Fifty high-achieving Idaho women were feted in the Idaho Business Review Women of the Year event Feb. 26.
Some of the honorees wore floor-length evening gowns to the sold-out event, and others chose more conservative attire. But all came dressed in the success that had carried them there.
A welcome by IBR Publisher Brian Hunt started the evening, the 10th year of the award program. Hunt acknowledged former honorees including five in the Circle of Excellence (those who have gotten the award multiple times, up to three) and introduced Sheila Schwager, an attorney at Hawley Troxell, the presenting sponsor.
Then awards portion of the night was bracketed by three videos, all focused on the evening’s raison d’etre: women. The first featured cute kids answering questions: What does it take to be a woman of the year? (Cute kid answer: You have to be awesome all year long.) What super power would she have? (Cat power). What would you say to a woman of the year? (Good job.)
The second video was more of a “did you know that a woman invented that?” clip reel, including mention of the woman who invented the windshield wiper (Mary Anderson).
It was a cute kid again for the third video, this time featuring an adorable little girl imagining what a day at the office might be like, complete with a paper-chewing copier, interrupting phone calls, computer woes and traffic jams. In the end, she decides she’s fine with being a little girl for a while longer.
Before the final big moment of the night – the passing of the torch from one woman of the year to the next – Adam Sharkey, a pastor at Bridgepoint Church in Boise, delivered a spoken word medley. Sharkey’s powerful performance was about little girls playing make-believe then growing up to become leaders. The theme was “dare to dream,” a theme repeated through the night with the women’s stories. Sharkey ended to thunderous applause and a standing ovation.
Then, Toni Nielsen, 2014 Woman of the Year and western Idaho region president at Zions Bank, took the stage. She talked about what the title – Woman of the Year – had meant to her. She was surprised, she said, at the number of women who had reached out to her and of the number she had
been able to mentor. She was also moved when she heard from a father who was so inspired by her and her fellow honorees that he read all of their profiles to his young daughter.
Nielsen than introduced the 2015 Woman of the Year, Teresa Poppen, the founder and executive director of One Stone Inc., a student-run not-for-profit organization that combines service and charitable giving with experiential learning. Poppen is a former executive at Compaq who served as a software consultant, and later worked as a prominent fundraiser for several Treasure Valley nonprofits.
Poppen, surprised and overwhelmed, accepted her award after another standing ovation, thanked her staff and the IBR, and then left the stage quickly. “I should have been prepared but I just thought how great it was to be in the same group as all of these fabulous women, I never thought I would be chosen,” Poppen said afterwards.
“This was a night I wish everyone could attend,” said Odell England, managing partner at Graeber and Co. “I mean, listening to all the things all of these women are doing, as a man, I am inspired to go out and do more.”