HARLAN, Ky. — During the Mountain Women Mean Business Conference in Harlan, Ky., earlier this month, four women were honored for their exceptional leadership to the region.
Sandi Curd, Lacy Hale, Mary Mullins and Kristin Smith were the first to receive this award. Honorees were nominated by organizations around the region, with the selections made by an independent review panel.
The Eastern Kentucky Leadership Award was given to Sandi Curd of Kentucky Highlands Investment Company. She serves as the coordinator of the Promise Zone, and the award acknowledges the work that Curd does to support and connect the myriad of organizations and individuals in Southeastern Kentucky that are improving the quality of life and growing the economy.
“Sandi serves as the north star for all of the organizations in the regions,” said Sky Marietta, who presented the awards. “She works tirelessly to keep us all working together and collaborating towards our shared goals.”
Lacy Hale was awarded the “Artist Impact” award for her work in the community. A visual artist, Hale is known for her murals but is also a downtown business owner, co-owning Roundabout Records in downtown Whitesburg. The award honors Hale’s efforts to use art to improve the community, through painting scenes in a women’s shelter to supporting young artists to creating positive images that unite individuals.
The “Downtown Revitalization Award” was given to Kristin Smith, a co-founder, owner and head chef of The Wrigley Taproom and Eatery in Corbin. “We all love to eat Kristin’s food, but this award is actually about how the Wrigley has transformed Downtown Corbin, and the entire constellation of women that she has brought up in the process,” said Marietta, who added that Smith works closely with local women farmers to source products and mentors women chefs.
A special award was given to Mary Mullins of New Beginnings Learning Center in Hazard. Mullins was given the “Dream Big” award, sponsored by the Appalachian Impact Fund (AIF). This award honors mountain women and organizations unafraid to dream big and create new opportunities in their local communities that open doors for women and entrepreneurship. Mullins has been instrumental in building an early learning center in Hazard, which is not only an important business and industry on its own, but also enables women to pursue their own businesses and careers.
The awards were part of the first Mountain Women Mean Business Conference. The conference was led by Sky Marietta of the Community Economic Development Initiative of Kentucky with a steering committee of women in Harlan comprised of Amanda Colton-Wolfe, April Collins, Amanda Middleton, Ashley Bledsoe and Laura Adkinson. The goal of the conference was to support and empower the variety of businesses in Appalachia that are led by women. The conference featured eight panels and six workshops. It drew more than 100 attendees.