Women of Achievement Awards Virtual Event 6/19/24

VIRTUAL CELEBRATION: JUNE 17-21

The Gazette’s HER Women of Achievement is an annual program that recognizes individuals who are leading, inspiring and creating positive change in Eastern Iowa. Join us on this website for the virtual celebration June 17-21 as we share the stories of these incredible women!

A word from our Presenting Sponsor

Learn more about our sponsors:  FSB, Iowa Women’s Wrestling

Learn more about our Venue Sponsor:  DoubleTree by Hilton

Today's Honoree Spotlights

Jess Novotny

Jess Novotny

Prestige Dance Studio

Jess Novotny, known by her studio families as “Miss Jess,” is the owner and artistic director for Prestige Dance Studio in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. With over 30 years of experience in the dance world, Novotny provides her students with a comprehensive view on the techniques, determination and respect that are essential in becoming not only successful dancers, but also people with integrity.

Novotny opened Prestige Dance Studio in 2013 to share her passion of dance in a safe, technically sound, and creative environment that offers new and innovative styles unmatched in the area.

She prides herself in integrating and immersing not only her community team, but her staff and students in corridor events, as the community is the backbone of all businesses. Her competition team is well known in the Iowa area for not only their talent, but their grit and hard-working ethics. As the head coach of Xavier High School Dance Team, she has led the team to seven state championships in her seven years with the team.

Novotny embodies life skills and principles and integrates them into the way her staff teaches so students don’t just dance — they learn a variety of skills through a different approach that goes far beyond walls of the studio and into all aspects of their lives with better results. Novotny is molding youth into self-sufficient leaders and breaking ceilings through dance.

Honoree Interview

Felicite Wolfe

Felicite Wolfe

African American Museum of Iowa

Felicite Wolfe is the curator and collections manager for the African American Museum of Art. She has been involved with the museum as a volunteer, consultant and staff member since 2011. As curator, Wolfe serves as the lead staff member on exhibit development, research and creation. She manages acquisition, documentation and preservation of the museum’s collections and develops the museum’s on-site and traveling exhibits.

Wolfe earned her master’s degree in library and information science from the University of Pittsburgh with a concentration in archives and preservation management. She’s had over 15 years of museum collections management and exhibit development experience, including positions with the University of Pittsburgh Art Gallery and the Carnegie Museum of Art.

Honoree Interview

Dr. Jean Littlejohn

Dr. Jean Littlejohn

Family Folk Machine

Dr. Jean Littlejohn is the artistic and executive director of Iowa City’s Family Folk Machine, a nonprofit intergenerational choir she founded in 2013.

The Family Folk Machine welcomes people of all ages and backgrounds to sing together accompanied by a band. The choir presents twice-yearly concerts at the Englert Theatre and performs for community events. The choir includes about 70 singers from ages 2 to 80 and provides enrichment opportunities to develop skills in singing, songwriting and on the ukulele.

Littlejohn is an organist and has a doctoral degree in music theory from Northwestern University. She works as director of music for Trinity Episcopal Church in Iowa City and as managing editor for “Contemporary Sociology: A Journal of Reviews.” She lives in Iowa City with her husband, Michael Sauder, and kids Sebastian and Ben Sauder.

Honoree Interview

2024 Keynote Speaker

Clarrisa Chun

Clarissa Chun

University of Iowa – Women’s Wrestling Head Coach

Sponsored by:   Iowa Women's Wrestling Club

Clarissa Chun is the head coach of the University of Iowa women’s wrestling team, the first in the program’s history. In 2021, Iowa became the first NCAA Division 1 Power Five conference institution to offer women’s wrestling.  

Chun joins the Iowa women’s wrestling program from USA Wrestling, where she was an assistant coach on the women’s national team from 2017-21. Chun helped lead the United States to 17 World medals, including seven gold, four silver and six bronzes, as well as an Olympic gold, Olympic silver and two Olympic bronzes. 

Chun is a two-time Olympian, competing at 48 kg in the 2008 Beijing Games and 2012 London Games. Chun wrestled at five Senior World Championships, including a gold-medal performance at the 2008 Worlds in Tokyo.  

During her career, Chun won five U.S. Open titles; a 2011 Pan American Games silver medal; four gold medals at the Pan American Championships; and was a runner-up at four U.S. World Team Trials and three U.S. Opens. Chun competed for Missouri Valley College, where she was a star on one of the pioneer women’s college wrestling team programs.  

Chun has coaching experience at both the international and college levels. She was a member of the men’s wrestling staff at West Virginia University, serving as the program’s operations assistant while also training at the Regional Training Center. 

Chun was inducted in the National Wrestling Hall of Fame as a Distinguished Member in June 2022. She is one of only four females bestowed Distinguished Member honors. In 2018, Chun was inducted into the Missouri Valley College Hall of Fame, Hawaii Sports Hall of Fame, and Roosevelt High School Hall of Fame.

2024 Women of Achievement Honorees

Lynette Voss

Lynette Voss

Eastern Iowa Honor Flight

Outstanding Community Leadership Award Recipient

Angie Charipar

Angie Charipar

City of Cedar Rapids

Cecilia Roudabush

Cecilia Roudabush

New Harmony Line

Betsy Harrison

Betsy Harrison

Betsy Boos

Jess Novotny

Jess Novotny

Prestige Dance Studio

Felicite Wolfe

Felicite Wolfe

African American Museum of Iowa

Dr. Jean Littlejohn

Dr. Jean Littlejohn

Family Folk Machine

Jamie Toledo

Jamie Toledo

Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance

Freda Sojka

Freda Sojka

Cedar River Haven

Holly Reeder

Holly Reeder

CRCSD – Hiawatha Elementary School

Zeinab Osman

Zeinab Osman

College Community Schools

Erin Erickson

Erin Erickson

Maquoketa River Watershed Management Authority

Dr. Sarah Hemming-Meyer

Dr. Sarah Hemming-Meyer

East Central Iowa Acute Care & UnityPoint Hospital

Previous Honoree Spotlights

Erin Erickson

Maquoketa River Watershed Management Authority Erin Erickson has worked as the watershed coordinator...

Read More >

Zeinab Osman

College Community Schools Zeinab Osman serves College Community Schools as a community engagement...

Read More >

Holly Reeder

Cedar Rapids Community Schools Holly Reeder is the instructional coach at Hiawatha Elementary...

Read More >

Jamie Toledo

Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance Jamie Toledo is the economic development relationship manager...

Read More >

Lynette Voss

Eastern Iowa Honor Flight Outstanding Community Leadership Award Recipient Lynette Voss is the...

Read More >

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Check out the next issue of
HER Magazine: Women in Business
coming to The Gazette this fall.

HER Magazine Fall 2023

Stories of women throughout Eastern Iowa.

In each issue of HER magazine, discover the stories of women that inspire and motivate through a variety of roles and industries.