Three remarkable women were honored at a luncheon on Dec. 5 at the Renaissance Palm Springs. Recipients of the prestigious Palm Springs Athena Awards, presented by the Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce in conjunction with the city of Palm Springs, were philanthropist Helene Galen and activist Mariah Hanson. Entertainment legend Carol Channing received the Jackie Lee Houston Angel Award.
Presented annually by chambers of commerce around the nation, the Athena Award Luncheon pays tribute to women who demonstrate excellence and creativity in their business or in the community at large and actively assist women in realizing their full leadership potential.
Galen, recipient of the 2013 Community Icon Award, was recognized for her contributions to the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center, the McCallum Theatre, Jewish Family Services, the Palm Springs Art Museum, and a donation of $1.5 for establishment of the Galen Performing Arts Center at Rancho Mirage High School as part of her contribution to the Palm Springs Unified School District’s Performing Arts Endowment.
Hanson, Athena Leadership Award honoree, is the Founder and CEO of the Club Skirts The Dinah, the original Dinah Shore Weekend in Palm Springs, now the largest lesbian event in the world. She is an avant-garde business entrepreneur who in two years created one of the most important tourism boosters in the city of Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley.
Channing, Jackie Lee Houston Angel Award recipient, is not only one of the theater’s legendary performers, a three time Tony winner recognized most often for her starring roles in shows including Hello Dolly! and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, but her devotion to helping those with AIDS on Broadway and in the Coachella Valley is almost as legendary as her passion for returning arts to public schools.
The event was hosted by Mayor Steve Pougnet of Palm Springs who joined with Andy Jessup Sr. and Vice Mayor Ginny Foat to introduce the honorees. Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce President Ulrich McNulty welcomed guests and Rabbi Sally Olins of Temple Isaiah gave the invocation. Presenting sponsors were Jessup Auto Plaza, City of Palm Springs, Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, Eisenhower Medical Center, Desert Regional Medical Center, Pacific Premiere Bank and Rabobank. Luncheon sponsors were Barbara Keller, Artist Gesso Cocteau, Harold Matzner, Helene Galen, and Schlecht, Shevlin & Shoenberger. Amy Blaisdell and Erin Scott headed the Luncheon Committee.
Photography by Sherri Breyer