Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Director Pat Lopez, who has been the face of local efforts to combat the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic, has been named the Woman of the Year.
Lopez, who had been working as the interim director but was formally appointed to the position last month after her authority was challenged, received the honor Wednesday during the sixth annual Inspire -- Celebrating Women's Leadership Awards at the Embassy Suites.
The Inspire Awards are presented by the Lincoln Journal Star in partnership with the University of Nebraska and Union Bank & Trust.
She worked at the Health Department from 1975 to 2004, then worked as a consultant before returning to the department in May 2019 when then-Director Shavonna Lausterer took medical leave before dying of breast cancer.
Lopez has been instrumental in the city and county's efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, which have included starting a risk dial that has since been adopted by numerous other organizations and instituting a mask mandate.
She was not able to attend Wednesday's awards ceremony. Her daughter, who accepted the award for her, said she is recovering from a sinus infection.
Other women honored Wednesday were:
* Diane Temme of TMCO Inc., Excellence in Business (large businesses)
* Aletta McClendon of Zen Salon and Physical Wellness, Excellence in Business (small/medium businesses)
* Helen Abdali Soosan Fagan of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Excellence in Education
* Susan Larson Rodenburg of SLR Communications, Excellence in Entrepreneurship
* State Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks of Brooks of Pansing Brooks Law, Excellence in Government Service
* Karen McGivney-Liechti of CHI Birth Center, Excellence in Healthcare
* Alynn Sampson of the Food Bank of Lincoln, Excellence in Nonprofit
* Holly Ostergard of Crete Carrier Corp., Excellence in Philanthropy
* Zainab Funnah of the Black is Beautiful Campaign, Founders Award
* Evada Palmer of Lincoln High School, Future Business Leader
The 2020 Inspire Award winners
Excellence in Business-Small/Medium
Excellence in Business-Large
Excellence in Education
Excellence in Entrepreneurship
Excellence in Government Service
Excellence in Health Care
Excellence in Nonprofit
Excellence in Philanthropy
Future Business Leader
Woman of the Year
Inspire Awards, 9.16
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