Distinguished Women of Distinction

by Melissa Brunner

I had the honor of emceeing the ABWA's 2012 Woman of Distinction luncheon Tuesday. This year's event honored Carol Wheeler of Stormont-Vail HealthCare.

The two years prior to this, a friend of mine invited me to attend. It struck me how many of the women who've been honored I had crossed paths with. I also admired them, not just for what they had accomplished, but for how they treated others. Advertising agency owner Martha Bartlett Piland was the honoree at the first luncheon I attended in 2010. One message shared about Martha was her ability to treat all colleagues, regardless of their position in their organization, with equal amounts of respect. In 2011, Beth Fager was the honoree. From her we learned how family was the focus of all her endeavours - making the community better for them, and, in turn, all of us. This year, Carol Wheeler teaches us the lesson from her mother - that you never know what life has in store, so you'd better be prepared to take care of yourself and your family. It sparked her to ensure she had an education, which she used to work her way up from dishwasher to registered nurse to vice president at Stormont-Vail HealthCare.

I look further back at the list and see women I've worked side by side with during a volunteer stint with the YWCA - Marilynn Ault and Blanche Parks; those I've observed in the political realm - former State Sen. Alicia Salisbury, former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, former Sec. of Aging Connie Hubble; and two women I know from practically everywhere else, Nancy Perry and Anita Wolgast!

The point isn't whether you agree or disagree with the views anyone might hold, it's how, if we take time to listen, we can all learn things from each other. Those who've come before us have blazed the trail and those who walk alongside us can help us along the way so that we can make things better for those follow.



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