The Business Woman of the Year Luncheon is always a favorite event at the EXPO as it honors outstanding women from across the state. This year’s luncheon will be held at 11:30 a.m. Thursday with sponsors AT&T, Regions Bank, St. Dominic Health Services and the Mississippi Economic Council.
A video presentation will highlight the accomplishments of the 2007 class of 50 Leading Women, a popular program of the Mississippi Business Journal. From these 50 women, 12 finalists have been selected, from which the business woman of the year will be chosen. Last year’s winner was Jane Dennis, a Gulfport community leader and secretary-treasurer of Specialty Contractors.
The keynote speaker for the luncheon is Patricia M. Bridges, Ph.D., director of curriculum and instruction of the JBHM Education Group. A native of Jefferson Davis County, she is a resident of Hattiesburg where she taught secondary English at Oak Grove High School for 21 years. Bridges has won numerous awards and has published articles on teaching and assessing. In her position with the JBHM Education Group, she directs more than 100 teacher coaches who provide one-on-one professional development in six states.
Vicki Sneed, Oxford city president with Regions Bank, says that being a part of the networking Class of 2007 for the Top 50 Women was a most enjoyable experience.
“I met dynamic women from across the state that I would not have met otherwise,” she said. “These women were selected due to their professional achievements, leadership capabilities, volunteer efforts and personal integrity. They were icons of influence in their places of business and within their communities and homes. I learned a great deal from them.”
Sneed learned of the need for and importance of mentoring by being a part of this program. “We have the responsibility to mentor those coming behind us — both men and women. For many I met, mentors were few and far between as they were climbing the ranks,” she said. “But those who were lucky enough to prosper under the watchful eye of a mentor recognize the impact that role models made on their professional lives. They, in turn, are eager to share their wisdom.”
St. Dominic’s affiliation with this program stems from its leadership and daily inspiration by an alumna of the 50 Leading Business Women, administrator Sister Mary Dorothea, according to Renee Rollins, marketing representative.
“The fact that she was named the first Business Woman of the Year is a testament to her leadership abilities and commitment to our business community as a whole,” Rollins said. “Part of the St. Dominic mission calls us to communicate a Christian message and establish community. Our participation allows us to honor and encourage Mississippi women who are personally and professionally making a difference within their communities.”
Blake Wilson, president of the Mississippi Economic Council (MEC), says an event like EXPO provides the right mix of opportunity for raising the MEC’s profile before an important, statewide audience.
“The combination of the Business Woman of the Year event and the Top 40 Under 40 event with the EXPO provide a high recognition for our brand,” he said. “Although we do not actually exhibit at EXPO, the sponsorship is well worth the exposure to these audiences.”
He recalls that the EXPO was the first event he attended when he began his job with the MEC 10 years ago.
“It was much smaller then, but it was absolutely apparent that this was The Event of its kind in Mississippi,” he said. “Over the years, it has grown in both size and professionalism to a must-attend for leaders of the business community. MEC gains its strength from the involvement of leaders, and what better way to attract those who may not have heard of MEC’s work than through a combination of promotion through the MBJ and the EXPO event?”
Alon Bee, metro Jackson city president for Regions Bank, says the awards program does a fantastic job of recognizing women who have excelled both as professionals in their chosen fields and as difference-makers in their communities.
“As the largest bank in Mississippi, with the headquarters of our four-state Southwest region located here in Jackson, we welcome the opportunity to sponsor this event, in support of not only our female employees, but all women who live and work within the communities we serve,” he said.
Regions Bank supports a number of non-profit organizations throughout the state. “Our areas of focus range from education and the arts to health awareness and programs specifically catering to the needs and development of children,” Bee said. “This past holiday season, we launched a successful annual program with our friends at Toys for Tots, and we are passionate supporters of the Mississippi Children’s Museum project currently underway.”
Rollins says Mississippi women will have even more opportunities this year to put their trust in St. Dominic.
“Our compassionate care and advanced medical services will continue to be a focus as we consider more ways to serve the unique needs of every generation of women,” she said. “In 2008, as with each new year, we will continue to be mindful of the ways we can impact the overall health status of our community and offer the best possible care in our ever-changing healthcare environment.”
She points out that in 2007 St. Dominic was given the state’s highest ranking in heart and stroke care by HealthGrades and established a tobacco-free campus. It was also the first in the state to offer Image Guided Radiation Therapy for cancer treatment and continued its commitment to the revitalization of Jackson’s Fondren neighborhood.
Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynn Lofton at email@example.com.