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Leading by Example
Stephanie Hau, 2015 ATHENA Award Recipient

April 2015
The 2015 ATHENA Award nominees (from left): Terri Garland, Sharon Jacobs, Barbara Przybylski, Stephanie Hau, Nancy Spence, Melynda Velez and Kathy Kage.

The 2015 ATHENA Award nominees (from left): Terri Garland, Sharon Jacobs, Barbara Przybylski, Stephanie Hau, Nancy Spence, Melynda Velez and Kathy Kage.

On March 6, community leaders gathered at the Richlin Ballroom in Edgewood for the HCC Women’s Leadership Breakfast and to hear who would be honored as this year’s ATHENA Award recipient, presented annually to a woman who exemplifies the highest level of personal and professional accomplishment, devotes time and energy to her community in a meaningful way, and forges paths of leadership for other women to follow. Over 20 nominations were presented this year; from those, seven were selected as finalists.

The finalists were Terri Garland, Administrative Law Judge, Maryland Office of Administrative Hearings; Stephanie Hau, President/CEO, Chesapeake Environmental Management, Inc.; Sharon Jacobs, CEO, Strategic Alliances Group, Inc.; Kathy Kage, Business and Account Manager, Northrop Grumman Information Systems; Barbara Przybylski, Founder & Owner, Absolute Security & Investigative Services; Nancy Spence, Director, University Center; and Melynda Velez, Founder & Executive Director, LASOS, Inc.

For her generous philanthropic efforts, mentorship of women wanting to pursue careers or start businesses in more traditionally male dominated industries, unparalleled leadership, encouragement of employees to bring new ideas and have a sense of ownership for their work, and for pioneering inventive technologies and innovative solutions to improve and support our communities, Stephanie Hau, president and CEO of Chesapeake Environmental Management (CEM), was named this year’s ATHENA Award recipient.

Hau’s list of professional and personal achievements is impressive, including: over the past three years she has increased the revenues of her organization by 15-fold and the net worth by seven-fold; for the past 10 years in a row she has received the Top 50 Most Generous Corporate Givers in the Baltimore Area by the Baltimore Business Journal; in 2013 and 2014 she donated more than $250,000 to local charities and earned the Small Employer Maryland Business Philanthropy Award; and she was honored as the Maryland Small Business Person of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

“I have always been fascinated with studying the lives of others, and discovering what they learned so that I could apply those ‘lessons’ to my own life. Early on in this educational journey, I came across a quote from Marion Wright Edelman, who founded the Children’s Defense Fund in 1973. ‘We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a big difference, ignore the small, daily differences we can make, which, over time, add up to big differences that we often cannot foresee.’ I embraced this philosophy in high school, and have practiced it ever since,” Hau says.

“Occasionally, I have witnessed how my own small actions have helped other women reach their potential as leaders and women of influence. Early on, it was helping my mother with her college chemistry homework and with housework as she worked to complete her degree in nursing, then earn a Master’s degree, then become a licensed therapist helping other women find their voice, and ultimately be named SARC Volunteer of the Year before she died. Now, it is providing career advice to women wanting to pursue college careers or start businesses in more traditionally male-dominated industries like science and engineering, and teaching my two sons to have no fear of strong women. Just small, daily actions that do not seem particularly significant, but over time can be impactful.”

Based on a strong passion to improve and protect the environment and the drive of a budding entrepreneur, Hau founded CEM in 1993. For over 21 years, she has served as president and CEO of this award-winning, full-service environmental consulting firm responsibly managing natural resources for public and private clients by carefully considering the complex inter-relationships of the environmental sciences. I95