Independent honoring women next month

MARSHALL – Every day, women from around the area quietly work at their jobs, volunteering or taking care of their family – making their communities better places to live – without thought of getting any sort of recognition.

Until now.

The first Exceptional Women of Southwest Minnesota banquet is Monday, May 5, at Marshall Middle School, 401 S. Saratoga St. in Marshall. Doors open at 5 p.m., and the dinner, catered by Hy-Vee, is at 5:30 p.m. Motivational speaker Kristen Brown a Minneapolis author and entrepreneur originally from Montevideo, will speak at 6 p.m.

Tickets are on sale now for $15 – which includes the meal and speaker – at the Independent, County Fair and Hy-Vee.

Exceptional Women planner Tara Brandl, advertising sales manager for the Independent, said the reason for the banquet is to recognize women in southwestern Minnesota who go “above and beyond in their profession, in their community involvement, to make this area a better place to live.”

In choosing the speaker, Brandl said a member of her staff is from Montevideo and knew of Brown, who has made a name for herself as an author and owner of her business, The Happy Hour Effect.

“I then read her book, ‘The Best Worst Thing’ and really liked it,” Brandl said. “It is the story of her life. I got caught up in the emotions of it. She had to redirect her life, and I’m sure the nominees have to constantly redirect their lives.”

The banquet is “an opportunity to say ‘thank you, ‘you’re fantastic, we appreciate you,'” Brandl said.

The banquet coordinators were “overwhelmed with nominations,” Brandl said. “We were hoping people would nominate their family members, friends and neighbors and they did.”

The 37 nominees will have their photos published May 2 and why they were nominated in a special section of the Independent. The names of three nominees to receive special recognition will be announced at the banquet.

Brandl said a selection committee went over the nominations and biographical forms that were submitted.

“We asked the nominees to send in bio forms to get a better idea of who they were because some nominations were short and some were lengthier,” she said.

The selection committee was comprised of “business owners, volunteers, retired people – a wide variety of people from the community,” Brandl said.

“Every single one of the nominees were so humble,” she said. “They said, ‘I’m not exceptional.'”

Brown is an exceptional woman herself. After experiencing the sudden death of her husband at the age of 30, she found herself with an infant to raise by herself and bills to pay.

People around her remarked on how well she was doing, how positive she was.

She thought, “I am?” Brown said. Then, she and her family members “brain-stormed” on how she could turn this positive attitude and resiliency into a business for her. She thought “we are at our best when we are relaxed, connected, with the cares of the day behind us, maybe doodling on a cocktail napkin,” Brown said.

The result was the book and business, “The Happy Hour Effect.” She is a business consultant for companies that want to “reposition themselves for success,” she said. She loves working with clients that make life more relaxing, productive and fun.

Brown only wants to work with individuals and companies that are “big-hearted brands,” she said, ones that have morals and are positive and want to help to improve the world. She also appears on various TV shows including “Live with Kelly and Michael” where she presented 13 sleep tips. She will appear on KARE 11 on the topic “spring clean stress out of your life,” she said.

At the banquet, Brown said she plans to “inspire attendees and nominees to re-engage in their work and give them tips to work with less stress and step into their own success. For a successful working and home life, it’s not always thinking about what’s next or about next weekend, but what’s now, to love the life where they are now, to live in ways to make them healthier and happier.”