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Margaret “Peggy” Coe named 2013 ATHENA Award recipient

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Little did Margaret “Peggy” B. Coe know that when she became a Girl Scout decades ago, the organization would teach her leadership and empowerment skills to share with thousands of women throughout Northern New York.

Since then, she has dedicated much of her life to serving others and improving the lives of women. That is why she was named to receive the 2013 Athena Award.

“I was totally surprised, flabbergasted,” Mrs. Coe said, regarding both the nomination and selection. “I was honored, but most of all humbled.”

She and her family have helped form and expand agencies in the north country, but Mrs. Coe said it is her role in nurturing others that has become most important in assisting women and showing them their potential. After she was an active Girl Scout, Mrs. Coe became a physicist, and when she and her family moved to the area in the 1970s, her desire and ability to help others flourished.

But she’s not taking all the credit for her successes.

“I do look back, and I do remember the people I worked with,” Mrs. Coe said. “It’s more the people that have helped me along than anything I’ve done to help people.”

According to the Greater Watertown-North Country Chamber of Commerce, which the award was presented and sponsored by, along with other local businesses, the Athena Award “celebrates the potential of all women as valued members and leaders of the community and recognizes those who support them.”

Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell, D-Theresa, said that defines Mrs. Coe, which is why she nominated her.

“Peggy is a personal friend,” Mrs. Russell said. “I have watched her very systematically mentor many women. She’s spent a lot of time in the not-for-profit world, but she specializes in start-ups. The Athena Award is given to someone not only successful in her own right, but (who creates) a path for women.”

Mrs. Russell is a member of the Jefferson County chapter of the American Association of University Women, which Mrs. Coe helped form. Her lengthy community service resume includes posts as the first director of the Sci-Tech Center of Northern New York, lifetime member of Girl Scouts and member of the Jefferson County Historical Society, Watertown Urban Mission finance committee and North Country Council of Social Agencies. She also received the Israel A. Shapiro Award in 1980 and was named Paul Harris Fellow by Watertown Noon Rotary.

As Mrs. Coe continues to support local agencies, she said she encourages girls to join the Girl Scouts and young women to become involved in the community, as difficult as it may be while juggling work and family life.

According to a chamber news release, the Athena Award has been given in Jefferson County each year since 1991.

The chamber announced Mrs. Coe as this year’s Athena Award recipient Thursday at the Fairfield Inn & Suites, 250 Commerce Park Drive. Mrs. Coe will be presented with the award at a formal dinner Sept. 5 at the Hilton Garden Inn, 1290 Arsenal St. Reservations may be made by calling the chamber at 788-4400 or by visiting its website, www.watertownny.com.

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