Mother of Achievement
The Mother of Achievement award was established in 2012 and recognizes outstanding women who are making an impact outside of their own families. A Mother of Achievement should be a woman whose efforts and service have made a significant impact and achieved positive outcomes for mothers and children at the local, state, and/or national level. A nominee for this award does not need to be a mother to be eligible.
Read all about our 2019 National Mother of Achievement Honorees:
After learning that each year more than four million people—primarily women and children—die prematurely from constant exposure to smoke and indoor air pollution from open fires Nancy Hughes was inspired to take action. Armed with the belief that cooking shouldn’t kill and indeed doesn’t have to, in 2008, Nancy founded the nonprofit StoveTeam International to promote the local production of safe, affordable and fuel-efficient cook stoves to replace dangerous open fires in the developing world. StoveTeam began as a small idea from someone with a huge heart. Nancy has grown StoveTeam from an add-on to a medical mission to a nonprofit organization that has bettered the lives of over half-a-million people in just 10 years. The organization’s success is largely due to Nancy’s leadership and selfless devotion to clean cook stoves. Her passion, drive, and energy are infectious to those around her, reminding us all what a profound difference we can make when we put our minds AND hearts to it.Nancy won the 2011 Purpose Prize, a prestigious international award given by the Templeton Foundation and Atlantic Philanthropies to a nonprofit founder over the age of 60. In 2013, she was recognized both as a CNN Hero and a White House Champion of Change. She is the mother of two daughters and a son, and the grandmother of two. She has been the host parent to more than 50 international students.
In 1997, Wanda, a licensed microbiologist, founded a Milk Laboratory for the testing and quality control of the milk produced by Puerto Rican farmers prior to its delivery to dairy treatment plants. Thus, Puerto Rican families were assured of consuming healthy milk free of disease and bacteria. As the 2008 economic crisis swept across the United States, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico experienced its fair share of financial struggles. Dairy farmers scrambled to stay afloat. Wanda bartered with them, testing the milk in exchange for additional milk. Nearly 10 years later, Vaca Negra (Black Cow) continues to grow as the leading provider of Dairy products. She currently provides free, professional services to over 200 farms and farmers for the testing of milk produced for the 2.3 million residents on the Island. She also speaks to mothers on the importance of first breastfeeding their infants and then considering the use of locally produced milk after that process is finished. She is a strong supporter of charitable events and has been involved in helping abandoned children. During Hurricane Maria, Wanda provided free milk to orphanage and hospital babies who would have died without nutritional assistance. She did the same for nursing homes to feed the elderly. Her many awards include the Excellence and Quality Manager of the Year, by the Puerto Rico Merchants of Puerto Rican Products Association; Microbiologist of the Year, American Association of Microbiologists (USA), and a 2017 Grant Winner of $25,000 for Puerto Rico Shark Tank. Married for 27 years to Dr. Carlos Rivera-Casanova, she is the mother of Paulo, a veterinary major at Ohio University and Carla, a biologist and current graduate student.
Deborah used childhood memories and experiences as a springboard to right the injustices and unrest regarding race, gender, economic deprivation, and educational inequality that she has experienced along life’s journey. She is passionate about making a difference in social justice and its reform. Deborah graduated Ohio State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. She then received a Jurist Doctor University of Missouri at Kansas City School of Law. After 19 years of practicing law in Missouri in in private and judiciary capacities, in 2017 she joined Aid to Inmate Mothers as the Mentor Coordinator. This AIM task is for a faith-based and community organization volunteer mentor program for justice-involved women in the Montgomery, AL area communities. Her current position is a beautiful follow-up to positions such as coordinating and implementing a faith -based volunteer mentor support initiative for clients referred for case management and supervised by Missouri Probation and Parole and Johnson County Department of Correction as they reintegrated to Kansas City metropolitan communities. As a Kansas City, Missouri Municipal Judge, she rejected cases based on flagrant racial profiling by law enforcement. Deborah served as a Missouri Supreme Court appointee to statewide Gender Fairness Implementation Committee for the Missouri Courts. She testified before the Missouri legislative committees to support legislation that ended the lifetime ban for federal food stamp assistance for drug offenders. She is an advocate, a mentor, a lawyer, a wife, has been a judge, and is a tremendous example for all of us.
Cindy Trussel lives in Las Vegas, Nevada. She is not only the mother to five children, but also fostered and adopted three more. Cindy exceeded expectations when for eleven years she raised her children by herself, worked multiple jobs, and went beyond her capabilities in providing for her family. In doing so, she was aligned with a segment of her community that was extremely neglected. Cindy realized that she had the power to mend this broken community and build a haven of heaven and hope for those in need. She is the founder of Lighthouse Charities and serves as its President and CEO. Based in Las Vegas, the non-profit focuses on building self-sufficiency in refugee and low-income individuals who are transitioning out of welfare. Programs focus on employment training, English classes, cultural mentoring, educational scholarships, temporary clothing assistance, and providing hygiene, household, and schools supply items. In addition, she founded three other charities. Operation Lighthouse is a non-profit booth and cultural fair offering free medical and eye exams in addition to the distribution of winter clothing. Nafasi Designs is a Job Employment Program for refugees to learn how to make and market handmade products. The Rejesha Project is a 16 week employment program that focuses on teaching and implementing important job skills such as following instructions, working in a team environment, time management and punctuality, mock interviewing, resume building, accuracy and speed, and personal responsibility.
Debbie Taylor Williams is one of America’s most loved advocates for mothers. She is the author of eight books with her two most popular ones being The Plan A Mom in a Plan B World and the newly released journal Prayers of My Heart endorsed by Beth Moore. She is a national Christian speaker having lead conferences for mothers in 48 states and will soon have accomplished all 50. Debbie has massive national following, teaching women how to be models in the home and community. Debbie is the founder of Hill Country Ministries, a non-profit Christian outreach to women. She is a columnist for the Kerrville Daily Times, a charter writer for Bible Gateway’s BGB2 blog, a team member of The M.O.M. Initiative, is published in P31 Woman and other magazines, and has served on the faculty of the Michigan Maranatha Writers Conference. Debbie’s also appeared as a television guest on Life Today with James Robison, DayStar, Family Net, The Harvest Show, and more. Debbie is married to Keith Williams, State District Judge for Kerr County. Keith and Debbie have been married for over 40 years. They are residents of Kerrville, Texas, and have two children, Taylor and Lauren, and four grandchildren. Taylor is an attorney with a wife and two children, and Lauren is a homemaker with her husband and two boys. Debbie is a graduate of Texas Tech University with a BS in Human Development and Family Studies.
Mother of the Year®
The Mother of the Year® award was established in 1935 by the American Mothers Committee of the Golden Rule Foundation. Sara Delano Roosevelt, the Committee’s Honorary Chairman, presented Lucy Keen Johnson from Georgia as the first American Mother of the Year. The recognition of an “admirable” mother was made to provide an inspiration to the nation who would represent a mother’s unconditional love, inner strength, and courage.
Every year since, American Mothers, Inc. has named an inspirational mother from nominees across the 50 states, District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico for this important honor.
Many outstanding individuals throughout America have also served as officers, leaders, supporters and award recipients of this organization such as Sarah Delano Roosevelt, J.C. Penney, First Lady Mamie Eisenhower, Norman Vincent Peale, Congresswoman Lindy Boggs, Phyllis Marriott and Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Read all about our 2019 State Mother of the Year® Honorees:
Angie Jordin is the Business Development Director for the Muscular Dystrophy Association for the State of Alabama. She has been with MDA for 11 years and has held several roles within the non-profit organization. She enjoys her career and has been blessed to have the opportunity to model for her children the importance of balance in work and home life. She has been married for 22 years to John Jordin, a former police officer and current federal employee. Together they have two daughters, Hayley and Jessica Jordin. She believes today’s women really can have it all.
Cynthia was born into a large family, in Southern California, in 1980. In 2008, she graduated from California State University, San Bernardino, with a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Her first nursing job, was as a “generalist” nurse, in Valdez, Alaska. She met her husband while working there and they moved to Olympia, Washington. She quit nursing, when she was put on bed rest during pregnancy, and never returned to work. They decided they wanted to raise their family in Alaska and drove back when the baby was two months old. After a couple years and a second child, Cynthia and her husband bought an off-grid cabin, in Trapper Creek, Alaska. Cynthia now spends her time homeschooling, caring for her husband with intractable epilepsy, and trying to keep up with the work their lifestyle requires. She has learned a tremendous amount about what it takes to be self-reliant, as well as the essentiality of community.
Michelle Lacy is a Jesus follower, wife and mother to two. Michelle grew up the youngest of three with three generations under one roof. She loves the beach, her family, and reading. Michelle is a founding member and the Clinical Director for Women’s Health Innovations of Arizona, a 501c3 with the focus to serve mothers and families struggling with mental health and substance use disorders around pregnancy, postpartum and parenting regardless of their ability to pay. This is the result of her years of work as a licensed counselor, subject matter expert, national trainer, and advocate. Michelle has served as state coordinator for Postpartum Support International, founding member and Vice President for the Arizona Postpartum Wellness Coalition, President of the Board for the PSI-AZ Chapter, and trauma therapist. Michelle is a co-author of “Mind-Body-Soul Sisters: A Journey to Authentic, Christ-Centered Friendships” and “Our Family Fabric” a faith-based parenting curriculum.
Breanne and her husband, John-Paul, have been married for 14 years. They have four children, sons Riley (10) and Blaze (6), and daughters Darby (7) and Everly (6 months). Breanne has been serving as an Arkansas state Senator since June 2018 and was the first female legislator to give birth while in office. Breanne holds a bachelor’s degree in speech communications from Arkansas Tech University. Elected to the Russellville School Board of Education in 2009, she served as President, Communications Liaison, and Legislative Liaison. She was voted Leadership Russellville’s Leader of the Year by her peers in 2009 and named “20 in their 20’s” by The Courier in 2010. Over the years, her volunteer experience includes working with human trafficking survivors, being a respite foster family, Choices Crisis Pregnancy Center advocate, traveling internationally to work with Syrian refugees, U8 girls soccer coach, and working on 25 state and federal campaigns.
Susan Tatsui-D’Arcy was born and raised in Southern California and currently lives in Santa Cruz, California. After her first child was born, Susan set up a preschool so she could spend more time with her daughter and provide engaging activities for her. She invited other children to join to create a stimulating and social environment. Realizing that no existing school met the standards she wanted for her children, she opened an elementary school for accelerated students that expanded with her children as they advanced each year. When her daughters were in middle school, Susan created ProjectMERIT to inspire teens to find their niches and pursue independent projects and then expanded Merit Academy to include high school and college advisory. Susan has written eleven books on parenting, education & time management. Susan is the CEO and founder of Merit Academy and Merit Educational Consultants. For fun, Susan skis, ATVs, and manages her aquaponics garden and permaculture fruit orchard.
Nicole Gross is the mom for her 2 boys, Zach and Chase in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Her youngest son Chase was born with a number of severe medical conditions, and Nicole has used her prior life as a forensic biologist to seek out multiple rare diagnoses and work toward the best treatments possible. She is the winner of the Chicago Epilepsy Foundation Hero’s Award for her successful legislative work in obtaining access to medical cannabis for children with no other options. Following a move to Colorado, she has gone all in with the special needs community, working as an advocate for Chase and many other families in the 25,000 student school district. Sensing a larger need, she founded a district wide support group for special needs families. She is also a fibrosarcoma cancer survivor and created an online support group for patients worldwide who share her rare condition.
In 1994 Karen founded and was President of the Community Service club at her high school. She was awarded numerous scholarships for her community service involvement and her engineering spirit. Karen volunteered at the Animal Rescue Foundation for many years and was an integral part of getting the shelter reopened. She is a certified girl scout leader and has worked with the Daisy Scouts. Karen is a foster mom who also serves as a mentor for new foster families in New Haven County, hosting between 5 and 20 families at a time. As a cancer survivor, Karen has helped other cancer survivors through community outreach programs, by providing support and encouragement, and donating funds Karen is a Justice of the Peace and was recently awarded the 2018 Couple Choice Award from Wedding Wire. She is a Notary Public and serves on the Membership Board of the Farmingbury Women’s Club. Karen Mowad currently serves as the Town Clerk of Wolcott and the Registrar of Vital Statistics. She was previously Assistant Town Clerk for 12 years and Asst. Registrar of Vital Statistics for 16 years. Karen has worked to preserve historic records while moving technology forward. She treats her customers with dignity, respect and kindness. Karen is a Certified Municipal Officer and town official.
Tracie Hitchens was born Tracie Gilewski on April 17, 1960 in Milford, Delaware. Tracie graduated from Milford Senior High School in 1978 and went on to attend the University of Delaware where she studied Elementary Education. After graduation, in 1983, she was employed by the Woodbridge School District as a special education teacher where she taught for 30 years. In 1990 Tracie married Randy Hitchens and moved to Georgetown, Delaware. 1994 saw the birth of her only child, Jenna. In 2000 Tracie earned her master’s in Educational Technology from Wilmington University. In 2013 Tracie retired and became employed by the Sussex County Department of Libraries. Tracie lives in Lewes, Delaware with her daughter Jenna. She enjoys being five minutes from the beach, scrapbooking and traveling. This past fall Tracie and her daughter set off on a cross country road trip to the west coast and back.
Carol is the mother of wonderful twin sons who sparked her curiosity about child development and her passion for parenting. What started as a search for a parenting philosophy to steady herself as she wrangled busy toddlers became a journey toward a new calling – parent education. Today, she is a certified parent educator, leading parenting classes and presenting community talks. Carol co-founded a parent education company where she presents parenting programs and consults with families to support the healthy growth and development of their children. Carol hosts a radio show, Parenting 411, where she shares “information parents need from sources they can trust”. In her downtime, Carol always enjoyed following her sons’ athletic pursuits including Tae Kwon Do and basketball, which she made time to learn herself. Carol has been happily married for 24 years and lives in the DC Metro area with her husband and sons who are now freshmen in college.
Morghann Blum is a self made photographer in DeLand, FL. She has three children she adores and a husband she is madly in love with. Morghann is a proud Law Enforcement Wife and is entirely dedicated to her husband and her children. Morghann spent ten years in the medical field and has always been a nurturing individual. After a back injury forced her to consider an alternate career, she shifted her energy towards creative outlets and helping individuals in her community. Morghann’s photography not only brings her joy but also those around her. She is an animal lover and she is known for taking in animals that need a loving home. In her free time Morghann enjoys outdoor activities with her family and an occasional trip to see an Opera.
Carol Norris currently resides in Bonaire, Georgia with her 15 year old daughter, Kelsey. She adopted Kelsey, as a single mother, from a Russian orphanage when she was 14 months old. Carol has a Master’s Degree in Health Administration from Washington University School of Medicine. For more than 30 years, Carol Norris has served as a devoted advocate for non-profit organizations, public agencies and community collaboratives that serve children and families. She is the President and Senior Consultant at Norris Consulting Group. She specializes in grant writing, resource development, strategic planning and evaluation. Carol has written over 300 successfully funded grant proposals totaling over $153 million to fund prenatal and child development home visitation programs, after school programs, school-based health centers, juvenile delinquency prevention programs, mental health services, child health networks and other family support programs. These services have subsequently assisted hundreds of thousands of poor and disadvantaged children.
Angie Edstrom was born on February 10th, 1981 in Shawnee, Kansas. She grew up in Gardner, Kansas with her parents and two older brothers. Angie started playing sports at a young age and continued playing throughout high school. Angie continued her love of sports and played Basketball at Highland Community College for 2 years after High School. Angie decided to follow her heart and obtained her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from The University of Kansas and completed her Masters in Nursing as an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse in 2007. Throughout Angie’s, nursing career, she has worked in an Intensive Care Unit, Trauma Medical Surgical Floor, Case Manager and as a Clinical Nurse Specialist at The University of Kansas Health System. Angie married her spouse in 2010 while living in Spring Hill, Kansas. They have a son and daughter that are currently in elementary school and active with sports.
Michelle Myers is a wife and mother to three busy children. She received a Master of Divinity at the Baptist Theological Seminary in Richmond, Virginia in 1999 and has served in various ministry capacities since then. She currently resides in Williamsburg, Kentucky where she directs an after-school program for children in her community.
Lynnette Stuart was born to Huston (a Preacher) & Maggie (a homemaker) Warner on the beautiful island of Barbados. Lynnette and her sister LeAnne lived in Barbados for the first 10 years of her life then moved to America. As a preachers kid, there were rules and guidelines that had to be followed. That’s what shaped Lynnette into the woman she has become today. Lynnette loves Jesus and strives to be an example for her children. Lynnette has been married to Brad for 20yrs. She has 3 girls, Halle 18, Hanna 16, & Haléna 14. Lynnette loves her family and has been a homemaker since having kids. Lynnette is a good friend & loves meeting new people. In her spare time she helps out at her church, kids school & volunteers in her community. With all that said, Lynnette knows that if she puts God first everything else will work as it should.
Becky is a wife, mother of 4 sons and has waged a battle against the opioid epidemic ravaging our communities. June 14, 2015, Becky’s two older sons Nick and Jack accidentally overdosed on a deadly cocktail of alcohol and prescription drugs. Becky has turned her unimaginable grief into a powerful message: educating students, parents, lawmakers and anyone else who will listen about the dangers of prescription drugs. She created the 525 Foundation (the boys’ hockey numbers were 5 and 25) with the goal of preventing another family from experiencing the pain they struggle with every day. To date, Becky has bravely shared her story with more than 90,000 high school students from across the country and presented at conferences. She’s spoken to members of a United States Senate Opioid Crisis committee, serves as an ambassador for the Walgreens #ItEndsWithUs campaign and participated in countless interviews for podcasts and news media in the hopes of spreading awareness and prevention.
Christine was born and raised in southwest Iowa-attending the Logan-Magnolia School system. She grew up on a livestock/grain farm and learned the value of hard work and caring for animals and land. She had one older brother. She received a degree in Agriculture Business from NWMSU. Her career, and raising of her children, has taught her compassion for all. She learned a lot about communication-both talking and listening and the need for sharing of our thoughts and opinions. She feels that it is important to share our life experiences, whether it is mothering skills, budgeting or just our day to day life challenges. By doing this she senses that we give support and encouragement and as we improve others’ lives it affects ours as well. She tries to live this motto every day and instill it in her family, friends and all she comes into contact with.
Melissa Lee is a freelance public relations professional, a former television journalist, and currently a stay-at-home homeschooling mom of a high school senior. Born and raised in Oklahoma, she is a proud Oklahoma State University graduate. She worked in television in Tulsa and Oklahoma City before her career path lead to Louisiana where she worked in Monroe, Baton Rouge, Lafayette and New Orleans. A love of animals prompted a career change that put her face-to-face with penguins, sharks, and sea creatures on a daily basis as Director of Public Relations for Audubon Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans. She loved promoting the tourist attraction, and learned something new every day during her nearly 15 year career there. Her favorite job and proudest accomplishment is as Mom to son Alex, who was adopted from Russia as an infant. He’s filled her life with love and adventure ever since.
Lina Michaud was born and raised in the Capital City of Augusta, Maine. She grew up in a family of 10 children and claimed her spot as a “middle” child, early on, as she cared for and nurtured her younger siblings. Lina graduated High School in 1979 and directly went into the workforce. When Lina married and started a family, she realized that she wanted to be home to raise her children and started a successful in-home daycare. During this, time period, Lina also, decided to further her education and enrolled in the local University to attend night classes. After 12 years of persistence and dedication to her goal, she attained an Undergraduate Degree in Human Services and later became a Licensed Social Worker and Advocate for Children. Lina is a proud Wife, Mother and “Memere” to 3 precious grandchildren. She enjoys a fulfilled life surrounded by family and friends.
Cheryl Anita Whitaker was born in Washington, DC. She is a graduate of Calvin Coolidge High School where she served as class president. Cheryl matriculated to George Washington University where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology/Pre-Med. Cheryl began her career at Georgetown University Hospital as a patient coordinator in the Radiology department. She is the co-founder of River of Life Church located in Temple Hills, MD. As an elder, she has provided leadership, training and facility management. She teaches and provides oversight of the Women’s Ministry. In addition, she serves on the board of the River of Life Church. Cheryl was a vital design team member for the $2.9 million renovation project for the church’s new facility. Cheryl married her high school sweetheart, Pastor Charles Whitaker. From their union, they have 4 sons, Christopher, Alexander, Nicholas and Gabriel and they reside in Clinton, MD.
Angela is wife to James and mom to Ewan (12), Josephine (7) and Crosby (5). Along with managing Ewan’s nonprofit organization and Feenie’s postcard project, she also substitute teaches. In her spare time, she enjoys playing the tuba, photography and reading.
Hanadi is a public speaker and media professional on Islam. She is a Human Rights Award recipient from the city of Eden Prairie city for her efforts in dismantling misconceptions about Islam and building bridges of unity. She has been featured in the Star Tribune for her community building projects and had been published The Washington Times, the Huffington Post, The Star Tribune, MinnPost, The Guthrie Theater, the Minneapolis Institute of Art and recently Cosmopolitan magazine and Pantsuit Nation book. Hanadi is also a U.S. State Department international speaker and a TEDx speaker. Hanadi is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in International Leadership at St Thomas University while changing perceptions in the corporate world as a keynote speaker and diversity trainer on inclusion. Her recent session at the National SHRM Diversity and Inclusion Conference and Exposition on demystifying Islam and Muslims attests to her caliber and outspokenness.
Dilek Acar is a mother, community builder and entrepreneur. A daughter of Turkish immigrants, she earned a BA degree from Ohio State University and devoted her early adulthood to supporting her husband’s career as a professor and researcher. However, after 24 years of verbal abuse, she found the courage to divorce her husband and, with no support, she built a successful real estate company. A survivor of childhood sexual and physical abuse, Dilek is passionate about supporting and empowering women. A natural matchmaker, she is recognized for bringing people together. Dilek considers her greatest accomplishment to be her daughters, one in training to become a child and adolescent psychiatrist and one an early childhood educator, both of whom share Dilek’s commitment to the importance of raising healthy children. Even though Dilek is viewed as a successful business owner and community builder, she still struggles with self-esteem and confidence, though seeing herself through her daughter’s eyes has helped her grow in this area.
Betty Nell Cooper was born in 1938 in the Blackfeet Community Hospital in Browning, Montana located on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. Betty is the mother of four daughters and one son. She has worked in the field of Social Work and Mental Health in the community where she raised her children. Betty’s education and work experience has been as a Social Worker and Administrator for Family Services. Betty has testified before the U.S.Congress in Washington D.C. contributing to the passing of the Congressional Bill II, “The 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act,” that went into law on the Indian reservations Tribal Courts and the general public court system. Montana Governor Brian Switzwer appointed Betty to the Montana State Mental Health Disabilities Board where she served a three year term.
In less than two years Erin Konecky, experienced two miscarriages, the death of her infant son, and the unexpected death of her father-in-law. In that time, Erin struggled with her own emotions while comforting her husband and six-year-old son through the losses. Because she learned her story was not unusual, Erin used her tragedy to better the lives of families grieving from infant and pregnancy loss by implementing and executing a condolence card from Governor Pete Ricketts. By coordinating with his staff, Erin created and funded the project to let parents know their baby had an impact. As an educator and through involvement in local organizations No Footprint Too Small, Mourning Hope, and Cedars, Erin focuses on supporting grieving Nebraskans and educating others on the impact trauma has on students at home and in the classroom.
Susan Brager has been a resident of Clark County for more than 50 years. During this time, Susan has worked to improve education as a parent volunteer, school employee and school trustee. Susan served three terms on the Clark County School Board from 1995-2006. During her tenure, she served as president, vice president and clerk. A realtor with Berkshire Hathaway Realtors for more than 29 years, Susan is a long-standing member of the Las Vegas Association of Realtors. Prior to real estate, she worked for the Clark County School District in numerous capacities, including elementary school clerk, media clerk, physical education aide, special education aide and classroom aide. Susan has worked to enhance education offerings in Clark County since she first joined the Parent Teacher’s Association in 1972. Susan first became commissioner of District F in January 2007, and was re-elected and sworn into a third term January 2015. She was selected by her fellow commissioners to serve as chair of the Commission from 2011 to 2013. Susan is married to Ron Wellman. They have three children, 13 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. Susan attended elementary and middle school in Clark County, and her children all attended Clark County public schools and graduated from Clark High School.
Sheilla Parkerson was born in Puerto Rico. Her family moved to the United States main land when she was eleven. She remembers being excited to move so that she could see and touch snow for the first time. The first challenge she had to overcome when she got to the US was to learn English. She became bilingual in 8 months. Sheilla has always had a big interest in health and fitness. She achieved a degree in Exercise Science and has worked in the fitness industry for over 20 year. Sheilla has a passion for helping people find their best selves through the holistic approach of diet, exercise and the implementation of essential oils. She also finds joy in mentoring others new to the field find success in their careers. Together with her husband of 16 years, they are raising their three children Sheylina 14, Drake 11 and Dahlia 8. They are the joy of her life! Sheilla enjoys dancing, skiing, shopping and the outdoors.
Brook Bassan is a native New Mexican living in Albuquerque with her husband, Uri and their four elementary aged children. She has landed her dream career as a Household CEO, otherwise known as a Stay at Home Mom. In addition to continuously caring for her family, Brook volunteers as President of their school Parent Teacher Association and is Chairwoman of the Friends of the Library committee. She serves on the Nominating Committee for the NMPTA and is an active member of her Neighborhood Association, while also owning two small home-based businesses. Along with making memories with her incredible husband and four children who fill her heart and keep her schedule full, Brook adores cooking, hosting friends and other neighborhood children often, and Girl Scouts with her daughter. She is an avid reader, enjoys snow skiing, walking the family’s three dogs, and indulging in a glass of wine with gal pals.
Jatali Bellanton is the founder of the youth financial literacy organisation Kids Who Bank. After 13.5 years in the finance worlds of corporate UK and America helping clients make and retain millions she is now mainly recognized for being an award winning author, investor and her two major creations: a finance curriculum which has gone into 137 schools nationwide and an annual Kidpreneur Awards honouring enterprising youth and the adults who are creating ladders for them.
Heather Briganti has held many job titles, but the best one by far is Mom. Becoming a mother showed her the meaning of true, unconditional and selfless love. Raising a child who is funny, smart, clever and who just happens to have a rare disease is the joy of her life. As the mother to an only child, she has learned that proudly responding “one” rather than “just one” when asked how many children she has is just as great, exciting and wonderful as the response “two”, “three” or more!
Dr. Renae Reinardy is a Psychologist and Director of the Lakeside Center for Behavioral Change. She is the Program Developer of CourageCritters.com, a plush animal and online program to help children learn adaptive coping skills. She received her doctorate at Argosy University, Washington DC. After several years in Washington, she returned to her home in the Midwest where she started a non-profit and continued to be an advocate for mental health. She has been a Professor and travels across America presenting at numerous conferences and trainings. Dr. Reinardy has been interviewed on Good Morning America, North Dakota Today and the Joy Behar Show. She was featured on Dateline NBC and A&E’s Hoarders. She currently resides in Fargo with her husband Chad and their 7-year-old daughter Fiona. Whenever she is not working, she plays a competitive game of Twister, and enjoys traveling, hiking and finding new adventures with her family.
After her Army retirement, Brook Harless graduated several Leadership Academies, UMHB and CTC. Brook was inducted into the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame and was a recipient of Stark County’s 20 under 40 award. She works tirelessly on behalf of veterans as CVA’s Strike Team Leader, Serving Area Military VP, American Legion 44 Delegate and Board Membership Chair, MWAN Unit 21 Executive Board, ARC Services to Armed Forces caseworker, Disaster Action Team, Ohio Veterans Coalition Co-Chair, Veterans Task Force, creating and co-chairing the Veterans Stand Down. Her volunteerism extends to the community at large through the ARC and SCHTF Board of Directors, WIN Facilitator and the Rotary Club of Plain Township VP among other organizations. Her perseverance and work ethic are traits speaking to her character. Brook works to improve the lives of veterans all the while raising her 3 boys with her husband, Steve.
Brenda McDaniel was born in the Oklahoma Panhandle, the youngest of three daughters. Her Mother was a school teacher/artist and her father was a baseball player/farmer. At Laverne High School she became an outstanding student and a popular vocalist. This led to academic and music scholarships for college. She earned a teaching degree at Oklahoma University and later a Master’s degree at NWOSU. She has taught in multiple Oklahoma Public Schools and was recognized for her outstanding teaching at each. She met her husband Tom in college. They will be married 60 years this June. They have 3 sons: Mark-55, Randy-51, and Lance-49. The family includes 2 daughter-in-laws and 5 grandchildren. She has served as First Lady of two universities where she promoted student initiatives and established scholarships. She has been a leader in her Church and recognized with her denomination’s highest awards. She has been a Community Volunteer and Civic Leader which led to her inclusion in the 50 Most Powerful Women in Oklahoma City. Foremost she is a Mother who has invested her life in her children and husband.
Kimberly is a wife, mother of two daughters, surrogate mother, and grandmother to two amazing boys. She is also a kidney donor. Kim grew up on a dairy farm and married her high school sweetheart. She has worked for 20 years as a florist and is active in her church. While her husband is retired from the Army, Kim has been trying to volunteer more in her retirement including work with the Lupus Society and the Dallas, Oregon Fire Department. Kim and her husband enjoy traveling and camping, but most of all they just like quiet time together.
Abigail Bullard is a hard-working, every-Mom, who spends each day trying to make each child, pet, family-member, friend and employee feel like they are a priority. At 21, Abi lost her first son to domestic violence, which put her life on hold as she learned how to move forward from such a tragic loss. At 24, she put herself through college while working full-time and raising her 6 month old son full time, and subsequently completed a Master’s degree in Accounting while working full-time and having her second son, who turned 1 just as she graduated. Today, Abi manages a Finance team for a global healthcare company by day, and spends the rest of her time raising her two boys. When they are not playing piano or on the sports field, they are volunteering in various ways throughout the county.
Raquel was born on February 12, 1948. Her parents were Mr. Héctor Quiñones, farmer and María M. Ojeda, a housewife. She is the youngest of four brothers. At 17 she did secretarial work in the UIPR. In 1968, she married Mr. José V. Ferrer. They have 3 children and have 5 grandchildren. She has been a beauty specialist for 10 years when she completed a baccalaureate degree in psychology and a master’s and a doctorate in counseling. She obtained two postdoctoral certificates in human sexuality and in family and couple therapist. She worked for 32 years in the UIPR, directing a federal proposal and as a part-time professor. She still maintains his private practice. She is a reader and monitor of the altar. She offers talks to young people with Down syndrome, Hogar-Crea and in different schools and service agencies and is the speaker in recognition of priests.
Michelle Donovan was born and raised in Warwick, Rhode Island and is 28 years old. She is a high-school graduate and former caretaker for her mother. Michelle put college on hold to take care of her mother full-time. In 2012, she met Timothy Donovan, who she went on to marry in 2015. In December 2016, Michelle and Tim were presented the opportunity to adopt a child from a family friend who could not support another child. Raelynn Donovan was born on June 6, 2017 and went home with Michelle and Tim the next day. In April 2018 the adoption was finalized. Michelle’s mother passed on January 1, 2018. After her mother’s passing, Michelle decided to start taking better care of her own health. In September 2018, Michelle had weight loss surgery so that she could prolong her health for herself, as a wife, but most importantly as a mother.
Elaine A. Horton lived her early life in Cross Hill, South Carolina. She graduated from Clinton High School, Lander College, and Clemson University. In 1964 she married Paul M. Horton from Charleston,SC. They have one child (Alison Eaker) and two grandchildren (Madelaine and Matthew Hyder). She taught grades 1-4 for 30 years in Pickens County. She also taught at Clemson University and Southern Wesleyan. In addition she served as preschool director at Spring Valley Presbyterian Church. She and Mac have been married for 54 years!
Diane grew up on a family farm and then attended South Dakota State University where she majored in Microbiology and met her future husband, Rob. Diane then entered a graduate program at the University of Minnesota, earning a PhD in the Microbiology, Immunology and Cancer Biology Program. After having their first child, Diane and Rob chose to move to South Dakota with the desire to raise their family in a smaller community. Over the next 10 years, Diane balanced advancing her research career in Cancer Biology and caring for their growing family of 3 children. Diane also carved out time to be an active member of their church and be help lead the PTA at school. In 2016, Diane followed a calling to focus on patient care and entered the Accelerated Registered Nursing program at Augustana University. She has been working as a Home Hospice RN for the past year.
Karen Marie Lane was born May 8, 1970 in Bethpage, New York. She graduated Stissing Mountain High School in 1988; Radford University in 1992 with a BA in Liberal Studies; and Duke Divinity School in 1995 with a Master of Divinity and 1996 with a Master of Religious Education. In 1995 she was ordained a Deacon in the Holston Conference of the United Methodist Church and in 1998 she was ordained an Elder. Karen has served as a local church pastor since 1996. She is currently the pastor of Jonesborough United Methodist Church. She is the president of the Jonesborough Area Ministerial Association whose main focus is their food pantry; is on the District Board of Ordained Ministry; and is the co-leader for her daughter’s Girl Scout Troop. Karen is married to Joe and together they have two children. JJ who is eleven years old and Makayla who is nine.
Marty Norman, M.Ed., mother of two and grandmother of five is an author, licensed therapist, workshop trainer and inspirational speaker. She has published three non-fiction books, five children’s books, magazine articles and has spoken to women’s groups. Marty received her B.A. from UT Austin, M.Ed from TWU, and LPC from the State of Texas. She’s worked as a therapist and volunteer for family services and facilitated marketing plans for non-profits. Her specialties include women’s issues, addiction, sexual abuse, grief issues, and play therapy. Her passion is to impact a community by initiating new programs such as the FWISD’s Project Charlie. Marty’s hobbies include hiking, reading, writing, painting, mahjong, and canasta. She loves nothing better than watching a sunset, reading by the fire or hiking in the silence of the mountains with her grandchildren.
Amy is a mother to seven kiddos, a sibling to five, a wife to one of the greats, and a friend to anyone who will make eye contact with her. She grew up in Arizona and loves to play in the sunshine any chance she gets, even if it’s through a frozen window in January. She loves to dance with her daughters and play practical jokes on her sons and husband. Constantly finding new ways to bring fun and energy to any situation she is always learning a new skill. She has learned balloon-twisting, sucker-making, magic tricks, spontaneous games and recently is even working on ventriloquy – just to name a few. Always wanting to learn and develop Amy has grown a high-end photography business and is sought after due to her abilities to turn a family photo shoot into amazing art for the home.
Kara Pettit grew up in Southern California with her 3 brothers and single mother. She currently resides in Virginia Beach, VA with her Ret. Navy Seal husband of 26 years Clark Pettit, and her kids: Connor (24-CNU graduate), Bailey (21- Virginia Tech), and Addison (15-highschool). While working as a flight attendant she met and married her husband in 4.5 months. Kara has been blessed to be a stay at home mom, homeschool her three kids, support her husband through his military career, and is currently applying her BS in Business as the CFO of Clark Pettit Construction Inc, started in 2015. She loves to run, completing numerous half marathons and the Richmond Marathon (cheap therapy), sew (she made her daughters prom dresses), and garden. Kara loves the smell of the Pacific Ocean, a beautiful sunset, adventuring with her husband, and the laughs she hears when all her kids are together.
Maria Ilac is a wife and mom of two wonderful children. Her youngest son was diagnosed with cancer at seven months old and successfully beat the disease. Through this experience Maria has discovered her passion to teach others both how to advocate for their children and inclusion awareness. She aspires to one day begin speaking publicly through lectures and seminars about these passions. Maria received a Bachelor’s of Science in Earth Science, majoring in Geology, creating a career that has landed her at several energy companies. Currently Maria works as a technical software trainer at one such company. In just the last five years she has taught over 1000 people how to use complex technical systems that aid them in their jobs. She has received several awards and recognition for her accomplishments at work.
Brady Ann Medovic was born and raised in Wheeling, West Virginia. She attended college at West Virginia University in Morgantown, WV and then returned to her hometown. She knew that this was the place she wanted to work to make a difference and one day raise a family. Brady is the youngest of four children and shares a close relationship with her family. She has been married to her husband, Ty, for almost 6 years and they have a 4 year old daughter, Peyton. Brady works in the non profit world for the American Cancer Society for a mission that is near and dear to her heart. Brady believes in family, faith, friends, community, and appreciating the little things in life.
Elaine Wesner Sellenheim is a mother of two young girls, Heidi and Autumn, wife of thirteen years to Joseph, and is proud to call Wisconsin her lifelong home. She has a BA in Music Education and a MSE in Education and enjoys being the Music Ministry Coordinator for St. Andrew (Delavan, WI) and St. Patrick (Elkhorn, WI) parishes. Elaine volunteers at Lakeland Health Care Center playing the piano with residents and at Delavan Nursery Center teaching music and movement. Previously, she worked as the choir and drama teacher at Williams Bay Middle and High School, earning the Wisconsin Choral Directors Association 2014 Outstanding Young Choir Director Award. Elaine is passionate about having her family be an active part of the community they live in and strives daily to love God and serve others.
Jamila A. Russell, a former Senate candidate and the Territorial Americans with Disabilities Act Coordinator, is the mother of two sons, one of which is a child with disabilities. Jamila is responsible for coordinating programs and ensuring the USVI territory’s compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 and the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973. She has served as a parent advocate for families with disabled children, and had been vocal of her own experience with raising a child with a disability. Jamila meets with large audiences, non-profit groups and agencies in order to forge relationships to help build and promote the nondiscrimination requirements of the ADA. Among her community involvements, she has been instrumental in organizing and fostering activities as Executive Producer and Host of “Just Jamila!”, a Radio Show and Podcast. She hosts a weekly news editorial, “The Bottom Line with Jamila Russell.” She is the founder of “Cultivating Inclusion”, a Community Advocacy Organization. She is the Co-Founder of “Reclaim Our Streets/Unite Our People Community Organization.” She is also the Founder of “V.I. Emerging Stars”, a recognition program for youths in the community. Since October 2009 she has been hosting a daily radio talk show “What’s Going On?” Jamila is the beloved mother of Lauritz and Shashamani.