Born in New London, CT and raised in Caracas, Venezuela, Athena Yannitsas earned a B.A. in Economics from Boston University and an M.A. in Cultural Heritage Management from the University of Kent (UK). Her M.A. thesis was a Management Plan for the Surfing Florida Museum. Over the years Athena cultivated dual career paths: one in the world of wine and gastronomy, another in nonprofit cultural and educational organizations, where she held leadership positions specializing in strategic planning, business development, training facilitation, public relations and fundraising.
Athena’s nonprofit experience began at The American Center for Wine, Food & Arts-COPIA (Napa, CA) where she served as Curator of Education. In this role she developed educational programs, recruited and trained volunteers, and produced the strategic plan and financial budget for the center’s grand opening in 2001. Athena continued working in nonprofit organizations as Director of Development & Marketing at both the Mystic Museum of Art (Mystic, CT) and at The Society of the Four Arts (Palm Beach, FL). At these cultural centers she balanced diplomacy with determination to raise funds from individuals, foundations and corporations. Additionally, she researched, wrote and secured grants from both public and private sources. In 2006 she launched a $7.5 million capital campaign to raise funds for a garden renovation project in Palm Beach. Athena proceeded to join the School District of Palm Beach County (Dept. of Adult Education), where she organized the annual Professional Development Conference, conducted staff and faculty training, and implemented integrated marketing campaigns. In 2015 she received the Media Promotion of the Year award from Adult & Community Educators (ACE) of Florida. Prior to joining AOAP Athena was Program Director at Palm Beach State College (Lake Worth, FL), where she oversaw both credit and noncredit programs, and managed a $250,000 grant from JPMorgan.
Athena is fluent in English, Spanish, Greek & French. Her diverse background and multicultural experience facilitates outreach towards a broad range of audiences. She is also a Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW), former wine professor at Florida International University and author of “Vino, Vida y Alegría,” a wine education book (in Spanish). Since 2014 she is a board member of the Hispanic Education Coalition of Palm Beach County, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving educational equity. Athena lives in Palm Beach County, Florida — an ideal location for her favorite aquatic activity, kayaking. Her enthusiasm for joining AOAP is fueled by a deep appreciation for its mission, and she welcomes the opportunity to drive its growth at local, national and international levels.
Association of Aquatic Professionals