ATHENA Crandall’s Oscar

October 14, 2005
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Norton Shores Mayor Nancy Crandall, who has mixed feelings about the distinction of being the first woman to carry that title, can add another title to her list of firsts — without reservation.

Her "women can do anything" philosophy was only one of the reasons Crandall was honored with the first Lakeshore ATHENA Award Oct. 11 at the event luncheon. The award is a cooperative effort from the chambers of commerce representing Holland, Grand Haven, Spring Lake, Ferrysburg and Muskegon.

"I feel like I've just won the Oscar or something," Crandall said from the podium as she held her ATHENA statue and a large bouquet of flowers. "I am truly honored by this recognition."

Crandall said the award is another opportunity to recognize women and their work in the community, and one that will have many opportunities to be presented in the future.

"We could be doing this for a long time because there are a lot of deserving women," she said.

Crandall, who has been mayor of Norton Shores since 1993, has decided not to run for re-election and will end her term in November.

"It's quite an honor to have had that opportunity," she said of being the first woman mayor. "On the other hand, there should have been women doing these things before."

Though she said it will be a relief to not feel obligated to attend all the meetings or be at City Hall every day, she will miss being intimately involved with the city. Crandall, who is co-chair of One Muskegon, said she will focus her efforts on the regional organization.

Claudia Berry, vice president at Huntington National Bank and chair for the ATHENA award committee, said Crandall's commitment to the regional community was only one of the characteristics that set her apart.

"She spoke to all of the qualities that the ATHENA Award encompasses, professionally and personally," she said. "She is a lady of firsts."

Berry said there are many women along the Lakeshore who could be honored with the award, and seeing the regional event become a reality was a proud moment.

"We have been working on this for over a year and a half. To see it all happen makes every one of us on the committee proud," she said.

Crandall's long list of regional involvement includes the West Michigan Strategic Alliance, Muskegon Area First, Community Foundation for Muskegon County and Muskegon Area Sister Cities. Crandall has shown her interest in women's issues by helping to establish a WFCA Women's Fitness Camp, being a founding board member of Every Woman's Place, and working with the League of Women Voters.

Also honored at the luncheon were the first ATHENA scholarship recipients: Yvette Johnson, who is attending Cornerstone University; Laura Thompson, who is attending Baker College; and Lorna Williams, who is attending Muskegon Community College. The scholarship is awarded to women over the age of 30 who are pursuing higher education; the funds can be used in any way to further that goal.

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