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A look back at IBR’s events throughout 2021 

Idaho Business Review (IBR) held 15 virtual and in-person events in 2021 to keep our business community informed and honor the business leaders doing amazing work across the great state of Idaho. While the first six months saw only a virtual format, at the half-year mark, IBR started hosting in-person events again, following CDC regulations to ensure a safe environment for attendees. 

Excellence in Finance and Leaders in Law gather at Boise Centre for Idaho Business Review’s 2021 ceremony Nov. 16. Photo by Katy Kithcart

The first event to kick off the year was the annual Icon Awards, held virtually on May 13, which recognized 16 leaders across the state over 50 years of age. The online format allowed the opportunity to gather comments from not just the honorees themselves, but also others who could speak on behalf of the honorees’ influence and mentorship to them personally as well as their larger communities.

The next event, CEO of Influence, was held virtually on June 24. This awards program honored 20 talented business and nonprofit leaders in Idaho. Following this year’s CEO of Influence awards, the honorees and guests were invited to attend an in-person VIP reception at the Arid Club on June 29 to celebrate their awards together. This reception, IBR’s first entry into an in-person event in 2021, was limited to 50 guests and gave the CEOs an opportunity to mingle with each other over a beverage of choice.  

The last planned virtual event of the year was the Accomplished Under 40 awards, which were held on July 13. Appropriately named, this program honored 40 Idaho business and professional leaders who have achieved notable successes before the age of 40. During the live stream, all 40 honorees had an opportunity to offer an acceptance speech in a pre-recorded fashion. 

Idaho Business Review’s past and present Women of the Year honorees gather for a Sept. 1 meet-and-greet reception. Photo by Alx Stevens

On Sept. 1, IBR held its sixth annual Women of the Year meet-and-greet reception at the Arid Club. More than 50 women were in attendance — including some of this year’s 50 honorees as well as past recipients — networking together, reconnecting and/or creating new friendships. Unveiled at the reception was the theme for this year’s Women of the Year gala. In light of the realities the pandemic brought to the surface — reflections on how precious life is and the value of relationships — IBR decided to carry a “Be” theme into this year’s event. At the gala and awards ceremony later that month on Sept. 30 at Boise Centre, each honoree had her “Be” statement proudly appearing on screen for all attendees to see. At the gala, it was announced that Odette Bolano of Saint Alphonsus Health System was this year’s Woman of the Year. 

A couple of weeks later on Oct. 14, Top Projects was held in-person at the Galaxy Event Center. In its 17th year, this event recognized the outstanding finalists for projects substantially completed between June 1, 2020, and May 31, 2021 — and valued at more than $1 million in construction costs. This year’s Project of the Year award went to the Boise State University’s Micron Center for Materials Research building for its sustainable, inclusive energy efficient design.  

On Nov. 18, IBR held its Excellence in Finance and Leaders in Law events co-located at Boise Centre, allowing the attendees from both awards programs in different but related sectors the chance to network together at the reception. These two co-branded programs honored a total of 56 finance and legal professionals from across the state. Nearly 300 attendees gathered safely for IBR’s awards ceremony, where former Chief Justice Roger Burdick was honored with the Lifetime Achievement award.  

The last event of the year was the Forum on the Future held on Dec. 9 with a two-part panel discussion titled “Growing for the Future.” Both panels were moderated by Hawley Troxell; the first panel discussed growth and development, and the second covered workforce and wages. To add context to this discussion, IBR surveyed its readership and social followers to contribute to the conversation of what is coming in 2022. Survey results were gathered in advance and provided to the moderators to share with the panel at the event.  

Important to include in this list of events are IBR’s breakfast series events, which are a series of five panel discussions held throughout the year where experts cover timely, relevant business issues. In 2021, the first three panels were held virtually as Zoom meetings and included discussions on current Idaho technology trends (on Feb. 9), the legislative wrap-up (originally intended for Apr. 6 but postponed until May 11 due to the long-running, record-breaking legislative session this year) and tourism in the post-COVID world (on June 6). However, the last two breakfast series panels — on mortgage rates and real estate trends (Aug. 3) and office life in 2021 (Oct. 5) — were once again held in person at the Grove Hotel in downtown Boise over a continental breakfast.  

Cindy Suffa, publisher of IBR, had this to say about the success of this year’s events:  

“While we are sensitive to the pandemic climate that lingers beyond 2020, we are grateful to those who have been able to join in person late in 2021. The talent and exceptional leadership that we are surrounded by within Idaho’s business community is always worthy of celebrating, and this past year underscores that nothing is taken for granted.” 

IBR is thrilled to welcome 2022 and expects a year chockful of live events bustling with excitement. We look forward to hosting you at one of IBR’s events in the new year. In the meantime, please view this short video that will give you a taste of what 2021 events had in store for this year’s attendees. 

2021 event photos can be found here: Idaho Business Review ( 

About Lauren Bonneau