Sherri Collins, Reyna Montoya and Cindy Dach

Left to right, Sherri Collins, Reyna Montoya and Cindy Dach were winners at the ATHENA Awards.

The Arizona Commission for the Deaf and the Hard of Hearing’s (ACDHH) Executive Director, Sherri Collins, was named as the Greater Phoenix Chamber 2019 ATHENA Businesswoman of the Year in the Public Sector during its 32nd Annual ATHENA Awards Luncheon on Nov. 15.

The ATHENA Businesswoman of the Year Award recognizes a woman in the public and private sectors, in addition to highlighting an upcoming leader in the Valley as an ATHENA Young Professional.  ATHENA finalists are chosen for their excellence in business and leadership, dedication to the community and support, and mentorship of other women.

Cindy Dach, CEO, Changing Hands Bookstore, & Co-Founder MADE art boutique and Roosevelt Row, was awarded the 2019 ATHENA Businesswoman of the Year Award in the private sector. 

Reyna Montoya, CEO & Founder, Aliento, took home the 2019 ATHENA Young Professional Award.

“Sometimes I have to pinch myself,” said Collins, of Goodyear. “I live in an amazing and vibrant city in the most beautiful state in America, and it has been my good fortune to do a job I love all while working alongside a professional and dedicated staff for the past 22 years.”

Born deaf, Collins is known for breaking barriers and for her forward-thinking and innovative ideas within the Deaf and the Hard of Hearing community. In 2000, she advocated for major legislative changes in the ACDHH statue, therein changing the name from Arizona Council for the Hearing Impaired to ACDHH, in addition to passing interpreter licensure requirements and statewide facility expansion with a new $6 million annual budget.  She has worked with the FCC on passing multiple bills to improve the quality of life for the Deaf and the Hard of Hearing community not only in Arizona but nationwide.

Collins adds, “it is a dream to be acquainted with this group of incredible women who have been honored for their hard work and dedication to our community. As a Deaf woman, being recognized as a part of this esteemed group of community leaders illustrates the inclusive commitment of the Phoenix community to all its citizens and toward an even brighter future.”

Collins is a mentor to countless women in the areas of health and wellness, self-advocacy and above all, leadership development. She helped establish and served as President of Phoenix Deaf Women’s Organization whose mission is to promote education, advocacy, empowerment, and networking within the diverse community of the Deaf and the Hard-of-Hearing Women in the metropolitan area of Phoenix.

As an employer, Collins encourages her employees take an active role as community leaders.  She supports continued education with many of her employees; some of whom have received Public Management Certificates and upper-level degrees.  She is continually thinking ahead on what can be done to better assist the Hard of Hearing and Deaf community to continue to improve technical functionality.

The ATHENA Awards, named after the Greek goddess of courage and wisdom, is a program of ATHENA International, a non-profit organization dedicated to creating leadership opportunities for women.