After a recent ATHENA® Award meeting, where everyone present was busy discussing preparation for our Sept. 29 award banquet, I spoke with one of the committee members about what the program represented. I was really impressed when she clearly pointed out that this program, more than about awarding success, was most importantly about giving exposure to women business professionals here in the Tristate who have actively assisted other women to reach their full leadership potential.

In thinking more about her point, I’ve gained a deeper appreciation of the event. In fact, I’m sure it’s a key reason why the ATHENA program has flourished. If put into a business context, what relationship has not benefited when we are convinced that, at the same time that we are selling our services, we are truly helping our clients attain greater heights?

This time of year is always interesting. In addition to our daily routines this month, we’ll also be receiving a solid dose of political news and commentary ahead of the coming local elections. I see two major issues vying for voters’ attention in November that will have a major impact on our region and on our business: a streetcar for downtown and casino gambling in Ohio.

I’m told that a good journalist does not cast his or her opinion on political topics such as these; so, since we’re in agreement that I won’t be winning any journalism awards anytime soon, let me give you my 2 cents. Taking a cue from the ATHENA Award, I do think that most of these issues gain credibility as a result of a majority of voters feeling the effort exists to help not only themselves, but also others to reach their full potential.

I credit Mayor Mark Mallory for becoming personally involved in the streetcar debate — an issue that has brought him some negative press. I think it’s hard to argue that there aren’t potential benefits a streetcar could provide for businesses and people in this region, and it’s fun to see people’s excitement over the possibilities.

Conversely, there is, I believe, a tremendous hurdle to overcome in any effort that is perceived to be less about helping others reach their full potential and more about budgetary concerns. In an interview with Cincy less than a year ago, Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland said, “I am opposed to expanded gambling in Ohio.” Over the summer, Strickland completely changed his position. So, times change — in a hurry, at that — and no doubt budget shortfalls exist. However, as Benjamin Franklin once wrote, “It is much easier to suppress a first desire than to satisfy those that follow.” Outside of the benefits that expanded gaming presents for Ohio’s budget, I find myself still grappling with the argument that gambling is for the long-term betterment of Tristate residents.

Hopefully, events like the ATHENA Award program will help us visualize not only what awesome things can be done by individuals, but also teach us to help identify those things that best help others and our community. So yes, my opinion is out on the streetcar and gambling issues. What’s that they say when you’re the one not receiving the award? Oh yes. “Better luck next time.” If that’s you on the receiving end, no worries. If you couldn’t tell, people say it to me plenty.