MONMOUTH COUNTY, NJ – The Monmouth Regional Chamber of Commerce (MRCC) closed out 2021 with an in-person celebration of one of the organization’s signature events, the International ATHENA Leadership Awards® Luncheon. The gala event, held in November at the elegant Jumping Brook Country Club in Neptune, NJ, honored individuals for their outstanding professional accomplishments, community service, and mentoring of women to help them achieve their full leadership potential. By day’s end, two award recipients were announced from among a stellar group of finalists whose inspiring stories were highlighted in a series of video profiles. Now, those recipients are looking ahead to another year of making a difference and encouraging others to be recognized as ATHENA Award nominees for 2022.

The 2021 ATHENA Leadership Award was presented to Jodi Grinwald. With over 16 years of non-profit experience, Grinwald started her career as a regional director at the American Heart Association, rising to executive director. She next served as vice president of development for the American Lung Association of the Mid-Atlantic. In 2017, she became co-founder and CEO of the Zzak G. Applaud Our Kids Foundation, which provides ongoing funding for children with financial needs to take ongoing lessons at performing arts studios close to their homes for up to 15 years. Grinwald launched and is the lead for the statewide NJBIA Not-for-Profit Council and has chaired the NJBIA Women Business Leaders Council and Forum. She is a mentor for NJ Advance Media’s Mentoring Monday event for women and is a certified professional coach for Fortune 500 companies, small businesses, and individuals. She also provides consulting services to non-profit organizations, reinforcing their mindset as “for-impact” organizations. In 2020, Grinwald launched the Today is the Day Changemakers Podcast and YouTube Channel, where she interviews changemakers and inspirers, including CNN heroes, CEOs, professors, celebrities, entrepreneurs, and others who are making a difference in the world. In March 2022, she will launch the first international Today is the Day Changemakers Virtual Forum, connecting leaders from a range of backgrounds and industries for an inspiring global summit. She is currently writing a book about her quest to help people feel more connected.

The 2021 ATHENA Young Professional Leadership Award was presented to Kristina Henderson. She is the chief executive officer and co-owner of Henderson Promos in Red Bank, NJ, was crowned 2020 Mrs. New Jersey American in the Mrs. America Pageant, and placed in the top six at the Mrs. American 2021 pageant in Las Vegas. In June 2021, Henderson held “Stars of Women in Business,” a red-carpet networking and awards event where women leaders in television, business, and the nonprofit arena were honored for their contributions to the community and the advancement of women, and the inaugural Kristina Henderson Empowering Young Women Scholarship for college was presented. Henderson is an ambassador for Tigger House Foundation, an organization to prevent drug abuse, and is on the advisory board for the Zzak G. Applaud Our Kids Foundation. She was a flight attendant before going on to be a television news producer in New Hampshire and later establishing, together with her husband, Henderson Promos, LLC and the nonprofit Bart and Kristina Henderson Foundation, which will help fund community projects. Henderson is also the co-founder of The Giving Back Forum, an event that brings together more than 65 community nonprofits in one space to learn from one another, share resources, and promote awareness for their causes.

Jodi Grinwald and Kristina Henderson are now working together with other Monmouth Regional Chamber of Commerce ATHENA committee members to plan and promote this year’s event and the importance of the esteemed International ATHENA Leadership Award program, which celebrates women as valued leaders who serve as role models and give back to the community in profoundly meaningful ways. The program’s rich history, international scope, and focus on mentorship distinguish it as one of the most prestigious leadership awards one can receive, with more than 6,000 recipients honored worldwide since the renowned program was established in 1982. The Monmouth Regional Chamber of Commerce is the only organization in New Jersey that is licensed to present the ATHENA Award and has hosted the event for 36 years. 2021 marked the seventh year that the MRCC has presented the ATHENA Young Professional Leadership Award, recognizing community leaders ages 24 to 40. Look for more details in the coming months for the 2022 ATHENA Awards event, to be held in November.

About the Monmouth Regional Chamber of Commerce

The Monmouth Regional Chamber of Commerce is a non-profit volunteer organization whose mission is to promote business, enhance economic development, and serve as a catalyst for improving the overall quality of life in the communities it serves. Its vision is to provide opportunities for business growth and prosperity, to offer quality service to members, and to serve as a resource leader for business and the entire community. The chamber represents the voice of business on a regional level.

For information about the Monmouth Regional Chamber of Commerce, including member benefits, upcoming events, sponsorship opportunities, and more, visit You may also like and follow the Monmouth Regional Chamber of Commerce on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram and subscribe to the organization’s YouTube channel to view videos of meetings, events, and presentations.

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