Mais Oui

Women Making a Difference

by Cherry Fisher May

Our 12th annual nod to ladies who lead

Each fall we have the distinct pleasure of producing the annual Women Who Mean Business issue and awards luncheon. We are continually touched by the inspiring life stories these honorees have to share and always look forward to publishing them for our readers. Sure, they make a great read, but the tales really come to life during the acceptance speeches at the luncheon. If you’ve not had the opportunity to attend, I hope you can join us this year. It’s one of the best events we produce, hands down, only because of these amazing women who enrich Acadiana’s business and professional community and the stories they share in their acceptance speeches that day.

Some of the most memorable anecdotes come from the Trailblazers — women who are retired or semi-retired whom we honor for paving the way for the rest of us. Irma and Evelina Abdalla were our first Trailblazer honorees and their stories about buying trips to Vegas in the early days of retail brought down the house (OK, so it was mostly Irma who did the talking!) This year, we honor Elaine Mann as a Trailblazer and, posthumously, former District Judge Sue Fontenot, who died last year. I was blessed to have known this legendary lady of the law, and we’ll do our best to capture her spirit as we honor her memory at the luncheon. There’ll be no shortage of Sue stories, that’s for sure.

In the pages of this issue, you’ll meet the nine Women Who Mean Business honorees for 2009. These are women who are still active in their careers and recognized for their professionalism, entrepreneurship, civic involvement and community leadership. This year’s group hails from the medical profession, education, media, insurance, banking, retail, the oil and gas industry and business. This year’s luncheon is Thursday, Sept. 17, at 11:30 a.m. at River Oaks Event Center. Each honoree will receive a custom-designed sterling silver bracelet from Paul’s Jewelry. They will also be special invited guests to the next Eggs ’n’ Issues event, presented Sept. 29 by the Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce. State Supreme Court Chief Justice Kitty Kimball will be keynote speaker for that breakfast. Visit the chamber’s Web site for more info: .

We also welcome IberiaBank as the new presenting sponsor for Women Who Mean Business. The bank is joined by AT&T and the Jones Walker law firm as sustaining sponsors. Other support comes from Vinyl Creative Sign Concepts, Dr. Ken Odinet, River Oaks and Paul’s Jewelry. Thanks to all for working with us to make this a memorable event. Tickets for the luncheon are $35 per person or $295 for a table of eight and are available through our Web site: . Click on the INDevents button, or contact Kathy Lowry directly at 769-8603 or at [email protected] .

Women leaders have certainly contributed to Acadiana’s success in many ways, especially in recent decades. Earlier this year, The United Way of Acadiana announced a new initiative called The Women’s Leadership Council, whose mission is to launch Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library for children living in Lafayette, Acadia, St. Martin and Vermilion parishes. The Imagination Library Program will give registered children (through age 5) a gift of developmentally appropriate books, mailed every month directly to their homes. It’s part of a collaboration with the Dollywood Foundation, and the program will be launched Oct. 3. The group is just shy of its goal of 50; if you are interested in joining us, contact me via e-mail: [email protected] or pick up some information when you come to the Women Who Mean Business event. Hope to see you there.