Photo by Steve Ayers
SEDONA Chapter of NAWBO founder Mary Schnack (left), president of Mary Schnack Media Services in Sedona, was among 11 Verde Valley women business owners honored for entrepreneurial excellence at the groups first annual awards luncheon.
Women-owned businesses currently number around 220,000, employ almost a half a million people and contribute over $60 billion to the state’s economy.
And those numbers are increasing every year.
The Sedona Chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) is a perfect example of the enthusiasm and empowerment that is growing among women business owners.
In recognition of this trend, the Sedona Chapter of NAWBO held its first Entrepreneurial Excellence Awards luncheon May 11 at the Sedona Hilton Resort and Spa.
The awards banquet was designed to give recognition to those women in the Verde Valley who have shown entrepreneurial spirit and, in doing so, have supported and inspired others to follow.
One of the organizers of the event and president-elect of the chapter, Barbara Litrell, said, “We hope use this event to call attention to both the organization and the impact that women--owned businesses have on our local economy.”
The banquet also serves as a way for business owners to network with fellow women owned businesses and to act as a support group for those women who are starting or considering starting a business.
Nationally, there are 90 chapters with over 7,000 members. Sedona has the distinction of being the smallest city in the country with its own chapter.
In spite of Sedona’s size, over 180 attendees turned out for the event, which packed the resort’s ballroom.
The Sedona chapter was started four years ago by a group of a half dozen local business owners and currently has about 40 members.
The organization honored 11 Verde Valley women for their entrepreneurial excellence. They included Carol Abrahamson, of Sedona; Sue Alexander, of Cottonwood; Joan Bourque, of Cornville; Beth Carrigan, of Cottonwood; Lynda Christopher, of Sedona; Diane Doster, of Sedona; Wendy Lipman, of Sedona; Rebecca O’Banion, of Sedona; Dolores Puchi, of Sedona; Mary Schnack, of Sedona; and Mary Ryan Wills, of Jerome.
Special awards were given out in four categories.
A special Trailblazer award was presented to Wills, owner of Nellie Bly in Jerome. Puchi, co-owner of Village Ace Hardware in the Village of Oak Creek, was the recipient of the Customer Service award.
Christopher, world champion weight lifter and founder of God’s Power, received the Overcoming Obstacles award, and O’Banion, owner of Zonies Galleria, won the Social Responsibility award.
The organization also gave out a Special Visionary award to Mary Garland, owner of Garland’s Oak Creek Lodge. Garland was cited for her leadership and inspiration to others.
The organization also works to promote entrepreneurial sprit in young women. Toward that end, the Sedona Chapter awarded its first $500 college scholarship.
The award will be given annually to a Verde Valley high school senior who is planning on taking a business-focused curriculum in college.
This year’s winner was Jennie Livingston of Sedona Red Rock High School. Livingston has been operating a branch of the family business, Lasting Beauty.
In order to be eligible for the scholarship, a student must maintain a 3.0 grade point average, take a minimum of two business courses, write a business plan, and either start or intern in a business.