WomanUP 2023 Award Nominees

September 1, 2023

Congratulations to all of the WomanUP Award nominees! All of the nominees will be honored at the WomanUP Celebration in November.

Vote for the nominees!
This year we invite you to cast your vote from the slate of nominees in the following categories: Woman Executive of the Year; Women Entrepreneurs, Best in Business; Outstanding Woman in Nonprofit Leadership; Rising Star and Impact Award. Final selection for these awards will be based on combination of public vote and committee vote. — VOTING IS NOW CLOSED.

In addition to these awards, we will also present the Suzanne DeFerie Lifetime Achievement Award sponsored by First Bank and STEM award sponsored by Pratt & Whitney.


Suzanne DeFerie Lifetime Achievement Award
Sponsored by First Bank, this award recognizes a woman who has distinguished herself in business over a lifetime, demonstrating excellence and leadership in business throughout her career. The award is named 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.

  • Carol King, Carol L. King PA
  • Debra Campbell, City Manager, City of Asheville
  • Lisa Payne, Nutrition Director, Buncombe County Schools

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.

  • Brandi Hillman, Co-Owner, Hillman Beer
  • Brittany Bettini, CEO, Bettini Enterprises
  • Cat Ford-Coates, CEO, Atelier Unforgettable
  • Crystal Pressley, Publisher/Owner, Crystal Clear Marketing
  • Elizabeth Schane, Owner, Well Roots Counseling, PLLC
  • Jeanne Sommer, Owner/Operator, Hidden River Events
  • Jenn Muckelvaney, Marketing Representative/ Fidelity National Title
  • Jess Reed, Owner and CEO, Green Mountain Space
  • Kendra Payne, Co-owner, A Look at Asheville
  • Laura McCann, Founder & CEO, Adoratherapy
  • Louise Bijesse, Founder, UpTalent Consulting
  • Marlene Mechanic, Owner, East Acupuncture Wellness Boutique and Acupuncture Impact Foundation
  • Monica Rousseau, Owner/Principal, Realty ONE Group Pivot
  • Sara Delaney, Founder & CEO, Sarilla
  • Sarah Mullins & Jeannine Buscher, VP for People + Purpose / EVP of Innovation, FedUp Foods
  • Selina Delangre, CEO, Selina Naturally
  • Shanti Volpe, Owner and CEO, Shanti Elixirs
  • Shay Brown, Owner of Shay and Company, Shay and Company

Sponsored by MAHEC, this award recognizes a woman who exhibits leadership in her organization, profession and community. Candidates at any level of an organization may be nominated.

  • Arlene Sullivan, CEO, Signarama of Asheville
  • Bru Weber, Chief Procurement Officer, Blue Ridge Power
  • Carolyn Cronin, Director, ABCCM/Transformation Village
  • Clary Franko, Chief Operating Officer, Sugar Hollow Solar
  • Diane Rogers, Owner/Operator, Pinecrest Inn Bed & Breakfast
  • Dianne Whitman, Area Administrator, NCDPS
  • Dr. Shantelle R. Simpson, CEO & President, Appalachian Mountain Community Health Centers
  • Gazelle Lange, CNM, Clinical Director, Lilac Health Asheville Birth and Wellness Center
  • Hannah Kitt, CEO, Keller Williams Professionals Realty
  • Jennifer Robinson, President, SanStone Health & Rehabilitation
  • Lizie Strahan, Exective VP of Quality & Adminstration, Kimmel & Associates
  • Melina Arrowood, Chief Operating Officer, Behavioral Health, Mission Health / HCA Healthcare
  • Tabitha Scott, Loan Officer, HomeTrust Bank
  • Vanessa Salomo, Chief Operating Officer, MMG&L Holdings LLC
  • Vicki Banks, Chief Human Resources Officer, The Biltmore Company
  • Whitney Whitson, Vice President,  Commercial Relationship Manager, Wells Fargo

Sponsored by TD Bank, this award recognizes a woman working for a nonprofit who has distinguished herself in her non-profit organization, her profession, and her community.

  • Ann Marie Traylor, Executive Director, The Environmental Quality Institute
  • CiCi Weston, Executive Director, The Christine W. Avery Learning Center (CWA)
  • Diana Sierra, CEO, YWCA of Asheville
  • Diane Rogers, VP Marketing, Asheville Bed & Breakfast Association
  • Dr. Elizabeth Buys, OBGYN and Chair, OBGYN Department, MAHEC
  • Katie Cornell, Executive Director, ArtsAVL (formerly the Asheville Area Arts Council)
  • Kristy Urquhart, Associate Director, Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy
  • Marcia Whitney, President and CEO, Verner Learning Center
  • Michelle Moog-Koussa, Executive Director, Bob Moog Foundation
  • Nicole Schultz, Human Resources Operations Director, YMCA of Western North Carolina
  • Rusty Vasquez, Director of HR, Western Carolina Rescue Ministries
  • Sue Polston, Executive Director, Sunrise Community for Recovery and Wellness
  • Taylor Parkins, Director of Care Management, Western North Carolina Community Health Services

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.

  • Adeline (Addie) Wolfe, Real Estate Developer, Mountain Housing Opportunities
  • Catherine Farist, Digital Marketing Manager, Biltmore Farms
  • Erin Erickson, Program Coordinator, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Western North Carolina
  • Eva-Michelle Spicer, Co-owner and Chief Networking Officer, Spicer Greene Jewelers
  • Hailey Chambers, Catering Manager, Chick-fil-A Tunnel Road
  • Kaila Tolsma, , First Citizens Bank
  • Nicole Case, Owner, YogaSix Asheville
  • Sasha James, Recruiting Sourcing Specialist, Omni Hotels and Resorts The Grove Park Inn

Sponsored by Kudzu Brands, this award recognizes women who are trailblazers and who make a significant impact through their leadership and innovation.

  • Celeste Collins, Executive Director, On Track WNC
  • CiCi Weston, Executive Director, The CWA Learning Center
  • Emily Jones, Lean Leader, GE Aerospace
  • Grace Barnwell, Director of Mercy Occupational Medicine, Mercy Urgent Care
  • Hannah Randall, Senior Advisor (Based out of the Asheville, NC area), Armstrong McGuire and Associates
  • Jessica Coffield, Board Member, Junior League of Asheville, Junior League
  • Krista Flores, GE Aerospace Asheville HR Leader, GE Aerospace
  • Michele Scheve, Owner, Buzz Radio Asheville & Slice of Life Comedy
  • Molly de Mattos, Owner/Broker/Corporate Coach, The Matt & Molly Team – Keller Williams Professionals
  • Sara Delaney, Founder, Sarilla
  • Shanti Volpe, Owner, SHANTI ELIXIRS, L.L.C.