As a state, we must create opportunities for women to succeed – and we must recognize when they do.
“When women succeed, their families succeed and their communities succeed,” Brook Kaufman, CEO of Visit Casper, said to a crowd of about 350 on Sept. 19 at the annual Women of Influence banquet, which honors women across Wyoming each year.
One hundred and ten women from around the state were nominated by employees, employers, peers and others as “Women of Influence” this year, and all were honored at the banquet in Casper. Fifteen were named honorees.
The honorees fell into 13 categories, with two special awards, and were chosen by a panel made up of past honorees. The seventh annual dinner was held as the kickoff event for the annual Wyoming Women’s Expo. This is the first year the Women of Influence banquet has combined with the Wyoming Women’s Expo, which included a professional development day and day for vendors.
To celebrate the 150th anniversary of women’s suffrage in Wyoming, documentary filmmaker Geoff O’Gara premiered a trailer for his new film, “State of Equality,” at the banquet. His documentary will be released Dec. 10, the day the Wyoming Territorial Legislature was the first in the world to recognize women’s right to vote in 1869.
Master of Ceremonies Heather Fleming, co-founder of WY LIT and Decoding Dyslexia Wyoming, said each and every one of the 110 nominees deserve recognition. She herself, she said, worked on Wall Street for years and was regularly shocked at how mean women were to each other in that world.
“So I get to Wyoming, and the support and mentorship that I experienced here blew me away,” Fleming said. “These smart, strong, brave women have empowered me to do things that I never thought I could do.”
Wyoming women, she said, know something about supporting each other.
Wyomingites honored as Women of Influence
Lindsey Bird Reynolds, director of the Cheyenne Symphony Orchestra
Her nominator said: “A focus of Lindsey’s is community education. CSO programs reach about 6,000 people each year from pre-K aged children to adults. Lindsey strives to foster a sense that the symphony is accessible and available to everybody.”
Judy Lane, senior vice president at Wyoming Bank and Trust
Her nominator said: “Through Judy’s efforts, she has mentored several real-estate professionals, and made the dream of home ownership a reality to thousands in the greater Cheyenne area. Judy is known around the state as an expert in her field, and is called upon frequently for advice by colleagues and peers.”
Lynette St. Clair, Native American Education Coordinator, Fort Washakie School District 21
Her nominator said: “Her mission is not only preservation of the Eastern Shoshone life and traditional values, but also to further engage conversations in classrooms everywhere to encourage factual lessons and dialogue on the true history of Native Americans past and present.”
Energy, Mining and ￼ Utilities
Brenda Morgan, training director, Wyoming Electrical Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee
Her nominator said: ”Brenda was elected as the first female WJATC training director for Wyoming in its 50-plus year history, and the first one for the Electrical Training Alliance in the Rocky Mountain Region. It is one of her goals to increase the female presence in the WJATC program. Out of the 44 first-year apprentices that started in 2019, five will be women – the largest number of females in a class in its history.”
Caroline Shanor, owner and founder, The Shanor Group LLC
Her nominator said: “Caroline is a perfect example of an exemplary woman bringing her talents to Wyoming and inspiring other women. She is the owner and founder of one of Wyoming’s top oil and gas legal services companies in Cheyenne. In a traditionally male-dominated field, Caroline successfully built a business modeled to grow in Wyoming’s largest industry.”
Erin Campbell, Wyoming state geologist, Wyoming State Geological Survey
Her nominator said: “Dr. Erin Campbell is the first woman state geologist in the state of Wyoming. She is an expert in the field, belonging to many industry associations and serving in many leadership roles. While Campbell was a professor at the University of Wyoming, many undergraduate and graduate students would go to her for mentorship, including some that were not even her own students.”
Mary Burman, professor, University of Wyoming
Her nominator said: “Mary has an amazing heart for the work of nursing, insightful perspectives and impressive dedication. She is also very accomplished in her field, and has served on a volunteer basis with the Laramie Downtown Clinic and the board of the Wyoming Women’s Foundation. Even though she is incredibly successful and busy in her career, she still made time to be a very dedicated volunteer who I knew I could always count on to do what she said she would do.”
Diane Shober, executive director, Wyoming Office of Tourism
Her nominator said: “Diane has driven hundreds of thousands of miles throughout Wyoming, ensuring she is well-versed to tell the stories found around the state. She remains stalwart in her commitment to growing Wyoming’s tourism. Today, the hospitality, travel and tourism industry is the state’s second largest. She has also taken a role in planning and leading various events around Wyoming, including the 150th anniversary of women’s suffrage. Under her leadership, national media outlets have shared stories of strong Wyoming women as part of the anniversary year, and this campaign has firmly secured Wyoming’s place in history.”
Megan Overmann Goetz, member/owner of Pence and MacMillan LLC
Her nominator said: “She brings her wealth of knowledge and experience with her every day to work at Pence and MacMillan LLC in Laramie. She is a firm leader, and helps mentor and guide junior attorneys within our firm to be the best they can be. Her door is always open, and she truly gives everyone her full attention whenever they need guidance.”
Sara Spann, Machine Tool Technology instructor, Sheridan College
Her nominator said: “Sara’s dedication to creating a quality experience for students at Sheridan College’s Machine Tool Technology program has increased the credibility of Sheridan College in the manufacturing community, as well as created a standard emulated by other manufacturing instructors in the state. Sara is informed of the current state and needs of manufacturing and technology, creating a program that is relevant and effective in growing manufacturing capability. She is a true asset to her school and her students.”
Media and Communications
Melissa Cassutt, deputy editor, Jackson Hole News & Guide
Her nominator said: “Melissa Cassutt is a stellar journalist in a time when local journalism is more important than ever. In a state like Wyoming, where our local newspapers play a critical and essential role … we are fortunate to have a journalist who has dedicated herself and her skills to making things happen, and working to improve the medium every day.”
Kate Wright, executive director, Habitat for Humanity of Laramie County
Her nominator said: “Kate leads by example. She works at the building site when she can. She puts on a hard hat and gets dirty with construction workers and volunteers. She also reaches back to help the developing stages of a project. Kate has a strong sense of what she is building.”
Lindsey Norman, project manager, Merrill Inc.
Her nominator said: “Job to job, she has earned the respect of her subcontractors. She is fair and diligent. Her work is on time and on budget, and she reconciles any differences. She expresses quality work in all things.”
Kristy Nielson, chief nursing officer, Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County
Her nominator said: “Kristy takes pride in nurses being the best they can be, and will do all she can to achieve this. She believes in continuing education and keeping informed of new developments in nursing and in medicine. She encourages the nurses she leads to (expand) their knowledge base. In the 30-plus years that I have been a nurse, I have never seen anyone work as tirelessly, be as dedicated to their coworkers, students and staff and continuing to be a leader … as Kristy.”
Elizabeth “Betty” Kail, Ninth Judicial District Court, Wyoming [posthumous]
Her nominator said: “Judge Betty Kail was a pioneer for women in her field of law in Wyoming. She was one of a handful of women to graduate from the University of Wyoming Law School in 1959. Betty was the first female county court judge in Wyoming, serving the people of Fremont County. Not long thereafter, she was asked to sit on the District Court bench, another first for women in the Equality State. During that time, she was honored to be the first woman to sit on the Wyoming Supreme Court, as an interim judge. Betty Kail went on to be a trustee at the University of Wyoming, including serving as the president of the UW board. She continued to be active in her church, her community, and with her friends and family until her passing in 2017. She was an example to all as a dignified and involved woman, but more than that, she was a mentor and was able to show women their individual self-worth.”