(Shreveport, LA) – United Way of Northwest Louisiana’s (UWNWLA) Vice President of Community Investments & Operations, LaToria “Tori” W. Thomas, and Director of Donor Relations & Human Resources, Katie Bursley, have both been selected as honorees for the Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce Business Development Connection’s (BDC) 31st Annual ATHENA Award Program.

Each year the BDC honors area individuals during the ATHENA Leadership Awards Luncheon, where one individual is selected to receive the ATHENA Award. The award recognizes an individual who has attained and personifies the highest level of excellence and creativity in their business or profession; devotes time and energy to improve the quality of life for others in the community; and has actively assisted women in achieving their full leadership potential through service and mentorship.

Tori joined UWNWLA in 2018 and embodies United Way’s mission to build a better and stronger community. Tori brings a diverse background in nonprofit leadership, including work in foundations and grant-making organizations, fundraising, program development, and management. She is the founder of Emerging Philanthropists in New Orleans, a giving circle for young professionals. She has served on the boards of the Committee for a Better New Orleans/Metropolitan Area Commission, Young Leadership Council, and Forum 35. Tori was selected as a Connecting Leaders Fellows for the Association of Black Foundation Executives. She currently serves on the Executive Committee for Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.- Sigma Rho Omega Chapter, the Advisory Board for the Greater Shreveport Chamber’s Leadership Program, and AFP North Louisiana Board.

Katie joined UWNWLA in 2017, and she serves as a United Way spokesperson. She is instrumental to the donor relations department and strives to connect need with opportunity. She aspires to uplift marginalized individuals so everyone’s potential can be seen. Katie has served on the boards of the Public Relations Association of Louisiana–Northwest Chapter, the Young Professional Initiative, Common Ground Community, and as the Lay Leader of Grace Community United Methodist Church. Katie chaired the 40 Under Forty Awards & Gala in 2018, and in 2019, she earned her Master of Business Administration degree from Louisiana State University at Shreveport.

“I know first-hand of the impactful work Tori and Katie have accomplished over the years,” said UWNWLA President & CEO, Dr. Bruce Willson Jr. “However, for their accomplishments to be recognized by the public speaks volumes about the passion and determination they carry for what they do. Tori and Katie are an asset to our organization, and I am so proud of them and the leaders they’ve become.”

Since the ATHENA Award program’s inception in 1982, more than 7,000 exemplary leaders in over 500 communities have received the prestigious award in the United States, Bermuda, Canada, China, Greece, India, Russia, Unite Arab Emirates, and United Kingdom. By honoring exceptional leaders, the ATHENA Leadership Award Program seeks to inspire others to achieve excellence in their professional and personal lives.

The ATHENA Award recipient will be announced at the ATHENA Leadership Awards Luncheon on Wednesday, November 10. UWNWLA is proud to have two of its staff members recognized for their outstanding and driven work in the community.