KWC NEWS
Professor Emerita Britton Wins Athena Award

Barrier breaker wins Athena Award

By Rich Suwanski Messenger-Inquirer | Posted: Thursday, February 27, 2014 12:00 am


Margaret Britton, a retired Kentucky Wesleyan College sociology professor and women's rights advocate, was named the 2014 Athena Award recipient at the 16th annual luncheon Wednesday afternoon at the Owensboro Convention Center.

 

Britton, 79, taught sociology for 33 years at KWC and retired in 1997 but remains active in the women's movement by communicating with those who can further women's causes.

 

"Even if you slow down a little bit like this, you can still do things like call and write," Britton said. "It's not an excuse to quit."

 

Her husband Joe Britton, a retired KWC English professor, said the award "means so much to her."

 

"She has worked so hard over the years for women and women's rights — everybody's rights for that matter," he said. "I've always just stood behind her and supported her. I can't think of a better honor for her."

 

The Athena Award "honors someone from the community who has attained and personifies the highest level of professional excellence in one's profession, has devoted time and energy to the community in a meaningful way and has opened doors of opportunity for women," according to its criteria.

 

While teaching in the 1960s, Margaret Britton worked to break down the traditional barriers and discrimination that female students faced in college housing rules and social requirements. She helped establish on-campus daycare services, and she was the force behind an informal women's center at the college, a place serving mainly nontraditional women students.

 

Britton also mentored and counseled a large number of college women and faculty members and worked to keep professional equality issues at the forefront of the college's administration to ensure compliance with laws of equality and nondiscrimination.

 

She "encouraged women, challenging them to broaden their vision, to set high standards, to think independently and to reach their dreams," said master of ceremonies Kirk Kirkpatrick about her accomplishments. "She worked to establish services for victims of domestic violence and believed in the rights of all women, regardless of social class or circumstance."

 

Britton was one of the founders of OASIS, a local shelter and domestic violence program and substance abuse treatment provider for women and their dependent children.

 

Britton also served on the Owensboro Human Relations Commission, the Owensboro Police Advisory Board, the Personnel and Status Committees of RiverValley Behavioral Health and as a board member of Girls Inc. She also served in numerous leadership capacities on a local, state and national level.

 

Britton lobbied Congress regarding pay equity and the Family and Medical Leave Act. She was also a member and founder of the Owensboro Chapter of the National Organization for Women, a founding member of the Kentucky Pro-ERA Alliance and the founder and first chairwoman of the Kentucky Women Advocates.

 

The other nominees for the 2014 award were Susan Tierney, Pam Smith-Wright, Susan Montalvo-Gesser, Karen Miller Porter and Winny Lin.

 

The award is sponsored by the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce and Girls Incorporated. A committee outside of Owensboro reviews the nominations and selects the winner.

 

Past award recipients were Lamone Mayfield, Jean Wells, Brenda Clayton, Debbie Nunley, Helen Sears, Jane Noble, Martha Clark, Marianne Smith Edge, Jacqueline Addington, Vicki Stogsdill, Ursuline Sisters, Virginia Braswell, Patti Rayburn, Cherri Lolley and Helen Mountjoy.

 

Rich Suwanski, 691-7315, [email protected]

 

Image & text courtesy Messenger-Inquirer

 

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     The ATHENA Award honors someone from our community who has attained and personifies the highest level of professional excellence in their profession, has devoted time and energy to the community in a meaningful way and most especially, has opened doors of opportunity for women.  Today, we honor a very special individual who truly encompasses the vision and very essence of ATHENA.

 

     This year’s ATHENA recipient has “walked the talk” throughout her life and career.  Since the early 1960’s she has made her presence known in this community and has been a consistent, tenacious and forceful voice for women.  When she saw barriers, she would speak up, she would act.  She did not take the easy road, and she made a difference.

 

     Locally she began her career as a professor at Kentucky Wesleyan College in the 1960’s and her role as an educator was not just contained in the classroom.  She worked diligently to break down the traditional barriers and discrimination that many female students faced in college housing rules and social requirements.  She was a leader in fighting to establish on-campus day care services despite huge opposition.  She was the force behind an informal women’s center at the college, a place serving mainly non-traditional women students. Over the course of her career and life she has mentored and counseled a large number of college women and faculty members.  She worked to keep professional equality issues at the forefront of the college’s administration and sought to ensure compliance with laws of equality and non-discrimination. 

 

     Our recipient encouraged women, challenging them to broaden their vision, to set high standards, to think independently and to reach her dreams.  She made it okay to question, to challenge inequities that women faced.  Through her work in establishing services for victims of domestic violence, in a day when the term was “battered women”, she demonstrated her belief in the rights of all women, regardless of social class or circumstance.

 

     Active in numerous organizations in the community and beyond, her commitment to women causes and concerns were evident.  She has served on the Owensboro Human Relations Commission; the Owensboro Police Advisory Board; the Personnel and Status Committees of River Valley Behavioral Health; and as a board member of Girls Inc.  She has been a member of the American Association of University Women for 50 years and has served in numerous leadership capacities on a local, state and national level.  Through this organization she chaired the Title IX Task Force and reached out to educators at all levels throughout Kentucky to assist in compliance.  She lobbied Congress regarding pay equity and the Family and Medical Leave Act. 

 

     She was a member and founder of the Owensboro Chapter of the National Organization for Women.  She was a founding member of the Kentucky Pro-ERA Alliance and the founder and first Chair of the Kentucky Women Advocates.

 

     One was one of the founders of OASIS, a local shelter and domestic violence program and substance treatment provider for women and their dependent children.

     Her efforts have been tireless and invaluable to this community and to women.

While her work professionally and with women’s issues has received recognition, perhaps her greatest reward is in the countless women who share in the same sentiment – “she changed my life”.  And to each woman here today and in this community - you may not know her.  You may have never met her.  You may have never heard of her.  But rest assured your path has been made easier and your life is better because of her.

     Ladies and gentlemen, it is my honor to present the 2014 ATHENA Award to:

 

MARGARET BAGGETT BRITTON

           

 

 



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