Story and photos
By Floyd Alvin Galloway
Five gifted women were honored for the their achievements in the fields business, technology and education, during the 10th annual Positively Powerful Women awards gala held June 10 at the Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix.
Founded by transformational leader and coach, Joel Martin Ph.D., she noted in her keynote address that she had three wishes for the gala; first to get the speech over early; secondly, inspire people to go out and do something that they never would have if they had not attended the gala; and thirdly, that they would doing something with great excitement and passion and inspire others with it.
Wherever Martin goes, she is on a mission to inspire and educate people and infuse them with change maker energy. The honorees, she noted, do just that – they possess the gift of inspiring others to make a difference.
The trailblazing “Change Makers” honored this year were Nona Lee, Lisa Loo, Janet West, Jackie Wszalk and Rhonda Peters James. A “change maker” is someone who takes creative action to solve a social problem stated Martin.
Nona Lee, senior vice president and general counsel for the Arizona Diamondbacks, is founder of the non-profit organization Phoenix Women’s Sports Association and president of the Sports Lawyers Association. Lee’s favorite quote is “always give back more than you take.” Through her non-profit she works with girls and women to find their power through sports. Her one wish is for equality across the board, in gender, race, sexual orientation, for everyone to be judged by their character and given the same opportunities.
Lisa Loo is vice president of Legal Affairs and deputy counsel Arizona State University and president of the State Bar of Arizona. Her mother grew up in China under Japanese occupation and was shortly widowed when she came to America with her eighth child. Her mother developed a climate where education was paramount, so her children would not have the same struggles.
“We came here voluntarily, for educational and economic opportunities.” She stated no matter how you got to America, by choice or force, we all have one major commonality, “We all love this country. Immigrants or slaves, we all built this country for the better. No one should be able to take that away from us.”
Janet West, a consultant with Invictus International Holding, is a former vice president of marketing with Cox Communications. West has a passion for her work. Thanking her husband and daughters for their support throughout her career, West’s favorite quote is, “to whom much is given, much is expected.” She noted people can expect great things from her in giving back to her community and family.
Jackie Wszalk, owner of Splash Printing and Marketing, is founder of Woman Owned and Operated Business and president of National Association of Women Business Owners. “My heart is just bursting with gratitude,” said Wszalk. Thankful for the accomplishment of the other award recipients she state her mission will not be complete until women business owners have parity.
Rhonda Peters James, gives God all the credit for her accomplishments. A small town country girl from Louisiana, as James puts it, she had no clue or plan on what she want to do or be, but I just knew I wanted to do something. “I wanted to do more. I wanted to explore beyond
Angievill, Louisiana.” She was determined to make it through the obstacles. She now inspires youth, especially youth of color, to be determined to achieve in STEM careers and not be dismayed by challenges and obstacles.
The non-profit honored this year was
Fatimah Halim (right) accepts the award for non-profit of the year, Life Paradigms Inc., of which she is the founder. Halim is a past PPW awards recipient herself. Dr. Joel Martin presents the award.
Blue Print for Womanhood, a rights of passage program for Black girls. Founded over 20 years ago by Fatimah Halim, a past PPW awards recipient, the non-profit group is taking 15 girls to Ghana this summer for a STEM and cultural education project. The girls delighted the audience with an African dance performance. Special donations raised during the awards celebration were presented to the organization to assist in traveling expenses.