Women2Women, an organization dedicated to developing women leaders and connecting women from diverse backgrounds, announced Crystal Gilmore Harris as their 2020 Athena award recipient during their Digital Leadership Summit.

As a community advocate, Harris provides valuable service to improve the quality of life for others in the community. Her mission to guide young adults to a better path for the future through mentoring, leadership, teamwork, and self-care has helped many. She has been instrumental in building positive relationships with other community leaders which enables her to assist vulnerable families through community services.

In her role as Social Services Administrator at the Reading School District, she took initiative to streamline the placement of alternate education students by serving as their coordinator, which led to better outcomes of intervention for students and their parents.

She also recognized a need to mentor the boys and girls from the community through school extracurricular activities. As a result, she works as the head coach for the Reading High School cheerleaders. Understanding the needs of girls on the team, realizing that many of them lacked confidence and self-esteem, she established “Sashes and POMS Girl Scout Troop 1353,” the only cheerleading Girl Scout troop in Berks County.

Harris is a member of various civic and service organizations dedicated to the betterment of Reading which include NAACP, Sisters on a Mission, TLC Fore Reading, Kids That Ball, Inc., Blacktop Basketball, Inc., Reading Youth Athletics League, Voice UP and Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania (GSEP).

She has received numerous awards and achievements including the 2019 Sigma Community Award, 2016 NAACP Community Service Award, 2015 ICARE Edith S. Key Guardian Angel Award, 2013 GSEP “TAKE THE LEAD” award, and 2013 Voices Honorary Coaches Award.

However, accomplishing so much was not always easy for Harris. “Being in those rooms wasn’t always easy or comfortable. I could see and feel the glares of some people who questioned why I was there. That only fueled me. Receiving this award reminds me to continue shining in those spaces … opening doors!” said Harris.

The Athena Leadership Model, developed through a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, identifies eight distinct attributes that are reflective of women’s contributions to leadership: living authentically, learning constantly, advocating fiercely, acting courageously, fostering collaboration, building relationships, giving back and celebrating. These personal traits that are more intuitive to women and combined with the strongest aspects of traditional leadership – taking risks, assertiveness, hard work — prepare women to be successful leaders in the 21st century.