Four Dubuque women were honored Wednesday morning as part of the Telegraph Herald, BizTimes.biz and Her magazine’s annual Salute to Women Awards at Diamond Jo Casino.
Now in its fourth year, the event recognizes local women nominated by their peers for the significant contributions they have made toward the community.
Erin Dragotto, vice president of development for National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium, served as the event’s keynote speaker. She encouraged women to speak up and be seen, using the example of Afghan women who have defied the Taliban to demand that they be heard and that their freedoms be restored.
“Our thoughts become our words, our words become our beliefs, our beliefs become our actions, and our actions become our habits,” Dragotto said. “Essentially, I am unique, but we are better together.”
Clara Lopez Ortiz, of Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque, was recognized as this year’s Woman to Watch.
“I never thought that the little 6-year-old who boarded a plane to the U.S. would be standing before you here today,” said Ortiz, who was born in Mexico.
She thanked her parents in her native language, Spanish, then thanked her employer.
“I want to thank the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque for allowing me to grow both as a professional and as an individual,” she said. “I have such great leaders there in Paul Duster and Nancy Van Milligen and, of course, amazing coworkers who are always there to support me and make me laugh.”
Judy Faulhaber was honored for her charitable efforts through her business, Big Apple Bagels, with the Woman Who Makes A Difference award.
“My husband and I bought Big Apple Bagels 21 years ago, and it was the best investment we ever made,” she said.
Faulhaber credited her Big Apple family with the business’s success.
“I am as good as the people that surround me,” she said. “I have the best family and friends, and I really just try to be the best business owner that I can be, the best person I can be. I just love my Big Apple family, and I’m so blessed in so many ways.”
Faulhaber dedicated the award to her husband, Jeff, who died last week.
The Woman of Innovation award was given to Kelly Breitbach, of A.Y. McDonald Manufacturing Co.
Breitbach was living in Dubuque and working for a Chicago company, traveling often for business and on the verge of burning out, when she heard that A.Y. McDonald would be opening an innovation center.
“I knew that I had to get that job,” she said. “That was really a turning point for me.”
Breitbach found her niche at A.Y. McDonald and said she is eager to pass on her knowledge to the next generation.
“I’m very passionate about innovation, so it’s something I like to talk about,” she said. “I love talking to younger kids about what their job could look like in innovation.”
The awards ceremony and breakfast culminated in the award for Woman of the Year, which was presented to Mary Rose Corrigan, public health specialist for the City of Dubuque.
“Since the beginning of 2020, my career and life have changed significantly,” she said. “Although the trend of dealing with new and emerging infectious diseases has been ongoing in my 36 years in public health, nothing has compared to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Corrigan said receiving the award caused her to reflect on her values, including family, professionalism, relationships and health and wellness.
“These values have guided me to be a lifelong learner, strive for high quality and be the best I can be in my work, while (also) continuingly reaching out to others and responding to their calls to develop formal and informal partnerships, professional relationships, friendships and, most of all, trust,” she said.