William ‘Billy’ Peacock Named 2023 Athena Award Recipient

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ATHENS, Ohio – Athens Mayor Steve Patterson and the Chair of the Athens City Commission on Disabilities David McNelly presented the Ninth Annual Athena Award Wednesday, November 1, during a ceremony at the Community Center.

The 2023 recipient is William “Billy” Peacock, president of Athens County People First and a lifelong advocate for disability equity. Peacock is a graduate of Steps Toward Independence and Responsibility (STIR), founding member of the Southeastern Ohio Disability Coalition, an Integrate Athens Advocacy Ambassador Leader, Vice President of the Athens County Community Singers, advocate at the Ohio Legislature, and partner with The Arc of Ohio to start up and recruit for an Athens County Chapter of People First Ohio, among others.

Upon receiving the Award, an emotional Peacock expressed his appreciation. “I thank everyone for their support and trust that I’ve opened a lot of doors for a lot of people, especially with disabilities, just to give them a chance to do a lot of things out in the community. We don’t need to shut the doors in front of them.” Peacock ended by saying, “If there was one thing I would add right now – I just wish that my mother was here.”

Billy Peacock receives Athena Award from Athens Mayor Steve Patterson
Billy Peacock receives Athena Award from Athens Mayor Steve Patterson. []
Nominator Autumn Brown, director of Integrate Athens with the Athens County Board of Developmental Disabilities, says, “During the pandemic, Billy worked with our team to get past the barriers of technology to continue advocating and presenting to community partners about the needs of people with intellectual/developmental disabilities. He helps others learn to advocate and makes a difference time after time.”

Peacock’s nomination was also supported by Tina Wilson and Isobel “Izzy” Hutchinson, formerly with Integrate Athens; Joshua Cook, chief operating officer for The Arc of Ohio; and Debbie Schmieding, retired director of HAVAR.

Speakers on the program included: Mayor Patterson, McNelly, City Council and Commission member Dr. Micah McCarey, and Commission members Dr. Ally Hughes and Dr. jw Smith. The Athens County Community Singers, directed by Stephanie Morris, provided musical selections.

The Athena Award, the only award given by the City, was created by the Commission on Disabilities to recognize  the person or organization providing exceptional service to people living with disabilities in the Athens community by positively impacting their lives in one or more of the following areas: Advocating for change that improves the quality of life; advocating for issues; making a positive impact through volunteerism; developing new programs or services; offering exceptional customer service; or demonstrating innovation or entrepreneurship that has a positive impact. Athena is the mythical Greek goddess, shrewd companion of heroes and of heroic endeavor, who symbolizes wisdom, courage, inspiration, and justice. Nominations may be made at any time by visiting the Commission’s page on the City’s website for the application.

The Commission meets on the third Wednesday of every month (except December) from 5:30-6:30 p.m. at the Athens Community Center, 701 East State Street. The public is encouraged to attend. For questions or to become involved with the work of the Commission, email: