Eleven to be honored as 2012 Exceptional Business women third annual award ceremony in February


For the past three years, the Dakota County Tribune Business Weekly has turned the spotlight on women who know business. With the turn of the calendar to a new year, it is time to honor the third class of Dakota County Exceptional Businesswomen, which includes CEOs, successful local business owners, nonprofit leaders and community contributors.

The Tribune and the Dakota County Technical College Foundation selected 11 recipients of the 2012 Exceptional Businesswomen award in December.

The women, who will be honored at a Thursday, Feb. 16, breakfast luncheon at the Best Western Premier Nicollet Inn in Burnsville, are:

Sunny Bhakta, owner of Comfort Inn, Lakeville, and Budget Host Inn, Owatonna;

Connie Braziel, deputy director and chief operating officer of the Minnesota Zoo, Apple Valley;

Jamie Dahlen, owner of Holiday Inn, Lakeville, and Best Western Premier Nicollet Inn, Burnsville;

Michele Engdahl, manager, government and community affairs for Thomson Reuters, Eagan;

Carrie Guarrero, senior vice president and regional manager for Cornerstone Mortgage Company, Burnsville;

Chris Holtan, founder, vice president, consultant for Lancet Software, Burnsville;

Peggy Johnson, community relations director, Dakota Electric, Farmington;

Sheila Longie, former president of Document Destruction, sales representative of Shred Right, which recently acquired Document Destruction, Lakeville;

Sona Mehring, founder and CEO of CaringBridge, Eagan;

Terri Shepherd, founder and CEO Xact Resources Inc., Burnsville; and

Theresa Wise, senior vice president and chief information officer Delta Airlines, Eagan.

This is the third year the award has been bestowed.

“This is an outstanding and impressive group of women,” said Christine Pigsley, associate dean of business entrepreneurship at Dakota County Technical College. “The depth and breadth of their experiences in the business world show the many paths to success. We are very excited to gather these women together for a great event.”

The group includes women who have risen to the top to help lead international corporations, those who have founded small companies and grown them to serve greater markets and local business owners who have contributed to the community in not only their work but countless volunteer efforts.

The women who were considered after an open nomination process in December were selected by a panel of judges from the Dakota County Tribune and the Dakota County Technical College Foundation.

They were selected based on their contributions to the business and the community.

Past winners of the Exceptional Businesswomen award have been:

Class of 2010: LaDonna Boyd, Dakota Electric; Marie DeNicola; Mainstream Boutique; Jackie Fritz, Sterling State Bank; Holly Hewitt, Holly’s Centre Stage Dance; Rachel Hollstadt, Hollstadt and Associates; Kathy Klang, Cummings, Keegan and Co.; Beth Krehbiel; Fairview Ridges Hospital; Doris LaMott Hoel, Chateau Lamothe; Maggie Linvill, Linvill Properties; Annette Marquez, The Perfect Occasion; Amy Mayer, BI Consulting Group; Darlene Miller, Permac Industries; Deb Thomas, Partners in Excellence; Julia Thompson, TAGS Gymnastics; and Janelle Waldock, Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Class of 2011: Mary Ajax, 360 Communities; Jan Beeson, Lily Wellness Inc.; Cheryl Caponi, Caponi Art Park and Learning Center; Jennifer Eisenhuth, Dr. Jennifer Eisenhuth Orthodontics; Elaine Grundhauser, One 2 One Marketing Inc.; JuliAnne Jonker, Jonker Portrait Gallery; Nicole Nogosek, Double N Equestrian Center; Wanda Oland, Rascal’s Apple Valley Bar & Grill; Nancy Quinnell, Hollstadt & Associates; Barbara Toombs, First State Bank of Rosemount; Janie Tutewohl, Janie’s Home Team and Market on Oak; Denise Vogt; Twin Cities Ballet & Ballet Royale MN; and Linda Young, Lucky’s 13 Pub.

The award ceremony will include a guest speaker, served breakfast and a chance to mingle with past and present Exceptional Businesswomen.

Tickets are $20 per person. Registration starts at 7:30 a.m. The breakfast will be served at 8 a.m. with the program starting at 8:30 a.m.

Tables of eight can be reserved and sponsorship options include ticket packages. For more information about sponsoring the event, contact Mike Jetchick at (952) 894-1111.

For more information about the award or a link to purchase tickets, go online at www.ThisweekLive.com and look for a link to the Exceptional Businesswomen page.