Women of Achievement Awards Virtual Event 6/20/24

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

Jamie Toledo

Jamie Toledo

Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance

Jamie Toledo is the economic development relationship manager for the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance. A positive and innovative-minded professional, Toledo started her career working in the international hospitality industry. She credits the hospitality industry with teaching her to be customer-service oriented and welcoming to people of all walks of life.

Her past experience working for Alliant Energy in international division, sourcing and DEI efforts helped her with her current role with the Cedar Rapids Economic Alliance in creating and implementing holistic economic development strategies for the community.

Along the way, Toledo has volunteered her time participating on the steering committees of Inclusive ICR and Corridor Women Connect; worked at the Cedar Rapids farmers markets; and has been an ambassador for Diversity Focus on the advisory committee for Iowa Ideas. She’s also served as a Daybreak Rotarian, a board of trustees member for YPN and board member with the Cedar Rapids Concert Chorale.

Outside of work, she enjoys time with her family, traveling and participating in the occasional Theatre Cedar Rapids production. Toledo’s parents have influenced her to give back to the community throughout her life and continue to do so in their 80s.

Honoree Interview

Freda Sojka

Freda Sojka

Cedar River Haven

Freda Sojka, an entrepreneur at heart, is the creator of “Iowa’s own” Bug Soother and the founder and co-director of Cedar River Haven, a recovery community for women overcoming substance use disorders.

Recognizing the challenges women in recovery face — from negative influences to the struggle of finding employment — Sojka sought to provide more than just a temporary fix. Cedar River Haven offers a safe environment where women can start their recovery, learn essential life skills and gain work experience through partner businesses (Cedar River Ranch Resort & Events Center, Bake & Brew on 92, and The Box Lunch food truck) within a supportive community.

Emphasizing “A Hand Up, An Open Heart, and A Haven of Peace,” Cedar River Haven fosters a sense of belonging and purpose. Women at Cedar River Haven not only work toward their own recovery but also experience the joy of contributing to a community that understands and shares their journey. Sojka’s work reflects a deep commitment to empowering women in recovery, showcasing her dedication to social responsibility and the positive impact of entrepreneurial thinking in addressing complex social issues.

Honoree Interview

Holly Reeder

Holly Reeder

Cedar Rapids Community Schools

Holly Reeder is the instructional coach at Hiawatha Elementary School. Prior to becoming an instructional coach, she taught special education for 16 years. She received her undergraduate degree from The University of Iowa and a master’s from Morningside University. In addition to teaching, Reeder is the mother of two amazing daughters.

Literacy is her passion. She believes that illiteracy is the most solvable epidemic today. All children can learn to read. Over the past 10 years, she has worked to understand the science of reading and earned her certification to become a LETRS trainer. Reeder has trained countless teachers in the Cedar Rapids Community School District on the science of reading.

Helping teachers understand how the brain works, the importance of foundational literacy skills and the impact background knowledge and vocabulary has on student outcomes has driven Reeder to create district courses with a colleague. Their classes look at how teaching kids to read has gone so wrong and what they, as literacy champions, can do to ensure that all students are proficient readers.

Literacy is social justice, and reading is a civil right. Reeder will not stop until every child in CRCSD, regardless of income or race, learns to read.

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 >

Congratulate an Honoree!

Send a congratulations message to an honoree using the form below.

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.