By Sari Lesk – Reporter, Milwaukee Business Journal
Jeanette Mitchell and May yer Thao were named the 2019 Sacagawea Award recipients by women’s organization Professional Dimensions.
Mitchell is the chief creative officer of Leadership by Dr. Jeanette, and Thao is executive director of the Hmong Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce. Both are “pioneering leaders” who were chosen based on their career accomplishments, commitment to the community and support for women’s advancement, according to a news release.
Johannah Karstedt St. John, the chief executive officer of Professional Dimensions, praised the award recipients, saying they've “blazed trails” for women to follow.
“Shining a light on women leaders who have contributed in this way is core to who we are as an organization, and we are proud to shine that light on Dr. Mitchell and Ms. Thao this year,” she said.
The awards were created in 1982 to recognize women who exhibit the spirt of Sacagawea, best known for joining Louis and Clark on their expedition westward from the Mississippi to the Pacific Coast. The awards will be presented during a March 7 dinner at The Pfister Hotel in downtown Milwaukee. Proceeds from the annual fundraiser benefit local organizations that work to advance self-sufficiency for women and girls.
Mitchell works through her consulting business in partnerships that direct, design and manage leadership development programs throughout the region. Projects include the Neighborhood Leadership Institute, the African American Leadership Alliance-Milwaukee and the African American Leadership program, the release says.
Before starting her business, Mitchell was the program director at Cardinal Stritch University’s Leadership Center. Mitchell also previously served as president of the Milwaukee School Board.
Thao was recruited to the Hmong Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce in 2014 to work in grants administration. After a year, she was named its executive director. She deployed the most business loans in the organization’s history during her tenure, according to the release.
Professional Dimensions credited Thao for growing the chamber’s profile and community outreach. She also developed relationships with organizations such as the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. and the Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corp.
Artist Ian Baker Johnson will create three pieces for the awards. One will be created for each winner; the third will reside at the Sacagawea collection at Alverno College.https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2018/12/17/mitchell-thao-named-sacagawea-award-winners-by.html