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2020 Odyssey Awards Luncheon

Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy Announces Dates for 2020 Odyssey Awards Luncheon

Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy (CGLA) will present the 11th Annual Odyssey Awards Luncheon on Wednesday, March 11, 2020 at the Chattanooga Convention Center. Presented by First Horizon Bank and Hutton, both ardent and loyal supporters of CGLA, the event will welcome guests at 11 am with the program beginning promptly at 11:30 am. Cost for individual tickets is $65 per person and are available at

This year the Odyssey keynote speaker is Vanessa O’Brien, an internationally-renowned and highly-accomplished mountaineer and explorer. A citizen of both the United States and Great Britain, O’Brien was the first American woman and the first British woman to scale K2, the world’s second tallest mountain. Honored in 2018 as Explorer of the Year by the Scientific Exploration Society, she is one of only eight women to complete the Explorer’s Grand Slam, an international quest that challenges adventurers to summit the tallest peak on each of the seven continents and to reach both the north and south poles. Tenacious and focused, O’Brien not only completed the Explorer’s Grand Slam, but she finished in a record-setting eleven-month period. She is a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, fellow of The Explorers Club, member of the Scientific Exploration Society, and a former investment banker. O’Brien holds both a BA and MBA from New York University, and when not climbing mountains, she is actively involved with women’s causes.

CGLA will also honor Edna Varner as the recipient of the 2020 Founder’s Award. Varner, an educator, administrator, and community leader whose career in education spans more than 40 years, has been deeply involved in CGLA since its beginning. According to Dr. Elaine Swafford, chief executive officer at CGLA, Odyssey is an opportunity to express appreciation for Varner’s longstanding dedication. “Edna Varner has been an enthusiastic champion of CGLA, and we have been fortunate to have her ongoing advocacy. Her professional experience and unwavering commitment have been pivotal to CGLA’s mission.”

Swafford says that “Odyssey is also a celebration of student achievement. “As is our tradition, we will announce the 2020 recipients of the Rising Star and Shining Star awards. These recognitions spotlight young women who are exhibiting attributes associated with academic and personal success. We look forward to saluting students who are conscientious and disciplined; creative and insightful; eager and curious.”

Chair of the 2020 Odyssey luncheon is Cindy Lee, founder and chief executive officer of LYNC Logistics, LLC. A local entrepreneur and business leader, Lee established LYNC Logistics in May 2014. In May 2019, the Women President’s Organization and Capital One announced that LYNC ranked third on its list of the 50 fastest growing, women-owned companies, emphasizing the company’s impressive revenue growth of $800,000 to $28 million in only 4 years. LYNC is also listed as one of the fastest growing businesses of any type in the country, ranking No. 366 on the Inc. 500 list for all small businesses in 2019.