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Eight Women Receive YWCA Awards

Eight women who won Women of Distinction Awards for 2017 on stage at Marriott Hotel.
Photo Courtesy of Barb Adelman
Elan Studios
The eight winners of the 2017 Women Of Distinction Awards (L to R): Ashley Pettit, Alicia Whitworth, Shelleigh Birlingmair, Fay Freeman-Smith, Cathy Woods, Stacey Hardin, Ann Bastian White, Meta Mickens-Baker

Nearly 700 people were in attendance to celebrate the eight  women named Women of Distinction at this year's YWCA of McLean County event.  This year saw the most nominations in the 28 year history of the local event.  Fourty-eight women were nominated in eight categories, including a new category created to recognize a woman who has made an outstanding contribution in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math).  State Farm Vice President of systems Ashlee Pettit received the first-time award for her oversight of State Farm’s internet and mobile solutions.

2017 was also an inaugural year for the Caribel Washington Young Professional Award.  Alicia Whitworth is currently the Director of Development at Boys and Girls Club of Bloomington-Normal and also volunteers with many organizations including serving on the Bloomington Library Board. The award was named for the Bloomington civil rights pioneer who led the effort to desegregate local restaurants.

Other Awards Went To:

Business – Meta Mickens-Baker​​​State Farm Enterprise Recruiter who has also filled first-time roles to improve diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

Creative Arts & Entertainment - Ann Bastian White, Actress and Creator of the Young at Heart senior acting troupe based at Heartland Theater.

Education - Stacey Hardin, Activist, Activism Mentor and ISU Associate Professor who led a group of local woman for the Women's March on Washington.

Professions - Cathy Woods, Director of Finance and Business Operations for The Community Cancer Center who serves on numerous boards including  Rotary International, WGLT, Chamber of Commerce, Boys & Girls Club, Illinois Symphony Orchestra among others.

Social Services - Faye Freeman-Smith, Director Counseling Services for Heartland Community College and CEO of the Counseling Resource Center to provide face-to-face or online counseling services.

Harriett F. Rust Volunteer Service - Shelleigh Birlingmair, Director of the the Children's Discovery Museum in Uptown Normal who volunteered for and holds leadership positions with various social service and non-profit agencies, including serving as current president of the board for the Boys and Girls Club of Bloomington-Normal.

A panel, including local and out of area judges reviewed the nominations and the women were awarded certificates and a necklace from Bremer Jewelry.

Colleen has spent most of her adult life working the streets and beats of Bloomington-Normal for WJBC-AM where she won numerous reporting awards for hard news, feature writing, and breaking news coverage.