Past Events

Women of Achievement POSTPONED

With concern for our supporters and honorees, organizers of the 2020 Women of Achievement awards will postpone the 36th annual reception on March 29 with full intent to reschedule as soon as possible later in the year, hopefully by late summer/early fall. 

We meanwhile wish many congratulations to the 2020 honorees and urge everyone to honor them and other great women during this National Women’s History Month.

Read 35 years of WA essays honoring 257 women and two groups or tour the new Memphis Women’s Legacy Trail from the safety of your personal car – all of this can be found here on our website.

Most of all – stay safe and well.

Women of Achievement celebrates five changemakers and women who saved Overton Park

This year, five local women and those who led Citizens to Preserve Overton Park will be celebrated at a reception at the Holiday Inn University of Memphis. United States Circuit Judge Bernice Donald of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals (2000 Woman of Achievement for Determination), will host the awards ceremony.

The Women of Achievement honorees for 2020 are:

Determination: Mahal Burr – BRIDGES community action coordinator, social change activist        
Heritage: Citizens to Preserve Overton Park – women who sustained the historic campaign to stop Interstate 40 from cutting through the park
Heroism: Sandra Ferrell – Lisieux Community founder, survivor and advocate for women experiencing trauma, addiction and prostitution
Initiative: Aylié Arnett – nonprofit entrepreneur and health care innovator
Steadfastness: Beverly Marrero – former state senator, women’s advocate and reproductive rights warrior
Vision: Judy Card – storyteller; co-founder of Women of Achievement, Women in the Community

Admission is $35 and should be paid in advance here or by mailing checks, including names of persons who will attend.

A $60 donation includes the awards event, membership for WA for 2021 and inclusion in selection of 2021 honorees and other WA gatherings.

For more information, call 901-378-3866 or email

Nine local women who stand up and speak out were celebrated as Women of Achievement on Sunday March 24, 2019 at a reception at the Holiday Inn University of Memphis – 35 years after the first awards in 1984 at the New Daisy Theater on Beale Street. WMC News anchor Kontji Anthony hosted the awards ceremony.

The new Memphis Women’s Legacy Trail was also unveiled – featuring a printed guide, online historic content and soon a mobile app, all created by Women of Achievement historians and researchers.

Our 2019 Women of Achievement honorees were:
Courage – Mildred Richard-Edwards, HIV/AIDS advocate
Determination – Rachel Coats Greer, Binghamton community advocate, and Mary E. Mitchell, Orange Mound community advocate
Heritage – Estelle Axton, co-founder STAX recording studio, and Cornelia Crenshaw, civil rights activist
Heroism – Gabriela Salinas, cancer survivor, scientist, legislative candidate
Initiative – Maxine Starling Strawder, dancer
Steadfastness – Dr. Jane H. Hooker, women’s sports advocate
Vision – Dr. Carol Danehower, domestic violence researcher and educator

Visit the lobby of the Vasco A. Smith Jr. Shelby County Administration building downtown, and see the Women of Achievement exhibit on display through March 2019!

Women’s ‘herstory’ month is approaching, so find time to wander into the lobby of the Vasco A. Smith Jr. Shelby County Administration building downtown and browse through the educational Women of Achievement exhibit.  

The exhibit was developed by Women of Achievement with the help of Shelby County Historian Jimmy Ogle. Featuring stories of a few Women of Achievement honorees, a selection of the handcrafted award plates, as well as memories and newspaper clippings from past years, the exhibit will be on display through March. A large banner showing all 247 recipients is housed in one of the cases.  

A small reception was held on February 6, 2019 to celebrate the opening of the exhibit. Women of Achievement presented Mayor Lee Harris with the 3 volume collection of all the honorees and their essays. Jimmy Ogle and Deborah Clubb thanked the crowd, and several WA honorees attended.  

And soon to come — a printed and online brochure of a new women’s heritage trail in our community!

Women of Achievement recipients (from Left to Right) Summer Owens, Dorothy Pugh, Bettye Boone, Claudia Haltom, Paula Casey, Marilou Awiakta, Deborah Clubb, Sonia Walker, Judy Card, Ashley Coffield, and Pat Morgan at the exhibit’s opening reception, February 6, 2019

Seven local women were celebrated on March 11, 2018 for change-making leadership across Memphis and Shelby County as Women of Achievement also pays tribute to all past honorees whose work emulated the issues and courage of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“As our community commemorates MLK50 and the legacy of Dr. King, Women of Achievement joins in celebrating with a special tribute to the scores of courageous and determined local women honored during our 34 years for their leadership in civil rights, social and economic justice and equal rights for all,” said Deborah M. Clubb.

The Women of Achievement honorees for 2018 were:

Courage – Kamillia Barton
Determination – Rachel Sumner Haaga
Heroism – Tami Sawyer
Heritage – Lois DeBerry
Initiative – Wanda Taylor
Steadfastness – Miriam DeCosta Willis
Vision – Cherisse Scott

Eight local women were celebrated on March 26, 2017 for change-making leadership across Memphis and Shelby County. The celebration was at the Holiday Inn University of Memphis. Co-hosts were Adrienne Bailey, retired CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters and Emily Ballew Neff, director of the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art.

We celebrated women who broke barriers for female artists, who stage a festival showcasing women in theater, who fight for reproductive rights, who speak out about surviving violence, who house the homeless, who create services for Latina victims of partner violence and whose ongoing leadership sustains women’s organizations.

The Women of Achievement honorees for 2017 were:
Courage – Rev. Lisa Anderson
Determination – Ines Negrette
Heroism – Rebecca Terrell
Heritage – Mary Magdalene Solari
Initiative – Kamekio Lewis
Steadfastness – Joyce Springfield-Collins
Vision – Ruby O’Gray and Karen Moore

The 32nd annual award ceremony celebrating National Women’s History Month and honoring eight women from the Memphis area for community leadership and change-making was held at the Holiday Inn-University of Memphis on March 13, 2016.

The event was hosted by prior honorees Summer Owens and Africa Gonzalez-McCloy. Presenters were 1997 Heroism honoree Sheila White Parrish, retired Justice Janice Holder, boxer Teagan “Tiny Turbo” Reed, past WA president Pam Routh, Dr. Zandria Robinson of Rhodes College, Bridges USA teen leaders Becca Folkes-Lallo and Eritrea Temesghen and Nora Tucker, manager of the Blues Hall of Fame.

The Women of Achievement honorees for 2016 were:
Courage – Ashley Coffield
Determination – Claudia Haltom
Heroism – Leah Walton
Heritage – Lil Hardin Armstrong and Alberta Hunter
Initiative – Bennie Nelson West
Steadfastness – Dorothy Kirsch
Vision – Linda Sessoms

The 31st annual award event commemorating National Women’s History Month was held on March 22, 2015 at the Holiday Inn-University of Memphis.

Storyteller Elaine Blanchard, a 2014 WA honoree, and Beverly Robertson, recently retired president of the National Civil Rights Museum, served as hosts for the event.

The Women of Achievement honorees for 2015 were:
Courage — Amerah Shabazz-Bridges
Determination — Shelia Williams
Heritage — Emma Wilburn
Heroism — Dr. Owen Phillips
Initiative — Nadia Matthews
Steadfastness — Barbara C. King
Vision — Bettye Boone

The 30th annual award ceremony was held on Sunday, March 30, 2014.

The Women of Achievement honorees for 2014 were:
Courage — Cristina Condori
Determination — Margot McNeeley
Heritage — Bessie Vance Brooks*
Heroism — Meaghan Ybos
Initiative — Gayle Rose
Steadfastness — Martha Ellen Maxwell
Vision — Elaine Blanchard

Click here to view honorees by year.