One of the major goals of the American Institute of Architects' (AIA) Women's Leadership Development Summit is to help women design practitioners achieve their full potential by identifying and developing their leadership abilities. During the 2010 gathering, this goal was taken a step further by celebrating the leadership and service contributions of women architects with the first annual Women in Architecture and Design ATHENA Award.

Created by ATHENA International in 1982, the ATHENA Leadership Award is an international program that focuses on cultivating mentorship and leadership among women in all professions. Two ATHENA awards were given this year for women design practitioners.

The winner of the first Women in Architecture and Design ATHENA Leadership Award is Lori Garrett, AIA, senior principal, vice president, and director of the Higher Education Studio at Glavé and Holmes Architecture, Richmond, Va. Recognizing the need for mentoring and camaraderie for women within the design professions, Garrett formed Richmond Women in Design (RWiD) in 2010. Providing social networking and professional development programs, the group is open to women in any discipline involving the built environment, from architecture to graphic design. Currently, RWiD has more than 150 members; Garrett serves as its chairwoman.

Lira Luis, AIA, principal of Chicago-based Atelier Lira Luis, LLC, received the Women in Architecture and Design ATHENA Young Professional Leadership Award. The first Filipino to be accepted into Taliesin, the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture, Luis has taught young women in the architectural technology program at Scottsdale Community College and mentored young women pursuing architectural licensure. She helped raise nearly $10,000 while serving as director of the AIA Associates in Central Arizona to fund an Architect Registration Examination Workstation for professionals pursuing licensure, including women, who otherwise would not have access to review materials and study guides.