Photo Courtesy of the Greater Phoenix Chamber

The Greater Phoenix Chamber announced the 2022 ATHENA private sector, public sector, and young professional award recipients at its 35th Annual ATHENA Awards in October.

Delma Herrera, vice president of Field Sales, West Region, Cox Communications, was awarded the 2022 ATHENA Businesswoman of the Year Award in the private sector. Jennifer Caraway, founder and executive director, The Joy Bus, earned the 2022 ATHENA Businesswoman of the Year Award in the public sector. Veronica Aguilar, vice president, Teach for America, took home the 2022 ATHENA Young Professional Award.

“The Greater Phoenix Chamber’s ATHENA Awards celebrates the most inspiring women leaders in the Valley,” says Todd Sanders, president and 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, recognize the achievement of businesswomen across the Greater Phoenix region.

“It’s an incredible honor. I’m thinking about the women that I stood on the stage with today, but most importantly all the women whose shoulders we stood on to get here. I am so proud, so excited, and just grateful,” says Herrera, the 2022 ATHENA Award recipient in the Private Sector.

As the founder and executive director of both The Joy Bus and The Joy Bus Diner, Caraway is fulfilling a promise made to her friend, Joy, who lost her battle with ovarian cancer, that something good would come from her fight. A Valley entrepreneur dedicated to building a hybrid organization that is both commercial and yet nonprofit, she supports people in our community who are most greatly in need. Caraway has leveraged her deep knowledge of the food industry to establish The Joy Bus Diner, a breakfast and lunch hotspot that funds her established nonprofit The Joy Bus program, which delivers gourmet meals, friendly conversation, and education programs free of charge to homebound cancer patients.

“I’m thrilled that hard work really does pay off, and I am beyond honored to be in the room with such amazing successful women,” says Caraway, the 2022 ATHENA Award recipient in the Public Sector.

As a proud Mexican American and Arizona native, Aguilar’s parents instilled morals and values that helped her succeed in her educational journey. After the financial crisis in 2008, Aguilar’s worldview was changed, and she knew graduating from Arizona State University (ASU) would alter the destiny of poverty for her family. This was a turning point for her because she witnessed firsthand the inequities that exist in our education system, which is why she dedicates her life to service, empowerment, and education for all. Aguilar’s ability to overcome adversity allowed her to beat the odds as a first-generation student, graduate summa cum laude from ASU, and be selected for Teach For America (TFA) because of her deep belief that all students can receive an exceptional education.

Herrera, Caraway, and Aguilar were chosen from among 11 ATHENA finalists selected from a large group of nominees.