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Karen Kramer is the annual Athena Award recipient.
SBJ file photo
Karen Kramer is the annual Athena Award recipient.

Women leaders selected for chamber awards

Posted online

The Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce will honor two women in business at its 2021 Athena Award ceremony.

The chamber announced the recipients of two awards on Tuesday – Karen Kramer, of CoxHealth, will receive the Athena Award and Brandy Harris, of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Springfield, will receive the Virginia Fry Rising Star Award, according to a news release.

Kramer, senior vice president and chief hospital officer for CoxHealth, oversees day-to-day operations at CoxHealth’s hospitals and serves as the health care system’s COVID-19 incident commander.

Kramer has 32 years of experience in the health system and was named one of Springfield Business Journal’s Most Influential Women in 2004.

The Athena Award honors businesspeople and leaders who have attained professional excellence and served the community, while also actively assisting other women in their achievements, according to the release.

Harris, CEO of the Boys and Girls Clubs, was selected as the second recipient of the Virginia Fry Rising Star Award.

Harris was named CEO of the organization in 2019, previously serving as a unit director and director of programs since 2013.

During her first year as CEO, she created a strategic plan, increased social media donations by 400% and increased the organization’s operating budget by $300,000, according to past Springfield Business Journal reporting.

She is a member of the Mayor’s Commission for Children, the CoxHealth Young Professionals Council and the chamber’s Legislative Policy Committee, and she was honored as a member of SBJ’s 40 Under 40 in 2019.

“This recognition helps people learn more about Boys & Girls Clubs of Springfield, an organization and mission I hold so near and dear to my heart,” Harris said in an emailed statement. “I am endlessly grateful to lead it and I am endlessly grateful to work alongside an amazing team of people.”

First presented in March 2020, the Virginia Fry Rising Star Award was created in honor of late attorney Virginia Fry, who died of cancer in November 2018. The award recognizes an emerging leader and mentor in their field and the community who is age 40 or younger, according to the release.

Both recipients were nominated by the public and selected by an independent panel of judges from among dozens of nominees.

“While there were numerous strong candidates, the two women selected as honorees this year are incredible examples of all the criteria for these awards,” chamber President Matt Morrow said in the release.

The ceremony is scheduled March 3 at the White River Conference Center and will be streamed for virtual viewing, according to the news release.

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