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Akron ATHENAPowerLink®
Organizational Structure

In order to implement The ATHENAPowerLink® Program, the Host Organization, ATHENA Akron, has established both a Governing Body and Advisory Board. The Governing Body oversees and administers the program while the Advisory Board guides the women business owners on how to grow their business.


The Akron Governing Body consists of volunteers who oversee and administer the implementation of ATHENAPowerLink® in the Akron Area. Its members include professionals who are proficient in financial, human resources, finance, information technology and law as well as community and governmental leaders.

The responsibilities of the Governing Body include:

  • Oversight of the implementation of ATHENAPowerLink® on the local level
  • Selection of the Woman Owned Business(es) that will participate in the program
  • Recruit members of the Advisory Boards
  • Collaborate with local media to promote the program and its participants
  • Assist in the development and fundraising efforts of the local program

For more information contact, our Co-Chair Norma Rist: 2106 Braewick Circle, Suite 202, Akron, OH 44313.

Below are those serving as the governing body of the Akron ATHENAPowerLink®:


Norma Rist, President
Norma J. Rist CEO Consulting, Inc.

Laura Wallerstein
McDonald Hopkins

Governing Body

Debra Adams Simmons, VP, News Development
Advance Local

Suzanne Ketler
McDonald Hopkins

John Petures Jr., President & CEO
Akron Community Foundation

Susan J. Peirce, Principal
Apple Growth Partners

Ilene Shapiro, County Executive
Summit County


Business Advisors help the women business owners to grow their business.

Advisory Board members should be able to:

  • Commit to six formal meetings and additional one-on-one meetings as deemed necessary by the WBO and Advisory Board
    • Commit to attending an Orientation and Training Session
    • Commit to an on-site visit of the WBO place of business
    • Commit to quarterly meetings
  • Exhibit flexibility and fairness
  • Articulate a position and evaluate the pros and cons compared to other approaches
  • Inspire confidence in others
  • Give advice patiently, effectively  and convincingly
  • Develop positive rapport with diverse groups of people
  • Share knowledge about their field of expertise in an accessible manner.

Important: If you run into issues using the fillable PDF, review this help guide for details on adjusting your browser settings to allow you to fill the form using Foxfire or Google Chrome. If you still can’t fill the form, please print the PDF, fill out the form and scan it before saving it and emailing to our Akron ATHENAPowerLink® Coordinator.

Pat Shultz
Vice President and Owner

Serving on the board of advisors was very rewarding and a valuable experience for me. I met and learned from new associates as well as help Epson Lane to grow in many ways.

I love growth in a company as well as people. I felt I had something to offer this women-owned business. There were similarities in our businesses — she had route drivers, sales people and was learning more about finance. I have run these departments in the past at Liniform. She was very open to new ideas. She wanted to learn and help her business succeed. We still meet on a monthly basis. We have developed a great relationship.

I would recommend this rewarding experience to others. By serving on the board of advisors for ATHENAPowerLink®, you meet new business people in the community and you help the person grow their business. The organization and experience are very worthwhile.

Deborah Chaddock Brown
Social Media Strategist
Internet Content Creator Owner
AllWrite Ink and The Social Media Roadmap

First and foremost, I looked forward to sharing information and helping another woman entrepreneur. I have been helped so often, I saw it as an opportunity to give back.

I worked with Leslie individually to help with her social media presence and also provided a social media policy manual for her review. She was already successfully using social media, I just helped by answering questions and encouraging her in her participation.

Would I recommend that someone apply to be an advisory for the ATHENAPowerLink® program? Absolutely! Each board member brought so much value to the table for the business owner and I believe Leslie’s business has benefited from the experience.

I learned more than I shared. Leslie’s energy, commitment and passion for her business is infectious and inspiring. I also learned from the others on the board. Great team.


ATHENA Akron, Inc. is proud to be the current host organization for the Akron ATHENAPowerLink® Program.

Founding Host Organization


The nonprofit University of Akron Research Foundation (UARF) has multiple objectives, one of which is to aid technology-based economic development by supporting and commercializing university research. To achieve this, the organization promotes, encourages and provides assistance to the research activities of university faculty, staff and students. UARF’s approach is both comprehensive—it can assist with university startups, quickly negotiate licenses and hold equity in spinout companies—and strategic; for instance, the organization markets intellectual property and manages private sponsored research.

In addition to these services, UARF operates the Akron Innovation Campus to provide office space for University of Akron collaborators and host industry executives as advisors. UARF sponsors the ARCHAngel Network, a regional forum that introduces investors to market-driven, technology-based investment opportunities within Northeast Ohio. Through the Ohio Research Foundation, UARF also offers its expertise in evaluating patents, negotiating licensing agreements, identifying potential collaborators and supporting entrepreneurial enterprises to other universities and colleges. The ultimate aim is creating economic growth and underscoring the universities’ potential to effect change and create opportunity for the region.