By KIM LEATHERMAN

Staff Writer

SEBRING — The third annual Women in Business, brought to you by the Highlands News-Sun, took place at the Champion for Children Circle Theatre on Wednesday night. The evening, which was sponsored by AdventHealth Sebring, was a celebration of businesswomen of Highlands County and to recognize all they do for the communities they serve.

Over 200 women from all kinds of businesses or civic organizations were dressed from formal work attire to cocktail best enjoyed the bubbly champagne from MMM Liquors and hors d’ouvers from the Olympic Restaurant. A popular photo-op was near the very cool ice sculpture.

The prize giveaways throughout the night were a big hit.

After a time of mixing and mingling, D-R Media Vice President and Publisher Tim Smolarick welcomed some guests, sponsors and his staff. He introduced the three guest speakers: Jessica Hartline, Ashley Nicole Tinker and Brittney Fann.

Hartline spoke to the women about being strong in the face of adversity. She shared some of her personal struggles over the past two years and how she has overcome them. Hartline owns and operates Jessica Hartline Allstate agency in Sebring.

Tinker, who owns Heal by Touch Massage and Float Therapy, urged women to take care of themselves as well as their families and businesses. She said women should ask for help when they need it and set goals for themselves.

Fann is the executive director of the non-profit Beauty Fit for a Queen. She shared tips and funny stories of feeling overwhelmed. Fann shared how her faith helps her to stay strong and accomplish the works she feels led to do. She closed out her time at the mic in prayer for the women.

Every year, the Highlands News-Sun recognizes an organization created, comprised of and run by women. This year, the Highlands County Cattlewomen were recognized for their work in promoting a healthy lifestyle involving beef as well as their education efforts with AgVenture and the Youth Livestock Buyers Dinner among others.

Next came the moments everyone was waiting for — the awards. Below are the winners of their categories and the person who presented them.

Dr. Shahnaz Punjani from AdventHealth Medical Group presented Cora Schwingel of Change of Pace for the 2019 Community Service Award. Schwingel, executive director of the program, was not in attendance; Robin Nichols accepted on her behalf.

Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Tesha Baker, of AdventHealth Medical Group, presented the Avon Park Businesswoman of the Year to Sacara Tyler, owner of Jimmy’s Flower Shop. Tyler was not in attendance; Erica White accepted on Tyler’s behalf.

Dr. Alexandra Joseph of AdventHealth Medical Group presented Laura Munson, owner of Shamrock Pharmacy, with a plaque for Lake Placid Businesswoman of the Year.

Dr. Elixandra Pena-Evertz, pulmonologist with AdventHealth Medical Group, presented Kelly Griffin Cosgrave, a licensed interior designer and co-owner of Griffin’s Carpet Mart, a plaque for Sebring Businesswoman of the Year.

New this year was the presentation of the Pioneer Award. Smolarick presented the award to Nancy Hensley, whose grandparents moved to Sebring around 1918. Hensley is a retired teacher, a member of First United Methodist Church and served 23 years as chairperson of the Champion for Children Foundation.

Roseann Kiefer, owner of Lampe & Kiefer Hearing Aid Center and the event’s Facebook Live sponsor, unveiled the cover of the 2019 Women in Business special section, which will be included in Saturday’s edition of the Highlands News-Sun.

Smolarick said, “Highlands County has many powerful women in sectors of the business community and it is a privilege to recognize these women every year prior to International Business Women’s Week, which starts Sept. 22.”

The evening wrapped up with every woman in the room being recognized for her contributions to the world of business as they walked across the stage and received a rose and a gift. AdventHealth Sebring also presented a gift to each woman as they left.

Highlands News-Sun Advertising Director Cliff Yeazel said the packed house was full of energy. “The keynote speakers did a phenomenal job of motivating the audience,” he said.

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