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Two Outstanding KC Women Honored with KC Chamber ATHENA Award for Leadership



Anita Bajaj Newton, Chief Innovation Officer at CommunityAmerica, and Adrienne B. Haynes, Managing Partner of SEED Law, LLC, will be presented with the ATHENA Award for outstanding leadership in a private reception from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. at Municipal Auditorium’s Little Theatre, 301 West 13th Street, KCMO.
 
The award is named for Athena, the Greek goddess of intelligence and wisdom, arts and sciences. Originally created by the Lansing, Michigan, Chamber of Commerce in 1982, the award was first presented locally by the KC Chamber in 2001. Today, the ATHENA Award program includes more than 375 U.S. cities and has recognized more than 7,000 women and men for their accomplishments, community service, and opening pathways for others.
 
Anita Bajaj Newton – ATHENA Leadership Award
This award is presented annually to honor an individual’s professional excellence, community service, and for actively assisting women in their attainment of professional excellence and leadership skills.
 
Newton says, “As a minority female executive myself, helping female and minority executives achieve their full potential has been a top priority throughout my career.” As a graduate of Harvard Business School’s MBA program, she’s mentored female Harvard MBA graduates in strategy, leadership, and career progression. She’s mentored a total of 75 women over the years. Most recently, she created a teen advisory board to teach teens principles of innovation.
 
As Chief Innovation Officer for CommunityAmerica, Newton leads a team that develops nationally-recognized new products for the financial services industry. She is also co-founder of Mighty Good Solutions, inventing, developing, and patenting multiple consumer products currently sold at a number of large national retail chains. She’s also a contributing editor for magazines including Inc. and Entrepreneur.
 
Newton co-founded the Children’s Advocacy Foundation to help low-income children in Kansas City, supporting programs like Project Vision, providing low-income children with free vision testing and new eyeglasses. She also co-founded Project Smile which provides free dental care to low-income who need dental care as a result of domestic violence.
 
Adrienne B. Haynes – ATHENA Young Professional Leadership Award
This 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 a role model for young women both personally and professionally.
 
Haynes says, “I am grateful for the opportunity to work with youth, whether directly or through supporting clients dedicated to youth development.”
 
She served as Assistant Director at Camp Kupugani, then a girls-only program and the only African-American owned residential camp in the U.S. While there, she helped design a program that impacted hundreds of young women, ages 7 to 15, from across the world.
 
Since then, she’s worked on boards with an emphasis on helping young women, including Awesome Ambitions, Girls to Queens, and the Linwood YMCA. The Black Female Attorneys Network has a giving circle, the Sisters in Law Fund, that gave its first grant to a local nonprofit dedicated to helping young women.
 
As an entrepreneurial attorney, Haynes says her mission “is to aid in the creation of sustainable business and transferable wealth,” working diligently to contribute to making Kansas City “America’s most entrepreneurial city,” one of the KC Chamber’s Big 5 goals. After law school, she helped to design and develop the Blue Hills Contractor Incubator, a nonprofit entrepreneurship program designed to support construction contractors. Today she owns two businesses, SEED Law and SEED Collective. She’s contributed thousands of pro-bono hours through the SEED Law Community Office Hours program and through workshops on business law in English and Spanish.
 
In 2015, Haynes started the Multicultural Business Coalition to help bridge the gap in the business community and help businesses to connect with a variety of resources. She also founded the Construction Business Institute and formalized the Black Female Attorneys Network of Missouri and Kansas. She also works as one of seven Innovators in Residence through the Kauffman Foundation, helping reduce barriers to entrepreneurship.