When I entered the room to discuss the nominees of the Inspiration & Influence Awards with the team of judges, I had no idea how impactful it would be. I think I’ve taken for granted how many amazing women walk amongst us. Through the 55 nominations we received, there were 35 unique individuals identified and then we were able to read the stories
of 21 trailblazers.
From a woman working with troubled youth to one finding a specific issue in our community someone hasn’t had the opportunity to tackle yet, these women are making a huge difference in our region. There are women in our community who give so much. They are raising a family, working a full-time job (or more), volunteering to help the underprivileged and also championing causes near to their hearts.
I am heartened to have had an opportunity to hear our judges discuss the contributions of these women, especially those who were entered in the Up and Coming category. I have believed for a long time these younger professionals are major contributors in our society, making large impacts in their own way. It’s obvious to me that they use their time to show areas they are hoping to influence. Congratulations to Sami Chau for her Up and Coming Award.
The Caring About Women Locally Award was given to a couple of women who saw a need and moved forward unapologetically. I love this story because it takes such courage to passionately discuss a topic that many don’t want to talk about. Helping Women Period makes sure that all women have dignity when facing their monthly menstrual cycle. Congrats, Amy Stephenson and Lysne Tait.
Megan Doherty received the judges’ Impact Award because she is helping women view the trades as an opportunity for them. Women certainly are not typically taking advantage of the training and jobs available in the numerous skilled trade areas. In addition to running F.D. Hayes, she’s a wife and mom, volunteers in trade associations and, most recently, started a guild for the Davey’s Project.
Shari Montgomery was recognized as the Woman of the Year. She has tirelessly raised awareness and money to help women who are victims and survivors of human trafficking. It wasn’t easy. She had a vision and refused to give up on her dream to make an impact. Today, she has achieved the first leg of her journey and has already embarked on the next. I’m thankful to her for helping our region see the need and understand how prevalent human trafficking is here.
I’m proud of these women but also all of the many women who were nominated. They are all making such a difference in our community, and it’s my pleasure to tell their stories in the pages of this publication.