By Randy Kirby
Laura Taylor was named the Sedalia Business Women’s Woman of the Year for 2013-2014, and she was obviously surprised when she walked into the upstairs banquet room at Best Western and the announcement was made with a slam of the gavel by Michelle Sparks Thursday night.
“This is a wonderful group of ladies and a wonderful community, and of course State Fair (Community College) has been a part of my professional life for many, many years; I still have a number of ties there,” said the SFCC adjunct instructor. “I’ve been gone long enough now that there are lots of people there that I don’t know, but they’re all wonderful and committed to educating people in the community and I’m very proud to have been associated with them And I am just thrilled that my wonderful family is here, too,” Taylor added.
Taylor’s daughter Julie (and her husband Will Perkins) and their children were in attendance, as well as her daughter Violet and daughter-in-law Melissa. Taylor has a total of four grandchildren and all were in attendance. Her son Jamie was in Las Vegas and could not attend. Sitting with the family was Bob Berlin.
Taylor formerly served as a full-time business instructor for the college, later being named Associate Dean of Academic Affairs in 2006. She was later named Dean of Career and Technology and Education in 2009. And she was named SFCC’s Instructor of the Year in 1992. Taylor has organized the annual “Hire For Attire” program for the past seven years. Taylor is a graduate of SFCC and UCM (formerly CMSU). She previously served as president of the State Business Education Association. Taylor retired from SFCC three years ago after a 36-year-career there. She also taught court reporting for 18 years. Then she went into administration.
She also serves as a Sedalia Area Chamber of Commerce ambassador and has also served on the Chamber’s board of directors.
“I am very honored that this group of women, who are very diverse and contribute a lot to the community thought enough to recognize me with that honor,” Taylor told the News Journal after the banquet.
Taylor currently serves as chair of the SBW’s Scholarship Committee. She also was one of dozens of members who helped with the SBW’s annual Chicken Dinner, which was held Oct. 27.
Betty Blackwell, co-chair of the SBW’s Public Relations Committee, announced the winner of the Employer of the Year, Bothwell Regional Health Center.
“Blackwell, who serves as a volunteer at BRHC, a position she calls “the best job in the house,” adding that Bothwell more than qualifies for the award with 17 of the 30 members of the hospital’s leadership team are women.
“There are opportunities for advancement. Bothwell sponsor internal job posting; everyone has the opportunity to better themselves. They encourage employees to take advantage of promotion opportunities and support leave of absence for such cases of illness, childbirth or adoption, as well as vacation and holiday benefits,” Blackwell noted. The hospital also works closely with SFCC in training students for the health care industry.
Bothwell also “carries out a terrific United Way campaign,” she added. But the phrase “Exceptional care close to home” is especially meaningful to her when an emergency occurs. “What we found when we arrived at the hospital was excellent care and compassion. I feel very connected to Bothwell regional Health Center and I feel blessed by its presence in our community,” she concluded.
Mark Hirshberg, Bothwell COO, accepted the award on behalf of the hospital. Bothwell CEO John Dawes was out of town at a Missouri Hospital Association convention and could not attend the event.
“It’s especially special to have Betty present this, because she and her husband Jack are special people at Bothwell, and I really can’t tell you how many hours they donate to our organization to make Bothwell a very special place,” Hirschberg said in his acceptance speech, “not only for our patients, but also for our employees.”
The Employer of the Year Award is really a testament to “Bothwell employees, who have worked very hard over the past several years to make Bothwell a great place to work, so I thank you on behalf of all our employees,” he said.
Guest speaker for the event was Lisa Church, executive director of the Bothwell Foundation and Communications Director for the hospital. The club made a donation to the Bothwell Foundation at the conclusion of Church’s speech. Photos by Randy Kirby, Sedalia News Journal.