On June 19, WISE celebrated its 25th Annual Women of the Year Awards Luncheon — a quarter century of celebrating female trailblazers in the industry — by recognizing its newest class of honorees: WISE Women of Distinction Anita DeFrantz, Janet Fletcher, Lisa Murray, Michele A. Roberts and Suzanne Smith.
In attendance to help welcome these women to the club were 21 previous WISE Women of the Year honorees, including the very first, Sara Levinson. Luncheon emcee and CBS Sports lead reporter Tracy Wolfson introduced the group and welcomed them to the stage, capping off the procession by acknowledging WISE founder Sue Rodin.
“They would not be here without you today, so thank you, Sue,” Wolfson said.
WISE national board chair and president Kathleen Francis followed, speaking of how WISE originated from the need for a network of women other women could call upon and marveling at the growth the organization has experienced since it first presented the award in 1995. “Don’t ever let anybody tell you that women don’t help women,” she said.
Before concluding, Francis paid tribute to WISE board member and WISE Atlanta president Kristi Atkins, who lost her battle with cancer on June 14. Atkins was often the first to step up to the plate — her catchphrase was “I’ll do it!” — and her impact on the organization and all those around her is indelible, said Francis.
“We don’t want to pause for a moment of silence; we want to applaud what Kristi has done for us,” she said.