The sole mission of the Women of Achievement (WOA) luncheon is to honor the volunteer service and leadership of women. Chartered in 1976, the Zonta Club of Cape Girardeau is the oldest organization to recognize the significant contributions of women for their dedication and commitment to the region. Since the creation of WOA in 2004, over 140 women have been selected from nominations submitted by individuals, organizations and the community to be honored. The honorees represent a diverse group of women in our community and are recognized each November at the WOA awards luncheon for the lasting impact each has made on the region. The generous support of corporate and individual sponsors enables the Zonta Club of Cape Girardeau to recognize these deserving women. It allows our Club to provide financial support and scholarships to non profit organizations that improve the lives of others locally and worldwide. Additionally, the support of this event has been overwhelming, with more than 550 attending last year.
All honorees have made an enduring impact on their community and in their chosen fields of endeavor. They may advocate against domestic violence and child abuse, or they may share their talents by building schools on foreign mission trips. Some Women of Achievement have used their dental and medical skills to bring comfort to others living in third world countries. They may be educators, building a strong foundation for young minds or be champions for the arts or successful business owners. Some have bravely served their country in the military. They may advocate for justice, fighting poverty or helping animals find their forever homes. All of the honorees continue to make a significant impact through their volunteer work and profession. Their passion and compassion are easily recognized through their daily commitment to the community.
The Zonta Club of Cape Girardeau Foundation was established in 2001 as a 501(c)3 to ensure the longevity of the Women of Achievement Awards and the Foundation’s ability to support worthy organizations and provide scholarships throughout the region. The Foundation is committed to supporting organizations that improve the lives of others, and all donations are tax deductible.
Each year at the WOA luncheon, the Zonta Club of Cape Girardeau presents a Woman of Achievement Award, a Lifetime Achievement Award, and a Celebration Award. Local scholarship recipients are also recognized. Read more about this amazing event through our coverage in the Southeast Missourian!
2021 Women of Excellence Event
For many years this celebratory luncheon has been one of our most cherished events, so it is with great reluctance that we announce a change of plans for 2020. In this year, which is like none we could have imagined, Zonta is providing a VIRTUAL event and expanding the number of honorees to include more “women of excellence.” This year’s nominations range from essential workers to physicians to public school helpers to athletes to bankers to police officers and to many other women who have overcome, or helped others to overcome, difficulties in recent years, but especially in 2020.
Whether your personal excellence lies in your profession or your perseverance or your encouragement of others, we invite you to join us every day from November 1 - 20 on the Zonta Club of Cape Girardeau Facebook page to learn about this year’s Women of Excellence honorees as well as the many organizations our local Zonta Club supports. We hope that once you see the work that Zonta is doing in our community you will be moved to make a donation so that, even in this challenging year, we can continue to honor exceptional women and provide encouragement and support that make a difference in the lives of women and girls in our community.
2020 Virtual Fundraising to Honor Women of Excellence
Last year we celebrated Women of Excellence through a virtual event held on Facebook. This year, we are excited to announce that our event will be held in-person! For inquires on sponsoring or attending this year's event please email email@example.com. More details regarding the 2021 Women of Excellence event will be coming soon, but for now, mark your calendars!
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 19, 2021
DRURY PLAZA HOTEL CONFERENCE CENTER
CAPE GIRARDEAU, MISSOURI
Our 2019 Lifetime Achievement honoree was Dr Barbara Capshaw Kohlfeld.
Dr. Barbara Capshaw Kohlfeld, Principal of Blanchard School, has been in the field of teaching for 46 years. She served as a Gifted Facilitator for the Cape Public School system and became the Principal of May Green in 1993. When May Greene and Washington Elementary were closed and the students transferred to the new Barbara Blanchard Elementary, Dr. Kohlfeld was selected to become the first Principal of Blanchard in 2000. Barb has served on various committees and boards in the southeast Missouri area, including the Mill Tax and Salvation Army Board of Directors. She is involved in numerous professional affiliations such as Boys’ Town Social Skills in the School Training, and has written several publications.
Dr. Kohlfeld’s first priority is to the children she serves. Barb believes that children must feel safe and nurtured and provides a loving environment where they can make good choices. The students are taught social skills that are essential to interacting with others, which prepares them to succeed, not only in school, but in the future as they enter the work place. The staff sets high expectations to ensure that ALL students master the learning objectives. Collaboration, data analysis, teaching/learning strategies, and professional development are implemented to achieve this goal. This effort, from both the students and staff, led to recognition from the United States Department of Education as a National Blue Ribbon School for 2015, one of only 285 public schools in the U.S. to receive this honor. Professionally, Barb received the Cape Girardeau Educator of the Year award in 1997. In 2014, she was honored with the Educator of the Year award by the American Legion.
Our 2019 Celebration Award recipient was Dr. Loretta Prater.
Dr. Loretta Prater is a retired Professor and Dean of the College of Health and Human Services at Southeast Missouri State University. The college included the Departments of Social Work, Criminal Justice and Sociology, Human Environmental Studies, Nursing, Speech Pathology and Health, Human Performance and Recreation.
Dr. Prater is the 2005 recipient of the Zonta Woman of Achievement Award; is featured in the 9th edition of Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers and received the Outstanding African American Alumni Award in Education from the University of Tennessee. Dr. Prater was a panelist for the International Women’s Day forum sponsored by Southeast Missouri State University and the Zonta Club of Cape Girardeau. She has written chapters in several books and is published in the journals of Marriage and Family Review and Exceptional Children. She is the author of Excessive Use of Force: One Mother’s Struggle against Police Brutality and Misconduct. She has served on numerous boards in various communities and states, including serving as President of the United Way. She is a member of Missouri’s Family and Community Trust Board, and the Community Advisory Council for the Missouri Foundation for Health.
2019 WOMEN OF ACHIEVEMENT NOMINEES
Laurel Adkisson, an American Family Insurance agent since 1999 and one of the first female American Family Insurance agency owners in Cape Girardeau County. Her community volunteer involvement includes the Cape Chamber Women’s Network, Special Olympics, March of Dimes, SEMO Walk for Women and Leadership Cape just to name a few. Laurel credits her mother for instilling in her the importance of faith, family and a strong work ethic. She thinks it is vitally important to equalize the roles of men and women in the workplace and for women to find their voice, be comfortable in networking situations and look for opportunities to grow personally and professionally.
Sister Jane Kiefer began her ministry at Saint Francis Medical Center in 1976 and established the Social Services Department while administering at the hospital. In 1985 she transferred to the Pastoral Care Department as a chaplain where she remained until her retirement in 1998. Sister Jane celebrated 70 years as a Franciscan Sister in 2018. Saint Francis created an award in her honor to be given annually to a colleague/physician that epitomizes the mission and ministry of Saint Francis. She feels the biggest challenge facing women today is the truth about all things so that we may make good decisions about our life, our family and all that concerns us.
Dr. Carmen Keith is the CEO, Founder and Medical Director of 360 Living. Dr. Keith is passionate about King’s Ransom Foundation which focuses on providing for the needs of the poorest of the poor. She supports efforts to rescue children from the sex trade industry and supports the efforts of caring for those who have no voice. She most admires her great-grandmother, Ma, a fierce self-reliant and independent spirt who lived to be 105 years old. Ma taught her the importance of self-provision and hard work, speaking her mind and above all else, loving others.
Julia Meiners Koester is an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney for Cape Girardeau County. She represents the State of Missouri in all aspects of criminal prosecution, from charging decisions through trial which include a wide variety of criminal offenses such as murders, sexual assaults, child sexual abuse, domestic assaults, robberies, and narcotics offenses. Julia serves on the Board of Directors for the Safe House for Women and is the Chairperson of the Child Fatality Review panel. She most admires her mother whom she describes as wise, opinionated, strong, confident, kind and generous. She stands up and fights for women who are in the toughest spots of their life and empowers them to fight through very difficult circumstances.
Debbie Leoni is the Director of Cardiovascular Outreach Services for Southeast Health. Debbie established the Missouri chapter of myTEAM Triumph in 2013. The mission of this organization is to give everyone the opportunity to experience an inclusive life. She has had many mentors in her life, especially her mom who reminded her to work hard. Her faith guides all of her decisions and actions. Debbie believes in the strength of women and encourages us to realize we have the power to accomplish anything and can make positive changes in the world around us.
Merideth Pobst is the Director of Communications and the Director of Foundation for the Jackson R-2 School District. She believes that learning, knowledge and information opens doors, creates opportunities and empowers all people to achieve, innovate, develop and succeed. For Merideth, relationships are the lifeblood of living your best life. She most admires working mothers who are doing the best they can to do the best they can. She believes that women have a great responsibility to pull others up behind us, to reach out to younger colleagues and encourage them, show them the ropes, help open doors and teach them soft skills.
Sonia Rucker is the Assistant to the President for Equity and Diversity and Dean of Students for Southeast Missouri State University. She most admires her mother who is amazing, graceful, thoughtful, kind and remarkably strong. She always tries to treat people with dignity and respect no matter the circumstances. Sonia believes that one of the biggest challenges facing women is the ability to achieve work-life balance. She fully understands and appreciates the importance of seeking out, offering and providing guidance, advice and support to other women in her own field of education and in life.
Angie Umfleet along with her sister is the owner of Chap Arnold Insurance. Carrying forward and expanding the 49 year old agency, founded by her father, into the second generation has been an amazing blessing. Angie has served in leadership positions on many boards and civic organizations over the past two decades but she is most proud of helping local high school students sharpen their skills to get better jobs and to look professional as they enter the workforce. Angie feels the biggest challenge facing women is the ability to be relevant and to be heard in a society that is still male dominant. She believes that women are special and we must continue to push forward by helping women find our voices.
The applications of these extraordinary women are reviewed by Zonta Clubs throughout Missouri to determine the final selection of the Woman of Achievement Award. Judging by these Zonta Clubs is based solely on each nominee’s application. Evaluations are determined by the nominee's community involvement, professional contribution, awards and recognition, personal reflections and brief essay. The Zonta Club of Cape Girardeau is not involved with the selection of the WOA recipient.
Together we are stronger. With your support and our passion for empowering women and girls we can accomplish great things. We invite you to be a ;art of making a difference in the lives of women and girls by being a sponsor and attending the event.