Fifty women, along with about 550 friends, family, coworkers, mentors and just plain fans, gathered to celebrate one another’s accomplishments, leadership and community esprit de corps on March 8. There was a red carpet for photo snapping, champagne for toasting and passionate and powerful women with potential to last, well, at least until next year.
After the reception but before all plates had been cleared from the tables, the awards portion began. IBR Associate Publisher Cindy Suffa welcomed the crowd – the largest one ever for this event. The awards were doled out in three groups, punctuated by videos of the women themselves. The videos were created from footage taken earlier this year at an exclusive Meet and Greet event that brought past and present Women of the Year honorees together.
CableOne videographers did the shooting and editing, and each of the three videos centered on the words that framed the program’s overriding theme: passion, power and potential. Every honoree was introduced with her own quote in reference to one of those words.
Carol MacGregor’s word was passion. “(I have passion) for what we believe, for sticking to our dreams, for caring for each other and the world we live in.”
For Meridian Mayor Tammy de Weerd, it was all about power. “Women shy away from power – but power is very important to me. If you have an impact, you attain stature. You can attain a sense of power by working with integrity, being humble, by using it with good intent. I try to.”
Linda Clark, president of the Idaho State Board of Education, chose as her word: potential. “What I’ve spent my whole life working on is the potential of students, the potential of employees, the potential of our system,” she said.
After all trophies were awarded, three-time Olympic gold medal winner and Idaho treasure Kristin Armstrong delivered a keynote speech on “Greatness always requires passion.” Armstrong related, in brief fashion, what it was like through her roller-coaster Olympic gold medal journey. “Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress,” she said. “Working hard for something we love is called passion. … You have to remember, you can’t do anything alone.”
At the end of the night, as has been done for the past eight Women of the Year events, one of the 50 was presented as the Woman of the Year. Armstrong, who had won the award in 2017, “passed the torch” and, in her introduction slowly revealed her replacement: Ronda Conger, vice president of CBH Homes, author, and motivational speaker.
Conger was visibly wowed by the award. “At CBH Homes, we have a core belief,” she said. “Love wins. If you love what you do, if you love this community, you will win.”