Grand Center Inc. and presenting sponsor Brown Shoe proudly announce the 2011 honorees of the Ninth Annual Visionary Awards, which recognizes women for their contributions to the St. Louis arts community: Juanita Hinshaw, Noemi Neidorff, Helen Gannon, Barbara Harbach, Yvette Woods, Kathleen Sitzer and Dail Chambers. The ceremony will be held May 17 at the Sheldon Concert Hall, 3648 Washington Blvd.
Grand Center’s Visionary Awards is one of the most prestigious recognitions in the local arts community. Over the past eight years, nearly 50 women have been recognized from all parts of the community, including such accomplished women as Nancy Kranzberg, Carol Staenberg, Jill McGuire, Kim Massie, Susan Slaughter, Joan Lipkin, Jeanne Trevor, Ashley Tate, and Jessica Hentoff. This year Grand Center Inc. asked the community, “Have you been inspired by a woman in the arts?” The response yielded a talented roster of visual artists, musicians, dancers, educators, philanthropists and arts benefactors.
“In our ninth year, I am still in awe of the talent and dedication in our community,” said Peg Weathers, executive vice president of Grand Center Inc. “Of course we knew there were many, many worthy women in the arts, but I never dreamed of the depth and breadth of the contributions over the years, and of course this year is no exception.”
The 2011 honorees were chosen by an eight-member selection committee comprised of fellow distinguished women in the arts and in the community, including former honorees. This year’s committee was chaired by Roseann Weiss, 2009 honoree and director of community art programs and public art initiatives at the St. Louis Regional Arts Commission; and Erin Budde, head of community affairs at Wells Fargo Advisors.
The event will take place at Sheldon Concert Hall located at 3648 Washington Blvd in St. Louis.
The 2011 honorees are:
•President’s Award: Juanita Hinshaw, president and CEO, H&H Advisors. Since her retirement as Sr. Vice President and CFO from Graybar in 2005, where she spent five years, Juanita founded her own financial consulting firm, H & H Advisors, in Clayton, building a second career as a key financial advisor on the boards of numerous nonprofit organizations and publicly traded companies. Hinshaw currently serves on the boards of the Nine Network for Public Media, United Way of Greater St. Louis, The Greater Saint Louis Community Foundation, and Grand Center Inc., as well as publicly traded St. Louis-based Insituform Technologies Inc. and Synergetics in O’Fallon, Mo. The St. Louis Business Journal recognized Hinshaw as one of the 25 “Most Influential Business Women” in 2000 and one of the “Most Influential St. Louisans” in 2009. The President’s Award is the only award selected by Grand Center, Inc.
•Major Contributor to the Arts: Noemi K. Neidorff, musician and philanthropist. A classical pianist graduating from the prestigious Manhattan School of Music, Noemi has lent her support through volunteer and financial contributions to the St. Louis Symphony for many years, as well as the Saint Louis Art Museum. Noemi serves as Commission Member for the St. Louis Regional Arts Commission and has been honored as a recipient of the St. Louis Women of Achievement Award. She worked tirelessly as a member of the KFUO Radio Arts Board to save St. Louis’ only classical music station. Last year Noemi and her husband, Michael F. Neidorff, CEO, Centene Corporation, hosted and underwrote a benefit concert and dinner for the Chamber Music Society of St. Louis, and in October, they were selected to receive the Marsha Wolff and Tina Borchert Inspiration Award from the Wellness Community of Greater St. Louis.
•Lifetime Achievement: Helen Gannon, chair of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Eireann in North America and president of St. Louis Irish Arts Incorporated. An Irish-based organization with branches in 30 countries worldwide, Comhaltas’ mission is to promote and preserve traditional Irish music, song, dance, language, and restore the playing of the harp. Helen opened the first branch west of the Mississippi in 1973 in St. Louis. It has since become known as the most successful branch in North America. In 2009 she was named one of the top 100 Irish persons of the year in North America and received the prestigious Gradam Award from Comhaltas in Ireland. Last year she received the inspiration award from Congress in Washington, D.C. and led a group of performers to Shanghai to perform at the World’s Fair.
•Successful Working Artist: Barbara Harbach, award-winning and world-renowned composer, performer, educator and arts advocate. Hailed by many critics as “the next Aaron Copeland of America,” Barbara has had her works performed locally by the St. Louis Symphony and internationally, as in an upcoming recording by the prestigious London Philharmonic Orchestra. In 2007 two of her original CD recordings were nominated for Grammy Awards, and her original musical Booth! premiered at the Touhill Performing Arts Center. In 2010, the musical was presented off-Broadway in New York City. Currently Professor of Music at the University of Missouri – St. Louis, perhaps one of Harbach’s greatest achievements is her conception and administering of Women in the Arts 2005, a year-long, multi-venue festival celebrating women creators from the past and present. Among the many awards and recognitions that followed, her mission therein has gained permanence in UMSL’s Women in the Arts Initiative within the College of Fine Arts and Communication.
•Outstanding Arts Educator: Yvette Woods, visual arts teacher, Meramec Community College (retired), Studio W. Praised by former students as one of the most significant teachers of their lives, Yvette built a 30-year career as an instructor at Meramec Community College. Eventually moving to Studio W, a private studio in the Central West End, she is now able to open her doors to underprivileged youth who might not otherwise have access to the visual arts. A St. Louis native from a disadvantaged background herself, Yvette managed to seize upon the right opportunities at a young age, develop her talent, attend college at the Kansas City Art Institute, and become the first African American to have a solo show at the Saint Louis Art Museum.
•Outstanding Arts Professional: Kathleen Sitzer, artistic director of the New Jewish Theatre. For 13 years, Kathleen has been at the helm of the New Jewish Theatre, and in that time, she has taken it from an obscure, unattended theater and refashioned it as a professional, culturally relevant mainstay in the St. Louis performing arts. Kathleen’s vision is to reach across the cultural divide and build bridges for multicultural tolerance and understanding. She has garnered the respect of professionals such as Mary Strauss who personally supported the 2010 production of Last of the Red Hot Mamas, and Steven Woolf of the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis who will direct one of this season’s productions. Last year Kathleen was recognized by JProStL as one of eight Jewish community professionals for her innovative programs at the New Jewish Theatre. Kathleen was a member of Leadership St. Louis Class of 2009/2010, a program of Focus St. Louis.
•Emerging Artist: Dail Chambers, founder and artistic director of YeYo Arts Collective. Praised as an inspirational agent of change in the St. Louis African American community, Dail is known as a fervent believer in the power of art to change the world. Through the YeYo Arts Collective, Dail focuses that power on girls and adults with arts-based education and outreach. Additionally, she opened the GYA Community Gallery and Fine Craft Shop as an extension of the Arts Collective. She has had numerous group and solo shows, including her current show at the Vaughn Cultural Center in Grand Center. She is on the national board of the Women’s Caucus for Art, was recently named the inaugural artist-in-residence at EarthDance farms, and was a recipient of the Kresge grant for 2011/2012.
Grand Center Inc. created the Visionary Award in 2002 to highlight and honor the wide-ranging work of women artists and arts leaders in the community. In the process, the organization also utilizes the annual awards ceremony to raise funds to support Grand Center Inc.’s arts programs. The Ninth Annual Visionary Awards, sponsored by Brown Shoe Company, will be held May 17 at the Sheldon Concert Hall, 3648 Washington Blvd., with Carol Daniel of KMOX Radio and KMOV-TV’s Great Day St. Louis serving as emcee. Tickets to this always-memorable event are open to the public and available through Rachel Kell at Grand Center Inc. 314-289-1517 or Rachel@grandcenter.org.
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