BOARDMAN - The president of Eastern Gateway Community College is this year's Athena Award winner.
Dr. Laura Meeks received the award Thursday before a crowd of nearly 700 at Mr. Anthony's Banquet Center here. She was among 29 area women who were nominated for the award, according the Regional Chamber, one of the event's sponsors.
The annual award recognizes area business and professional women who have demonstrated excellence in their chosen career, provided leadership in the community and mentored or contributed to the growth of other professional women.
Meeks has led EGCC, formerly Jefferson Community College, since 1999. In 2009 under her leadership, the community college for Jefferson and Columbiana counties expanded to include the Mahoning Valley region and now educates students at seven locations.
During the past 10 years, enrollment at EGCC has increased by 50 percent, and the college was recently ranked among the top 64 community colleges in the nation because of its enrollment increase. The institution was also named one of 84 "Achieving the Dream" colleges in 2005 and one of 21 "Achieving the Dream Leader" colleges in 2009 because of improvements in the college's student retention rates.
CNN Money named EGCC one of the top five community colleges based on transfer and graduation rates.
Before joining Eastern Gateway, Meeks was president of the Fort Scott Community College in Kansas, where she was the only female president among 19 community colleges in the state.
She earned her bachelor's degree in speech from the University of Minnesota, a master's in rhetoric and an education specialist's degree from Pittsburg State University and a doctor of philosophy degree in curriculum and instruction from Kansas State University.
She is a member of the Workforce Investment Board of Trumbull County and the Trumbull 100, a member of the board and executive committee of the Techbelt Energy Innovation Center in Warren and a board member of the Eastern Ohio P-16 Partnership for Education.
Also during the dinner:
Miranda Parke, a senior at Maplewood High School and salutatorian of her graduating class, was announced as the recipient of the eighth annual Athena Scholarship;
Recipients of $1,250 scholarships were Briana Scott, a graduating senior at Jackson-Milton High School, and Shelby Norris, a graduating senior at Hubbard High School.