Inspire Awards - Woman of the Year

Donde Plowman, dean of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Business, (right) gets a hug from Kathi Wieskamp, Lincoln Public Schools athletic director, after Plowman was named woman of the year at the Inspire Awards on Tuesday at The Cornhusker Marriott hotel.

Ten women were honored Tuesday with the first-ever Inspire – Celebrating Women’s Leadership Awards.

The awards, which are sponsored by the Journal Star, CHI Health, the University of Nebraska and Nebraska Wesleyan University, were presented at a ceremony at The Cornhusker Marriott hotel. They recognized women who have excelled in their professional lives and emerged as leaders and role models in the community.

Donde Plowman, dean of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Business, was named Woman of the Year. She was honored for her efforts in raising $80 million in private donations to construct a new College of Business Administration building, which broke ground earlier this year. As dean of the College of Business, she has developed a lecture series for female students to learn from successful women in the community. She endorses and supports mentoring programs for women and freely gives her time to attend and speak at RISE and Women in Philanthropy events as well as sits on many boards that affect the community.

Other winners and their awards announced Tuesday were:

Liz Neeley, executive director of the Nebraska State Bar Association, Excellence in Business -- Small;

Kimberly Rath, chairwoman and co-founder of Talent Plus, Excellence in Business -- Large;

Tawnya Starr, vice president of sales for Firespring, Excellence in Entrepreneurship;

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Kathy Campbell, state senator, Excellence in Government Service;

Marilyn Moore, president of Bryan College of Health Sciences, Excellence in Education;

Rhonda Seacrest, James C. and Rhonda S. Seacrest Foundation, Excellence in Philanthropy;

Marsha Lommel, president and CEO of Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital, Excellence in Health Care;

Elizabeth Whitacre, student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Inspire Future Business Leader;

Avary Pansing Brooks, student at American University, Inspire Scholarship.

Keynote speaker at the event was Libby Gill, author, speaker, executive coach and former head of communications and public relations for Sony, Universal and Turner Broadcasting.

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Business editor/reporter

Matt Olberding is a Lincoln native and University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate who has been covering business for the Journal Star since 2005.

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