Chamber presents Athena Award to Corinne LeBaron

Corinne LeBaron, executive director of Ronald McDonald House of Long Branch and New Brunswick, received the 2007 Athena Award from the Western Monmouth Chamber of Commerce on Nov. 2 during a luncheon at Branches, West Long Branch. LeBaron was chosen by the Athena selection committee. She was one of eight nominees for the award.

MARK LAMHUT Bob Fleishman, general manager, BMW of Freehold, and Sylvia Allen, (r) of Allen Consulting, chair of the Athena Committee, congratulate Corinne LeBaron, the 2007 recipient of the Athena Award presented by the Western Monmouth Chamber of Commerce. MARK LAMHUT Bob Fleishman, general manager, BMW of Freehold, and Sylvia Allen, (r) of Allen Consulting, chair of the Athena Committee, congratulate Corinne LeBaron, the 2007 recipient of the Athena Award presented by the Western Monmouth Chamber of Commerce. “Corinne, our Athena recipient, (as well as) the seven nominees, are truly outstanding executives and exceptional women of achievement,” said Loretta Kuhnert, president of the chamber. “Corinne’s professional and personal life is a perfect example of the essence of the Athena Award. She generously shares her time, enthusiasm and skills while opening the doors of opportunity for women.”

Other nominees for this year’s Athena award were Barbara Davis, president of Barbara Davis Employment Services; Donna Domenicali, president of Blue Heron Designs Inc.; Linda W. Geisler, vice president of Patient Care Services at CentraState Medical Center; Natalie Kober-Dallenbach, assistant vice president and manager of the Sun National Bank, Freehold Borough branch; Linda Lennox, founder and director of Lennox Physical Therapy Associates; Dawn M. Nakash, president of Daybreak Marketing Services Inc.; and Rose Ann P. Polo, director of public assistance for Freehold Township.

According to the Web site for the Athena Foundation, recipients of the Athena Award are individuals who demonstrate excellence, creativity and initiative in their business or profession; provide valuable service by contributing time and energy to improve the quality of life for others in the community; and actively assist women in realizing their full leadership potential.

LeBaron, a native of New Jersey and current resident of Oceanport, has worked in the nonprofit arena for more than 15 years. She has served as the executive director of the Ronald McDonald House in Long Branch since 2004.

LeBaron, in addition to her professional activities, serves as volunteer chair of the Northern Monmouth County Fresh Air Fund. LeBaron recently spent a month volunteering at an orphanage in Tanzania, Africa, and is planning a volunteer trip to Dharmasala, India, in March 2008.

The Western Monmouth Chamber of Commerce has been a host organization for the Athena Award since 1986 and is currently the only organization in New Jersey to grant the award.

In accepting the 2007 Athena Award, LeBaron was momentarily speechless before acknowledging how stunned she was to be the recipient.

“It was truly such an honor to be included in such an impressive group of women,” said LeBaron. “I felt that even more so when I heard their biographies. I had no thought of winning.”

LeBaron went on to thank her family “for always being there through the bad and the good.” She said her parents raised her and her sisters to be strong women and to believe they could do whatever they wanted to do. “My mother said she was thrilled to be raising daughters during the time she did, when women have so many opportunities,” said LeBaron.

According to the Web site for Ronald Mc- Donald House Charities, the first Ronald McDonald House program began in 1974 to provide a “home away from home” for families of seriously ill children receiving treatment at nearby hospitals. Since that time, more than 10 million families around the world have benefited from the comfort provided by a Ronald McDonald House.

The Fresh Air Fund is a nonprofit organization that provides free summer vacations to children from disadvantaged neighborhoods in New York City.

Sponsors of the 2007 Athena Award include BMW of Freehold, a Diamond Sponsor; CentraState Healthcare System, Healthsouth Rehabilitation Hospital of Tinton Falls, and Commerce Bank, all Platinum Sponsors; and Allen Consulting Inc., Ampersand Graphics, and Greater Media Newspapers, all Silver Sponsors.

This article was written by René McCallum on behalf of the Western Monmouth Chamber of Commerce.