Columbia businesswomen Jill Cox and Sarah Hill received the ATHENA Leadership and ATHENA Young Professional awards from the Columbia Chamber of Commerce Thursday at Stephens College.

Cox, vice president of commercial lending at Central Bank of Boone County, was recognized for her more than 30-year career at the bank, where she was one of the first women to be named as a commercial loan officer. She is also an active volunteer with the Columbia Chamber of Commerce and United Way of Central Missouri, among other institutions.

She has battled breast cancer twice and has been an advocate for raising awareness about the illness.

“Cancer has been part of my story this year, but it's not the biggest part of my story. The biggest part is the blessings I have in my life, including many people who are here this evening,” Cox said in a news release from the Columbia Chamber of Commerce. 

Hill, CEO of Healium, was given the ATHENA Young Professional Award. Healium is a virtual reality app that creates relaxing immersive experiences to fight stress and burnout.

Hill's history includes a decades-long career as a journalist and news anchor where she created a program called Honor Everywhere. The program allowed aging veterans to explore the nation's war memorials with virtual reality experiences, according to the news release .

“I am so empowered by this room full of women and men who have supported me, and I'm eternally grateful for all the opportunities here in Columbia,” Hill said.

The Columbia Chamber of Commerce said this was the first time the ATHENA awards were presented both in-person and virtually. Globally, more than 6,500 people in 500 communities have received the ATHENA award.

State reporter, fall 2020, studying data journalism and interested in tech and new media. Reach me at adrianosanchezj@missouri.edu, or in the newsroom at 882-5720.

  • State reporter, fall 2020, studying data journalism and interested in tech and new media. Reach me at jax5c@missouri.edu, or in the newsroom at 882-5720.

  • As senior editor of the Missourian, Fred Anklam manages general assignment reporters. He can be reached at anklamf@missouri.edu or in the newsroom at 573-882-5720.

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