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YWCA honors 7 at Tribute to Women luncheon

| Sunday, June 1, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

From a pool of 40 nominations, the YWCA on May 29 lauded seven outstanding powerhouses during its Tribute to Women Leadership Awards Luncheon, emphasizing the importance of leading the charge for societal change.

“Young women must recognize that their leadership begins today. We can no longer look behind us or in front of us for change,” said La'Tasha Mayes, Young Leader honoree.

Recognized for their trailblazing efforts to eliminate racism and empower women, the 32nd annual event drove home the importance of helping improve the lives of women and children throughout the Pittsburgh community.

“When you start looking at the women you've affected through your leadership, you really start to appreciate the support you've given them,” said Mary Kay Poppenberg, Allerton Lifetime Achievement honoree.

Imploring their fellow females to help, support and encourage each other in their personal and professional lives, the afternoon was a time to reflect on the mind-blowing changes in women's rights that have occurred since the turn of the century.

“I kind of forget when I go to the polling place that women were put in jail for voting,” said Betsy Teti, who served on the selection committee. “My fear is that we've gone so far that we've started to take things for granted.”

More than 600 guests, including board prexy Marsha Jones and CEO Maggie Jensen, were on hand for the event, which was held at the Westin Convention Center hotel. During the afternoon, special recognition was given to the late Laurel Ragland — also a member of the selection committee — and M.J. Tocci, who was honored posthumously with the Education Award. Also honored this year were Lucille Prater-Holliday (Civic & Community Service), Kimberlee Evert (Health & Human Services), and Shakita Trigg (Science & Technology), who all stressed the importance of operating as a united front.

“I think that sometimes there's so much competition that we forget the rising tide floats all boats,” said Lisa Kuzma, Business & Professional Services honoree. “The women here today are the ones changing the world.”

Kate Benz is the social columnist for Trib Total Media and can be reached at, 412-380-8515 or via Twitter @KateBenzTRIB.

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