Athena Award

NICELY DONE — Judy Cooperberg, left, 2003 Athena Award recipient, con­grat­ulates this year’s recipient Sandra Johnson following the Athena Award pres­en­tation Thursday night. The honor is presented by the Zonta Club of the Antelope Valley.

LANCASTER — Rec­og­nized for her success in business, education, civic government and ser­vice to the community, Uni­ver­sity of Antelope Valley Chief Financial Officer and co-founder Sandra John­son was presented with the 2019 Athena Award during a ceremony Thurs­day.

“She is passionate about changing lives through education,”said Ronda Perez, 2018 Ath­e­na Award recipient and the evening’s emcee in in­tro­ducing Johnson.

The award is presented annually by the Zonta Club of the Antelope Val­ley to a woman who has at­tain­ed and embodies the highest level of pro­fes­sion­al excellence in her business or profession, has devoted time and en­er­gy to improve the qual­ity of life for others in the com­munity and ac­tive­ly as­sists women in real­izing their leadership po­ten­tial.

“In everything she does, she gives back,” Perez said of Johnson, list­ing scholarships from the Marco and Sandra John­son Foundation and the Caring for the Com­mu­nity annual charity event as examples.

She has also been in­volved in organizing a num­ber of community events from the Smooth Jazz Festival to large blood drives, provides sup­port to the Lancaster Sher­iff’s Department and arts programs and is a mo­tiv­a­tional speaker to area youth about goal set­ting, never giving up and the power of looking in.

In addition to her work with the university, John­son has served as Lan­cast­er City Coun­cil­wom­an and was recognized as the city’s 2009 Citizen of the Year along with her husband Marco.

The couple founded the school in 1997, trans­form­ing it into a re­gion­ally accredited higher ed­u­ca­tion institution that today graduates more than 1,500 students a year.

Johnson has a Cal­if­or­nia State Certification in Paralegal from An­tel­ope Valley College and Wat­son College and a Mas­ters in Education with a spec­ialization in Cur­ric­u­lum Development and Out­comes Assessment, as well as a Bachelor of Sci­ence in Business Ad­min­istration, both from Aspen University.

Johnson immigrated to Lancaster from Chile in 1970. She and her husband have two chil­dren, Devion and Tiffany.

“What we do, we do be­cause we’ve been taught to do by our parents,” John­son said. “I just want to say thank you to my mom and dad for rais­ing us to know that we’re here for a reason and to always, always give back.”

“To be in this panel of amazing women is truly a com­pliment in itself,” she said. “This is definitely our decade as women to show what we have been doing forever and to be part of this sorority is such an honor.”

Johnson was presented with the bronze Athena sculp­ture, which was do­na­ted by the family of Jane Frye, the 2010 Athena Award recipient who died last year. It will become the perpetual Ath­ena sculpture for the Zonta Foundation of the Antelope Valley.

In addition to Johnson, six other exceptional An­tel­ope Valley women were nom­inated for the award this year. They include Kathy Archuleta of the An­tel­ope Valley Cemetery Dis­trict’s Lancaster Cem­e­tery; Sherry Chase, of Mary Kay cosmetics; elementary school teacher Leah Fern­quist; Nicol Gerstein, a com­mu­nications specialist with Kaiser Permanente; Donna Giddens of the An­tel­ope Valley Press; and Char­mene Vega, founder, pres­ident and CEO of Mama Vega Enterprises.

“They work above and bey­ond their normal work obligations to make a difference not only in the lives of women in the com­mu­nity, but through their leadership and in­flu­ence, it inspires the en­tire An­telope Valley,” Perez said. “By honoring ex­cep­tional lead­ers, the Ath­ena Award program seeks to inspire others to ach­ieve excellence in their pro­fessional and personal lives.”

Previous Antelope Val­ley Athena Award re­cip­ients include Rosemary Dis­penza, 1995; Susan Hog­refe, 1996; Sharon Tre­main, 1997; Janice Kim­rey An­der­son, 1998; Anne Al­drich, 1999; Alis Claus­en, 2000; Lou Bo­zig­ian, 2001; In­grid Chapman, 2002; Judy Cooperberg, 2003; Lea Butterfield Van­der­stok, 2004; Sherry Las­ag­na, 2005; Vivian Komori, 2006; Linda Jones, 2007; Berna Mayer, 2009; Jane Frye, 2010; Dayle DeBry, 2011; Sandy Corrales-Eneix, 2012; Sue Dell, 2013; Gwen Farrel, 2014, Re­gi­na Rossall, 2015, Sandy Smith, 2017 and Ronda Perez, 2018.

The Athena Award was first presented in 1982 and is administered by Ath­ena International, an in­ternational non-profit or­gan­ization dedicated to sup­porting, developing and hon­oring women leaders, in­spiring women to ach­ieve their full potential and create balance in lead­er­ship worldwide. There are more than 300 active award programs and more than 5,000 awards have been presented to re­cip­ients in the United States and around the world.

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(2) comments

Dayle DeBry

Correction: Karla Archuleta was incorrectly listed as a nominee for the Athena award.

Dayle DeBry

Correction: Karla Archuleta was a nominee, not Kathy Archuleta.

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