The pool for Women in Business Leadership nominations grows in number and diversity every year. The Spokane region is blessed with an abundance of impressive women leaders and innovators. Please join us in congratulating the 2016 Women of Impact, Women of Innovation, and Women of Influence along with celebrating all the dedicated women in business in our region.
WOMEN OF IMPACT
Vice President of Star USA
In partnership with her husband Toby Steward, Star USA has hosted more than fifty Olympic sporting events, many in Spokane. Over the last 25 years, Star USA has organized events for Olympic basketball, volleyball, wrestling, hockey and figure skating, just to name a few.
What do you enjoy most about doing business in Spokane?
Neither Toby nor I were born in Spokane: moving here was a choice. I have now lived in Spokane longer than anywhere else. This is home. I love that Spokane “thinks” bigger than it is. For every one of the figure skating events, we were up against much larger cities, and Spokane outperformed every one of them.
What achievement are you most proud of in your career?
You’ve heard the saying it takes a village: well that certainly applies here. I am most proud of the success Spokane has had hosting the figure skating events. Spokane is the benchmark other host cities are measured against. I couldn’t be more proud of that fact.
Which historical figure would you want to meet and why?
I can’t narrow it down to just one. Sonja Henie, to hear her stories from the three Olympic games where she won the gold medal, and how she was able to parlay her Olympic success into a film career. Edward R. Murrow was such a pioneer in broadcasting. His role in defining ethics in broadcasting and in general always appealed to me. I would love to hear what he thinks about ethics today.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t worry, be happy. Everything happens for a reason. Organizing big events can be very stressful. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the details. And everything doesn’t go according to plan all of the time. Looking back now, some of the things that didn’t go as planned provided great lessons for the future.
Director of Marketing and Communications at Sterling International, Inc.
What began in a small Millwood garage in 1982 is now an international company with products sold to consumers through “big box” retailers, home improvement centers, hardware stores and garden centers. Cates is involved in all phases of product development and marketing, from the inception of a product idea, to its design, name, price point, packaging and displays; she establishes the overall branding approach and marketing strategy for each product. Sterling manufactures environmentally responsible insect control products like the iconic RESCUE!® Yellowjacket Trap and many others.
What do you enjoy most about doing business in Spokane? Spokane is a welcoming place, more so all the time. It doesn’t take as long to get connected as it does in other cities. It’s also small enough that influential people are accessible; here, you’re usually only two degrees of separation from anyone, either on a personal or professional level.
What achievement are you most proud of in your career?I love moving the needle on sales. It’s fun to conceptualize and execute innovative campaigns like “Stink Bug Smackdown” to market our products. The coolest thing as of late is having my name on the design patent on the OrnamenTrap®, our new decorative insect trap line.
Which historical figure would you want to meet and why? Margaret Thatcher, the longest-serving and only female Prime Minister of the UK, known as the “Iron Lady.” Politics infuse much of my community involvement these days, and although I have no ambitions to run for office, I would love to soak in the wisdom of a trailblazer and thought leader like her.
What advice would you give your younger self? Appreciate the uniqueness of how you’re wired, but don’t limit yourself. Tremendous personal and professional growth happens when you push beyond your comfort zone.
E. Susan MeyerChief Executive Officer of Spokane Transit Authority
As CEO of STA, Meyer oversees a $62 million operating budget and more than 500 employees. She supervises all work force administration of the corporation, acts as its public representative, and is the only employee of the Board. The CEO is critical to advising the Board of the current and future financial condition of STA and keeping the strategic vision and direction alive in the minds of its employees.
What do you enjoy most about doing business in Spokane? I enjoy the people. We pull for each other’s projects and successes. Spokane is generous with its time and talents and is always welcoming and inclusive to visitors.
What achievement are you most proud of? Ridership increased more than 40% between 2005 and 2008, due in part to higher gas prices in 2008. We learned that when prices went down, however, riders stuck with the service. STA won a national award; and ridership gains outstripped what was happening as an industry nationwide.
Which historical figure would you like to meet and why? Jesus. No person has influenced the course of history more than He. Whether portrayed as the Messiah or a prophet, more has been written about his life, teachings, and influence than any other.
What advice would you give your younger self? Don’t take yourself so seriously! People want to see your human side. You may not see the path ahead, so trust that different jobs in different industries, and even periods of un- and under-employment, will result in having exactly the right skill set and experience for the next position.
Owner of Workout Warehouse & Wellness Center
Benoscek specializes in helping clients regain their independence through “Corrective Exercise & Nutrition,” maintaining independence and self-sufficiency. As a child raised in foster care, Benoscek had no family to call her own. Helping someone’s wife, husband, or grandparent live independently, walk with their children, squat down on the floor to play with a new baby; that’s what her job is about.
What do you enjoy most about doing business in Spokane? Spokane is unique in its kindness, compassion and acceptance. I care for my clients as the community cared for me. I was raised in foster care until age eight. I came to Spokane, returned to my mother. It was incredibly difficult. Kind words, help from strangers, teachers and church showed me the type of person I could be regardless of my circumstances.
What achievement are you most proud of in your career?My proudest memory is a client, Maggie, who suffered a severe stroke, couldn’t drive or speak, use her right hand, or walk without dragging her leg. Her friend Lynda (a client of mine) brought her in. I would wait patiently while she strung words together being sure not to finish her words for her. We worked three days a week for a year as she progressed. Then one day she called and told me she wouldn’t be coming in. She and her daughter were driving to the mall to go to lunch and shop. This meant she now felt so confident she could go out in public, work the steering wheel, hold utensils and eat lunch, as well as enjoy walking and talking to her daughter.
Which historical figure would you want to meet and why? Harriett Tubman. I can only imagine the strength, mental stamina, drive, desire and conviction of such an amazing woman who risked everything to help complete strangers and influence so many others to join her struggle.
What advice would you give your younger self? I didn’t think I was smart, or had any potential because of the abuse and struggles of my childhood. What I know now is that it isn’t your circumstances that define your abilities. You can create the life you want through education, compassion for others and never forgetting you are not entitled to anything. Everything you achieve takes hard work, focus, compassion for others, optimism and is a blessing from God.
WOMEN OF INNOVATION
Shayna E. Wood
Tax Partner at Eide Bailly, LLP
Wood provides tax preparation and consulting services to privately held businesses and individuals. She remains active with clients throughout the year to assist with financial and business decisions and all levels of federal and state tax compliance matters. She is also heavily involved with recruiting and at the Spokane office.
What do you enjoy most about doing business in the Spokane region? My line of work allows me to get to know the people behind the businesses who keep this city thriving and keep its people employed. Spokane is filled with hard-working, loyal, and interesting people and I get the opportunity to meet and help these people and truly get to know what motivates them and what is most important to them.
What achievement are you most proud of in your career? Being an advocate for our staff and watching them advance in their careers is a great feeling. I remember my first days of work and the feeling of being lost and overwhelmed, so helping our staff adjust to the profession, helping them deal with the difficulties and stresses, and watching them become confident and successful is very rewarding.
Which historical figure would you want to meet and why? Elie Wiesel has always fascinated me. His message of love, peace, and friendship and the responsibility of people to look out for their fellow man is so moving. And for that message to come from someone who endured such hatred and death is truly inspiring. His life exemplifies a person’s ability to transcend their surroundings and be so much more.
What advice would you give your younger self? To relax and take things slower and really appreciate life while it is happening. I have been told that I often live life in a hurry, never enjoying the moment but already worrying about what’s coming next. I wish I had slowed down growing up.
Owner of The Scoop
Davis owns and operates The Scoop, a small cafe on the South Hill, and a vintage food truck. The Scoop serves organic coffee, waffles, sandwiches, and small-batch artisan ice cream. The food truck serves ice cream and mostly caters special events from May to October such as weddings and corporate events. Davis manages the marketing, creation and implementation of ice cream and waffle recipes, social media presence, menu costing, and all her employees, but still enjoys engaging with customers on a daily basis.
What you enjoy most about doing business in the Spokane region?I absolutely love engaging with other small business owners and collaborating with like-minded women in the food and beverage industry. From working with Roast House, to Chaps, to Urban Eden Farm, Spokane has it all. There are so many innovative women creating amazing local products.
What achievement are you most proud of in your career? This past Saturday, hundreds of people stood in line in 37-degree weather from 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. to celebrate Ice Cream for Breakfast Day! I am so completely blown away by the support of our customers and how fantastic my rockstar team performed! This tops Alton Brown visiting the Scoop last year.
What advice would you give your younger self? Do what you love. I tend to be super practical so my old business was stable and predictable and it killed my soul.
Kaiulani Wilson Morimoto MD FACS
Reconstructive and Hand Surgeon at Dr. Kai Morimoto Plastic
Dr. Morimoto’s primary focus is to enhance the lives of her patients through various cosmetic, reconstructive and hand surgeries. In respecting the unique individuality of each person, she can commit to helping them recognize and achieve their aesthetic goals.
What do you enjoy most about doing business in the Spokane region? Given the size of Spokane, it is a small enough community that I am held accountable for actions and take responsibility for my own reputation. Most of my new patients are referred to me by current or past clients.
What achievement are you most proud of in your career? I am most proud of the fact that by building relationships and trust with my patients they have allowed me to touch and change their lives for the better.
What advice would you give your younger self? Believe in yourself and in your dreams. Own them! Don’t let negative, dream killers in and for goodness sake don’t take it personally! You are good enough and you are worthy of all your heart’s desires.
Rachae Bell D.C., DCCJP
Owner of Clear Chiropractic Spokane
Clear Chiropractic provides a unique approach, different from what most people think of chiropractic. They specialize in the smallest and most vulnerable area of the spine, the cervical spine (neck). It has the most range of motion and is the closest to the brain and the brainstem. Using a specialized series of x-rays Clear Chiropractic determines how each individual’s body fits together, allowing for the adjustment to be very gentle (no bending, twisting or popping) and specific based on each person’s individual genetics, anatomy and misalignment.
What do you enjoy most about doing business in the Spokane region? Healthier individuals are happier individuals! I love creating a brighter future for Spokane and the health and well-being of our community. Spokane is such a beautiful place to live, work and play. Giving back to the individuals and place that gave me a strong foundation to thrive is very rewarding.
What achievement are you most proud of in your career? I most recently earned a Diplomate of Chiropractic Craniocervical Junction Procedures (DCCJP). A three year, 306 hour course making me the only chiropractor in the Pacific Northwest with these credentials. The greatest impact it has made is in my ability to help clients. That’s most important.
Which historical figure who would you want to meet and why? This may not qualify as historical but I have always wanted to spend time with John Wooden. He is the most inspirational coach, leader, and mentor. I am in awe of his ability to lead an evolving and changing team to the level of success that he did and more importantly the ability to make an impact on the quality of people he coached; aiming to help mold them into quality human beings, not just quality athletes.
What advice would you give your younger self? I would tell myself not to worry so much about what everyone else thinks; friends, clients, family, and colleagues. As humans, and women in particular, it seems it is easy to worry about being judged in every aspect of life.
WOMEN OF INFLUENCE
Lisa J. Brown, PhD
Chancellor, WSU Health Sciences Spokane
Brown is the chancellor of WSU’s Spokane campus, the designated health sciences campus for the entire WSU system of five campuses. Located in the urban core of Spokane, the campus Brown oversees is highly connected to the city’s medical district and central to Spokane’s urban growth and sustainability. Her work to protect and develop the historic Jensen-Byrd building on campus is indicative of her passion for the renaissance she believes Spokane is undergoing.
What do you most enjoy about doing business in the Spokane region? Most recently I have enjoyed working with community supporters to see a second public medical school approved for our state and a teaching health clinic get constructed on campus, both within the last three years. A bonus is our extremely liveable and affordable community with great access to the outdoors.
What achievement are you most proud of in your career? Working with WSU President Dr. Elson Floyd first in the senate and recently as chancellor to build out the Spokane campus as a health sciences education and research campus with state-of-the-art facilities, and then working toward creation of the medical school. All was accomplished with support of key community leaders.
Which historical figure would you want to meet and why? It is difficult to choose just one but I will say Eleanor Roosevelt, who served as First Lady from March 1933 to April 1945. Her life story is inspiring. Two favorite quotes from her are, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams” and “A woman is like a tea bag – you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water.”
What advice would you give your younger self? In the words of the Indigo Girls, a folk duo from my college years, every five years or so I look back on my life and have a good laugh. I would advise my younger self, “It’s impossible to predict what’s going to happen, so focus on appreciating each stage.”
Workforce Program Manager at Spokane Area Workforce Development Council
As the Workforce Program Manager, Cato wears many hats. She helps facilitate the board’s investments in employment and training in the community, including managing Adult, Dislocated Worker, and Youth programs. She works with the Next Generation Zone, the SAWDC’s education and workforce center specifically for young adults ages 16-24, and created the Passport to Career Success, a free career exploration tool. Cato also write grants, manages federal and private contracts, and works with the many partners in the workforce system, to create opportunities, break down barriers to employment, and build a stronger community.
What do you enjoy most about doing business in the Spokane region? I enjoy that Spokane is a unique place to work and live. It’s a big area with a small-town feel. The people I work with have a genuine heart for what they do and for making our community a better place to live now and in the future.
What achievement are you most proud of in your career? My career is in its early stages, however I am very proud of the work I did at the Next Generation Zone to redesign both the program and the space. Through collaboration with many partners, we have created a place where young adults in our community feel welcome, safe, supported, and have the resources they need to achieve their goals.
Which historical figure would you want to meet and why? I would choose to meet Eleanor Roosevelt. She seems like such a tenacious woman who stepped outside of the traditional First Lady role and changed the platform going forward. She used her role to challenge tradition, make change, advocate for women and fight for social justice, and changed the landscape for many in this country.
What advice would you give your younger self? I would (and continue to) tell myself to relax and enjoy the ride. Life is so short, enjoy every minute, even the tough ones. Treasure time with friends and family; sometimes work can and should be put aside to enjoy those special moments.
Cheryl Y. Kilday,
President and CEO of Visit Spokane
Kilday leads Visit Spokane in the organization’s strategic vision and mission including long and short term planning, goal setting, budgeting, performance evaluation, and action plans. It’s her job to identify significant business opportunities and challenges and formulate strategy anf for each functional area with the Board of Directors. Kilday is the primary spokesperson for Visit Spokane and often plays a key role in advocacy for the tourism industry.
What do you enjoy most about doing business in the Spokane region? I enjoy our people and the attitude, “we can in Spokane!” The community’s desire to support the meetings and conventions industry and to warmly welcome visitors is something I appreciate every day.
What achievement are you most proud of in your career? Working with destinations over the course of my career I have had the opportunity to make a difference and positively impact the community where I live and work. The attraction of visitors, leisure and business, provides local tax relief to our community and improves our quality of life.
Which historical figure would you want to meet and why? Walt Disney. His drive to offer the ultimate visitor experience inspires me, as well as his passion exhibited throughout his life to strive for excellence, to think big, and to act on his dreams. It would be wonderful to get an opportunity to talk with him about his approach to making sure the guest always enjoys “the show.” He built an empire on storytelling and customer service. Destination promotion is telling our stories here in Spokane and bringing them their relevance to life for our visitors.
Co-founder of Beyond Pink Spokane
Brewer is responsible for administration and daily operation of Beyond Pink. She manages fundraising, marketing, and community outreach, and is the primary spokesperson to the public, media, sponsors and board of directors. Brewer organizes and leads a team of twenty volunteers that plan and orchestrate the Beyond Pink annual event, a fundraiser for Breast Cancer Awareness. She also attends more than fifty events a year to educate the public and market the cause.
What do you enjoy most about doing business in the Spokane region? I love how this community has wrapped their arms around Beyond Pink. Spokane has a way of accepting new ideas and asking “how can we help?” They have invited us into their lives, homes and businesses to educate the people they care about and love. They have been so generous with their time, talent and finances.
What achievement are you most proud of in your career? Starting a non-profit 7 years ago from the ground up with no idea how to do it. Taking it from a simple fundraiser, and growing it into a flourishing non-profit business that has raised more than $300,000 and helped nearly 800 women in this community.
Which historical figure would you want to meet and why?Nelson Mandela. I can only imagine the wisdom you would receive by having a conversation with him—a long one. He was kind and gentle. He was a smart, shrewd politician who was very conscious of his image and how he was perceived by others. He believed old friends should not be sacrificed to gain new friends. He was loyal. He stayed true to himself and spoke his mind, and he won everyone’s respect for it in the end. One of my favorite quotes from Nelson: “And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give the other people permission to do the same.”
What advice would you give your younger self? Your mother was right. She gives her advice and correction because she loves you to the very core of her being. She will also leave you long before your are ready to let her go, so cherish every single precious moment. Look for open doors rather than trying to break down closed ones. Be kind always, and even when it is difficult, tell the truth.