2012 ATHENA Award Recipient Carita Watson Inspires the Next Generation of Women

“The CWCC congratulates Carita Watson – a phenomenal role model for women both here and across the world. We were thrilled to have so many outstanding candidates for the ATHENA Award this year. It is important that the community continue to recognize female leaders who exemplify leadership and excellence”, said President and CEO of the Chamber Donna Evans.

On the evening of April 26th, during  the CWCC ATHENA Award Gala – Opening Doors to Leadership, Carita Watson, Global Transformation Executive at IBM, was honored as the recipient of the 2012 ATHENA Award. The award was presented by premier sponsor Xcel Energy.  Carita was selected from a group of finalists including Dr. Anna Marie Jackson, Co-founder of Project C.U.R.E., Marguerite Salazar, Regional Director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Patricia Wells, General Counsel at Denver Water and Robin Wise, President and CEO at Junior Achievement Rocky Mountain. The recipient and finalists were selected from an outstanding group of 23 nominees.

“As a young woman, I was inspired to reach for the impossible as I watched Carita take the stage and listened to her heartwarming and humble speech.  What a great event,” said Alex Renteria, one of the more than 325 event attendees.

Carita was nominated by four of her peers who recognized both her personal and career achievements as the reasons why she deserved the ATHENA Award. She joins a long line of esteemed previous ATHENA recipients who have been honored for professional excellence, community service and actively assisting women in their attainment of professional excellence and leadership skills.

Carita began her career with IBM in 1973.  After joining IBM she earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration, cum laude, and a master’s degree in information systems at the University of Denver.   In 1996, Carita moved into the executive ranks of IBM to lead more than 1,600 technology professionals.  Now, as Senior State Executive for Colorado, she provides leadership for IBM in the community across the state, linking their Corporate Citizenship and Spirit activities with strategic IBM initiatives, and leveraging the resources of IBM to achieve strategic business goals.

What Carita focused on in her acceptance speech was her ability to achieve through all of the people who have helped her along the way.  She thanked her mom her husband and acknowledged the support she has received from IBM.  As many working moms can relate to, she is most proud of “raising four well-adjusted sons while working full-time.”

Carita is active in her community and currently serves on the Colorado State University Industrial Advisory Committee; the board of directors for INROADS, Rocky Mountain Region.  Past board participation includes the Advisory Board for the University of Denver, School of Computer Science; the University of Phoenix Rocky Mountain Region Community Board; the Colorado Leadership Alliance board of directors, the University of Colorado President’s Leadership Class board of directors, the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce board of directors.

The 2012 Florence Caldwell Achievement Scholarship award was also presented at the event.  This year Elise Dugwyler of Longmont was selected to receive the $63,800 award for four years at Colorado School of Mines.  Elise plans to study Civil Engineering at Mines.