Ann Lehan honored with 2013 Athena Award

DeKALB – Ann Lehan was quick to share credit for the accomplishments that earned her the 2013 Athena Award on Thursday.

“I’m thrilled, I’m honored, I’m overwhelmed,” Lehan told the crowd in the packed Terrace Room at the Hopkins Park Community Center. “Thank you goes out to a lot of people, but number one is my husband, Tim. We are a team. When we received our [Illinois] Retail Merchants award, it was as a team, and I feel like he should be up here.”

Ann Lehan has been a pharmacist for more than 37 years, and over those years she and her husband have expanded Lehan Drugs to include three retail locations in DeKalb and Rockford.

The Athena Award, sponsored by the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce, recognizes individuals that demonstrate excellence, creativity and initiative in their business or profession; provide valuable service to business, profession and community; and serve as a mentor or role model for helping women reach their full leadership potential.

Lehan has met those criteria by serving as director of the Kishwaukee College Foundation, as a member of the stewardship committee at St. Mary’s of DeKalb, as a director with Kishwaukee Hospital, as a member of the United Way board and as a volunteer with the DeKalb High School Academic Boosters. She also mentors her pharmacy staff and college interns.

Of all the awards Lehan Drugs has won, Ann Lehan feels particularly honored to receive the Athena Award because it is specifically for women and because of its local focus.

“For me personally, it ranks very high [among the awards I have received] because it is in our community, being honored for what you have done for the community itself,” she said.

Women of Accomplishment awards were also presented to retired Sycamore teacher Yvonne Johnson, retired Northern Illinois University teacher Laura Smart and retired DeKalb school teacher Jackie Winfield. The awards recognize those who meet Athena criteria but who are retired or no longer working in DeKalb County.

ATHENA International was founded in 1982 by Martha Mayhood Mertz, who was serving on the board of directors of the Lansing, Mich., Regional Chamber of Commerce at the time. As the only woman on the board, she felt that the Chamber’s membership did not accurately represent the rest of Lansing’s business community.

Lehan was introduced by Alice Freier, administrator of the DeKalb Clinic and
the 2006 Athena Award recipient.

“Ann is best described as humble and unpretentious while embodying strength, courage and wisdom,” Freier told the crowd.

Lehan plans to keep the trophy at the store for a few weeks before she takes it home.

“I have gotten a lot of encouragement from our patients and customers who would like to see it,” Lehan said.