Feel the Roar! Women in Business Leadership and Awards Luncheon, April 21


The “roar” from the April 21st “Hear Me Roar” Women in Business Leadership and Awards Luncheon produced by SRQ Media thundered all the way from North Port to Palmetto as this year’s winners and finalists were announced at a sold-out lunch at The Francis in Downtown Sarasota.

Kicked off by Keynote Speaker entrepreneur and Silicon Valley darling Anna Zornosa and founder of Ruby Ribbon, her message connected passion for the mission with the human perspective. “Passion can take many forms,” says Anna. “Ideally you can see the purpose of the work that you do and stay anchored to the joy around that purpose. But there’s also the passion for the team.”


Anna harnessed the “unbridled potential” of creating something new in an empty space with the launch of Ruby Ribbon in 2011. Tapping into the $1 billion shapewear market, Ruby Ribbon empowers women to engage the importance of comfort and confidence in achieving success within their circles of influence. Her story was a great reminder of how ordinary observations can transform into the next big multi-million dollar idea.

Next, the Women in Business Initiative recognized this year’s recipient of the “Hear Me Roar” Trailblazer Award—author, philanthropist and former editor in chief of Travel+Leisure and Town & Country magazines Pamela Fiori. Her top 10 tips for success were one of the event’s most treasured take-aways.

“There were some girls who were born with fire in their tiny bellies; who knew at a young age what they wanted to be; and tenaciously followed a clear path to reach that goal,” she said in her acceptance speech. “I was not one of them. I wasn’t a trailblazer and I didn’t roar like a lion. I squeaked like a mouse.”


Once the awards ceremony was underway, stellar women leaders from diverse regional industries were revealed by SRQ Media CEO and President Lisl Liang as she shared the 2016 WIB Judge’s finalist and winner selections. The judges this year hailed from Greenville and Charleston, SC, Chicago, OH and Tampa and Jacksonville, FL: Nancy Whitworth, Julia Forster, Jo Watson Hackle, Donna Orender, Kellee Johnson, Samantha Bond, Linda Simmons and Connie Smith. Thank you, judges, for spending weeks with this year’s applicants as they poured their hearts and minds out on personal challenges, how they defined success and the advice they’d give their younger selves.

And, announcing . . . this year’s winner and finalists!

Women in Business 2016 Leadership Circle

Lorrie Liang, COO, Sarasota Memorial Health Care System, winner
Laurie Pike, Director of Sales and Marketing Florida Division, MPH Hotels, winner
AnneMarie Rizzo, The Law Place, winner
Jennifer Rominiecki, President and CEO, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, winner
Dr. Sandra Stone, Regional Chancellor, University of South Florida, Sarasota-Manatee, winner
Michelle Bianchi Pingel, Managing Director/CEO, The Players Theatre, finalist
Chief Bernadette DiPino, Chief of Police, Sarasota Police Department, finalist
Jonna Keller, Owner, First Security Investments of SWF, LLC, finalist
Katherine Moulton, President, Hospitality Advisory Services, finalist
Inda Mowett, Medical Director, The Aesthetic Wellness Center, finalist
Cynthia Peterson, Board Chair, Center for Architecture Sarasota, finalist
Jessica Rood, Director of Communications and Marketing, New College of Florida, finalist


As if on cue, attendees began streaming into the Hear Me Roar Pop Up Boutique to view Jo Malone’s newest collection of fragrances for Saks Fifth Avenue, splashes of color from Lilly Pulitzer, nail art from Paint, one-of-a-kind goodies from Philosophy & Vines, samples from Ruby Ribbon and a sneak peak at the commemorative pin created by SRQ Media in collaboration with Michael Chokr and the Diamond Vault team to celebrate inductees into this year’s leadership circle.


Each pin featured a roaring lioness holding a gem in her mouth: a diamond representing Leadership Circle winners and a ruby representing Leadership Circle finalists. The collaborative design was handcrafted and fabricated locally at Diamond Vault. Michael Chokr and the SRQ Team even surprised CEO and President Lisl Liang with a special pin featuring a yellow diamond—Executive Publisher wrestled the microphone away from her in the last few minutes for the luncheon to announce the special gift. The breathless Liang was lost for words!


Ambassadors from the founding and 2015 Leadership Circles join the newest inductees as they begin their journey into the Women in Business Initiative mentorship programs for the coming year. Each inductee will have the opportunity to light fires within our community of women through both the SkillSHARE and SmartGIRL programs.


A huge thank you to our sponsors who make our year-long investment in leadership and women so impactful: Seaside Bank, University of South Florida, Sarasota-Manatee, The Resort at Longboat Key, CS&L CPAs, Sophie’s at Saks, CCAV, Gold Star Limousine and Muse. We couldn’t do it without you!


For a complete list of this year’s 2016 Nominees and Leadership Circle, click here.

For ongoing events and programming, please check our website. And, you won’t want to miss seeing this year’s event photos. Stay tuned for more Women in Business stories as we enter our new 2016-17 season.

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