Shiva Bidar was honored with The Business Forum of Madison’s ATHENA Award last night at the Concourse Hotel in downtown Madison.

Shiva Bidar beat out a host of distinguished nominees to win The Business Forum of Madison’s ATHENA Award last night at the Madison Concourse Hotel. The evening honored outstanding individuals who have demonstrated excellence and initiative in their careers, community involvement and support of women in the Madison area.

“It was an incredible surprise for me when they announced it,” Bidar tells Madison365. “I’m feeling overwhelmed and humbled to be recognized in this way. There were certainly some incredible nominees to choose from.”

At the event, nine other outstanding nominees were recognized for their creativity and initiative in their business or profession, leadership in the community and especially for their efforts to help women achieve their full potential. Those other nominees for the 2016 ATHENA Awards included Laura Gallagher of The Creative Company, Renee Moe of United Way of Dane County, Patti Seger of End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin, Marianne Morton of Commonwealth Development, Melanie Schmidt of Timpano Consulting, Sheri Rice of Two Men and a Truck, Rose Molz of EZ Office Products, Laura Schurman of M3, and Crystal Dalebroux D’Orazio of Marriage & Family Solutions.

“I think we all know that all of these nominees are just incredible contributors to our community and come from a wide variety of different backgrounds and businesses and community organizations,” Bidar says. “I was just honored to be in their company and to be nominated. It was an incredible group of women. It just speaks to the amazing women leadership we have in this community.”

The keynote speaker for the event was Cheryl Rosen Weston, who has been teaching at the UW Law School since the 1970s. She is the founder of the Madison law firm of Cullen, Weston, Pines & Bach, LLP.

Shiva Bidar (fifth from left, holding the award) with the nine other ATHENA Award nominees
Shiva Bidar (fifth from left, holding the award) with the nine other ATHENA Award nominees

The Business Forum is a local professional women’s organization that fosters the personal and professional growth of its members and other women through networking, scholarships, mentoring and community involvement. The ATHENA Award Celebration event is the largest fund-raiser for The Business Forum. It provides scholarships to Madison-area women to advance their professional goals by furthering their education. Since this event began in 1998, The Business Forum Foundation has awarded over $300,000 in scholarships.

“We actually heard from one of The Business Forum’s scholarship winners — a young African American woman who is now studying nursing,” Bidar says. “That was really moving. It’s really about giving back and making sure we are giving opportunities in this community to as many women as possible.”

Bidar, who was nominated for the ATHENA Award by Julia Arata-Fratta, is director of community partnerships at UW Health where she is responsible for diversity and community partnership programs and providing culturally and linguistically appropriate services. Nationally recognized for her work in the area of diversity and inclusion, Bidar is a member of Madison’s City Council and has inspired many with her commitment to bringing diverse voices and perspectives to the table to work together to make Madison a great place for all.

“This great event and winning the ATHENA Award gives me great positive energy to continue my work,” Bidar says. “It was incredible for me to receive the award on International Women’s Day, too.”