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Idaho community celebrates 2021 Women of the Year 

Idaho Business Review’s 2021 Women of the Year event marked several “firsts” in its 16-year history.

For the first time, the Woman of the Year chose to be recognized virtually, to keep her team and patients safe. This was the first time, since March’s beginning of the 2020 pandemic, that community members gathered safely in person to support an Idaho Business Review (IBR) event. And, for the first time, a standing ovation was given for an honoree, Lisa Holland, recognized posthumously.

2020 Woman of the Year Tammy de Weerd shares uplifting remarks during her keynote address at Boise Centre. Photo by Katy Kithcart

“It is always an honor to shine a light on the amazing women in our state, but this year was especially meaningful as this past year has presented so many challenges,” said Cindy Suffa, IBR publisher.

Nearly 450 gathered, with safety protocols in place, at Boise Centre to honor 50 Women of the Year honorees and their guests, who gathered for dinner and a toast to celebrate the great work of women leaders across Idaho. IBR observed that all guests and sponsors respected social distancing and safety protocols, and several accepted their awards in the days following. Suffa recognized the compassion and commitment of those serving in health care, as several of the honorees are employed in the health care field, including this year’s Woman of the Year, Odette Bolano, who spoke virtually at the gala.

Bolano gave thanks to the founders, current leaders and employees of Saint Alphonsus Health System, her family and others who inspire and support her.

“To my fellow honorees. It is with great respect and honor that I stand in the light with you for the difference that you’re making in our community. Each of you shares this award with me tonight,” Bolano said.

2020 Woman of the Year Tammy de Weerd, formerly the mayor of Meridian, gave the keynote speech, recognizing the impact Holland had on the Kuna and Meridian communities and offering words of encouragement going forward.

“Be a voice for good,” de Weerd said. “The events over the last year have given voice to many, through protests, COVID and before the 2020 elections. We have seen both good and bad examples of using our voices. In some cases, it has underscored why so many stay silent.

“It’s unfortunate, because speaking up is critical. Diversity of thought is critical if we are to achieve and create positive outcomes,” she continued. “The importance of using your voice is how you use your voice. Look around this room tonight. There is so much good here. These women that we honor tonight are community builders and changemakers. All of us can be, if we choose carefully how we express ourselves, in kindness and using our voices for good.”

Those who wish to relive the event, including those who were unable to attend, can purchase images that were taken at idahobusinessreview.smugmug.com/2021-Women-of-the-Year/. Nominations for 2022’s Women of the Year are currently being accepted at idahobusinessreview.com/events/woy/nominate/. IBR looks forward to continuing the tradition.

“Women of the Year was so much fun and felt really safe,” said Women of the Year honoree Caitlin Copple Masingill “Kudos to (IBR) for making it happen despite the challenging times.”

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