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50 women leaders inspire a crowd of 600 at Women of the Year event

Erin Guerricabeitia, coordinator of the Boise Urban Garden School,

Paula Kluksdal of Hawley Troxell; Erin Guerricabeitia, coordinator of the Boise Urban Garden School; and Cindy Suffa of Idaho Business Review gather on stage at the IBR’s Women of the Year event Feb. 25. Photo by Erika Sather-Smith.

Since 2011, Idaho Business Review has named a Woman of the Year in a presentation and gala. On Feb. 25, with about 600 people in attendance at the event, the honor went to Nora Carpenter, president and CEO of United Way of Treasure Valley.

All who have achieved Woman of the Year were on hand Feb. 25 at the Boise Centre to present this year’s incoming class of 50 Women of the Year: Heidi Thompson, president and co-founder of Scentsy Inc. and 2011 Woman of the Year; Karen Vauk, CEO and president of Idaho Foodbank and 2012 Woman of the Year; Stacy Pearson, vice president of finance and administration at Boise State University and 2013 Woman of the Year; Toni Nielsen, Western Idaho region president for Zions Bank and 2014 Woman of the Year; and Teresa Poppen, founder, executive director and ultimate difference maker at One Stone Inc. and 2015 Woman of the Year.

The 50 women and their guests were toasted with champagne and entertained by jazz from Sally Tibbs and Kevin Kirk, and some were interviewed by TV personalities.

Nora Carpenter

Nora Carpenter

The evening’s festivities began with a welcome by Cindy Suffa, Idaho Business Review advertising director. Paula Kluksdal, an attorney with Hawley Troxell, the presenting sponsor, proclaimed that “Strong is the new pretty,” and that theme carried the evening along.

Interspersed with the groups of inspirational women – and the stories of inspiration that brought them to the stage – were vignettes featuring some of the women talking about their awards. In a video and via live, on-stage mini talk shows, CBS Idaho Living’s Johnna Johnson and Liz Amar quizzed the women about what it means to be honored.

All 50 received hand-blown, lotus leaf glass awards created individually by Zion Warne. Then Poppen came on stage to reveal Carpenter as this year’s Woman of the Year. Carpenter, after receiving a standing ovation, and obviously surprised by the win, took the microphone and said the one thing she hoped everyone would do is: “Say yes. Find something to say yes to. Everyday.”

About Jeanne Huff

Jeanne Huff is the special sections editor at IBR, editor of Women of the Year, Accomplished Under 40, CEOs of Influence, Money Makers, Leaders in Law, Corporate Guide to Event Planning as well as editor of custom publications including Welcome to Boise, Dining Decisions, Idaho Heartland Living and Travelog.