The Barbara McNees Spirit of ATHENA Scholarship

The Barbara McNees Spirit of ATHENA Scholarship recognizes the contributions of retired Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce President Barbara McNees, who for decades actively encouraged and supported the development of women leaders across the Pittsburgh region. The scholarship, a competitive award, pays the recipient’s tuition for attendance to an executive education program at Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business: the Carnegie Mellon Leadership & Negotiation Academy for Women. The academy was founded by the late 2011 ATHENA Award Recipient M.J. Tocci.

The application period for the 2017-2018 Spirit of ATHENA Scholarship is closed. Applications for 2018-2019 will be accepted in spring 2018.

2017-2018 Recipient of the Barbara McNees Spirit of ATHENA Scholarship

Jennifer Van Dam the 2017 Barbara McNees Scholarship Recipient

Jenn Van Dam

Jennifer Van Dam is the Digital and Community Engagement Manager at Innovation Works, one of the most active seed stage investors in the nation. A resident of the Northside, Van Dam holds a B.A. in Communications and Cultural Studies with a focus on African-American studies from Chatham College for Women at Chatham University. She is a Co-Founder of Invest In Her, a group that fundraises and hosts an annual Pitch Competition for women owned-businesses. Van Dam also holds a seat on the board of ALPFA Pittsburgh as VP of Marketing and serves on the young professional boards of the Children's Museum and the Pittsburgh Venture Capital Association.

If you would like to learn more about Jennifer Van Dam check out her profile on ImaginePittsburgh.com Meet the Neighbors.

Barbara McNee

Barbara McNees

Founder of Spirit of ATHENA Scholarship

Retired from the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce in 2013 after a career spent building consensus among business, community and civic leaders in the service of increasing economic opportunity across southwestern Pennsylvania. Among her lasting achievements has been the 1990 founding of the ATHENA Awards Program of Greater Pittsburgh, recognizing women who, through mentorship, help other women to succeed

Each year the Barbara McNees Spirit of ATHENA Scholarship will provide one woman age 35 or younger the the opportunity to attend, tuition-free, the Carnegie Mellon Leadership and Negotiation Academy for Women. (Part of the executive education program at CMU’s Tepper School of Business, the academy was founded by the late M.J. Tocci, the 2011 ATHENA Award winner.) Learn more about the academy’s 100-hour certificate program here.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Female resident of the 10-county Pittsburgh region (Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Lawrence, Washington or Westmoreland county)
  • Age 35 or younger at time of application
  • Minimum of eight years of professional work experience
  • Track record of:
    • Professional achievement
    • Community commitment and voluntarism in Pittsburgh region
    • Support of women and/or girls through mentoring or other involvement
    • Evidence of a financial hardship which would otherwise prevent applicant from attending the Negotiation Academy

Scholarship Requirements

  • Commitment to attend and participate in the six-month Negotiation Academy for the program year in which it is awarded
  • Commitment to attend the annual ATHENA Awards Program of Greater Pittsburgh Luncheon on Oct. 2, 2017 and be introduced as the Barbara McNees Spirit of ATHENA Scholarship recipient
  • Commitment to serve as speaker or resource at a minimum of one additional ATHENA event to share “lessons learned”
  • Commitment to participate in a mutually agreed upon program with the scholarship’s lead sponsor

Inaugural Sponsor

Elsie H. Hillman Foundation Prior to Elsie Hillman's passing in August 2015, she guaranteed the funding of the first Spirit of ATHENA Scholarship as the first individual to pledge financial support.

Founding Sponsors

  • UPMC and UMPC Health Plan
  • Allegheny Conference on Community Development
  • Highmark Health
  • Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC
  • Eat'n Park Hospitality Group, Inc.
  • Jones Day
  • Wendy & David Barensfeld Family Charitable Fund