Athena was born in Arizona to a working-class family. Her father was born in Palestine and immigrated to the United States with a dream and one suitcase. Her mother was born in inner-city Chicago to two immigrant parents, one from Germany and the other, México. For almost 30 years her parents have operated a small family business in which everyone contributes.
Early on, Athena developed a deep appreciation for the potential of families to build upon a previous generation’s success if the government is supportive. Having grown up in our public schools, Athena had the great fortune of being surrounded by educators who cared deeply about their students. However, from the early 1990s into the 2000s, Athena experienced what many Arizona children now confront: a public school system that had been shortchanged for decades by corrupt politicians.
Athena later studied at Arizona State University, where she earned degrees in Economics and Political Science. Even then, at the young age of 19, Athena was fighting for families. When she wasn't hitting the books, Athena spent every waking moment working with nonprofits to lobby Congress and the Legislature on affordable tuition and healthcare for all.