Cartersville’s BPW chapter partnered with representatives from Rossville to host the conference at Cartersville’s Hilton Garden Inn for its central locality to chapters throughout the state.
The national Federation of Business & Professional Women’s Clubs began at the behest of the U.S. War Department in 1918 after seeing women across America stepping into business and leadership roles in the absence of a male workforce during World War I.
Today, the Georgia BPW operates independently from its national counterpart and meets annually to conduct business, hold educational workshops, host speakers and recognize honorees for the year.
This year, the women of BPW — made up of educators, accountants, nurses, psychologists, real estate professionals and a judge — gathered in Cartersville to pay tribute to women furthering the organization’s goal of achieving equity in the workplace through advocacy, education and information.
“Every club furthers the mission through scholarships, grants, education, awareness — whatever the needs are in each town,” said Georgia BPW President Bettye Dunwoody. “Each local club adapts to meet the needs of its community and try to improve the betterment of people.”
Kicking off Saturday’s awards luncheon was guest speaker Joe Frank Harris Jr., president and CEO of the Cartersville-Bartow County Chamber of Commerce. Speaking to those in attendance, Harris related how a local BPW chapter member and past state president Virginia Garrison made a difference in his own life through her role as an educator. He finished by charging conference guests with a call to impact others by building relationships within their communities.
“We mark our lives by the impact we have on others,” Harris said. “As I was getting ready to talk, I thought of Ms. Garrison. She loved all of us. She poured her life into us and when you remember things from her class and science fair trips to Berry College and the University of Georgia, you take a kid that’s never achieved anything like that they get to be a state winner. We all won because she invested in us and loved us. That’s what I call a lasting legacy.
“I want to not only talk about Ms. Dot [Frasier] and Ms. Garrison, but I want to talk about unity in the community. ... You all are the movers and the shakers in your communities. You are the professional women business leaders. People listen to you. When you go back to your community, are you going to be the one that encourages your city council to work together? Are you going to be there and compliment folks when they’re doing things right? Are you going to set the expectation by asking, ‘What’s best for our community?’”
In addition to awarding scholarships and grants, Saturday’s awards ceremony recognized individual chapters for work completed during the past year, including membership drives, awareness campaigns and organizational scrapbooks, but the highest honors were reserved for last with the presentation of the Mamie K. Taylor award, the Woman of Achievement award, the Woman of History award and the Young Careerist award.
Georgia BPW recognized: State Court Judge of Forsythe County Leslie Abernathy-Maddox as the 2013 Woman of Achievement; State Rep. Nikki T. Randall, D-Macon, as recipient of the 2013 Mamie K. Taylor Award for legislative action; Chantal Feliksdal as 2013 Young Careerist for women ages 25-35 accomplished in career and community service; and lifelong educator Dot Frasier as 2013 Woman in History for lifetime achievements in the personal, professional and civic arenas.
Frasier was joined Saturday by family and friends to receive the award bestowed upon her for 58 years in the field of education, including the distinction of being Bartow County’s first female school administrator and executive director of the Bartow County Education Foundation.
“I think the greatest achievement that I have accomplished is when God blessed me with three children and I was able to raise them,” Frasier said upon receiving the award. “I prayed every day that I could see them grown and productive citizens and the Lord granted me that — and to me, that is the greatest accomplishment. If I go tomorrow, the Lord has been so good to me, but during the years that I have been in Bartow County and other school systems, I have had the privilege of working with hundreds of children and I hope that in some way I have touched their lives because they have certainly touched mine.
“I am just so thankful that I got to meet you and I am thankful for this award because I accept it on behalf of my children, my friends and all of Bartow County.”
For more information, visit www.georgiaprofessionalwomen.com.