The ceremony opened with a greeting from BPW President April Woodard followed by treasurer Donna Wesson Smalley with a brief history of the club. While participants dined, dancers from the Marilyn Sanders Performing Arts Center performed on stage at the Community Health Systems Activities Center in downtown.
District Attorney Bill Adair introduced the night’s guest speaker, Jasper Police Chief Connie Cooner Rowe, who was the winner of the prestigious BPW award last year.
“I’m really appreciative of the opportunity just to spend a few moments tonight, it’s just a great thing. This organization takes a moment and just honors and just recognizes the hard work specifically of women in our community,” Rowe said.
She spoke on a few key notes of what she believes in and what she has learned along the way leading up to her position as police chief.
“The first thing that I feel very strongly about is this, I believe that we are the choices that we make. ... Another thing that I believe in real strongly is you need to be ready to pull the trigger if you’re put in a decision, and I’m not talking about a gun, but I’m talking about you need to be a decision maker,” Rowe said.
She continued saying, “I believe you should never let them see you sweat. ... I think that you have to be nice to each other. I really encourage you to be nice to each other. It’s a time where women need to lift up other women.”
After Rowe’s speech, the time had come to recognize the 10 female nominees and present the much anticipated award. This year’s BPW Woman of the Year is Jennifer Williams Smith.
“I am speechless right now. Wow! I opened the paper the other day and saw who was nominated and I was like, ‘Yes,’ that’s what I’m talking about. Look at the women in Walker County, how honored I am to have been nominated along with so many of these ladies,” Smith said. “I want to thank the Jasper Business and Professional Women for, like you said, having a night together to be able to honor the women of our community. ... I’m just going to end it with Girl Power.”