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Chamber News Release

Chapus, Georgiou-Graham, YWCA of Rochester and Monroe County Receive 2024 ATHENA International Awards in Greater Rochester, NY

February 1, 2024

ROCHESTER, NY (February 1, 2024) – Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce and its Women’s Council affiliate presented its 38th annual ATHENA Award to Julie Chapus, Founder and Director, Miss Julie’s School of Beauty, at an awards ceremony on Thursday, February 1st. Agathi Georgiou-Graham, Owner and President, Arbor Venues + Agathi & Co. received the tenth annual ATHENA Young Professional Award, and YWCA of Rochester and Monroe County was awarded the seventh annual ATHENA Organizational Award.

The ATHENA Award is given annually to a professional female leader who has demonstrated significant achievements in business, community service, and the professional advancement of women.

Julie Chapus is the founder and director of Miss Julie’s School of Beauty, a nonprofit cosmetology school, empowering survivors of human trafficking through vocational training. Chapus saw a need for survivors to have a stable and lucrative income through state licensure. She has taken her knowledge from the social work field and blended it with her training in cosmetology to create an in-depth class for a wide variety of professionals covering what trafficking is, what it looks like in our area, and what we can do about it. Prior to her work on Miss Julie’s School of Beauty, Chapus worked in the Rochester Psychiatric Center, Park Ridge Chemical Dependency Unit, and Westfall Associates as the Dual Diagnostic Therapist treating chemically dependent and mental health diagnoses.

The ATHENA Young Professional Award recognizes emerging leaders in the 30-to-45 year old range who demonstrate excellence, creativity, and initiative in their business or profession. Recipients also provide valuable service by contributing time and energy to improve the quality of life of others in the community while serving as a role model for young women both personally and professionally.

Agathi Georgiou-Graham has turned her boutique event planning business into a multitude of women owned and run organizations, including of three event venues, two catering companies, and the small business that started it all, Agathi & Co. Agathi has consistently dedicated herself to giving women a space to shine in the male-dominated hospitality industry to deliver top-notch service to thousands of brides, nonprofit organizations, and businesses around Rochester. She additionally works closely with her church and Rochester Hope for Pets to give back to the Greater Rochester community.

The ATHENA Organizational Award goes to a woman-owned or woman-led business or organization that creates a culture encouraging women employees to achieve their full leadership potential and supports leadership development opportunities for women and girls in the community.

For 140 years, YWCA of Rochester and Monroe County has worked to eliminate racism, empower women, and promote peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all. Led by Dr. Myra Henry, President and CEO, YWCA addresses systemic issues of racial and gender inequalities, while acting fast when women and families are in crisis and need the security of safe, affordable housing. The organization’s programs include providing a myriad of housing options for vulnerable individuals and families, racial equity education, and career development programs. Their commitment to eliminating racism and empowering women goes beyond the individuals they directly serve to impact everyone in Rochester and Monroe County.

A selection committee consisting of a diverse group of professional leaders from the Rochester and Finger Lakes business community determined the recipients based upon submitted nominations. For more information on all of our finalists, please see our 2024 ATHENA International Awards event publication.

About Greater Rochester Chamber
Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce is the leading voice of business in the Greater Rochester, NY region, dedicated to promoting the interests of our members and advocating for policies that support economic growth and prosperity. We are the number one resource for information, connections, and support that businesses need to succeed in a rapidly changing business environment. We strive to create a culture of innovation, entrepreneurship, and collaboration that encourages businesses to take risks, explore new opportunities, and grow.

About the Women’s Council, a Greater Rochester Chamber affiliate
Women’s Council seeks to enhance the opportunities and knowledge of business and professional women in the civic, commercial, cultural, and educational interests of the Greater Rochester area. Its signature events include the annual ATHENA International Awards program and Young Women of Distinction scholarship awards program, which recognize teen girls for outstanding high school academic performance.

About ATHENA International
ATHENA International is a non-profit organization that develops, supports and honors women leaders and those who inspire them to reach their full potential by offering unique, impactful leadership development and award programs. The ATHENA Award® Program was founded in 1982 in Lansing, Michigan by ATHENA International founder Martha Mertz. The award was originally established to honor the achievements of exceptional women leaders. Since 1982, more than 6,700 top leaders in over 500 communities have received the prestigious ATHENA Award around the globe.


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