The St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce honored Tampa Bay Business Journal publisher Bridgette Mill as Business Woman of the Year and volunteer Sheila Tempelmann as Community Service Woman of the Year in its annual Women's Symposium luncheon, held in the St. Petersburg Marriott Clearwater.
Keynote speaker Liz Smith, chief executive of OSI Restaurant Partners, said her progress as a business executive resembled a jungle gym more than a corporate ladder.
"You figure it out as you go along," she said, discussing her current position and previous leadership roles with Kraft Foods and Avon Products. "It's okay — in fact, it's preferable — not to have a strategic plan."
Successful business leaders take risks and sometimes make mistakes, Smith said, "but you have to fail fast" and be comfortable with change. "Honor the past, master the present and anticipate the future," she counseled. "Take the time to mentor and teach."
Having a fulfilling life outside the workplace also is vital, she advised.
Chamber president and chief executive Chris Steinocher and symposium chair Elise Minkoff introduced numerous business leaders at the luncheon.
Additional finalists in the Women of Distinction business woman awards were Grace-Anne Alfiero, Creative Clay; Milli Bonsignori, retired from ABC and CBS; Barb Kyes, ActionCOACH Pinellas; Susan Reiter, St. Petersburg College; Tricia Trinque, Seabreeze Physical Therapy; Katee Tully, Morean Arts Center and Chihuly Collection; Joyce Vilitschkowski, JTV Inc.; Paula Viellet, Employment Options; and Jill Wilkinson, SunTrust Bank.
Additional community service finalists were Corinne Karen Bulla, Mary Hilton Cross, Kathy Lynn Furbush, Dorothy Gilliam, Gwendolyn "Gigi" Glenn, Mary-Ellen Howells, Joan Jaicks and Vicki Tylman.
Mary Wheeler, an indefatigable volunteer in many St. Petersburg nonprofit organizations, was named the 2011 Queen of Hearts at the annual presentation that honors female volunteers and supports selected charitable organizations.
Proceeds from this year's Queen of Hearts Ball will benefit PACE Center for Girls and the GFWC St. Petersburg Woman's Club.
Mrs. Wheeler is president of the Women's Chamber of Commerce and Interlock, and has served in leadership roles for numerous charitable organizations. She was escorted by son Pat, who lives in St. Petersburg, and sponsored by the Woman's Club, Interlock, Daughters of the American Revolution, Boys & Girls Clubs of the Suncoast and the St. Petersburg Women's Chamber of Commerce. Also attending were sons Bill of Tampa, Lee of Tallahassee and Sam of St. Petersburg, with his wife, Hilda.
More than 300 guests attended the event, held in the Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront, which also recognized the following women as members of Mrs. Wheeler's court:
• Wanda Hayes-Riddick, escorted by her husband, Frank, sponsored by the Pinellas County Urban League.
• Karen McCollum, escorted by her husband, Rick, sponsored by the Woman's Service League, the DAR, Infinity and the St. Petersburg Women's Chamber of Commerce.
• Carol Phelps, escorted by her son-in-law James Pricco, sponsored by the All Children's Hospital Guild.
• Tami Simms-Powell, escorted by Larry Renda, sponsored by Interlock.
• Barbara Tucker Wiseman, escorted by Harry Aylesworth, sponsored by the DAR, Woman's Service League and Interlock.
• Bernie Young, escorted by her husband, Joe, sponsored by the Heart Gallery of Pinellas & Pasco.
Camryn Clayton and Shea Brinkley were pages for the court.
WTVT-TV news anchor Cynthia Smoot was mistress of ceremonies, recognizing Joan Jaicks, the 2010 queen, and her court — Bettye Black, Janice Brinkley, Mary Ellen Conte, Noreen Hodges, Tracey Keim and Debbie Barnes.
Edie Spies is president of the sponsoring Queen's Court, which is made up of former queens. Event chairs were Elise Minkoff and Ann Vickstrom. Their committee included Maggi McQueen, Kim Hortsman, Nikki McQueen, Catherine McGarry, Sheila Tempelmann, Diane Winning, Shirley O'Sullivan, Connie Whitehead, Cindy Weatherby, Mozelle Bell, Sparky Ierna, Joyce Larson, Lorraine Danna, Virginia Battaglia, Pat Howells, Roseanna Costa, Joann Barger, Susan Hicks, Candy Scherer, Maritza Smith, Sally Poynter, Teresa Hartley, Fern Clayton, Alice Radcliffe, Mary Wyatt Allen, Andrea Winning, Teresa Wittstruck, Bettye Black, Bernice McCune, Karol Bullard, Nancy Biesinger, Nora Pearson, Stephanie Goforth, Ann Taylor, Beth Timberlake, Claire Mazzella and Judy Cunniff.
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All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg recently honored the Polywogs civic organization for its charitable donations to the medical center throughout the years; the volunteer organization has given more than $1.6 million to community nonprofits since its formation in 1964, president Del Goforth reports.
The group has its roots in the LPGA, which was formed in the 1950s; golfer "Babe" Zaharias owned a golf course in Tampa and approached the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce about holding a professional women's open. At the time, the city guaranteed the purse. In 1964, a separate Florida corporation formed by local business owners established the St. Petersburg Women's Open Golf Championship; the informal "Polywogs" derives from "poly," a prefix that means "many," and "wog," for "women's open golf."
These days, the civic leaders present the Polywog Charity Golf Invitational, to be held at the Pasadena Yacht and County Club on March 28. All proceeds will go to the Children's Dream Fund, R'Club Child Care, the St. Petersburg Free Clinic, All Children's Hospital and the First Tee of St. Petersburg. (727) 224-9704.
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Diane Fair's name was omitted from a Feb. 20 account of the Woman's Service League's annual Fashion Promenade event, held Feb. 12 at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club. Ms. Fair chaired the decorations committee.