CWF to honor six Women of Distinction at annual function 

The Center for Women and Families (CWF) will honor five Women of Distinction and present the Joan E. Thomas Lifetime Award for Peacemaking at its 30th Celebration of Service & Survival on Friday, February 17, at the Downtown Marriott Hotel.

“The Center for Women and Families has been recognizing outstanding women in the community through the Women of Distinction Award since 1988,” Center CEO Marta Miranda said in a prepared statement.  “An individual honored as a Woman of Distinction has given a lifetime of professional and/or volunteer services that has left an indelible mark on the Kentuckiana community.”

The Women of Distinction have made significant contributions to education, health care, civil rights, the arts, human services, the welfare of children and the advancement of women.  To date, 162 women have received this honor.

This year’s honorees are:

  • Joanne Berryman — provost at Spalding University for her commitment to opportunities for students, improving health programs and facilities in the community, and for providing better access and treatment options for women, children and families. She leads partnerships between Spalding and other community leaders to improve healthcare access for all. She has served on the University of the Louisville Board of Overseers, Spalding University Board of Trustees, and the Rotary Club of Louisville. She is currently a member of the Executive Committees of Hosparus of Louisville and Health Enterprise Network Boards. She is also a member of the Family Community Clinic, Inc. Board of Directors.
  • Pam Greenwell — a corporate and real estate lawyer, a partner at Seiller Waterman LLC, and the former senior attorney for Kentucky Fried Chicken. A University of Louisville Law School graduate, Greenwell has used her legal skills to help immigrant families land, negotiate and close on housing. She serves on the board of the Louisville Free Public Library Foundation and was president of The Louisville Forum, She is also on the Board of Directors of the Portland Promise Center and helps develop a tutoring program at Lighthouse Community Center.
  • Carol Heideman — a community volunteer and activist, she is volunteer manager of a warehouse in Louisville that is the only distribution center in the country that collects surplus ostomy supplies and sends them to developing countries. She is part of the Kentuckiana Ostomy Support Group and she sits on the national board of Friends of Ostomates. Heideman helps with The Temple’s Blankets and Blessing program. She previously sat on the Board of Directors of Maryhurst and was youth director for five years for the high school program for the Louisville Section of National Council of Jewish Women. Carol has been an Operation Brightside board member and served on the Child Victims Trust Fund. She has been an active member at The Temple in several positions.
  • Alice Houston – president of Houston-Johnson Inc. After a long career at the University of Louisville, she left the school to join a series of family businesses that collectively became the second largest minority-owned company in the United States, and the largest minority-owned transportation company in North America. In 2001, she divested her interests to concentrate on developing Houston-Johnson Inc., a logistics solutions provider to corporations. She became its president and CEO in 2005. In 2011, the company was nominated by Ford Motor Company and subsequently won the 2011 TSMSDC Supplier of the Year Award.
  • Surekha Kulkarni ­­– a local jewelry artist, social entrepreneur and founder of the nonprofit Beaded Treasures Project. The program provides refugee women with the tools and resources needed to be successful. Using a microcredit approach to entrepreneurship, BTP trains local disadvantaged women in jewelry making and other home based skills, focusing activities into marketable retail products and providing basic business and financial literacy to promote economic self-sufficiency. She volunteers at Kentucky Refugee Ministries, Catholic Charities, Volunteers of America, The Learning Disabilities Association and any place where “that extra help” is needed.

In addition, the Joan E. Thomas Lifetime Award for Peacemaking, which recognizes an individual whose work exemplifies a deep commitment to social and economic justice, will be presented to Tom FitzGerald, director, Kentucky Resources Council.

The Center for Women and Families helps victims of intimate partner abuse or sexual violence to become survivors through supportive services, community education and cooperative partnerships that foster hope, promote self-sufficiency and rebuild lives. Established in 1912, it began as part of the YWCA. Today, it is a private nonprofit organization serving nine Kentuckiana counties and operating seven regional locations, three of which provide emergency shelter, transitional housing and/or long-term housing options.

The Celebration of Service & Survival Event raises funds to allow The Center for Women and Families to continue serving over 30,000 individuals who need its services annually. More information is available at


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