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KC Chamber Honors Two Exemplary Kansas City Women

Carol Hallquist &  Jessica Nelson to receive ATHENA Leadership Awards

Adele Hall. Anita Gorman. Mamie Hughes. Julia Irene Kauffman. Dianne Cleaver. Beth Smith.
Those are just a few of the women on the list of past ATHENA Leadership Award winners. This year, Carol Hallquist, a retired Hallmark executive, will join that outstanding group as she receives the 2017 ATHENA Leadership Award. Jessica Nelson, Managing Director, TeamKC: Life+Talent, Kansas City Area Development Council, has been selected for the ATHENA Young Professionals Leadership Award.
The two women will be honored at a special reception September 28 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. in Municipal Auditorium’s Little Theatre.

The award is named after the Greek goddess Athena, goddess of intelligence, wisdom, arts and sciences, and recognizes not only exemplary leadership and service, but also honors an individual who has actively assisted in opening doors for others.

“The annual ATHENA Awards are one of the ways the KC Chamber is living out its commitment to promoting and supporting women in our community,” says Joe Reardon, President & CEO of the KC Chamber. “Our hope is these awards inspire others to achieve excellence in their professional and personal lives. Our congratulations to both Carol and Jessica.”

About Carol Hallquist, retired Hallmark Executive, ATHENA Leadership Award recipient
(Here’s a link to Carol’s photo.) 
The ATHENA Leadership Award is presented annually to honor an individual’s professional excellence, community service, and for actively opening doors for women. Carol Hallquist is retired from Hallmark, after serving as the founder and president of the company’s corporate foundation.
She was in senior leadership roles for 22 of her 32 years at Hallmark. Among her accomplishments:  leading a $4-billion retail network to its best retail increase in recent history; saving over $20-million through environmental programs; and launching a city-wide diversity and inclusion consortium, now regional and over 100 strong.
"At Hallmark I grew up in a culture where volunteering was seen as an honor and a privilege,” Hallquist says. “So to be recognized in this manner is very unexpected and humbling."
Her commitment to service continues in retirement. This past year, she founded PrincipalsConnect, a nonprofit that matches retired business professionals with KC urban school principals, offering mentoring and support to building principals.
Her passions, Hallquist says, are women’s leadership, diversity and inclusion, children and education. In addition to service as a mentor to many women over the years, she’s also served on the boards of the Central Exchange, the Chamber’s Women’s Executive Leadership Council, and the International Women’s Forum. She co-founded the Women’s Capital Connection, one of eight female angel investing groups in the U.S.

About Jessica Nelson, Managing Director, TeamKC: Life+Talent, Kansas City Area Development Council (KCADC) – ATHENA Young Professional Leadership Award
(Here’s a link to Jessica’s photo.)
The ATHENA Young Professional Leadership Award honors emerging leaders who demonstrate excellence, creativity, and initiative in their business; contribute time and energy to improve the quality of life for others in the community; and serve as role models for young women personally and professionally.
Within the first three years of joining KCADC, Jessica Nelson took the organization’s stagnant talent recruitment effort and turned it into a significant revenue-generating initiative. Today, TeamKC: Life+Talent is recognized nationally as a model of talent attraction and gives our region a strong, competitive advantage.

Among the TeamKC initiatives she’s led is InternKC, a program that’s engaged more than 12,000 interns over the past three years to get them “sticky” to the KC region. InternKC was created in response to employers saying the Number 1 reason why an intern declined a full-time offer with their company was a lack of knowledge of all the KC region offers. She’s also publisher of KC Options magazine, which answers the question “Why KC?” to candidates, new hires and interns from around the world. She became part of KCADC’s executive leadership team at the age of 27.
Nelson is also active in the community, serving as one of the first mentors in the launch of “Project Mentor” to guide young professionals in public relations in the Kansas City area, actively mentoring several women. As a young professional woman, she strives to support and inspire other women to achieve their goals and aspirations. As a member of the executive committee of the KC Network Board of the University of Kansas Alumni Association, she helped launch a Career Networking Committee which works to connect KU alumni across industries in Kansas City. A major component of the committee is diversity and inclusion, highlighting women in leadership roles, in STEM, and so on.
“Supporting young professional women in the Kansas City business community is a great way to engage and leave a lasting legacy no matter what your age,” Nelson said. “The camaraderie of women leaders in Kansas City is powerful, and as a young professional in our community having access to these individuals for collaboration and mentorship has propelled my personal and professional aspirations greatly. It is truly an honor to be recognized among such successful and incredible women in our region as an ATHENA Young Professional Leadership Award honoree.”

Media Contact:
Pam Whiting, Vice-President/Communications & Media Relations
Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce
Union Station
30 West Pershing Road, Suite 301
Kansas City, MO 64108
(816) 374-5481