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YWCA fetes Women of Achievement Fundraising luncheon

Former Bainbridge Island Library Branch Manager Cindy Harrison, left, was recognized as a YWCA Woman of Achievement. She is shown with YWCA Executive Director Linda Joyce.  - Jesse Beals/Staff Photo
Former Bainbridge Island Library Branch Manager Cindy Harrison, left, was recognized as a YWCA Woman of Achievement. She is shown with YWCA Executive Director Linda Joyce.
— image credit: Jesse Beals/Staff Photo

In an acknowledgement of those who’ve had a positive impact on the community, the YWCA of Kitsap County honored 17 Women of Achievement at a luncheon in Bremerton on Tuesday.

“We recognize those who have gone beyond the call of duty to make a difference,” said YWCA Executive Director Linda K. Joyce. “This is an affirmation of their good work, and the women who are selected represent what is being done by many people throughout the community.”

About 450 people attended the event, which raised nearly $20,000 to support the YWCA’s programs, including the maintenance and operation of several shelters that meet the needs of the local homeless population and domestic violence victims.

This year, two especially talented high school students were recognized. Shatara Tiller, a South Kitsap High School junior helped to develop two special programs, “Riding Dirty,” a youth program designed to raise awareness of driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs, and “Students Against Destructive Decisions and Domestic Violence.”

Kiara Corinne Dozier, a Bremerton High School senior, organized a group of students to attend African American Legislative Day in Olympia.

She also works as a tutor and is the president of the Black Student Union.

Honoree Jane Erlandsen, associate executive director of Kitsap Family YMCA, told the group she knew she wanted to work for the YMCA at an early age, but was told that women could not do that job.

“I have this career because of the YWCA,” she said. “The YWCA is what has made it possible for women to do the things they are now allowed to do. It has enabled women to have careers, so they don’t face the kind of disappointment that I did back in 1967.”

The other honorees were:

• Jamila Khuja, certifier, Kitsap Community Resources WIC Program. Khuja moved from Morocco to Bremerton to be closer to family. She speaks three languages, Arabic, English and Spanish. When asked if she can take on another responsibility, she responded, “If I can raise quads, I can do anything.”

• Linda Holt, tribal council secretary, Suquamish Tribal Council. Holt has worked as chair of the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board, which recently worked toward the passage of the Indian Health Care Reauthorization Act in the U.S. Senate.

She is a member of the National Tribal Leaders Diabetes Committee and the Kitsap County Regional Council on Aging.

• Cheryl Oakley, community volunteer. Oakley serves simultaneously as the board chair of the Salvation Army and the Kitsap YMCA. She has served on several other boards, and on the Kitsap County AIDS Task Force, as an elder for Central Kitsap Presbyterian Church, and as a volunteer for Harrison Medical Center.

• Laura Jull, Emergency Preparedness Coordinator, Harrison Medical Center. Prior to working at Harrison, Jull worked for the Kitsap County Department of Emergency Management as the public information officer and public educator.

• Leah Olson, vice president of marketing, Kitsap Credit Union. Olson joined the Kitsap Credit Union in 1985 as a mailroom teller and rose steadily through the ranks. In addition to several volunteer boards, she serves on the board of directors of the Bremerton Chamber of Commerce.

• Pam Foster and Liz Austin, foundation executors. After family and careers, the two friends decided to develop a fund.

They began by offering financial donations to various groups in Seattle, and after moving to Kitsap County, their support extended to organizations in their own community.

• Joyce Cowdery, council chair, PTA Reflections Art Program. Over the years, Cowdery has promoted the national PTA project, Reflections Art Program.

She is active in numerous PTAs throughout the Bremerton School District.

• Agnes Schultheis, community volunteer, Women’s Association, Summit Avenue Presbyterian Church. A retired nurse who worked many years for Harrison Medical Center and several area physicians, Schultheis’ second career in doing community projects includes volunteer work with a variety of programs.

• Imelda Moore, member, Diversity Advisory Committee, Olympic College. Currently working in the accounts payable office at Olympic College, she began at OC as a student in English as a Second Language classes.

She serves on the Kitsap Council for Human Rights and also volunteers with AARP each year to assist seniors with free tax preparation services.

• Darlene Jenkins, executive secretary, Naval Hospital Bremerton. Jenkins has worked as a civilian employee for the Department of Defense for more than 17 years.

Her involvement with the military community includes serving as newspaper coordinator for the Oakleaf Officer’s Club, the Officer’s Wives Club and with other activities that promote community service and diversity.

• Dori Leckner, senior parks maintenance supervisor, Kitsap Department of Parks and Recreation. After serving in the Navy for seven years, including serving in Operation Desert Storm, she began as a seasonal parks maintenance worker. Her responsibilities have grown from overseeing 19 parks to her current capacity – being responsible for 78 county parks and over 6,800 acres of park land.

• DeDe Beckley, community volunteer, WestSound Arts Council. After a career as an administrative assistant at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Beckley began a second career in community service, centered mostly around arts programs.

• Lisa Ballou, coach, Tri-Babes. In 2003 she began recruiting friends to participate in the 2004 Danskin Women’s Triathlon in Seattle in which proceeds benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Starting with seven women, Tri-Babes has grown to well over 100 participants who complete a half-mile swim, 12-mile bike ride, and 3.1-mile run.

• Cindy Harrison, branch manager, Kitsap Regional Library/Bainbridge. Before retiring in February, Harrison served as manager of the Bainbridge branch of the Kitsap Regional Library for 18 years. She was one of several speakers who added humor to the event, saying that males “are a perfectly acceptable species, for the most part.”

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