The 38th annual Women of Achievement celebration ceremony on March 3 was a great success!

Deborah Clubb, 1997 Woman of Achievement for Vision, welcomed the crowd and began the awards ceremony by sharing the story of Women of Achievement. Centered in the room are the handmade plates presented to each honoree.

Eight local women were celebrated for changemaking leadership on March 3, 2024 at the 38th Women of Achievement awards and celebration of National Women’s History month.

The Women of Achievement honorees for 2024 are:
Courage: Vanessa Rodley and Jennifer Murry-Rodley, Mid-South Pride leaders
Determination: Phillis Lewis, founder and CEO, Love Doesn’t Hurt
Heritage: Madame Florence Cole Tolbert McCleave, barrier-breaking opera singer and educator
Initiative: Ellen Rolfes, philanthropy strategist and innovator
Steadfastness: Joy Brown Wiener, concert violinist, teacher, 40-year Memphis Symphony
Orchestra concertmaster
Vision: Amy Moses and Sara Lynn Johnson Fultz, co-founders MOJO Pelvic Health

Pat Mitchell Worley, CEO of the Soulsville Foundation, hosted the awards ceremony in the spacious sanctuary of First Congregational Church on a beautiful Sunday afternoon.

“This year’s honorees celebrate women who stand up and speak out – to empower women, to write the truth, to protect women’s health, for accessible arts education and for LGBTQIA+ rights and safety,” said co-founder Deborah Clubb, executive director of the Memphis Area Women’s Council. “They exhibit the integrity and tenacity, creativity and passion that make change and make history.”

Past Events

Pictured are our 2023 Honorees holding their handmade plates, standing with award presenters and hosts. (Front row) Judy Card, Lori Spicer Robertson, Jennifer Pepper, Beverly Robertson, Barbara Boucher, Anne Stone Carriere, Melanie Smith Taylor, Bernice Donaldson, Deborah Clubb
(Back row) Juliana Elizabeth Daniel, Phillis Lewis, Kathy Buckman Gibson, BJ Chester-Tomayo, Mahal Burr, Melissa Peterson, Kim Bearden, Bettye Boone
Photo by Andrea Zucker

The Women of Achievement honorees for 2023 were:

Courage: Anne Stone Carriere – first female priest to serve the Episcopal Church as rector in the Diocese of West Tennessee
Determination: Barbara Boucher – organizer of multi-church food gleaning and feeding programs
Heritage: Elizabeth Fisher Johnson and Lillian Wyckoff Johnson, mother-daughter activists for women’s safety, education and paid work
Heroism: Jennifer Pepper – president, CEO, CHOICES Center for Reproductive Health
Initiative: Melanie Smith Taylor – Olympic gold medalist and equestrian sport commentator
Steadfastness: Beverly Robertson – former president of the National Civil Rights Museum and first African American chief executive of the Greater Memphis Chamber of Commerce
Vision: Lori Spicer Robertson – Founder, Wundher experiential production company designed to connect women and mothers to their joy

The Women of Achievement honorees for 2020-2022 were:

DeterminationMahal 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
InitiativeAyilé Arnett – nonprofit entrepreneur and health care innovator
SteadfastnessBeverly Marrero – former state senator, women’s advocate and reproductive rights warrior
VisionJudy Card – storyteller; co-founder of Women of Achievement, Women in the Community

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

The lobby of the Vasco A. Smith Jr. Shelby County Administration building downtown featured an Women of Achievement exhibit in March 2019

The three cases in the Vasco A. Smith Jr. Shelby County Administration building in downtown Memphis, Tennessee during the exhibit in 2019.

For Women’s ‘herstory’ month in 2019, the lobby of the Vasco A. Smith Jr. Shelby County Administration building allowed visitors to 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 was on display during February and March of 2019. A large banner showing all 247 recipients was 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 announced at the event — a printed and online brochure of a new women’s heritage trail in our community, which has now been released.

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

Click here to view honorees by year.