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Their achievements are many

Bremerton Schools Superintendent Bette Hyde makes her way to the stage at the 2007 Women of Achievement luncheon Tuesday. She was among 16 women honored for their civic and professional accomplishments. - Photo by Tracey Cooper
Bremerton Schools Superintendent Bette Hyde makes her way to the stage at the 2007 Women of Achievement luncheon Tuesday. She was among 16 women honored for their civic and professional accomplishments.
— image credit: Photo by Tracey Cooper

From homemaker to school superintendent, the Kitsap YWCA honored 16 “Women of Achievement” Tuesday at its annual luncheon.

When searching for the words to describe the women, YWCA Executive Director Linda Joyce said she had trouble finding the right words to capture their remarkable efforts. But then she found this anonymous quote:

“Nothing is impossible to a valiant heart.”

Those valiant hearts for 2007 belong to Eugenie Jones, Johana Hansen-Kelly, Rebecca Carlson, Nikki Johanson, Bette Hyde, Reshondra McInnis, Jan Williams, Silvia Klatman, Karen Wilson, Tawni Danielle Krause, Chelsey Wheeler, Denise Agee, Ann Lillig, Tamra Inwaldson, Elaine Valencia and Teresa McDermott.

The 18-year-old event at the Kitsap Conference Center brought out past and present Women of Achievement honorees.

Denise Agee has been assistance office coordinator for St. Vincent De Paul’s women’s and children’s shelter since 1991. She has also volunteered for the YWCA ALIVE shelter and was a Kitsap Community Resources board member.

“This is such a great honor for me because I love to do what I do,” Agee told the crowd of about 500 after accepting the award. She thanked several people including her mother.

Rebecca Carlson, president for the Kitsap County Medical Society Alliance, was recognized for establishing a nursing scholarship program and her fundraising efforts for the Seattle Children’s Burn Foundation and the holiday wish program for people assisted by the YWCA. Her “boundless energy” has also helped Seabeck Elementary PTSA reach a platinum-level membership. Carlson also received the “Golden Acorn” for her work benefiting children at Seabeck.

“How can I accept an award that belongs to so many great volunteers,” Carlson said.

Johanna Hansen-Kelly, a bilingual health educator for the Kitsap County Health District, was recognized for coordinating “El Centro de la Familia.” The center helps educate and provides support services for Latino families. She also organized Mesa Redonda de Kitsap, a business network that serves Spanish-speaking families.

“She is truly a role model for living her dream while helping others achieve their dream,” Joyce said of Hansen-Kelly.

Hansen-Kelly dedicated the award to a friend, who recently died.

“The work I do is not the work of one person, but of many,” she said.

Wearing a “crown” of flowers, Bette Hyde, superintendent for Bremerton schools accepted her award for her leadership. She has been with the school district since 2001 and last year the district was the first statewide to offer free all-day kindergarten. During her time with the district it has received a mentoring grant with the African American community and the designation of a Lighthouse district for its student advising program.

Joyce called Tamra Ingwaldson “The brightest star in this community’s galaxy,” for her work in the community. She served as campaign director for the United Way of Kitsap County and recently took on the role as volunteer center director. Ingwaldson is president elect for the South Kitsap Kiwanis breakfast group and chairwoman for the Home Builders Association. She is also past chairwoman for the Kitsap County Human Rights Commission.

“Let’s not forget flair,” Joyce quipped. “This is a woman who owns suits in any color imaginable.”

Ingwaldson’s two daughters joined her on stage to accept the award.

Nikki Johanson is the third generation to farm Pheasant Fields, a Community Supported Agriculture farm. She hosts farm tours and teaches classes. She is a founding member of the Poulsbo Farmers Market and a speaker for the Washington State University extension’s sustainable agriculture courses.

Newspaper columnist and business owner Eugenie Jones was called an “invaluable resource” for wholeness and wellness. Jones is a certified personal trainer and for the past 13 years has written a weekly newspaper column for Scripps Howard. She owns her own company LifeWork Training and has volunteered her expertise through community workshops.

Described as a dynamo with a smile and style, Bremerton Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Silvia Klatman recognized for her work in the business community. In addition to being with the Chamber for nine years, she served as manager of business retention and expansion for the Kitsap Regional Economic Development Council. Her volunteer outlets have included Relay for Life, South Kitsap Eastern Little League and the Festival of Trees.

Tawni Danielle Krause was called an “unsung hero” who is a stay-at-home mom and school teacher to three sons and two daughters with another child on the way. Her priorities for her children are education and a Christian upbringing. They are members of the First Christian Church of Port Orchard where she is a AWANA small group leader.

Teresa McDermott was praised for her community strengthening efforts as part of Olympic College’s workforce development team. She serves as director for the worker retaining and work-integrated learning division at OC. She has been a trustee on the Kitsap Regional Libraries board, an officer with the Black Historical Society and Museum of Kitsap County, and is co-publisher of the Kitsap Chronicle.

“The bridges you have built are still standing strong,”Joyce said.

Reshondra McInnis, maintenance operations manager for Lockheed Martin is a graduate of the Institute of Professional Managers. She volunteers for Habitat for Humanity and the NAACP Learn and Earn your own computer project. She is a Bremerton High School Mentor and involved with Sinclair Missionary Baptist Church.

“You are a woman who never fails to inspire us,” Joyce said of McInnis. While McInnis has never served in the military, she considers volunteerism the next best option.

“The next greatest service, to me, is community service,” she said.

Elaine Valencia the executive assistant in the Mayor’s office, has worked with five mayors and is dedicated to the city.

“She makes everyone who sets foot in the mayor’s office feel welcomed and valued,” Joyce said.

She has also been called the “heart and soul” of the student exchange program with Sister City Kure, Japan that she has managed for 25 years. She also is a volunteer for the Stevenson quintuplets and helped establish a foundation for them.

Jan Williams, director for Chapman University, Bangor, was recognized for dedication to education. She has been director since 2005 and is credited for streamlining the curriculum for people returning to school. She is a 2001 Leadership Kitsap graduate, has served on the YWCA board of directors and is a member of the Silverdale Chamber of Commerce military affairs committee.

Community volunteer Karen Wilson had a change in careers mid-life after being widowed. She went back to college and earned her accounting degree. She is a volunteer tax preparer for AARP and volunteers for Bainbridge Helpline. She is also a board member for the Island’s “One Call for All” campaign.

“Overcoming the odds with tremendous determination, she has never failed to go to bat for others,” Joyce said.

Two students were honored at the ceremony and each received inaugural scholarships from the YWCA Foundation. The YWCA Founders Award went to Ann Lillig of Central Kitsap and the Rosa Parks Award went to Chelsey Wheeler of Bremerton High School.

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