Oh 2016, you sure were something.
For some, the year that just passed was one long curse, 12 months that took an unholy toll on a seemingly endless parade of great musicians and other entertainers, not to mention the effects of political and social turmoil at home and abroad, and the sense of looming environmental collapse that lurks behind each unseasonably warm (or cold) day.
That said, there was some positive news in 2016. The Cubs finally won the World Series, for one. Take that, goat cursers everywhere!
As for broader trends, I think it’s fair to say that awareness and acceptance of mental health issues continues to grow around the world, and the great, often unheralded work that’s done by our clients at social service organizations globally continues to inspire and motivate each of us at Athena every day.
That’s why we wanted to take a moment and celebrate the good things that happened here at Athena over the past 12 months. Dwelling on the negative is easy, but thinking positively and recognizing worthwhile achievements might just be a better way to spend our time.
Dec. 2015 - Waterloo Region Record
OK, so this is a bit of a cheat because it happened in 2015, but seeing as the article came out Dec. 22, we’re going to take some liberties. We're proud to be based in Waterloo Region, so it’s always a thrill to be profiled by our local newspaper, the Waterloo Region Record.
This article found the Record checking in with our co-founder Greg Stanley-Horn and our Director of Business Development Dana Fox to chart our rapid growth around the world, and to hear about our vision for further expansion into the U.S. and beyond.
March - NDIS Conference and Australian tour
Though we’re based in Canada, one of our most significant markets is Australia. Some of our biggest clients are there, and our staff in Australia has expanded to include people working in business development, deployment and support.
Athena has developed an NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme) module for the disability services sector in Australia, so it was a natural choice to attend the NDIS conference in Melbourne in March.
Chris Shinn, our manager of Business Development for Australia-Pacific was joined at the conference and for a whirlwind, four-city tour of Australia by our Director of Business Development Dana Fox.
Here’s Dana and Chris at the conference with Genevieve Abbott of Mind Australia.
Chris also attended the Family and Relationship Services Australia (FRSA) conference in Melbourne in December, where he was able to meet with even more Australian clients as well as prospects considering Penelope for their social service organization.
April - Carbon Cleanse Waterloo Region
Environmental sustainability is something that’s close to our hearts at Athena - in 2009, we became one of the original pledging businesses in the Regional Carbon Initiative (RCI) developed by Sustainable Waterloo.
Today, we’re a Gold Pledging Partner in the RCI, with a goal to reduce corporate greenhouse gas emissions by 60 per cent before 2019 (also, one of our co-founders, Diane Stanley-Horn, is on the board of directors with Sustainable Waterloo).
So it was a no-brainer to take part in the RCI’s Carbon Cleanse Waterloo Region last spring, where organizations take part in a series of challenges, each with a weekly theme (like turning down the heat or disposing of e-waste, for example).
We’re also inspired by our clients to provide help in our community wherever we can.
Initiatives at Athena this year included a Thanksgiving food drive that provided 146 pounds of food for Food Bank Waterloo Region, as well as our holiday fundraising drive that raised money for Reception House Waterloo Region, which provides temporary housing for government-assisted refugees, and FIDA-PCH, a nonprofit that provides resources to rural communities in Haiti.
May - Former MP Peter Braid joins Athena Software
In May, we were honoured to welcome former Canadian Member of Parliament Peter Braid to our team as Head of Global Business Development.
Peter brought a wealth of experience and expertise in the public and private sectors to Athena, along with a commitment to community building and nonprofit work that made him a perfect fit with our team.
Based in San Diego, Scott has been a tremendous asset for Athena, thanks to his background both as a sales executive for companies providing client information systems to health and human service agencies in the North American market, as well as his time spent working in a management capacity for social service organizations in California.
July - Wistia Case Study
At Athena, we love making videos and also exploring new technology, so hooking up with the good people at Wistia was a natural fit. Wistia hosts our videos for us, and their technology allows us to track not just how many times a video has been watched, but how long people are watching it for, where they’re watching it, and lots more.
We were super happy when they chose us as a subject for a customer success story last summer, and even happier with the end result. Thanks again, Wistia!
July - ISO Certification
Privacy and data security are two very important concepts here at Athena. Our reputation is based in part on being able to provide a reliable, highly secure SaaS offering to our clients, and our Penelope software system has many essential security features built in.
All of this is to ensure the safety of the highly confidential data entrusted to us by our clients. It’s something we take great pride in, so receiving our ISO/IEC 27001:2013 certification this summer was a big moment for us.
September - Waterloo Innovation Summit
The Waterloo Innovation Summit is a collection of top influencers from around the world who gathered this fall at the University of Waterloo to examine innovation as a foundation for global economic growth.
As part of this year’s summit, our co-founders Greg and Diane Stanley-Horn were lucky enough to be the subject of a feature story detailing how Athena Software got its start, and how we moved from a kitchen-table startup to the company of 50 people with hundreds of clients worldwide that we are today!
November - TED Talk
TED is a nonpartisan nonprofit that began in 1984 as a conference focusing on the convergence of Technology, Entertainment and Design, or TED for short.
The TED conference is held annually, and TED Talks - presentations on ideas that last a maximum of 18 minutes - have become a popular byproduct of the event.
In recent years, TED has expanded to host conferences in many cities around the world - in November, they came to Waterloo for TedxUW and invited our Director of Global Business Development Dana Fox to speak on the relevance of big data to human services to a worldwide audience online.
December - New Videos
This time around, we made two short, teaser-length videos about our Smart Forms and Automated Workflows features that allow the human services organizations who use Penelope to work smarter and increase efficiency. We’ve got more videos planned for the near future, so stay tuned.
December - Owler Award
As a little bonus item, we were given a ‘Hot in Waterloo’ award from Owler in December that came as a great holiday surprise and topped off our year just right!
We hope your 2016 was just as good as ours, and here’s to a new year filled with positive thinking, actions and outcomes for all!