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Opinion: 'Once an influential woman, always an influential woman'

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Oct. 18 will mark Springfield Business Journal’s 14th annual Most Influential Women celebration. If you are doing the math, 20 honorees a year at 14 years means SBJ will have recognized 280 women who are making a difference in the Springfield area.

That number just seems huge to me, and I’m not the only one who has noticed we seem to be growing an army here.   

I continue to quote my mother, SBJ President and Chairwoman Dianne Elizabeth Osis, who says, “Once an influential woman, always an influential woman.”  

Osis, along with Care to Learn’s Morey Mechlin, who has come to be the regular emcee for the MIW event, have begun to gather momentum in bringing cohesion to past classes of influential women, dating back to 2000. With the collective effort and influence of 280 accomplished women, why not move a few mountains, right?

Mechlin and Osis met with representatives of each class about a year ago to begin brainstorming ways to harness the energy of this growing group to do good things in our community. Prior to the 2012 event, Osis and Mechlin solicited nearly $2,000 in contributions from former MIW honorees to support local charity Women In Need. The event itself raised another $8,000 through a silent auction to support the charity.

Reflecting on the influence and generosity of honorees past reminds me how strongly I feel about the need to recognize and encourage the kind of leadership and selflessness exemplified by these extraordinary women. The outpouring of nominations and the size of the crowd that come to celebrate each year tells me there are others who share my genuine gratitude and awe.

It further serves as a reminder that great women influence the lives of men, women and children all around us each day. It is the business of all of us to cheer them on.

The 2013 class already has come together as a group to get to know each other better. Thanks to the generosity of The Vesta Room and platinum event sponsor Metropolitan National Bank, SBJ conducted a breakfast and photo shoot on Sept. 13. Current honorees took advantage of the intimate setting to share some laughs, renew old friendships and meet others for the first time. It will be interesting to watch what these 20 new inductees will add to the group.

The following pages tell the stories of this year’s honorees in their own words. The 20 women featured here were among nearly 130 nominees submitted by our readers. Once nominated, each woman received a questionnaire by mail that required written responses to detail their leadership, proudest accomplishments and how they have influenced the successes of others.

Each of the honorees also provided information demonstrating their leadership and influence in civic endeavors. Completed questionnaires were returned to our office with a resume and letter of recommendation, which was an important, recent addition to this process. Though all of these women have reason to brag, most find it foreign to detail their list of accomplishments.

The difficult work was then completed by an independent panel of five judges instructed to read and score each response, recusing themselves in instances where they might lack objectivity. I think you will agree the judges did their jobs well.

The result is an astounding group of women who embody the region from the standpoint of the professional sectors they represent. SBJ’s 2013 class of Most Influential Women represent the retail, business, education, health care, hospitality, financial services and nonprofit sectors.

The SBJ staff is extremely honored to be associated with these women and to present their stories. Please read with appropriate appreciation for the accomplishments of the current class, for the 260 women who received this honor before them and for the countless women who are sure to follow.

SBJ Publishing Inc. Publisher Jennifer Jackson can be reached at[[In-content Ad]]


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