WomanUP, Rebecca Ryan honor local women in business

November 26, 2018

At the Asheville Chamber’s 2018 WomanUP Celebration, 500 business leaders gathered to celebrate local businesswomen, make new connections, and listen to futurist and economist Rebecca Ryan’s keynote speech.

WomanUP held its inaugural event in November of 2016, and since then has facilitated three programs a year, with the goal of building a strong network of women in business that’s both inspirational and supportive.

Keynote Rebecca Ryan, who had a recent cancer scare, was prompted by this experience to share advice and stories that have been personally important to her– imagining what she would say if this were her last speech ever.

She spoke to the importance of being present and paying attention, quoting the poet Mary Oliver that “to pay attention is our endless and proper work.”

“Each day note seven things you did, seven things you saw, seven things you heard, and then draw a picture,” Rebecca said.

Rebecca also encouraged a life of fearless integrity.

“A sense of stability is the biggest hoax. Nothing ever happens the way we plan it,” she said. “So when given the choice, don’t play it safe. Choose your biggest life.”

In addition to Rebecca’s speech, sponsors Park Ridge Health, Webb Investments, Mission Health, TD Bank, and Western Carolina University, presented awards to four local women in business.

“Behind every successful woman is a tribe of women that have supported her. The women in this room have taught me so much about giving back and that there is no limit,” said JoAnn Yoder, the 2018 Woman Executive of the Year.

The following is a complete description of the awards and who won them:

Woman Entrepreneur, Best in Business Award: Murphy Funkhouser Capps of Kudzu Brands.

  • This award recognizes a woman who demonstrates the transformation of her dream into the reality of a product or service. This is someone who exhibits the traits of an entrepreneur: willingness to take risk, personal drive, focus, perseverance, innovation and business acumen.

Woman Executive of the Year Award: JoAnn Yoder of Brumit Restaurant Group.

  • This award recognizes a woman who has distinguished herself in her workplace and her profession and who has demonstrated commitment to fostering growth and development of women by sharing guidance and professional skills.

Outstanding Woman in Nonprofit Leadership: Lisa Adkins of Buncombe County Schools Foundation.

  • Asheville has a robust nonprofit community with organizations contributing in many sectors.  This award recognizes a woman who exhibits leadership in the nonprofit arena and who has demonstrated commitment to advancing women in her organization and the community.

Rising Star Award: Katie Schafer of GE Aviation

  • This award recognizes a young woman under the age of 35 who has distinguished herself as a leader and role model to other young women.