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Influential women a community staple worth recognizing

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With this year’s Most Influential Women event, Springfield Business Journal will have honored a whopping 260 women for their impact on our community. Oct. 19 will mark the 13th time SBJ has recognized the 20 Most Influential Women.

There was a time when SBJ staff would plan next year’s events and ask if it still made sense for a celebration of influential women to be a part of the lineup. It is no longer necessary to ask that question in our planning meetings. The Most Influential Women special publication is a staple among our products, and the awards event has taken on a life of its own. SBJ founder and President Dianne Elizabeth Osis – also my mother and an influential woman in her own right – has often said, “Once an influential woman, always an influential woman.” That is certainly proving to be the case. Now with 260 influential women in our midst, great things are happening all around us and there’s just no stopping it.

SBJ has partnered with local nonprofit Women In Need of the Ozarks the last several years to host a silent auction during the MIW luncheon to benefit local working women who are in need of one-time financial assistance. There are a number of influential women behind the WIN charity, three of whom have been recognized with the SBJ honor. Elise Crain was an inaugural influential woman in the class of 2000. Jackie Taylor Johnson followed as an honoree in 2001, and Kelly Johnson, who serves a primary role in the WIN screening and funding interviews, is among the 2012 honorees.

Care to Learn executive director, and 2002 MIW honoree, Morey Mechlin says she has referred women to the WIN organization on several occasions and has initiated an effort to unite MIW honorees, past and present, in support of the WIN mission. Her efforts already have resulted in more than $1,500 in donations. Mechlin also will serve as master of ceremonies for the 2012 MIW event.

The Nadia Cavner Group at BancorpSouth, led by 2000 MIW honoree Nadia Cavner, is the platinum sponsor for the 2012 event and has participated in sponsoring events in honor of other MIW classes. Nanette Crighton, owner and operator of Crighton Aesthetic Studio and a 2010 MIW honoree, is a gold sponsor of the event along with CoxHealth.

That’s not all. Each year, three previous honorees and two men from the local business community are selected to serve as judges. This year’s panel consisted of Gaye Collins and Laura Johnson, from the 2011 class, and Marilyn Bauer, from the class of 2010, along with Clif Smart, interim president for Missouri State University, and Andrew Tasset, vice president of marketing for Empire Bank. These five people had the difficult task of reading the nearly 60 application packets that were returned out of a pool of more than 100 nominations. The task was daunting, as there are always a number of women deserving of recognition for their numerous contributions that don’t make the cut. However, that’s the very thing that provides me with continued assurance the momentum will continue for years to come. Amazing women in the Springfield community will continue to reach amazing heights. SBJ will be here to tell their stories.

We are so proud to present the 2012 class that consists of women representing a full spectrum of organizational backgrounds from the business and financial sectors to government, the arts, education, health care and nonprofits. We are honored to know them and we look forward to our continued association with them as they join the ranks of those who have filled our pages during the last 13 years.

Jennifer Jackson is publisher of Springfield Business Journal and Joplin Tri-State Business Journal. She may be reached at

Click here for full coverage of the 2012 Most Influential Women.

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