Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Owatonna Business Women to honor area women during annual fundraiser

 The Owatonna Business Women is celebrating the 100thanniversary of its organization this year with the annual Woman of Achievement fundraiser event. It is the 47thyear the fundraiser has been held.

Although the evening will see area women receive recognition for their work in the community and in professional circles, the event also helps raise money for scholarships which will be handed out during the celebration.

 “It’s a fundraising event, and the goal is to raise money for next year’s scholarships,” Owatonna Business Women President Ryan Gillespie explained. “We will have a raffle, and a silent auction, as well as a wall of wine.”

Due to this being the centennial anniversary of the organization, there will be a special reception preceding the event for all the prior nominees and winners. “It’s for all the woman who made an impact on our community over the years,” Gillespie said.

“We will have some memorabilia from past years,” OBW First Vice President Rebecca Moore said. “We will have everything from scrapbooks to snippets from our history. It’s pretty amazing that we’ve been around for 100 years.”

Both Moore and Gillespie take pride in the local organization and the work they do, not only in helping young girls receive scholarships, but also by providing a circle of women within the community for others to build networking, professional, and personal skills from.

“I think that it’s pretty amazing,” Moore said. “It’s nice to see that women want this comradery, and the fact that OBW has always been a place for women to build confidence, friendships, and network is great!”

The organization has served as the backbone for Owatonna and the surrounding region’s professional women. “It’s terrific,” Gillespie said. “It offers the ability for women to network and learn from one another.”

During the evening, four scholarships will be handed out and two Young Careerist will be named along with a Lifetime Achievement winner and the Woman of Achievement chosen from a list of five nominees.

“They really earned these nominations,” Gillespie said of this year’s nominees. “They all exceed in categories of community involvement, individual leadership, and serve in positions of influence.”

Moore also praised the evening’s nominees. “Our nominees are a fantastic group of women who represent leadership and civic engagement in our community and in our county,” she said. “I think they provide a good snapshot of what we want to see.”

According to Moore, the Woman of Achievement should be “someone who had achieved success in her career and also someone who represents opportunities in the workplace and a woman who gives back to the community.”

Last year’s winner for Woman of Achievement was Janet Simon, the program director at REM Woodvale in Owatonna. Judge Karen Duncan was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award, and Lauren Kozelka and Anisha Zak were named as Young Careerists.

This year’s nominees are Jane Elsner, Diane Holland, Julie Sullivan, Joleen Sherrets, and Jannell Tufte. Laura Isenor and Callan Paffrath will be the Young Careerists recipients. Ann Barker will be given the Lifetime Achievement Award and scholarships will be given to Molly Hawkins, Cassandra Trout, Carrie Heiderscheidt, and Amanda Johnson.

“The Young Careerists are rising women to watch while the Woman of Achievement is in the pinnacle of her career, and the Lifetime Achievement winner is a woman who has left her mark on the community,” Gillespie explained of the night’s honorees.

While the honorees will be the focus of the night’s celebration, it will also serve as a great way for OBW to raise funds for the following year’s scholarships. “It’s really the hallmark for why we do this,” Moore said of the fundraising aspect of the evening. “It’s to allow other women to advance in their education.”

“We honor the scholarship recipients, and that’s cool because they are around women who are accomplished in their profession,” Moore said. “That gives them something to aspire to and then think that in 10 or 15 years this is someone they could be.”

The awards and fundraiser will be held at 6:15 p.m. at Torey’s Restaurant and Bar in Owatonna on March 8. There will be a reception celebrating Owatonna Business Women’s 100-year anniversary beginning at 6 p.m.

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