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Advocate Safehouse executive director named 2022 ATHENA award recipient

2022 ATHENA Award recipient Julie Olson receives a hug from a friend after the awards ceremony and luncheon on Tuesday afternoon.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

Julie Olson’s dedication to addressing domestic violence and sexual assault, no matter how uncomfortable for a community, has so far benefited the lives of more than 10,000 women, said Trish Kramer, a 2010 ATHENA Award recipient.

Olson was named Glenwood Springs’ 2022 ATHENA on Tuesday during a Glenwood Springs Chamber Foundation award ceremony at the Hotel Colorado.

As the Advocate Safehouse Project executive director for more than 27 years, Olson directly and indirectly embraced and encouraged at least 10,140 women, Kramer said during the award ceremony.



A leader in her field, Olson was previously honored with the Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence Purple Ribbon Award’s 2021 lifetime achievement award.

“I think it’s a calling,” Olson said, wiping tears from her eyes as she accepted the bronze ATHENA statue. “You do what you do, because that’s what you’re supposed to do in life.”



2022 ATHENA Award recipient Julie Olson reacts to being announced this year's winner at the annual luncheon on Tuesday afternoon.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

Olson played an integral role in the development of Rural Mountain Philanthropy Days, Colorado Gives Day – Mountain West Gives Day, Sexual Assault Nurse Examination (SANE) programming, the Mother’s Day Mile, LunaFest and Weight Watchers.

For 28 years, she has been an active member of the Glenwood Springs PEO Chapter, whose mission is to celebrate the advancement of women, educate through scholarships and achieve their highest aspirations.

Advocate Safehouse Bilingual Client Advocate Glenda Martinez rose to join Olson’s standing ovation Tuesday, celebrating her boss’ achievement.

Martinez, who has worked with Olson for about eight years, said Olson was a kind and caring team player.

“She’s a brilliant woman, who takes such good care of us,” Martinez explained. “During the pandemic, she focused so much on helping us help our clients through those very rough times.”

Beside Martinez, Advocate Safehouse Youth Advocate Allie Reyes brimmed with pride, dabbing away the occasional tear as video footage of Olson’s friends and coworkers played on a projector screen.

“She’s a staple in the community,” said Reyes, who has worked with Olson for about four years. “She’s so good at being neutral when she needs to be and empowering people to have those difficult conversations.”

2022 ATHENA Award recipient Julie Olson listens in during Nancy Fredericks' keynote speech at the annual luncheon on Tuesday afternoon.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

Founded in 1982 by Martha Mayhood Mertz, ATHENA International is a nonprofit organization dedicated to building a global pipeline of women leaders. This year’s luncheon marks the 28th year for the annual ATHENA award and the 14th year for the ATHENA Young Professionals award, Chamber Foundation Spokesperson Tara Harman said.

The ATHENA Young Professionals award recognizes an emerging leader who gives back to the community and serves as a role model for young women.

The Glenwood Springs 2016 ATHENA Young Professional recipient, Amber Wissing, described this year’s recipient as daring above all else.

2022 ATHENA Young Professional recipient Ashley Mauldin takes photos with family after the awards ceremony and luncheon on Tuesday afternoon.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

“Ashley Mauldin dares greatly in every area of her life,” Wissing said.

Mauldin, who owns her own therapy practice, New Awareness Counseling, is also the founder and CEO of Daring Women, where women focus on improving various areas of their lives. Through Daring Women, Mauldin hosts Daring Retreats, workshops designed by Dr. Brené Brown, based on her research around courage, worthiness, vulnerability and shame.

“There are so many women who have lifted me up,” Mauldin said, accepting the ATHENA Young Professional award from Wissing. “When I came here in 2011, I was at an all-time low.”

Postpartum depression and myriad other factors weighed heavily on Mauldin as she arrived in Glenwood Springs, but she said she was elevated through working with others and the support of her husband and family.

2022 ATHENA Young Professional recipient Ashley Mauldin returns to her seat after receiving her award at the annual luncheon on Tuesday afternoon.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

During the ceremony’s keynote speech, Nancy Fredericks encouraged attendees to “live the reality that you know you are.”

Fredericks, who jokingly introduced her section as “Golden Lessons from a Silver-haired Sage,” shared her personal struggles of being a woman and a professional in a man’s work world.

Keynote speaker Nancy Fredericks, a preeminent business executive strategist and author, addresses the audience during the 2022 ATHENA Awards Luncheon at the Hotel Colorado on Tuesday afternoon.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

“Whenever you’re down and out, give yourself away,” Fredericks encouraged attendees. “You will get so much more in return than you can imagine.”

Reporter Ike Fredregill can be reached at 970-384-9154 or by email at ifredregill@postindependent.com.


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