Many moons ago, the number of nominations submitted for the Top 40 Under 40 and 50 Leading Mississippi Business Women awards programs barely reached 100 each.
Last year, so many people were nominated for both programs that the Mississippi Business Journal made a drastic change.
“Our awards programs have become so competitive and selection is so coveted that we now accept Top 40 and 50 Leading Business Women nominations throughout the year,” said Robbie Bell, special projects director for the MBJ. “The quality of the entrants has grown each year, as has the number of applicants.”
An independent three-member panel devotes hours sifting through impressive résumés, glowing letters of recommendation and voluminous collateral material for each nominee. Gloria Johnson, Steve Rosenblatt and Curt Gabardi judged the Top 40 Under 40 Class of 2005.
“The quality of the applicants was outstanding,” said Johnson, director of customer service for Entergy Mississippi and one of the 50 Leading Business Women of 2004. “The decision points were not easy because of the distinct experience and talent that each brought to the table. I am grateful having been a part of this process to see the future leaders of our state and nation exhibit so much promise. This event is highly competitive with each applicant being immensely qualified.”
Steve Rosenblatt, chairman of Butler Snow’s executive committee and a member of the law firm’s financial services group, who has been recognized in the Bankruptcy section of “The Best Lawyers in America,” said judging the candidates was a much more difficult process than he had anticipated.
“The task was made even more difficult by the impressive qualifications of the candidates,” he said. “I was impressed, and frankly surprised, by the diverse backgrounds and life experiences of the candidates, as well as the wide range of business and professional responsibilities. If these candidates for the Top 40 under 40 are any indication, we have some very talented young leaders in our communities all across Mississippi.”
When Rosenblatt met one of the young people selected at a recent Mississippi Economic Council luncheon, he did not tell her that he was a judge.
“As impressive as her résumé and application was, she was even more impressive in person,” he said.
Curt Gabardi, regional president of Union Planters Bank for Greater Mississippi, named one of the Top 40 recipients in 1999, said the Top 40 recognition is a tremendous celebration of the outstanding entrepreneurial and executive talent and leadership in our state.
“It’s an awesome opportunity to be honored by your peers and friends that believe in you and the contributions you provide,” he said.
Judges for the 50 Leading Business Women were Grace Lee, Cassandra Price-Perry and Vickie Greenlee.
Lee, a member of the 1997 Class of Leading Business Women in Mississippi, is vice president of corporate planning, a board member and co-owner of Trilogy Communications Inc., a manufacturer of coaxial cable for CATV and wireless markets worldwide.
Price-Perry, a member of the 2000 Class of the state’s Leading Business Women, is vice president of finance and administration, and assistant secretary for Hollywood Casino Tunica.
Greenlee, a member of the 2001 Class of Mississippi’s Leading Business Women, has worked in the travel industry for 18 years. In 2002, her company, For Travelers Only, was selected as the best small commercial business in Mississippi.
Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynne W. Jeter at email@example.com.