FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 29, 2021
The Chamber’s Women’s Business Council recognizes long-time social worker and community advocate with the 2020 ATHENA Award.
Lehigh Valley, PA – The Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce Women’s Business Council (WBC) recently distinguished Director of Racial and Ethnic Justice for Community Action Lehigh Valley (Community Action), Kumari Ghafoor-Davis, MSW, with the internationally recognized ATHENA ® Leadership Award.
A committee of female community leaders selected Ghafoor-Davis for the prestigious recognition. Her high level of professional excellence, impact on improving the quality of life in the community, and willingness to actively advocate for others, particularly women, in realizing their full leadership potential, is what garnered Ghafoor-Davis the award.
“There are many deserving women in the Lehigh Valley and it is a challenge each year for the committee to select just one woman to receive the ATHENA,”stated Carla Hickey, Chair of the WBC’s ATHENA® committee and Director of Governance & Advocacy at Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania.“However, Kumari’s endless passion for the community and a career of hard, heart work, empowering and advocating for the BIPOC community, truly set her apart in this historic year.”
Ghafoor-Davis has over 25 years of experience in social services. A graduate of Columbia University School of Social Work, she has worked with children and families in schools, inpatient and outpatient programs, foster care youth, group homes, halfway houses, and hospital crisis units for adults and children as a Direct Care Manager, Crisis Social Worker and an Administrator. She is currently the Director of the Campaign for Racial and Ethnic Justice for Community Action where, among other responsibilities she oversees Generation Next and SHE (Self- Esteem, Health, and Education). As a Social Worker and Parent Coach/Expert, Kumari’s consulting company, Optimistic Expectations, has operated for almost 15 years, offering workshops for parents and students to promote more personal, academic and social success. She also offers professional training to educators and staff on topics such as Professionalism, Conflict Resolution, Cultural Sensitivity, Implicit Bias, and The Importance of Cultural Responsiveness in Schools.
“The mission of the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber’s Women’s Business Council is to empower, inspire and recognize women in business and the community. The ATHENA® Leadership Award offers our organization an opportunity to acknowledge enlightened leadership, which Kumari embodies,”added Danielle Joseph, Vice President of Diversity Councils for the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce.
Ghafoor-Davis was recognized at a virtual event held Thursday, January 28, 2021, attended by over 150 members of the community, coworkers and her family.
About the ATHENA Award
The ATHENA Leadership Award was inspired by the goddess of Greek mythology known for her strength, courage, wisdom and enlightenment – qualities embodied in the ATHENA Leadership Model. The Award is unique in both scope—local, national and international–and the ATHENA mission upon which it is based. The ATHENA Leadership Award is presented to a woman —or man— who is honored for professional excellence, community service and for actively assisting women in their attainment of professional excellence and leadership skills.
Since the program’s inception in 1982, more than 7,000 exemplary leaders in over 500 communities have received the prestigious ATHENA Award in the United States, Bermuda, Canada, China, Greece, India, Russia, Unite Arab Emirates and United Kingdom. By honoring exceptional leaders, the ATHENA Leadership Award Program seeks to inspire others to achieve excellence in their professional and personal lives.
Presenting sponsors of the 2020 Lehigh Valley Women’s Summit are Capital BlueCross and Lehigh Valley Health Network. For more information and updates, visit the event WEBSITE.
ABOUT OUR ATHENA RECIPIENT:
Kumari Ghafoor-Davis, MSW has over 25 years- experience in social services. A graduate of Columbia University’s School of Social Work, she has worked with children and families for majority of those years in schools, inpatient and outpatient programs, independent living/aging out programs for foster care youth, group homes, half way houses, and crisis units for adults and children as a Direct Care Manager, Crisis Social Worker and an Administrator.
She is currently the Director of the Campaign For Racial and Ethnic Justice for Community Action Committee of Lehigh Valley (Community Action) where she manages Generation Next college prep program, SHE an enrichment program for elementary and middle school girls and Color Outside the Lines an initiative to encourage racial conversations within the Lehigh Valley to promote inclusion and diversity acceptance.
As a Social Worker and Parent Coach/Expert, Kumari’s consulting company Optimistic Expectations offers workshops to parents to offer more tools in their parental journey and students to promote more personal, academic and social success. She also offers Professional Development Trainings to teachers, administrators and auxiliary staff on topics such as; Professionalism, Conflict Resolution, Cultural Sensitivity, Implicit Bias, Importance of Cultural Responsiveness in Schools, etc.
Kumari’s style is hands-on interactive training, with a goal to provide practical skills that will aid participants to be more efficient and productive in their role as parent, student and/or teacher/administrator.
In her parents workshops, she uses her book Real Talk: Ten Parenting Strategies to Raise Confident Successful Children which has a curriculum and gives practical strategies to raise children who are academically, socially successful as well as self-confident, integrity- filled and resilient. Kumari has created the game “Family Values: The Game That Gets Families Talking” that encourages families to have more communication, engage, and get to know each other better. Kumari trains and facilitates trainings/workshops in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, California and New York.
She has been an adjunct professor in continuing education for Essex County, Passaic County, Montclair State, Seton Hall Universities and Hunter College in their Sociology and Social Work Departments since 2002.
About the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber’s Women’s Business Council: The Women’s Business Council strengthens the Greater Lehigh Valley by empowering, recognizing and inspiring women in business and the community. The Women’s Business Council provides information and a networking forum for women in management, professional and private enterprise. The Chamber’s mission is to improve the economy and quality of life in the Lehigh Valley Metropolitan Area.With nearly 5,000 members who employ more than 220,000, the Chamber is the largest in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and in the top six nationwide. Our thirty-plus affiliated chambers, councils and committees are On Every Main Street with more than 1,500 community focused volunteers who actively contribute, at the grass roots, to develop and achieve their respective and collective goals.
About the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley: United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley is one of 1,800 United Ways around the world. United Way partners include global, national and local businesses, nonprofits, civic and faith organizations, as well as educators, labor, health organizations, government and more. Out of all the United Ways across the globe, United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley is in the top 40! In fact, our local United Way Alliance on Aging and our Community School model each won runner-up awards to the prestigious “Common Good Award” given by United Way Worldwide nationally to a United Way initiative that is making real change in the community. Nearly 2.6 million volunteers and 9.6 million donors around the world support United Way. Collectively, United Way raises more than $5 billion every year to create community solutions that improve life for everyone-impacting the lives of up to 50 million people every year.
Executive Vice President, Diversity Councils