Infectious Disease Specialist Named Athena Award Recipient

CANFIELD, Ohio –Dr. Virginia Deeane Banks, infectious disease specialist with Northeast Ohio Infectious Disease Associates, was named the recipient of the 2023 Athena Award, presented by the Regional Chamber and The Vindicator/

The Athena Award is given annually to recognize area business and professional women who have demonstrated excellence in their chosen career, provided leadership in the community and mentored or contributed to the growth of other professional women.

Banks received the award before a sold-out crowd of 625 at Waypoint 4180. She is revered for her dedication to her profession and as a community leader.

Banks joined Northeast Ohio Infectious Disease Associates after completing 15 years as head of infectious disease at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center-Horizon Campus in Hermitage, Pa. While there, she was named clinician of the year. She also received the Watanakunakorn Clinician Award in 2019, presented annually to a member of the Infectious Disease Society of America who spends at least 75% of his or her time in direct patient care and demonstrates commitment to the field.  

She is the chair of the George Counts Interest Group of the Infectious Disease Society of America that advocates for the elimination of disparities in healthcare in general and infectious diseases and seeks to play a role in the organization’s ongoing effort toward inclusion and diversity, and she co-chairs the COVID taskforce of the Links, Incorporated, in which she has participated in numerous symposia and webinars to be a trusted messenger on the pandemic. 

In 2021 she received the Live Fierce award from the American Heart Association for her work during the pandemic and in 2022 received the Simeon Booker Award for Courage for her efforts. The award is given to someone who shows courage and tenacity similar to Simeon Booker, a Youngstown native who became the first black reporter for the Washington Post. 

Banks, who earned her bachelor’s degree in biology from the Western College for Women and an MBA from Youngstown State University, graduated from the Case Western Reserve School of Medicine and completed an internship in internal medicine at the Cleveland Clinic and two years of residency and an infectious disease fellowship at University Hospitals of Cleveland. 

The North Carolina native and mother of four serves on the board of trustees of the Butler Institute of American Art, Canton Museum of Art and the Canton Symphony. She is also on the foundation board for NEOMED and serves on the Friends of African and African American Art at the Cleveland Museum of Art. 

Twenty-six nominees were honored during the 30th annual dinner event. In addition, the 16th ATHENA Scholarship– a $1,500, one-time award created in partnership with the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley – was presented to Chloe Khoury, a senior at Boardman High School, ranked #1 in her class, who will pursue Youngstown State University’s Bacc-Med program this summer, with a goal of becoming a pediatric neurologist.

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield also presented two additional scholarships in the amount of $1,250 each to Warren G. Harding High School Senior E’Mari Joi Edmonds, who will study nursing at Kent State University Trumbull. and Jackson Milton High School Senior Paige Grope, who will pursue early childhood education at YSU.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.