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Minnesota State College Southeast
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MSC Southeast


2020 Women's Leadership Event


Contact: Katryn Conlin, Communications Director
Minnesota State College Southeast, 651-385-6364

Women's Leadership Event recognizes Sara Blair, Patty Brown as Business Women of the Year for 2021 

Patty Brown and Sara BlairRed Wing, MN (April 21, 2021) - The 35th annual Women's Leadership Event was held today in Red Wing via Zoom, but the virtual event brought together women from all areas to celebrate the accomplishments of women in business. 

"Even though we couldn't enjoy a day together in person, we still had a wonderful gathering online of talented women to present an exciting morning, and we've already had so many positive comments," said Calli Ekblad, one of the event committee members. 

Christy Rikli of Express Employment Professionals presented the awards for the Business Woman of the Year. Typically one person is given this award, but like so many things in 2021, this year was different - two women were equally recognized: Sara Blair and Patty Brown. 

"Every year we have the privilege to learn how women inspire, lead, and engage others in the workplace. This year was no different!" Christy said. "Sara and Patty are inspiring individuals who embody the Business Women of the Year Award.  It is our honor to get to know them better and recognize their talents." 

Sara Blair, administrator of Sauer Health Care, Winona, was nominated for the award by Annie Ruppert, who stated, "A little more than a year ago, our small non-profit nursing home became only the fourth facility in the state of MN to be exposed to the COVID-19 virus. Quite simply, our staff team rallied despite the uncertainty, fear, and daunting workload based in large part upon Sara's genuine and unwavering leadership." 

Patty Brown was nominated for the Business Woman of the Year award by Katryn Conlin, who said, "As the recently retired leader of the Red Wing Area Chamber of Commerce, Patty has made an indelible impression on the city and helped grow the organization - and the business community - into the thriving place it is now. There is no woman in the Red Wing community who has done more for business and industry than the amazing Patty Brown!" 

Both women received prize packages including a one-night stay in a superior guest room at Radisson Blu Mall of America, donated by Express Employment Professionals and KWNG Radio.  

Today's event also included inspiring presentations by master of ceremonies Ava LaRue, Program Director of QMedia and on-air talent at KWNG 106 Radio, and Jennifer Staley, Executive Director of Spark Children's Museum in Rochester, MN. The keynote by Kat Perkins, top 4 finalist of Season 6 of The Voice, was both energizing and entertaining as she asked the question, "What would you do if you weren't afraid?" and concluded by singing her chart-topping hit, "Fearless."  

Next year's Women's Leadership Event is slated for April 20, 2022, location to be announced.  

The Women's Leadership Event is co-sponsored by Minnesota State College Southeast, Express Employment Professionals, Red Wing Area Chamber of Commerce, KWNG 106, Republican-Eagle, and Star Tech Computing. 

Photo Caption: Patty Brown (left), Sara Blair (right)


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WINONA CAMPUS | 1250 Homer Road | Winona, MN 55987
COLLEGE PHONE | 507-453-2700 | 877-853-8324

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