AWARE will be hosting its 18th annual Women of Distinction Banquet and Silent Auction at 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 1, at Centennial Hall, celebrating four women who have made outstanding contributions to the Juneau community. Tickets are $70 and include a plated dinner catered by Abby’s Kitchen, as well as brief speeches by the honorees about what inspires them. For more information or to purchase tickets, call AWARE’s Mandi J at 586-6623.
This year’s celebrated women are:
Elaine Schroeder and her husband moved to Juneau about 30 years ago, and soon thereafter she was hired by AWARE to develop their sexual assault response program. She started her psychotherapy private practice at that same time. Over the years she has taught psychology courses at UAS, conducted multiple trainings on child sexual abuse, and headed up a project funded by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services to develop culturally appropriate therapy for Alaska Native incest survivors. Schroeder recently co-founded the Stress Reduction Program at Bartlett Regional Hospital, and currently leads bereavement support groups for Juneau Hospice. She is a founding member of Juneau People for Peace and Justice, a group that has brought numerous human rights and nonviolence activists and scholars to speak in Juneau.
Patty Owen currently works as the Health & Safety Program Coordinator for the Alaska Department of Education & Early Development. There she is focused on the quality of health education in schools and violence prevention programs. She coordinates training on healthy relationships curricula for adolescents in an effort to reduce teen dating violence, bullying and other unhealthy behavior. Patty is married and has three daughters and a grandson. She is inspired by her 106-year-old grandmother and the memory of her dear friend Jackie Renninger.
Norene Otnes facilitates Talking Circles, where participants sit in a circle and speak in an egalitarian manner. She has brought Talking Circles to Lemon Creek Correctional Center, Juneau Youth Services, Johnson Youth Center and AWARE. She thrives on trainings and bringing tools back with her to help others in need. She loves working with the community and supporting people.
“I love to see others find courage to move forward and see the clarity over the conflict,” Otnes said.
Carol Pitts’ contributions to the community are many. With The Salvation Army, she coordinates the Thanksgiving Community Dinner, Adopt-a-Family, Christmas Food Basket Distribution and Angel Tree programs, where many women, children and families receive community donations for the holidays. She is involved with the Jail Ministry, transporting a toy store to the jail to assist inmates in choosing gifts for their children. She has led the local coat distribution program Operation Warmth, distributing coats to children in need. Pitts believes that making a difference to even one child, especially at Christmas, means that she has succeeded.