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Morning Sun
  • 2014 Women of Distinction unveiled

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  •  One word seems to be the common denominator among the 12 women featured in the Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce 2014 Women of Distinction calendar. A reception honoring the distinguished dozen was held Thursday in the Wilkinson Alumni Center, “In writing the biographies of each of these women, one word kept coming up,” said Devin Gorman, Chamber vice president of operations, who introduced each honoree. “Service is the key word tonight. They are passionate, committed and unwavering in their dedication to serve others.” He described the women as unsung heroines working to make southeast Kansas a better place to live. Those honored, by month, are the Honorable Lori A. Fleming, district judge, 11th Judicial District of Kansas, January; Tammy Nagel, City of Pittsburg city clerk, February; Cristy Mitchell, group consultant, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas, March; Andra Bryan Stefanoni, enterprise editor, Joplin Globe, April; Denise Grasso, associate executive director, Southeast Kansas Education Service Center, Greenbush, May; Dr. Cathy Lee T. Arcuino, director of international programs and services, Pittsburg State University, June; Tina Marie Browning, CDM, CFPP, dietary manager, Via Christi Village, July; Dr. Lynette J. Olson, provost/vice president for academic affairs, PSU, August; Bonnie Crossland, community volunteer, September; Stephanie Webb. resource development manager, Mosiac, October; Krista Smith, RN, director of targeted case management, Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas, November; and Bette Lessen, City of Arma city clerk, December. Judge Lori Fleming said she was honored to be included in the Women of Distinction. “This is a nice group of people, so many talented people under one roof,” she said. “You look around the room and recognize everybody because we all work together as volunteers.” Stephanie Webb said she got the news of her award in a telephone call while she was traveling. “I got a little teary-eyed,” she said. “I feel like it’s my own little Emmy or Oscar. It’s wonderful that this community I love so much has honored me.” Webb has no idea who nominated her for the calendar, but there’s no question who nominated Krista Smith. “A Krista nominated a Krista,” said Krista Postai, Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas CEO. Smith, in her work at CHC/SEK, has provided resources and advisement to more that 200 families in the past three years, many of them involving young, single girls who are struggling with pregnancy. “It’s a very fulfilling, rewarding job,” Smith said. “I’m passionate about helping all the families in the community.” Family is what it’s all about, and many of those honored brought their families along. Tina Marie Browning may be the one with the most family present. “I’m so happy that so many of my family members were able to be here with me,” she said. “Three of my five children are here, and five of my 12 grandchildren, including my youngest grandchild, who’s seven months old.” Gorman noted that the Women of Distinction calendar was launched eight years ago by Blake Benson, Chamber president, and his wife, Christel. Honored women are photographed by Don Runyon of Treasured Images. “We also want to thank our advertisers,” Gorman said. “Because of their support, we’re able to give this calendar away free.” Anyone needing additional information about the calendars may contact the Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce at 231-1000.

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