Tribute to Women Logo

Tribute to Women 2021

Share the Light

This year marks the 30th Annual YWCA Tribute to Women, a yearly celebration to recognize the contributions of exceptional women and, as our largest fundraiser, to provide crucial support for YWCA's essential programs and services.

We're changing things up this year and inviting everyone to Share the Light by recognizing women who've made a difference - whether they’re living or deceased, local or living across the world: a mother, a grandmother, a favorite teacher, a kind neighbor, or even a best friend. Share a Tribute and shine a light on the ways she nurtures, empowers, or transforms those around her!

2021 Honorees

Jane Alma Manzi

Her devotion to her family was pure. Her legacy of unconditional love and support continues everyday to serve as a role model for her [...]

Nina Gray

Nina’s passion for helping others is highlighted throughout her professional career and through her devotion to community volunteerism. In retirement, Nina did not rest. Her [...]

Shaunna Mellons

Through the sharing of her time, energy, and personal experience with addiction, Shaunna offers much-needed hope and support to those who often have none. [...]

Danielle Bland

It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact number of lives inspired by Danielle Bland throughout her career as owner and artistic director of The Dance [...]

Margot Seay

For more than 20 years, Margot Seay has worked locally and across the nation to elevate the voices of 50+ Americans.

Carrie Upshaw

To have known Carrie Upshaw was to appreciate her compassion and loving touch towards everyone she met. Kingsport is a better place because [...]

Jewel Bell

Jewel is a pillar of the community, serving various roles at King University, Lee Street Baptist Church, the YWCA of Bristol’s Board of Directors, [...]

Susan Benton

Loving, caring, kind, compassionate; these are all adjectives that describe my dear sister Susan. Above all else, her greatest attribute is that of “care-giver”. Being [...]

Jo Morrison

At 104, Jo Morrison continues to be a faithful servant who builds up and supports individuals and organizations, bringing about positive change to our [...]


Give a Tribute

Do you know a woman deserving of recognition?

Honor her with a Tribute! You'll not only lift her up, you'll also be giving a helping hand to all who are served by YWCA NETN and SWVA, including low-income working families and their children.

For $125 per honoree (which is typically the cost of a Tribute to Women gala ticket), you can submit a Tribute in your choice of two ways:

Honor Her Publicly

Create a public Tribute page here on our website! You can include photos, video, and share to social media. Invite others to Share the Light by leaving comments of gratitude, congratulations, or a favorite story or memory of your Honoree.

Share a Public Tribute

Honor Her Privately

Honor her privately while helping those we serve. We'll mail a special keepsake Tribute Card to your honoree or the recipient of your choosing. (A loved one, for instance, if your Tribute is in remembrance.)

Give a Private Tribute

All proceeds will directly support YWCA NETN and SWVA's programs and benefit working families, children, and young adult victims of crime.

Tribute Dashboard

About Tribute to Women

A program like none other in the area, Tribute to Women was born in 1992 as a way to empower women by recognizing their dedicated work and its positive effect on our community.

Tribute progresses the YWCA mission by providing community corporations, organizations and businesses a platform to publicly acknowledge the outstanding achievements of women in the Northeast Tennessee-Southwest Virginia region. Additionally, this great program serves as a significant source of funding for the vital services offered to women and families through the YWCA.

Congratulations to Our 2020 Recipients!


Jennifer Adler is a mentor, professor and public official. She empowers others to think independently while exposing them to new and different ideas. Jennifer’s story empowers young women in our region who don’t have familial models of academic achievement. In Jennifer they see themselves-that they, too, can be a professor, a public official, and a champion for others.

Lori Hamilton, RN has been recognized with many achievements including Health Care Hero Award and 2018 March of Dimes Nurse of the Year in Public Health. She has developed a comprehensive program that benefits Food City’s associates, customers, and community partners. Lori is a strong advocate for health and wellness, and her strong commitment to serving others is evident to all.

As a patrol officer Debbie Richmond became a role model for women interested in law enforcement. She was later assigned to the Criminal Investigations Division, where, guided by her unique blend of strength and kindness, she became a trusted advocate in the Bristol community, for the most vulnerable victims. Her overwhelming desire to serve victims has been especially meaningful to our community.


Becca Davis is the co-founder and executive director of ReFrame Association, which supports affordable housing rehabilitation and repairs for low-income people throughout the United States, ensuring homes are safe, healthy, and more livable for residents. She empowers nonprofits by identifying and sharing their best practices, educating them in sustainable repair methods and techniques for improved volunteer recruitment and retention.

Dr. Shelley Koch‘s teaching philosophy at Emory and Henry College has been shaped by her personal journey, with one foot in the world of ideas and one in the world of work life. Shelley is a powerhouse in Southwest Virginia and has served on the board of Appalachian Sustainable Development and Appalachian Peace Education Center. She has also published books and articles focusing on food and society.

Dr. Rene Rodgers played an integral role in the development of the Birthplace of Country Music Museum while adhering to the high standards of the Smithsonian. She is also works with other organizations to help make the community stronger. Rene personifies grace under pressure and inspires others through her tireless work ethic and methodical approach to problem solving


Linda Shepherd is a dynamic nursing professional and accomplished healthcare executive. She has a vision and optimism for the nursing profession, and particularly for nursing in Southwest Virginia. Linda has and continues to demonstrate skill development and growth in transforming not only herself professionally, but also in those she leads through her involvement in many organizations.

Katy Ford Sikorski consistently leads by example through her willingness to work, positive attitude, and dedication to service. As president of the Rotary Club she guided the club’s many community and international initiatives. . She currently provides oversight, coordinates and manages clinical deliveries for drug trials. Katy is currently responsible for an international study with 110 sites in 11 countries and a domestic study in 58 US cities.

Jamie Swift plays a significant role in the safety of people throughout the region, as well as within the system’s 21 hospitals and many other facilities as the director of infection prevention at Ballad Health. She is one of the primary experts in the region on infectious diseases, and her guidance in the community on how to prepare and react to the threat of these diseases is crucial.


Past Tribute Recipients