2019 WomanUP nominees

October 23, 2019

Drum roll, please….

We’re honored to reveal the 2019 WomanUP award nominees. This list represents outstanding business women who excel in their work, serve as strong role models and display commitment to the Asheville/Buncombe community. Our congratulations to all of them on their nominations!

Awards will be presented at the 2019 WomanUP Award Celebration and Award Ceremony on Nov. 14th, along with keynote by futurist Rebecca Ryan on “What’s the Future of Women?” We’ll also hear thoughts and experiences from women leaders: Avril Pinder, Buncombe County Manager; Debra Campbell, Asheville City Manager; Carol Burton, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs at Western Carolina University; and Leah Wong Ashburn, President/CEO of Highland Brewing Company.

2019 WomanUP Award Nominees
Amanda Bryant, Asheville Museum of Science
Angel Chandler, YMCA of WNC
Anna Walz, Everyday Health Professional
Carla Barnard, Carla & Company at Keller Williams Professionals
Carole Gilham, Brooks- Howell
Carolyn Roy, Biscuit Head
Cat Ford Coates, Studio 828 Photography
Catherine B. Mitchell, Fox Rothschild LLP
Christi Apodaca, C & Co. Handcrafted Skincare
Connie Matisse, East Fork
Cortina Jenelle Caldwell, Artists Designing Evolution (adé PROJECT)
Cristina Hall Ackley, Ginger’s Revenge
Daphne Kirkwood, iDaph Events
Dr. Megan Clunan, Montreat College
Emily Breedlove, Breedlove & Company
Jane B. Hatley, Self Help Credit Union
Janet Cone, UNC Asheville
Jennifer Jordan, Aeroflow Healthcare
Jennifer Murphy, YMCA of Western North Carolina
Jennifer Pharr Davis, Blue Ridge Hiking Company
Jessica Loizzo, Mosaix Group
Kathryn Adams, North Carolina Glass Center
Laurin Yoder, Brumit Restaurant Group
Leah Wong Ashburn, Highland Brewing Company
Linda McDaniel, The Arc of Buncombe County
Lisa Zahiya, Studio Zahiya/Be Her Coaching
Lynn Michelle Smith, Che’ Beautiful, LLC
Marta Santamaria, The Asheville Venue
Miranda Bowman, Asheville Outlets
Miranda Peterson, Namaste In Nature
Rhonda Woodbery, Worley, Woodbery, & Associates
Sara Sanders, UNC Asheville
Sara Stender, Africa Healing Exchange
Sarah Hall, GE Aviation
Sarah Thomas-Moore, Premier Sotheby’s International Realty
Sharon Oxendine, Western Women’s Business Center
Shawntay Cox, Thermo Fisher Scientific
Sheryl Aikman, CFWNC
Taylor Foss, Recently retired from Mission Health
Zurilma Anuel, Carolina Small Business Development Fund

About the Awards:

Woman Entrepreneur Award
This award, sponsored by Webb Investment Services, recognizes a woman who demonstrates the transformation of her dream into the reality of a product or service and who exhibits the traits of an entrepreneur.

Woman Executive of the Year
Sponsored by Mission Health, this award recognizes a woman who has distinguished herself in her workplace, her profession, and her community. The recipient epitomizes the spirit of the WomanUP initiative by utilizing her abilities to develop or improve a program or service that significantly advances women in the corporate workplace.

Outstanding Woman Nonprofit Leader
Sponsored by TD Bank, this award recognizes a woman who has distinguished herself in her non-profit organization, her profession, and her community. The recipient epitomizes the spirit of the WomanUP initiative by utilizing her abilities to develop or improve a program or service that significantly advances women in the non-profit workplace.

Rising Star Award
Sponsored by Western Carolina University, 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.

Suzanne DeFerie Lifetime Achievement Award
New this year….Sponsored by First Bank, the Suzanne DeFerie Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes a woman who has distinguished herself in business over a lifetime. The recipient epitomizes the spirit of the WomanUP initiative by demonstrating excellence and leadership in business throughout her career and by serving as a mentor and role model for women of all ages.

First Bank sponsors this award in honor of Suzanne DeFerie. Throughout her 40-year career in the financial services industry, Suzanne was a trail blazer, breaking barriers in her industry, providing both organizational and community leadership and mentoring to other women.

A native of Western North Carolina and graduate of Appalachian State University, Suzanne worked as a CPA, Senior Audit Manager and Banking Industry Specialist for Deloitte & Touche before joining Asheville Savings Bank in 1991. When she joined Asheville Savings Bank as Chief Financial Officer, she was the first female executive hired by the bank. Suzanne moved into the role of President and CEO of Asheville Savings Bank in 2008. At the time, she was one of only two female bank CEO’s in North Carolina. She went on to successfully lead the bank through the Great Recession and through the initial public offering for ASB Bancorp. In 2017, when Asheville Savings Bank merged with First Bank, Suzanne became EVP & Regional president for First Bank’s Western Region, retiring from the position in fall 2019.

Beyond the bank, Suzanne has served in a multitude of capacities for business, industry and community organizations, including: North Carolina member director of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta; Member of the Community Depository Institutions Advisory Council for the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond; former chair of Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors; former Chair of United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County Board of Directors; Secretary and Executive Committee member of  the Board of Directors of Mission Health System; member of the Economic Development Coalition of Asheville- Buncombe County Board of Directors; board member of Asheville Merchant Fund; board member and Treasurer of the Board of Directors of the Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity; provost, 2011 North Carolina School of Banking at UNC – Chapel Hill; advisory board, Department of Accounting, Appalachian State University; Graduate, Leadership Asheville; Board member of the Black Mountain Center Foundation and Past President, Asheville Breakfast Rotary Club.