture. She currently serves on the board of directors for Gilda's Club, is a member of the Trinity Foundation Board of Directors, Vice Chair of Davenport One Downtown Partnership and serves on the board of the Riverboat Development Authority. In 2008, Dana received the DavenportOne Chamber of Commerce Larry Reed Volunteer of the Year Award. Every two years, Dana accompanies her husband, an optometrist, on a medical mission to Micronesia, serving the eye care needs of more than 300 children.

Dana is a member of the International Interior Design Association and a juror for the NCIDQ certification exam for interior designers. She and her husband, Mark, reside in Bettendorf and are the parents of Lyndsey and Shaun, son-in law Kyle Day and a soon-to-arrive grandson.

View 2009 Athena Honoree Videos

The 2009 Athena Business Women's Award recipients will be honored at a luncheon event on March 24, Noon, at the i wireless Center, Moline. The event is presented by Missman Stanley & Associates, with sponsor support from MediaWork Productions and Venus Envy.

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