I’ve had the honor of chairing the Ahwatukee Foothills Chamber of Commerce Women in Business for the last two years. It has been our mission to provide programs and opportunities in leadership, development, education and networking for women in the business community. This group of women also focuses throughout the year on raising and collecting funds for the Women in Business Scholarship. The purpose of the scholarship is to aid the advancement of local woman into the business world.

Women in Business began in 2000 as a women’s group building networking opportunities and friendships. In 2005, the Palo Verde Award was created to honor a woman chosen as a role model for others, an outstanding businesswoman in our community. The award was named for the state tree — the Palo Verde, a symbol of the strength and flexibility of businesswomen. This award is designed to identify and celebrate an outstanding businesswoman in our chamber and community. In 2010, the award ceremony was combined with the Chamber’s Annual Fundraiser, which is the first Saturday in November.

Past award winners include:

• 2005, Linda Minde, Tri-Lite Builders

• 2006, Lynn Hennessy, State Farm Insurance

• 2007, Cynthia Hammersley, Decorating Den Interiors

• 2008, Dawn Rutledge, Curves

• 2009, Patty Durant, Empire West Title Agency

• 2010, Kimberly Lewis, Studio 111 School of Dance

• 2011, Dr. Kelly de Simone, Eye Priority

• 2012 , Martha Neese, Von Hansen’s Meats

This year’s Palo Verde Award Gala is themed “Diamonds and Denim” — an elegant affair with a cowboy flair! It will be Saturday, Nov. 2 at Rawhide Western Town. The evening includes casino games, dinner, a live auction, music and dancing. The evening’s program will share the accolades of the Palo Verde Award nominees and name one of them as the Business Woman of the Year. Women in Business will also proudly present two scholarships to women from the Ahwatukee Foothills community. The gala is one of the chamber’s annual signature fundraising events.

The Palo Verde Award nominee must be a member of the Ahwatukee Foothills Chamber of Commerce and a woman who exhibits a passion to serve and a desire to succeed. Her commitment to business excellence and achievement and community involvement are among the common characteristics. If you would like to nominate an Ahwatukee business woman, nomination forms are due to the chamber by Sept. 16.

Just being nominated is an honor.

The Women in Business Scholarship is awarded to women who reside, work, or attend school in the Ahwatukee Foothills community and are furthering their education, whether in college, trade school, online courses or continuing education classes. Scholarship applications must be turned in to the chamber by Sept. 30.

For more information on the Palo Verde Award Gala, nomination forms or scholarship applications, visit www.ahwatukeechamber.com. Individual tickets, tables of eight, and many sponsorship opportunities are still available.

Put your boots on, kick up your heels and join us for this evening of celebration, dining and dancing. Order your tickets today, seating is limited.

• Janet Schwab, owner of Elements Therapeutic Massage, is chair of the Ahwatukee Foothills Chamber of Commerce Women in Business.

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