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Chamber honors Athena Award winner

Roxanna Pepper Roxanna Pepper

Roxanna Pepper, professional development coordinator at the Children & Family Resource Center, is the recipient of the Henderson County Chamber of Commerce’s 10th annual Athena Award, announced Wednesday at a luncheon at Kenmure Country Club.

Pepper shed tears, covered her face and embraced her husband, Ronnie, before walking to the stage to accept the award. She declared that she was “speechless, and if anyone knows me, I am not speechless." She started by giving “honor to God, the head of my life” and to her husband Ronnie and her nominator, Elisha Freeman, the executive director of the Children and Family Resource Center.
“I am honored to be in the company of such incredible women,” Pepper said. “I’m gettin’ my grip here now … I love my community and I live for my community.”
Pepper recited her mantra of encouragement for the women she works with: “I tell them to look in the mirror every day and say, ‘I look good, I feel good, and I am good.’” She exhorted the audience to stand and repeat those words after her.
“You can’t do anything without touching someone else," she said. "I am overwhelmed. I can’t believe it. I am speechless.”
The Athena award is presented in memory of Vanessa Y. Mintz, who was instrumental in establishing the award and who died tragically six years ago. Major sponsors of this year’s luncheon were Pardee Hospital, Morris Broadband and Judy Stroud/State Farm Insurance and the chamber. Twelve women were nominated for this year’s award, which honors individuals who strive toward the highest levels of professional and personal accomplishment, who excel in their chosen field, devote time and energy to their community in a meaningful way and forge paths of leadership for other women to follow.
Guest speaker was Martha Mayhood Metz, who founded Athena 35 years ago. Metz spoke about Athena’s guiding principles and the collaborative leadership styles that women employ. She encouraged the women in the audience to “challenge yourself, to find your way into your own kind of leadership.”
Besides her work with the Resource Center, Pepper is a health and wellness instructor at Henderson County YMCA and a certified life coach. She is an integral part of the Center’s child care resource and referral team, providing professional development and training for the early childhood workforce in Henderson County. She also trains and mentors teachers of young children which is primarily a female workforce. She spent 14 years as a teacher with the Head Start program before joining CFRC in 2003. She has volunteered with the African American Cultural Committee, United Way, Hendersonville First Baptist Church, United Religions Initiative and the Henderson County Partnership for Health. On her own time, Pepper also mentors young women who are transitioning into their adult lives, engaged and married couples and teen girls and their parents.
The 11 other nominees honored Wednesday were:
Tanya Blackford, nominated by Laresa Griffin. As the executive director of Safelight for 13 years, Blackford has moved Henderson County’s domestic violence organization to the forefront of nonprofits locally, regionally, and even nationally. Her visionary leadership over the past 13 years has led to monumental accomplishments and sustainable change in the care, treatment and training of clients and their families who are affected by interpersonal violence. Late last year, Blackford led the Safelight organization to a new empowerment model. As a result, clients are now more invested in their own life changes and know more about how to care for themselves, their families and other clients in similar situations. Passionately committed to the clients she serves and the team she has built at Safelight, Blackford maintains a genuine care for others and continually provides a voice for underserved populations. Blackford is a wise strategist who sees the big picture and changes that need to be made in order to improve conditions for all. She is a leader on community issues, not confined to domestic violence, but also including collaborations, advocacy, education and awareness that will bring systemic change to benefit individuals, organizations and communities. The most outstanding example of how Blackford helps women in reaching their full potential is the creation of the Dandelion Eatery and job training program. This program assists women in reaching their potential through job training, placement and self-sufficiency. In addition to her work with Safelight, Blackford serves on the boards for Western Carolina Community Action and the Mountain Community School. She is a member of the Henderson County Partnership for Health and the Community Child Protection and Fatality Team. In 2016, she was recognized for her contributions as the recipient of the Dr. P.J. Moore Jr. & Dr. Arthur A. Pearson Award of Excellence from Park Ridge Health.
Alice Cochran, nominated by Marianna Michelin. Cochran has been a leader in the real estate industry for years. She has spent almost half of her life doing what she loves – helping hundreds of people fulfill their dreams and goals of becoming a home owner. She has been a top producer within her company for the past six years and finished in the top one percent of the Hendersonville Board of Realtors in 2015. Cochran has consistently given back to her chosen industry, serving as past secretary of the local Board of Realtors and as a member of the ethics committee. She has also served on the professional standards committee for the Hendersonville Board of Realtors. She is an active member of Mud Creek Baptist Church, the Hendersonville Board of Realtors, the North Carolina Association of Realtors and the National Association of Realtors. Perhaps her largest influence is through her family. Cochran is the matriarch of a wonderful Christian family including three sons and eight grandchildren.
Dr. Joanne Helppie, nominated by James H. Kelly. Dr. Helppie is an internal medicine and geriatrician who has been practicing medicine for more than 34 years. She was an early adaptor of “concierge medicine,” personalized patient care model. As a geriatrician, she spends the extra time needed to evaluate, treat and make recommendations, looking at the individual as a whole. As a practitioner, Dr. Helppie found that more and more patients, advocates and family members were seeking readily available resources to allow them to stay at home as they age. This was especially true for long-distance family members who wanted to be able to access local resources to provide assistance for their parents. In 2009, Dr. Helppie had an idea and gathered a consortium of nonprofits, for-profits and community volunteers that met for over two years to develop a resource rich website that could be accessed no matter where you lived, providing information to patients, caregivers and community organizations – Initially serving only Henderson County, the project expanded in 2017 to include Polk, Transylvania and Buncombe counties. On Sept. 17, Dr. Helppie’s organization will host the Fourth Annual conference on “Aging in Place, It’s in Your Future,” featuring national, regional and local experts. Dr. Helppie is sought after nationally to speak on the importance of expanding home care services for the elderly. In 2014, she was recognized and honored as the WNC Women Founder and Chairperson of the Year at the Women’s Business Conference held at Blue Ridge Community College.
Lynn Killian, nominated by Cindy Walker. Killian says, “I save the places you love forever.” As the development director at the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy, she works to raise the funds necessary to preserve our areas natural settings, woodlands and land for future generations. She is an accomplished musician and plays violin with the Hendersonville Symphony Orchestra and the Brevard Philharmonic-spanning a period of more than 25 years. In 2010, as a first year director of community relations and development for Pavillon International, a residential treatment center for alcoholism and drug addiction in Mill Spring, Killian grew gifts and pledges by 252 percent and brought in 124 new donors. She serves as the head of the finance committee for the Hendersonville Symphony and ensures that the orchestra has strong financial footing. For 12 years, she also served the healthcare community as executive director of Park Ridge Health Foundation. In addition to her work with the symphony, Killian also serves on boards for CooperRiis Healing Farm, Wake Forest University (where she received her BA), Carolina Village and First United Methodist Church. Killian has volunteered with United Way and YMCA. As a certified fundraising professional (CFRE), she is always willing to help individuals in need with her six grant writing and development skills. In the implementation stages of the Park at Flat Rock and Park Foundation, Killian provided invaluable counsel to the formulation of the foundation and the park’s early development.
Denise Medved, nominated by Jill Hill. Medved was told at a very young age that she would not be able to walk very long and that she would live most of her life in a wheelchair. However, a physician pulled her aside and said she should walk out that door and never look back and to move every day. She took his advice and made exercise her career. She created an exercise program and after seven years of research she launched Ageless Grace, LLC. Partnering with the WCU Graduate School of Nursing Gerontology Certificate program & hands-on pilot programs at Pardee Hospital, Ageless Grace is a brain-body fitness program based on the cutting-edge theories of neuroplasticity, which activates all five functions of the brain and addresses all 21 physical skills necessary for lifelong function. Medved has worked nonstop to get this information out to the world, and the program has expanded from Hendersonville to 50 states and 16 countries. She has developed a team of more than 50 trainers worldwide and together they have trained more than 1,600 people, 99 percent of whom are women (with Medved training more than half of them herself) to be educators or instructors for the program. She truly believes in giving back and has given to Big Brothers Big Sisters, The Loan Closet, Salvation Army, and teaches volunteer classes at IAM, local schools, area retirement living communities, Safelight, Professional Women’s Network (PWN), Philanthropic Educational Organization (PEO), Mission Hospital and Pardee Hospital. Eighty percent of the income from the classes goes to the trainers. By doing this, Medved believes she empowers women not only to have their own business but also to truly excel and create abundance for themselves and their families.
Elizabeth Moss, nominated by Dot Marlow. Moss is director of community affairs and outreach for Pardee Hospital. Most recently she played a leadership role in development of the print, billboard and broadcast campaign publicizing Pardee Hospital’s Consumer Report recognition as the best and safest hospital for surgery in North Carolina. Prior to her position at Pardee Hospital, she held editorial positions with a local newspaper where she managed and planned daily news and feature content, graphics, photos and special interest publications. She managed and encouraged female reporters and freelance writers while producing a financially successful and award-winning coffee-table magazine. With her experience as a reporter and editor, she counseled young reporters through the stress -illed environment of a daily newspaper newsroom. Moss has won journalism awards for her work with the “St. Petersburg Times,” “Florida Trend” magazine, the “Boston Globe” and the “Miami Herald.” Moss serves on the boards of the Kiwanis Club of Hendersonville, the United Way of Henderson County, the Henderson County Chamber of Commerce, Safelight, Hendersonville YMCA, and the Henderson County Education Foundation, among others. She is active in First Presbyterian Church of Hendersonville. She served as this year’s co-chair of Women United, a philanthropic arm of United Way designed to engage women in the community to give back through financial contributions and service projects.
Dot Moyer, nominated by Callie Davis and Kimerly Hinkelman. Moyer served on the board of Four Seasons Compassion for Life in the late 1990s and, it is a fact that her leadership during that time is one of the reasons Four Seasons is the organization it is today. She persisted when healthcare, regulations and reimbursements seemed impossible. She has been instrumental in being a leading example to new board and committee members. She helped recruit and orient the entire board of directors of the newly formed Four Seasons Foundation two years ago. Moyer has devoted much time and attention, coaching and training into making sure that Four Seasons CFL is represented well in the public eye. She is invaluable as a board member and supporter. In addition to her extensive work with Four Seasons CFL, Moyer has been involved with the boards of Flat Rock Playhouse, Foothills Equestrian Trails Association, Henderson County Habitat for Humanity, Hendersonville High School Band Boosters, and Grace Lutheran Church among others. Moyer and her husband Bill were recently recognized in 2016 as Pardee Hospital Philanthropists of the Year for their outstanding commitment and philanthropy to the improvement of healthcare in our community
Paige Posey, nominated by Don Bryant. Posey came to the Flat Rock Playhouse as a young apprentice in 1982 while still in college and eventually became the company manager. She provided her leadership and was the director of every major main stage musical from 1999 through 2011. She also starred in many of the Playhouse’s productions. While at the Playhouse, Posey hired Lisa Kanoy as an apprentice. After pursuing a career as an actress, Lisa Kanoy came back to Flat Rock Playhouse and slowly rose in the ranks of leadership. Under Posey’s teaching, mentoring and help, Lisa Kanoy Bryant is now the producing artistic director at the Playhouse. This is just one example of how mentoring can work. With Posey as the board president, the Playhouse has seen positive movement in tickets sales, community investment and is now in the best fiscal shape it has been in since Posey left in 2011 after a record season as managing director. Posey has joined her husband, Mark Warwick, at WTZQ Radio where she is co-host of the morning show “The Breakfast Club” and is the station’s business manager. Posey continues to be active on the board of trustees of the Flat Rock Playhouse along with volunteer work with the Arts Council of Henderson County, United Way of Henderson County and the Community Foundation. In 2015, Posey, Warwick and WTZQ won the Henderson County Chamber of Commerce Small Business Leader of the Year. Also in 2015 Posey served as co-chair of the local United Way Campaign bringing a successful fundraising effort to $1.8 million total.
Amanda Stansbury, nominated by Stephanie Hall. Stansbury is the supervisor of the Henderson County Public Schools’ child nutrition program. Under her leadership, the Summer Feeding Program has expanded to include more sites and to serve more children meals that free to them. In 2016, she worked with community programs and school administrators to expand to Patton Park Pool, Edneyville Community Center and Mud Creek Church Preschool Program. She has spent countless hours meeting with potential donors and coordinating vendors. This summer, Meals on the Bus will enable HCPS to reach many more children in outlying areas of the county, who might otherwise go hungry. Stansbury also introduced Munchables to elementary schools lunch programs. This program helps ensure that students who might normally bring lunch from home are receiving the healthiest meal possible. Stansbury received the “Best Practices” award from the Department of Public Instruction for streamlining the “Universal Breakfast” program (where every child in school may have a free breakfast). She also received the Summer Nutrition Champion Award for increasing summer meal service for 2016. She is involved with the School Health Advisory Council, which serves as an advisory committee regarding student health issues. In addition to her work with the Henderson County Public Schools, Stansbury also works at Transylvania Community Hospital.
Hollie Storrier, nominated by Blair Halstead. In the summer of 2016, Storrier was promoted from Heddles Hideaway to general manager of Broadmoor Golf Links. Both golf courses are running at a profit and Broadmoor has seen a boost in revenues since she has been there. In addition, she has improved the customer experience and has put an emphasis on training her staff. Storrier has been a consummate team player by leading other GMs and spearheading sales efforts of the regional Carolina Players Card, a discount amenity offered to players. Broadmoor revenue is up $80,000 compared to the year before. Storrier has allowed the women, as well as all staff, at Broadmoor to reach their full potential. Halstead, her nominator, was promoted to event coordinator soon after Storrier’s arrival. Halstead said, “She has trained (me) to be one of the leaders in sales. She’s taught me how to work well with corporate suggestions and aggressively go after recommended target markets.” Broadmoor will now be one of the few courses to meet their events goals and will finish 10 percent up compared to other years. Storrier has been a big part of the culture change at Broadmoor. For the second time, Storrier was awarded General Manager of the Year. This award recognizes the General Manager that has contributed most to the success of their course and Warrior Asset Management. This year, Broadmoor Golf Links has made major strides in customer service, sales focus and course conditions. It will finish in the company’s top three in total revenue because of her leadership. A native of New York, Storrier attended college there and volunteered with Senior Living Facility in the areas of arts, crafts and events. She also was involved with the Spartanburg Chamber of Commerce before moving to Hendersonville.
Fair Nabers Waggoner, nominated by Candi Guffey. Nabers Waggoner serves as city president of United Community Bank. One of the great qualities she displays is her innovative ability to create 10 unique events, awards and activities that draw attention to an area where she has determined there needs to be recognition, both in her work and community life. There have been several times she has had a “Big Picture” idea or identified a need and then created a way to make it a reality or focus. Her willingness to take something from concept to successful creation is a unique quality that draws people not only to want to be participants, but also to seek her out for input and development on their ideas and desires. Leading by example and setting a stage to show others how to take things to an optimal level is a trait that Nabers Waggoner exudes. These ideas serve as educational opportunities for the participants, fundraisers for the intended and an entertaining way to bring it all together. Two of her most notable ideas are the annual Henderson County Chamber Camp Field Day, which draws attention to the economic impact of the summer camp industry on Henderson County, and the Apple Farm of the Year Award presented by United Community Bank. She is very involved in her community: past President and board of directors for the Henderson County Chamber of Commerce, Camplify, Henderson County AgriBusiness, United Way, Kiwanis Club of Henderson County, and the March of Dimes, among others. Recently, she developed a specialized, affordable volleyball team that works with its team member’s schedules and encourages their lives outside of volleyball.
Past Athena award winners are Judy Stroud, State Farm Insurance (2016); Judith Long, Free Clinics (2015); Caroline Long, St. Gerard House (2014); Annie Fritschner, First United Methodist Church (2013); Myra Grant, Pardee Hospital Foundation (2012); Joyce Mason, Four Seasons Compassion for Life (2011); Pat Shepherd, Pat’s School of Dance (2010); Ragan Ward, Carolina Alliance Bank (2009), and Robin Reed, Bares It All (2008).
Sponsors of the Henderson County Chamber’s Athena awards are Mandy Atkission; Carolina Blue Design Group; Community Foundation of Henderson County; Marcia Cunningham; Jay and Jen Egolf; Myra Grant; Heart-4Art-Creations by MaryAnn Baldwin; Lee Henderson-Hill and daughter, Brittney; Highland Lake Inn & Resort; Hulsey Media; Melissa Johnson; OnTrack Financial Education and Counseling; Stephanie Lively; Sean and Shena Mintz; Kathi and Don Mixon; St. Gerard House; United Community Bank; Vanessa’s Vision; Wingate University Hendersonville Health Sciences Building.
For more information about the awards, call the Chamber of Commerce at 828-692-1413.
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