The women making a huge difference in our community were recognized at the Bend Chamber’s inaugural Women of The Year Awards at The Tower Theatre last night. It was a humbling experience to hear their incredible stories and achievements.
Bend Chamber and title sponsor US Bank fulfilled their vision to salute Central Oregon’s finest females, and the show of appreciation felt good. There was wall-to-wall talent at The Tower, with the judges admitting to having a tough time picking only one winner in each category.
WOMAN OF THE YEAR
Winner: Dr. Becky Johnson
Nominees: Jodie Barram, Amy Tykeson, Romy Mortenson, Michelle Mills, Renee Alexander, Tami Holt, Karen Sue Stiner, Deana Jones, Paula A. Van Vleck, Andie Edmonds, Christine Browning, Dr. Shirley Metcalf, Tia M. Lewis, Lauren G. R. Johnson, Christine Schroeder-Fain, Diane Kulpinski, Lisa Flynn, Kecia Kubota, Roxana Ermisch, Megan Haase, Heather Straw
Becky Johnson took away the prestigious Woman of the Year Award, dubbed the equivalent of the Best Picture at the Oscars. Appointed Vice President for Oregon State University Cascades in May 2009, Johnson is responsible for making Central Oregon’s decades-long dream to have a 4-year campus a reality.
Prior to coming to OSU-Cascades, Dr. Johnson had built a nearly 25-year career at OSU – Corvallis, most recently as vice provost for academic affairs and international programs.
With a Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics, an M.S. in Agricultural Economics and a B.A. in Economics, she is a full professor in the Department of Forest Resources, College of Forestry. She has collaborated with federal, state and local agencies on issues of concern to rural, natural-resource based communities.
Locally, Johnson is a member of Central Oregon Regional Solutions Advisory Committee, an EDCO board member and serves on the Higher Education Assessment Team of Central Oregon, to name but a few of her community roles.
Becky Johnson, our Woman of the Year, and a true role model, received a well-deserved standing ovation for her contribution to Central Oregon.
YOUNG WOMAN OF THE YEAR
Winner: Kristina Guerrero
Nominees: Heather Zumwalt, Sarah Wyant, Rebecca Ince, Shelby Little, Kaitlin Dahlquist, Amanda Gow
There were very few dry eyes in the house, when Kristina Guerrero, Founder and CEO of TurboPUP, stepped up to accept the Award for Young Woman of the Year. Her acceptance speech touched on some of the factors that have shaped her life, from escaping a difficult early life, excelling in the military, taking inspiration from the mountains, securing business funding, and winning Shark Tank.
Kristina graduated from the US Air Force Academy in 2002, and went onto fly C-130 TurboPROPS, where she earned the nickname Turbo. She is a decorated U.S. Air Force veteran, and proud recipient of two Combat Air Medals for missions flown in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Horn of Africa.
With over 1000 hours of community service, she returned to school in 2009 to obtain a Master’s in Occupational Therapy, in pursuit of a life of service. Her life goal is to “be the change.” When she’s not nurturing her business TurboPUP, Kristina serves diverse populations as an occupational therapist or as a volunteer for Deschutes County Search and Rescue.
There were smiles in the house when she admitted to being a bit of a recluse, who feels much more at home in her pajamas at home in LaPine than on the stage accepting an award, or presenting to Shark Tank. Kristina Guerrero is an inspirational woman, who remains true to herself.
COMMUNITY HERO AWARD
Winner: Betsy Warriner
Nominees: Alison Hamm, Stephanie Alvstad, Kathy Drew, Adrienne Reinhart, Alice Miles, Lauren G. R. Johnson, Mimi Graves, Cheryl Howard, Lisa Connors & Lisa Shropshire, Cheri Helt, Rane Stempson, Carol Stiles
There was huge applause for Betsy Warriner, founder of Volunteer Connect, when she took the Community Hero Award. Volunteer Connect acts as a regional volunteer center, linking community members with rewarding volunteer opportunities. Through their website search system, volunteers and community organizations can match their interests and needs to enhance our communities in Crook, Deschutes, and Jefferson Counties.
After a career teaching in secondary schools, Betsy was the Service-Learning Coordinator at Seattle University and then at Portland Community College. She also worked for the Volunteer Center in Portland. She founded and served as the Executive Director for Volunteer Insights, which transitioned into Volunteer Connect. Betsy is also active on the board of Bend2030 (an organization BendBroadband proudly sponsors). Betsy holds an MA in Teaching from Harvard University and a Ph.D in Guidance and Counseling from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
YOUNG HERO AWARD
Winner: Bella Wiener
Nominees: Hanna Buehler, Ella Feldman, Sarah Perkins, Allie Rockett
Probably the most humbling moment of all was hearing about the amazing contribution Bella Wiener, a senior at Bend High, has already achieved; she has done more good in her 17 years than most of us dream of doing in a lifetime.
Aside from her amazing academic and personal achievements, Bella has arranged a climbing expedition up Kilimanjaro this summer to raise money for SHE: Sustanable Health Enterprises. SHE recognizes the need for equal education opportunities for girls and women in Rwanda, and found that one obstacle that has been overlooked far too long is access to feminine hygiene products. The money raised by the Kilimanjaro SHE Climb will go towards building a business in Rwanda to manufacture and distribute affordable menstrual pads so that girls and women can more confidently participate in school and work.
Inspired by spending two weeks at the Summer Leadership Institute at Brown University where she took a course in Leadership in Global Health, Bella created a plan to raise in excess of $50,000 to donate to a charitable cause through inviting around 10-12 people to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. After doing extensive research on a variety of organizations, she chose SHE as the beneficiary.
Find out more about about Bella’s project here, watch her recent interview on MyWindow, or listen to her speak at the Deschutes Public Library in Downtown Bend at 3 p.m. Saturday March 14.
Congratulations to all the winners, nominees, judges and organizers of the inaugural Bend Chamber Women of the Year Awards. We feel inspired and grateful to live such an awesome community.
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