2021 Women of Distinction honored during awards luncheon

Ten local women were named as the 2021 Women of Distinction during an annual awards luncheon, held last Wednesday at the Chattanooga Convention Center.

This year’s honorees are Dr. Valerie Boaz, Sandy Brandt Chambers Dittus, Becky Fuller Hansard,  Dr. Shewanee Howard-Baptiste, Donna Fitch Lawrence, Daisy Maurya-Ballard, Dr. Cathie Smith, Anne Marie Stone, Amy S. Walden and Caroline McGuire Walker.

Women of Distinction of Greater Chattanooga honorees are recognized because they devote their time to improving the quality of life for others and are influencers in the community through their civic, cultural, philanthropic, human service, environmental and professional contributions. 

Women of Distinction are chosen from applications submitted by the community. Since 1983, more than 300 local women have been recognized.

“I am honored to be amongst other women who have been staples in the city, state and region who have had such a positive impact on the communities that we serve,” said Dr. Howard-Baptiste, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga vice provost for academic outreach.

Dr. Howard-Baptiste joined UTC in 2013, and was named to her current position on Aug. 1. She spent the 2020-2021 academic year as UTC’s interim director for the Master of Public Health in Chronic Disease Prevention and Control Program. 

“I am deeply honored and grateful to be recognized as a Woman of Distinction honoree this year,” said Lawrence, who served more than a decade on the UTC Alumni Board in various roles, eventually rising to president. “I am so thankful for the unconditional love and support of my mother, father, husband and two daughters.”

Lawrence was a longtime member of the UC Foundation Board of Trustees and has served on the UTC Chancellor’s Roundtable, the UTC Athletics Board and the Chancellor’s Multicultural Advisory Council. She currently represents UTC on the University of Tennessee System’s statewide Alumni Association Board of Governors and is a member of the UT President’s Council.

In 1985, Loveman’s–a local-based chain of department stores–began a tradition of recognizing 10 of Chattanooga’s best dressed women for their personal sense of style and fashion. Since those early years, the Women of Distinction award has evolved to symbolize the many extraordinary contributions women have made to their communities. 

This year, the entire proceeds from the Women of Distinction luncheon will benefit Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, an endeavor that enriches the lives of more than 13,000 local children. Contributions will be used to purchase books for children in Hamilton County and will be matched by the Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation.  

Members of the class of 2021 Women of Distinction of Greater Chattanooga.