Women of Influence Awards 2018

Tucson Local Media and Inside Tucson Business’ Women of Influence Awards 2018

J.D. Fitzgerald

A host of exemplary women from around the Greater Tucson Metro Area were recognized for their contributions to the community the night of Wednesday, March 7.

A crowd had gathered at Desert Diamond Casino in Sahuarita for the 2018 Women of Influence Awards, and cheered the night away for a series of ever-deserving list of nominees.

Winners were announced through the night in 18 different categories, ranging from arts and culture to real estate and entrepreneurship. This year also marked the 15th anniversary of the event for Tucson Local Media and Inside Tucson Business.

The real mission of the evening, aside from honoring every nominee, was to shine a light on the trailblazing women in our midst, and recognize their immense impact on our community.

That point was eloquently summed up by keynote speaker Wanda F. Moore of the University of Arizona’s Sarver Heart Center.

Moore, who serves on a litany of nonprofit boards around town, reiterated the importance of recognizing the success of, and contributions put forth, by the women in the community.

“For the women that we are, our linkage of courage made a chain that cannot be broken,” Moore said. “The hands that made each golden link left a priceless token. Our heritage has been the shield that kept us strong and free...the women that we are today walk victoriously.  Ladies, tonight we celebrate each of you as a link in a golden chain of positive Influence in Tucson.”

Staying strong

Moore discussed the issues that she encountered growing up as an African-American woman in the South—and how much it meant to her to have a strong mother by her side through her maturation.

“Ladies; what a priceless link it is for us to grow beyond our dreams and aspirations and assist others to accomplish their dreams and aspirations,” Moore said. “How grateful I am for the many links of influential women I’ve had the opportunity to meet.”

Moore, who moved to Southern Arizona a quarter-century ago from Southern California with her husband, Jimmy D. Moore, described the difficulties associated with moving to an unknown area, and learning to love the desert southwest.

“Over time the land, the people and the food grew on me,” Moore said. “I made good friends who became my extended family and I realized opportunities through volunteering in which I got to meet some strong professional and very influential women, like those I noted earlier.”

Moore capped off her speech by noting the exceptional importance of strong-willed women in the world, and how much can be done when given a chance to shine.

“We are women of influence, leaders giving the best of our skills, resources and education to guide, empower, train and prepare the next generation to lead,” she said. “We set examples of honesty, integrity, passion for our community, confidence, respect, and persuasiveness that others want to follow.” 

Feats of strength

The theme of strength and camaraderie set forth in Moore’s speech was reiterated by most of the winners throughout the course of the event.

Women of all ages, including 16-year-old Cienega High school junior Destiny Delgado—recipient of this year’s Women of Influence Scholarship, touched on similar notes to what Moore discussed.

Delgado, who has a 4.4 weighted GPA at the Vail high school, gave a brief speech to nearly 600 attendees, thanking them for recognizing her efforts.

“There’s no other way to put it than ‘I’m grateful,’” Delgado said. “I’m grateful to have additional funds for schooling after high school to achieve my dream of being a doctor. Thank you.”

Each of the winners gave a short speech thanking those who helped them in their respective careers.

Some, like Tucson Fire District Assistant Chief Laura Baker, who won the Public Service Champion Award, made sure to thank those who helped them become the success stories they are.

“The reason I am here is because of all those people I just mentioned and many more that I am surrounded by every day,” Baker said.  “I've had an opportunity-filled environment and an inner burning desire within myself to do and be better every day. But what got me here is discipline, commitment, determination, perseverance and the good people around me.”

Baker touched on the core tenant of the award ceremony in her final remarks; to exemplify the importance of women in society.

She made sure that everyone inside the cavernous events center knew how important they are to the community as a whole, and how much they impact the people around them.

“Each of you are extraordinary too,” she said. “I got to say that we all have this power of influence within us. So, what we do and what we say to people on any interaction can make a huge difference in each person that you touch in this life.”

Nominees and Winners:

Administrative Champion

Rachel Chánes, Pima Dermatology

Leslie Allen, Norton School of Family & Consumer Sciences at the University of Arizona

Tracey Durazo, Hughes Federal Credit Union

Arts & Culture Champion

Jocelyn Valencia, Tucson Hip Hop Festival

Stephanie Jenkins, Clean Comedy Trust

Mia Schnaible, Arizona International Film Festival

Community Service Champion

Autumn Rentmeester, Children's Museum of Tucson & Oro Valley

Paloma Lopez-Santiago, San Miguel High School

Suzanne McFarlin, Suzanne McFarlin LLC

Education Champion

Dondi Luce, E.D., Twin Peaks Elementary School

Devi Paolillo, Mathnasium of Marana

Lia Pierse, Self Sufficiency Service

Financial/Banking Champion

Pam Hopman, The Hopman Group LLC

Stacey Lemos, Town of Oro Valley

Patricia Raskob, EA, CFP, ATA, Raskob Kambourian Financial Advisors Ltd.

Legal Champion

Sarah Showard, Showard Law Firm

Sara C. Derrick, Mesch Clark Rothschild

Priscilla Frisby, Priscilla Frisby, Attorney at Law PLLC

Licensed Professional Champion

Jaime W. Vick, Sierra Tucson

Randye Ferrick, Tierra Right of Way Services

Renate Linzmeyer, We've Got Your Back, PLC

Non-Profit Champion

Marry Miller, Altar Valley Conservation Alliance

Betsy Stuetze, American Heart Association of Southern Arizona

T. VanHook, Habitat for Humanity

Public Relations/Marketing Champion

Marisela Felix, YWCA Southern Arizona

Amanda Holbert, Elegant Iron LLC

Rebecca Kososkie, Marana Chamber of Commerce

Public Service Champion

Laura Baker, Tucson Fire Department

Elaine Becherer, Assoc., AIA, LEED AP, City of Tucson

Autumn Rentmeester, Children's Museum of Tucson & Oro Valley

Real Estate Champion

Nancy McClure, CBRE, Inc.

Joelle Kahn, Tierra Antigua Realty

Laura Mance, Long Realty

Recreation/Hospitality Champion

McKensie Neff, American Heart Association of Southern Arizona

Jessica Robertson, Hilton El Conquistador

Kimberly Van Amburg, Casino Del Sol Resort

Technology Champion

Marisela Solis de Kester, World View

Lynn Freeman, FastForWord Scientific Learning

Cristie Street, Nextrio LL

Rising Star

Gemma Thomas, Children's Clinics for Rehabilitative Services

Veronica Cruz-Mercado, University of Arizona

Vivian Malek, The American Board of Radiology

Outstanding Minority Business Owner

Randye Ferrick, Tierra Right of Way Services

Alma R. Gallardo, The Arizona Bilingual Newspaper

Outstanding Entrepreneur 

Lindsay Welch, Autus Strategies

Kim Beigel, The Artful Space

Dolly Quinn, Dolly Quinn Salonspa

Outstanding Business Owner

Kimberly Clifton, Tierra Antigua Realty

Shannon Burke, Shannon Burke Insurance Agency LLC

June Crawford, Copygraphix, LLC

Lifetime Achievement Award

Agnes C. Poore, Casa de la Luz Hospice

Carlotta Flores, El Charro Café—Flores Concepts

Julia Strange, TMC Healthcare

See link below for more photos from the event!