Extraordinary women stand on the shoulders of others who came before them and sacrificed for the benefit of all people.
That's what the honorees and keynote speaker at the Extraordinary Women Awards told a room of people gathered at the Strater Hotel on March 6.
The event is hosted by the Women's Resource Center of Durango.
This year's honorees were Eileen Wasserbach of Southern Ute Community Action Program; Gina Piccoli, the owner of Coldwell Banker Heritage House Realty; and Karen Midkiff, the president of the Mercy Health Foundation.
"I don't feel extraordinary," Wasserbach said. "I feel I am in extraordinary company."
Wasserbach has worked at SUCAP for 25 years. The agency oversees $7 million in grants and programs.
She said working for a non-profit agency is "fun and meaningful," and joked that non-profits "form the framework for the social scene" in La Plata County.
SUCAP has several divisions: the Roadrunner transportation system, Head Start, youth services, Peaceful Spirit substance abuse, and job training programs.
That means in the same day, or even within a few minutes, she can work on brain development studies for two-year-olds as well as standards for federal motor carriers.
"These are things that really matter every day," she said of working in a non-profit. The work of her and her peers, as well as that of other women in the community, truly weaves lives together, she noted.
Susan Lander introduced Wasserbach, noting that she has embraced and immersed herself in the Southern Ute community. Lander is the former director of the resource center and Music in the Mountains.
Wasserbach thanked her husband Jack for his support.
"He cooks for me every day!" she said. They are also the proud parents of three daughters who are "out in the world making a difference," she said.
Tekla Miller was the keynote speaker at the event.
The author of "The Warden Wore Pink" spoke about her experiences running two jails in Michigan. Miller noted that her book remains in print from 1996 and is used in criminal justice and women's studies courses.
Miller spoke about the tough life of her mother, who suffered from depression and had to quit school when she was young. She still instilled a love of learning to her daughters and read a book every day.
Miller said it is critical that women in successful positions help those coming into the field.
"Each one, teach one," is the motto of the Assocation of Executive Women in Corrections, and it's important, she added.
"We must, as mentors, help those behind us," Miller said.
The luncheon is part of Women's History Month in March. More WRC events this month are listed online at www.wrcdurango.org.