The spotlight was on six outstanding South Sound women today as Business Examiner Media held its 2016 Women of Influence event at Historic 1625 Tacoma Place in Tacoma.
This year’s class represented a diverse cross-section of women leaders in the region’s business community. Five honorees — Kimberly Bauman, owner of Sound Advantage Realty; Lisa Gifford, director of corporate strategy at Alliance Enterprises; Juli Norris, CFO at Chi-Chack, LLC; Kelli Hegsted, CFO at Boys & Girls Club of Thurston County; and Jeanne Sockle, managing partner of Morris-Sockle, PLLC — were joined by Lifetime Achievement Award winner Mary Gentry, philanthropist, author, and retired attorney and educator.
“In big ways and small — within public venues and the private sector — these honorees have been making a mark,” said Business Examiner Media’s Jill Rounce in introducing this year’s WOI class. “These ladies exhibit leadership from which the rest of us benefit and can learn.”
“I didn’t really connect the dots about how many women in my life have been such strong business leaders,” said Gifford upon receiving her award. “That’s a really great reflection.”
Clearly, their acumen rubbed off on Gifford, who is now shepherding Alliance through its 35th year, helping the company grow through her unique gift for making the computing field relatable for business users. Norris’ company, Chi-Chack, doesn’t quite have the same long-term history, though her hand in managing the finances for the firm’s steadily growing revenues (some $2 million last year) is just as evident. The other CFO in the class, Hegsted, shows her leadership not only in her steering the assets of her nonprofit employer, but also in setting an example for area women who have shattered the cycle of abuse.
And Bauman and Sockle demonstrate that an unorthodox route to success — the former driving an 18-wheel semi for a decade before her second career in real estate, the latter working through the State Bar’s law clerk program in lieu of law school en route to managing partner — doesn’t change the depth of a leader’s impact.
As for Gentry, perhaps it was Lori Drummond, longtime friend and a 2015 WOI honoree herself who said it best when she introduced the Thurston County mainstay. Drummond read a long list of Drummond’s achievements as a teacher, writer, public servant and estate planning attorney before simply saying:
“She is a very accomplished woman. This is a lifetime achievement award, but this is just the first chapter for Mary. There is much more to come.”