Annual ATHENA award recognizes individuals demonstrating professional leadership and community excellence

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Throughout her career, NSF International Senior Vice President Kristen Holt has helped other professional women realize their leadership and career potential. In recognition of her dedication to helping others, professional excellence and community service, Kristen Holt received the 2011 ATHENA Award from the Women’s Council of Washtenaw County.

The Women's Council of Washtenaw County, a professional women’s organization, presents the prestigious ATHENA Award each year to an individual who demonstrates professional excellence and initiative, improves the quality of life for others in the community, and actively assists women in realizing their full leadership potential.

Kristen Holt, who has over 15 years of experience in the financial and regulatory aspects of the food industry, has held several leading positions and managed major business ventures for NSF International, a not-for-profit, public health and safety organization. At NSF International, Holt successfully negotiated and completed seven acquisitions in seven years, including CMi (now NSF-CMi), a UK-based global food safety service provider. Prior to her current appointment, Holt served as NSF’s Chief Financial Officer for five years.

As the Senior Vice President of NSF International’s global food safety division, Holt oversees a wide range of food safety auditing, consulting, and certification services that help protect and improve the food supply worldwide. Holt was appointed to President of QAI in 2004, an NSF International Company and leading provider of organic certifications for food and personal care products, where she has successfully improved operations, recruited key technical and management personnel and focused the business structure to meet clients’ needs and increase customer satisfaction. In 2010, Holt was elected to the Board of Directors for the Organic Trade Association and became Treasurer-Elect.

Holt is active in the community, serving on the Board of Directors for the United Way of Washtenaw County, the Ann Arbor Hands on Museum, the Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan Council, and is a member of Central Michigan University’s College of Business Administration Dean’s Advisory Board and School of Accounting Advisory Board. She also is a member of the NSF International Organic Garden Committee where she focuses on raising awareness about the benefits of organic gardening within her own community, as well as growing and donating organic produce to Food Gatherers, a local food bank that works to alleviate hunger in Washtenaw County, Michigan.

“Kristen Holt embodies the values and spirit of The ATHENA Award. She is an exceptional leader and mentor, providing solid strategic direction and guidance to her teams," said Kevan P. Lawlor, NSF International President and CEO. "She provides this same level of leadership and guidance to her many volunteer roles in the local community and to industry associations, helping them to reach their potential, and we are tremendously proud of her achievements.”

Throughout her career, Kristen has assisted professional women in realizing their full leadership potential. By way of mentoring, coaching and advising, many of these professional women have realized greater career advancements because of her dedication in support of their goals. This includes Jaclyn Bowen, General Manager of QAI, who believes that she couldn’t have achieved her educational goals and completed two master’s degrees without the support of Kristen Holt.

“The organic industry is extremely dynamic and managing QAI can become very demanding on my time. However, Kristen has always encouraged me to take time out for myself,” explains Ms. Bowen. “Kristen taught me that keeping balance in your life is central to being a good manager. She reminds me that you can have a strong career and a strong family.”

NSF Education and Training Manager Michelle Rzendzian nominated Kristen Holt for the ATHENA Award because of her continued support and openness to new ideas. “Kristen not only helps me with day-to-day issues, finance and the strategic vision of my program, but she also shows great consideration for me and my career,” said Ms. Rzendzian.

At the ATHENA Award ceremony, Holt was also presented with proclamations from U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, U.S. Rep. John Dingell, Gov. Rick Snyder and state Sen. Rebecca Warren of Michigan, as well as from the Mayors of Ypsilanti, Saline, and Ann Arbor, Mich.

“I accept and share this award with the many mentors who have helped me throughout my life and career,” said Kristen Holt during her ATHENA Award acceptance speech. “It’s through these relationships that I have come to understand the importance of mentoring others and giving back to the community.”

Holt is a licensed CPA in the State of Michigan and holds a MBA from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and a Bachelor of Science in business administration from Central Michigan University in Mt. Pleasant, Mich. Holt is the proud mother of two daughters, Julia, age 5, and Lucy, age 1.

Editor’s note: To set up an interview with NSF International Senior Vice President Kristen Holt or for more information about her 2011 ATHENA Award, contact Greta Houlahan at 734.913.5723 or

About NSF International: NSF International, an independent not-for-profit organization, certifies products and writes standards for food, water and consumer goods to minimize adverse health effects and protect the environment ( Founded in 1944, NSF is committed to protecting public health and safety worldwide and operates in more than 120 countries. NSF is a World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Food and Water Safety and Indoor Environment.

With a focus on food, water, consumer product safety and the environment, NSF International develops consensus national standards, provides third-party conformity assessment services, and offers Education and Training services. NSF is widely recognized for its scientific and technical expertise in the health and environmental sciences. Its professional staff includes engineers, chemists, microbiologists, toxicologists, and environmental and public health professionals serving the needs of both public and private organizations.

Additional services include safety audits for the food and water industries, dietary and nutritional supplement certification and management systems registrations.

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CONTACT: Greta Houlahan
Phone: 734.913.5723