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Athena recipient, Joy Callahan, is a servant leader

The Chamber Athena Award is presented each year to recognize the outstanding achievements of women in the Smithfield-Selma community. A national award, it is presented in over 300 communities and is sponsored locally by Corestaff Services. The Chamber would like to thank Corestaff for their continued sponsorship of this prestigious honor.

This year’s nominee has all the qualities of a servant leader.  She is a person of the highest character and integrity.  She is described as being a great organizer and outstanding motivator.    This year’s Athena Award is presented to Joy Callahan.

Joy’s future in education and business began at East Carolina University where she graduated in 1991 with a Masters in Education.  Her career began as a business teacher at Manteo High School followed by six years in the Co-operative Education Department at North Carolina State University.  In 1999, she joined the staff at Johnston Community College where she has held a variety of roles in continuing education.  In 2011, Joy was promoted to her current position as Dean of Economic and Community Development. 

Joy’s commitment to workforce development couldn’t be more evident than in her role to bring the Workforce Development Center to life.  This 30,000 square foot training center is the result of a collaborative effort between Johnston County, Johnston County Public Schools, Johnston County Economic Development and the College, as well as local biopharmaceutical industries.  The purpose of the Workforce Development Center is to create an education and training center to support local industries in science and biotech, and other areas of economic influence within the county. 

This former Miss Kinston is very involved with her community.  She is a member and Past President of the Central Johnston Rotary Club and often leads their weekly singing.  She is a graduate of Leadership Johnston and was instrumental in starting and continues to coordinate Junior Leadership Johnston.  This program involves high school sophomores and assists these emerging teens in their efforts to prepare for leadership positions in business, community, education, and government affairs.  She is an active member of Amelia Christian Church where she shares her musical talents and provides guidance to children’s programs.

Fellow Rotarian, Chris Key, had this to say about Joy. “I am proud to call Joy a friend.  Her passion and ability to have fun at everything she does is contagious and makes her a natural leader. She inspires those around her by just having fun from dancing on the golf course, to singing from a golf cart; she challenges those around her to enjoy life more.    She has found a way to balance a successful career, community involvement, being a great mom, and having fun with friends.  She is an inspirational woman, and deserves this recognition.”

In the words of Rosa Andrews, last year’s recipient of the Athena Award, “It has been my pleasure to have Joy as my supervisor for seven years. Joy is definitely my go-to person, my sounding board, mentor, and friend. Whether it is overseeing the construction of the Johnston County Workforce Development Center, lovingly referred to as the Callahan Center, or working with Junior Leadership Johnston or volunteering with her fellow Rotarians, Joy can always be counted on to bring her positive, get-it-done attitude to all tasks. Nothing is impossible for Joy! I watch her build economic development in Johnston County every day. She is always looking for the next "new" program to support job growth and business development. No one is more deserving of the Athena Award. Her impact in the community is wide spread and long lasting!”

Joy and her husband Jon live in Clayton with their daughters, Kessler and Mattie.  She and her family enjoy spending time at their beach house in Oriental, NC.

Joy is a true asset to our community and it is with great pleasure that I ask her to please come forward and join our good friends from Corestaff as we present the Chamber Athena Award.

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