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YWCA McLean County President and CEO D. Dontae Latson, left, speaks with Athena Leadership Award winner Deb Halperin, director of Illinois Wesleyan University's Action Research Center, during the Leaders of Distinction Awards program Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018, at the Marriott Hotel and Conference Center in uptown Normal.

BLOOMINGTON — A leader at Illinois Wesleyan University has won this year's Athena award from the McLean County Chamber of Commerce.

Deb Halperin, director of the university's Action Research Center, was honored Wednesday night during the Leaders of Distinction reception that also honored two other Athena nominees and honorees of The Pantagraph's Twenty Under Forty program.

The event was at Marriott Hotel and Conference Center in uptown Normal.

Other Athena nominees were Jan Murphy, vice president of academic affairs and provost of Illinois State University, and Leann Seal, vice president of sales and marketing for the Snyder Companies and co-owner of Go Green Commercial Cleaning Services.

The award honors people who inspire and encourage empowerment of women leaders.

Sara Crowley of Heartland Bank & Trust was chosen from among Twenty Under Forty honorees to receive the Liz Larson Rising Leader Award.

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