The 28th annual Woman of Achievement awards will take place Sunday, Nov. 15, 2 p.m. on the Zoom online meetings platform. The program is sponsored by the Lakeland Community College Women’s Center; it is free and open to the public. To attend this event, register at lakelandcc.edu/women.
Seven local women will be honored for the way their lives exemplify the theme, “Elevating Women’s Voices.” The theme aligns with the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote. The program will primarily feature biographical video segments detailing the accomplishments of each award recipient. Additional video interludes will be performed by historical enactors depicting Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Alice Paul and Fannie Lou Hamer; three passionate, persistent suffragettes and activists involved in the women’s suffrage movement. The award recipients are:
Gwen Corban has served as a social worker, administrator, volunteer, school board member and mentor, helping women to create the confidence needed to go out and change the world. She is described as a role model to women, inside the classroom and out.
Kim Fraser, executive director of the Lake County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services board, advocates for recognizing women in leadership positions. She chaired the Leader of the Year Committee, calling attention to worthy women leaders.
Teresan Gilbert, chief intellectual property counsel at Lubrizol, is a role model for women; she has often gone above and beyond to do things out of the ordinary. She encourages young women lawyers, through stories of her own experience, to keep moving forward in their careers.
Cheryl Kuonen, director of Mentor Public Library, has created and led library programming with an eye toward the needs of single mothers and low-income women. She believes that access to the library helps create equal opportunities for women in the community.
Lynnmarie Landwei-Phillips is the director of public relations for the Lake County Board of Developmental Disabilities/Deepwood, where she works to empower individuals. Additionally, through art experiences, she leads women to discover their own voices.
Melanie Majikas, chair of ProgressNEO, is a fierce protector of human rights and dedicates her efforts to getting women elected to public office, and helping others to become involved in the political process so their voices can be heard.
Liese Vito, M.D., has spent her career working to elevate women’s voices so they can actively participate in their own health care. She has also championed causes such as “Go Red For Women” and early testing for hereditary cancer.
Lakeland’s Women’s Center commissions a local female artist to create a piece of art that serves as the award for each recipient. This year, Lisa Matevich Ruschman has created mosaic pieces which demonstrate the elevation of voice in a unique way.
The Woman of Achievement awards program is presented as part of the 2020 Diversity Matters series. The Lakeland Women’s Center Diversity Matters series is a part of the center’s ongoing mission to explore and promote diversity, validating and celebrating the stories of women and members of the community. The series has included recent events such as the Columbus Crossing Borders Project, International Women’s Day, and a variety of other speakers, movies and discussions.