HER Awards

The HER Women of Achievement Awards luncheon was held on June 7 at the Hotel Kirkwood. It was an inspirational afternoon, with more than 300 women and men in attendance to recognize 15 honorees who have had significant impact on their community. The Gazette was proud to bring this event to the corridor and to recognize these impressive women.

Kelly Rwayitare, the keynote speaker for the event, started the afternoon off with an uplifting discussion about the need to change “How?” into “Wow!” when presented with new, sometimes difficult ideas. She emphasized the need for all to find a community of support to help nurture ideas and dreams when they are in this fragile state. Drawing a comparison to a herd of female elephants who shield a mother elephant who is giving birth, Kelly Rwayitare suggested that we should also shield our “sisters” when they are giving birth to new dreams of entrepreneurship, invention and creativity. Name recounted how the herd of elephants trumpet to celebrate their sister’s new baby and described the HER Awards as our way of trumpeting the success of the honorees.

Photos from the event can be found and shared at The Gazette Special Events Facebook page. You can find brief profiles of the honorees in HER Magazine and look for extended profiles in the pages of The Gazette in the coming months.


The 2018 honorees are: 

Cat Cantrill

Vitality Fitness & Dance

Maridee Dugger

RISE Program

Leigh Ann Erickson

Mount Vernon Community Schools

Brooke Fitzgerald

The Early Bird Coffee Shop

Hillary Hughes

Prairie Capital Advisors

Mary Mascher

Iowa House of Representatives

Ann C. Oleson


Dawn Oliver Wiand

Iowa Women’s Foundation

Elizabeth Anne Proffitt Riechers

Linn County Community Services

Elizabeth Swanson

University of Iowa College of Nursing

Phoebe Trepp

Willis Dady Emergency Shelter

Karmen Wilhelm

Van Meter Inc

Ying Ying Chen

Retired, College Community School District

In addition to our HER Women of Achievement Honorees, we are pleased to draw your attention to two Young HER Women of Achievement who are definitely ones to watch. These high school women are already focused on enriching their community and we could not be more proud of them and the positive impact they are having.

Maya Durham

City High School

Kenadee Dekko

Iowa Big


Please check back to this page in the fall for information on when the nominations for the 2019 HER Women of Achievement Awards will be accepted.


Sponsored by:

Farmers State Bank


For additional sponsorship opportunities, please contact Kelly Buchanan -

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