Keynote speaker for this year’s ATHENA Leadership Award® announced

Blair Milo

This year’s speaker for the ATHENA Leadership Award® Dinner will be Blair Milo, first secretary for Career Connections and Talent for the State of Indiana.

Wayne Bank and Indiana University East will host the dinner at 6 p.m. on Thursday, June 21, at Forest Hills Country Club, located at 2169 South 23rd St. in Richmond, Ind. The event recognizes women leaders who motivate, inspire and create positive change in the community.

Appointed by Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb into the position created by Executive Order in August 2017, Secretary Milo serves as the state’s Chief Talent Officer as Indiana works to fill an estimated one million job openings over the next 10 years. She also serves on the recently created Governor’s Workforce Cabinet, a body dedicated to shaping education and workforce training for a 21st Century workforce.

Prior to her appointment to Governor Holcomb’s Cabinet, Secretary Milo served as mayor of La Porte, Indiana, after being first elected in 2011 and reelected in 2015. During her time in office, Mayor Milo focused her administration on building the most conducive climate for economic development growth, providing for sustainable infrastructure needs and fostering a community dedication toward positive lifestyle choices.

During her time as mayor, Secretary Milo was appointed by then Indiana Governor Mike Pence to the State Workforce Innovation Council where she chaired the Career Counseling Task Force. In April 2017 she testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Republican Policy Committee on the challenges and opportunities before the American worker. She was a member of Governing Magazine’s 2017 Women in Government Leadership Series made up of 25 elected women from across the country. Secretary Milo serves on the Indiana Advisory Alliance for the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition and the Board of Governors for the Richard G. Lugar Excellence in Public Service Series.

Prior to her roles in public service, Secretary Milo served as a Surface Warfare Officer in the U.S. Navy. She first served as the Anti-Submarine Warfare Officer then as Electrical Officer in USS Mason (DDG 87) from January 2005 until May 2007, completing two Persian Gulf deployments. She then deployed to the Destroyer Squadron 50 staff based in Manama, Bahrain, and served as the assistant operations officer, daily scheduler for the Northern Arabian Gulf battle space, public affairs officer and as tactical watch officer for the commander. After serving in Bahrain and Iraq, Milo transferred to the Chief of Naval Operations staff at the Pentagon working for the director of Surface Warfare. In July 2010, Milo transitioned from active to reserve duty where she served at the Office of Naval Intelligence and NATO Warfare Development Group. She was awarded the 2017 American Legion Military Person of the Year (Reserve Category) for the State of Indiana.

Milo was born and raised in La Porte, Indiana, and graduated from La Porte High School.  She attended Purdue University where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a commission as an Ensign in the United States Navy in 2004. In 2010, she earned a master’s degree in Legislative Affairs from the George Washington University.

Nominees for the ATHENA award are exemplary leaders who have achieved excellence in their business or profession, served the community in a meaningful way and, most importantly, actively assisted women to achieve their full leadership potential. The award is presented to a recipient at the dinner.

This year’s nominees are Janis Buhl-Macy, Cambridge City, Indiana, founder and owner of the Western Wayne News; Susan Isaacs of Richmond, Indiana, is a trustee for Wayne Township, co-founder and a board member of Sprout of Control, and founder and director of the Grassroots Action Resource Center; and Amanda Marquis of Richmond, Indiana, is the executive director of The Leland Legacy.

ATHENA Leadership Award® recipients hail from all professional sectors. The award’s rich history, international scope and emphasis on mentorship make this award unique and among the most prestigious leadership awards one can receive.

This year will be the first ATHENA Young Professional Leadership Award presented to a finalist in Wayne County. This award actively supports and celebrates the ATHENA mission of supporting, developing and honoring women leaders, inspiring women to achieve their full potential — creating balance in leadership worldwide. ATHENA Young Professional Leadership Nominees are 18-35 years age. Nominees are emerging women leaders who demonstrate excellence, creativity and initiative in their business or profession; provides valuable service to improve the quality of life for others in their community; and clearly serve as a role model for young women both personally and professionally.

The finalists chosen for the ATHENA Young Professional Leadership Award are Roxie Deer of Richmond, Indiana, director of programs and events for the Wayne County Area Chamber of Commerce; Brittany Irvine of Richmond, Indiana, director of the Indiana Cuddle Cot Campaign and practice manager for Runnels Chiropractic; and Jessie Pilewski of Richmond, Indiana, is a career coach for the Earlham College Center for Career and Community Engagement.

The award recipients will be announced at the celebration dinner on June 21.

Local sponsorship is provided by Wayne Bank and Indiana University East. Event proceeds will equally benefit the Women’s Fund of Wayne County and Girls, Inc.

The cost for the dinner is $75. To RSVP, visit or contact JoAnn Spurlock, assistant vice president at Wayne Bank, at (765) 259-0209 or or Paula Kay King, director of Gift Development at IU East, at (765) 973-8331 or