Bemidji Area Women Honored at 3rd Annual Women United Tribute Award Breakfast
Five honorable women – Sue Engel, Rita Albrecht, Joy Johnson, Ruth Sherman, and Andrea Kingbird – were recognized today at the third annual Women United Tribute Award breakfast for their passion, expertise and the resources they provide in the Bemidji community.
Kingbird, who is executive director of the Northwoods Battered Women’s Shelter, said, “It’s extremely humbling and I just look around the community and I look around the people that I work with and I’m overwhelmed with the support that I have from them. I really feel like, for me to be singled out for an award, again it’s surprising, but there’s so many of us in the community that really support each other. I look at all of those that are supporting me as being grateful, grateful to them to make it possible.”
Kingbird plays a huge role in the community by making sure that everyone who is in need of safety can access it through the Northwood Battered Women’s Shelter, which plans to add on a new facility.
“The new facility would give individuals that are being sheltered, more privacy, more choice. It would double our capacity to serve people needing shelter, but also what the new facility would do is make us more accessible to the public to people that are living in the community that are accessing our services,” said Kingbird.
Beltrami County Administrator Kay Mack was the keynote speaker for the event, and although Mack has not personally faced challenges in the workforce because of her gender, she knows the problem still exists.
“The Bemidji community, based on my experience, I think we’ve got all the support that we need. I think for women some of what holds us back is our own concern and trepidation about whether we can or should do something, and I think that’s unfounded that Bemidji has been great in demonstrating, we’ll support women because they add value to what we do,” said Mack.
Mack believes that women in the community have all the support and resources they need to become successful.
“I would tell myself to not ever be concerned that my gender becomes a roadblock that there really is good support for women and by women being on boards and in committees and in organizations that it brings excellent balance to the decisions and outcomes of those organizations,” stated Mack.
Today’s breakfast honored five women, but in the Bemidji community all women are recognized for their support, resources and impact they leave in the community.