Four Remarkable Women Community Leaders to be Honored Dec. 4

By Amy Blaisdell

The Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce and the City of Palm Springs are proud to announce four outstanding women leaders in our community will be honored for their extraordinary community service at the 28th annual Athena Awards luncheon, slated for Thursday, Dec. 4.

The 11:30 a.m. luncheon, hosted by Mayor Steve Pougnet, is one of the most prestigious events of the Coachella Valley season and will be held at the Renaissance Palm Springs, 888 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way.

This year’s Athena honorees include:


Jackie Autry, Community Icon Award. Philanthropist and community leader Jackie Autry, the widow of the legendary Gene Autry, is much loved in the Coachella Valley for her commitment to the community. For years, Autry has called the City of Palm Springs her home and has been a tremendous supporter of the Palm Springs Veterans Day Parade, the Palm Springs Festival of Lights Parade, the City’s All American Fourth of July Spectacular, the City’s 75th anniversary celebration, Palm Springs POWER baseball and Palm Springs Stadium in Sunrise Park. In addition, she donated the stunning sculpture of Gene Autry which stands at the gateway to Gene Autry Plaza Shopping Center on Ramon Road and Gene Autry Trail. Autry also served as President of the
American Red Cross and was responsible for raising funds to build an independent community blood bank at Eisenhower Medical Center, serving as its president for many years. She currently serves on the Board of Trustees of Eisenhower Medical Center and is a member of the Board of the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center at Eisenhower Medical Center. Autry also serves as the founding chair and life trustee of the Autry National Center Museum of the American West.

Betty Francis, Jackie Lee Houston Angel Award. A close friend of the late philanthropist Jackie Lee Houston, Francis has been a part of the Palm Springs community since 1977 and has been covering society events for The Desert Sun since 1996. A true community “angel,” Betty has a passion for shining the light on local charities and nonprofits in need through her powerful pen and journalism skills. Over the years she has supported some 800 charities in the pages of The Desert Sun and is revered in Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley for her big heart.

Kathy Greco, Athena Business Award. Greco serves as CEO of Desert Healthcare District and led the charge to provide $5 million in funding for the new UCR Medical Center Residency Program at Desert Regional Medical Center. She also worked to fund over $900,000 to place the Alliance for a Healthier Generation Program, in partnership with the Clinton Health Matters Initiative, in every school in the Coachella Valley. In addition, Greco and Desert Healthcare District partnered with Mayor Steve Pougnet to raise over $1 million for health and wellness programs in Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley through the hugely successful Mayor’s Race and Wellness Festival, in partnership with the Clinton Health Matters Initiative.

Terri Ketover, Athena Leadership Award. Ketover is Chair of the 100 Women, the Desert AIDS Project’s annual giving program that ensures greater access to affordable healthcare for women living with HIV in our community. In addition to being a DAP Board member, Ketover serves on the Palm Springs Art Museum Annenberg Theater Council, the Palm Springs Art Museum Associates Council and is the Co-Chair of Michael Childers’s annual “One Night Only” event to support Jewish Family Services of the Desert.

Presented annually by chamber of commerce’s around the nation, the Athena Award is a distinguished honor which pays tribute to women who demonstrate excellence and creativity in their business or in the community at large. In addition, the actively assist women in realizing their full leadership potential, according to Palm Springs Chamber CEO Nona Watson, who notes this year’s group of honorees are “truly spectacular women leaders making a difference in Palm Springs and the entire Coachella Valley.”

“Jackie Autry, Betty Francis, Kathy Greco and Terri Ketover truly exemplify the highest level of achievement when it comes to excellence in community leadership and all four of these amazing ladies serve as tremendous role models for future generations of women leaders,” said Mayor Steve Pougnet. “On behalf of the citizens of Palm Springs, we thank them for their extraordinary contributions and I encourage everyone in the Coachella Valley to join us on Dec. 4 as we celebrate these four fabulous women.”

For the 28th year in a row, this year’s presenting sponsor is Jessup Auto Plaza. Tickets are $60 per person or $600 for a table of 10. For more information, visit or call (760) 325-1577.