Congratulations to the 2018 Women of Achievement
Jill Hansen is the Senior Vice President of Application Development at Central Bank. She was the second female computer science graduate from Evangel University. She double majored in Computer Science and Biology while maintaining a Dean’s List GPA. After graduation, she worked at Phillips Petroleum as a programmer, then married and moved back to Missouri. She worked in State Government for 14 years eventually being appointed as the Commissioner of Operations for the Office of Administration and then becoming the CIO for the State.
Jill says with the ambition of becoming a computer programmer, she knew she was entering a “man’s world.” That didn’t intimidate her. She was always determined to rise to the top with respect and integrity.
One of Jill’s goals is getting women into the IT field. She helped put on a “Girls in IT” event in St. Louis, challenging girls with a hands-on glimpse into the field. In addition, Jill juggles being a mom. She says the one young lady she hopes to impact most is her daughter. Jill is very involved in the community and education. She serves on the Council for a Drug Free Youth, Jefferson City High School’s IT/Business Academy and many University advisory boards.
Elizabeth “Tina” Sellner has a passion for education. For thirty years she taught math and science to students from the second grade through the collegiate level. She’s presented at the Missouri Interface Conference and served on the Missouri Math Task Force.
In 2003. Tina’s resiliency was put to the test. Both of her daughters were graduating, getting married, and moving out of the house. Just three weeks before one daughter’s wedding, Tina’s mother died suddenly. The after this funeral, her former mother-in-law died unexpectedly. She was left consoling her daughters who had lost both grandmothers in four days. Two months later, Tina moved her invalid father into a nursing home. She stayed strong for her daughters and father while continuing her teaching.
Tina has always been involved in church and community service. As a child she was a Girl Scout. As an adult, she became troop leader and camp co-director. Tina is a member of the SSM Auxiliary serving as chair of the quilting committee. she is an officer in the DAR and has made several Quilts of Valor. Tina has donated her hair twice in four years for wigs for women for cancer. Tina also served the KC Ladies Auxiliary as president for four years.
Debbie Brucks Hamler had a typical Jefferson City start. She was born at St. Mary’s Hospital, went to West Elementary School, graduated from JC and went off to Mizzou to earn her BS in Elementary Education. After living out of state for 10 years, Debbie and her husband, Norman, and three children returned to Jefferson City in 1984. She began working as a teacher for the Goshorn Handicap Center that year.
In 1985, the United Way and Jefferson City Public Schools began work to combine the Goshorn Center and the Peter Pan School. As director of the Goshorn Center, Debbie was involved in the process. The merger was completed in 1986, and the Special Learning Center was born. Debbie has served as the Executive Director of the SLC since 1987.
The idea of special education for pre-school children was very new in the 1980’s. In fact, Debbie was the second person in the state to be certified for Early Childhood Special Education PK-3. At the time people told her that they couldn’t imagine what she would do with that certification. She certainly put that credential to good use building a program from the ground up.
Besides hiring and supervising staff, participating in curriculum development, providing parent education and support, and managing the budget, Debbie has spent a great deal of time fundraising. She notes that the Jefferson City community has been very generous to the SLC, and a big part of her job is attending meetings where fundraising events are planned and working closely with the United Way of Central Missouri.
Under Debbie’s leadership the Special Learning Center has grown from serving 25 students in an old industrial building on East High Street, to providing services for 650 children in-house and remotely from a state of the art building on Fairgrounds Road.
The agency has been a godsend to the community for over 30 years. During that time Debbie has fostered resilience in thousands of children and their families.
Debbie is as selfless in her personal life as she is in her profession. Due to Debbie’s care, her 91 year old mother has been able to stay out of the nursing home. Her three children and nine grandchildren would tell you that Debbie has always been a pillar of support and model of resilience for them.
The Zonta Club of Jefferson City was pleased to have noted mystery novelist Elaine Viets as the 19th Celebration Award winner and speaker at the Yellow Rose Luncheon on May 15, 2018. Viets, a native of the St. Louis area, sets many of her novels in her hometown. The heroines in her popular Dead End Job, Mystery Shopper, Francesca Vierling and Angela Richman series are all St. Louis women. Viets will also sign books after the luncheon.
Fire and Ashes is the second novel in Elaine Viets’ Angela Richman, Death Investigator forensic series. Elaine has written 32 novels in four series. Her bestselling Dead-End Job mysteries feature South Florida private detectives Helen Hawthorne and her husband, Phil Sagemont. Elaine’s also written the cozy Josie Marcus, Mystery Shopper mystery series and the dark Francesca Vierling mysteries. The Angela Richman, Death Investigator series returns the prolific author to her hard-boiled roots. Brain Storm draws on her personal experiences as a stroke survivor, as well as her studies in the Medicolegal Death Investigators Training Course at Saint Louis University’s School of Medicine. Elaine has served on the national boards of the Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime. She’s a frequent contributor to Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine as well as anthologies edited by Charlaine Harris and Lawrence Block. Viets has won the Anthony, Agatha, and Lefty Awards.
Mayor and Zonta Member, Carrie Tergin declared May 14 as Elaine Viets Day in Jefferson City!
2018 Women of Achievement Nominees
Alla Gerasimova Ann De Rosier Cheryl Ball
Dr. Diane Light Jill Hansen Jony Lootens
Margaret Rehma Boulch Maria Holee Nicole Galloway
Patsy Johnson Sarah Duran Susan Cook Williams
Elizabeth Tina Sellner Jatha Sadowski