By Joseph Ditzler

The Bulletin

The Bend Chamber of Commerce is taking nominations of women who’ve excelled in some way in Central Oregon for the first-ever Woman of the Year awards.

The chamber plans on recognizing women in four categories — Young Hero, Community Hero, Young Woman of the Year and Woman of the Year — March 11 at the Tower Theatre. Nominations are due by 4 p.m. Feb. 20 at the chamber office, 777 NW Wall St., Bend. The forms are available there or online at http://bendchamber.org/chamber-events/women-of-the-year-awards/.

The awards, which are meant to spotlight achievement and community contribution, are an offshoot of the Womens Round Table Series, the chamber’s monthly series of workshops, guest speakers and networking opportunities.

Robin Rogers, the chamber’s senior vice president for programs and events, conceived of the workshops three years ago, along with a plan to create the Women of the Year awards.

“By nature, (women) take care of others, I think, before we take care of ourselves,” Rogers said Monday. “At the end of the day, all experienced leaders, men and women alike, need time to pause, to take stock of themselves and their careers.”

To find the nominee best-suited in each category, Rogers brought together as judges nine business and professional women from around Bend. The process of winnowing through nomination forms, interviewing nominees and arriving at a consensus may take four or five days, Rogers said. The judges agreed they would not be nominated.

The judges will be asked to consider, among other factors, whether the top nominee is successful in a career otherwise dominated by men. Two judges reached Tuesday agreed that’s an important factor; a third said it was less important than the nominees’ involvement in all aspects of their lives.

“Instead of focusing on the fact that this woman is (successful) in a male-dominated world,” said Stephanie Anderson Stroup, owner and founder of Twist Cocktail Catering Co., “I’ll be looking at how amazing she is. There are a million ways to be amazing — how you work really hard and how good you are at what you do. I want someone to be unique.”

Emilie Cortes, who left corporate finance to take over Call of the Wild, Adventure Travel for Women in Bend, in 2012, said that in mountaineering she saw how confidence, carrying your own weight and being prepared produced equality among team members, even in a male-dominated arena.

“There’s the other half of the equation,” Cortes said. “How we show up, how we allow those social connections to limit us. We can be successful by speaking up, demonstrating we’re credible, exercising leadership.”

Cortes will be away from Bend on March 11 but plans on filming a presentation for the ceremony. Around the time awards are handed out, she said, she expects to be summiting Margherita Peak on Mount Stanley, the third-highest peak in Africa, on the Congo-Uganda border.

— Reporter: 541-617-7815, jditzler@bendbulletin.com

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