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Three North Dakota Women Receive Top Honors from the Women's Business Center

Center for Technology & Business (CTB) held their fifth annual Women’s Business Summit October 16-17 in Bismarck. The event brought together women from across the state for a unique networking and professional development opportunity designed to strengthen the state of women owned businesses in North Dakota.

At the luncheon on Monday, three of the attendees were awarded with top honors from CTB. 

Sandy McMerty, Deputy Commissioner of the North Dakota Department of Commerce, was recognized with the 2016 CTB Outstanding Woman in Business Award. This award is meant to celebrate a woman who has made significant contributions to her organization, her profession and her community. The award also aims to recognize a leader who serves as a role model and mentor for others. Sandy’s list of accomplishments and initiatives for working her marketing and leadership magic is extensive and she’s known as one of the state’s most effective cheerleaders. Approaching everything she does at full throttle, she brings both depth of knowledge and playful humor to board meetings and strategic sessions alike. Sandy serves as a volunteer for the International Association of Business Communicators; leads awareness efforts like the Buddy Walk as president for Designer Genes of North Dakota; and is a forward thinking mom who launched a big dream with a coffee shop called Gifted Bean to provide a successful working environment for community members with unique talents, including her son who has Down syndrome. Sandy has gone far and above as a role model and mentor with her enthusiasm for life. CTB is grateful for her leadership and proud to recognize her with this honor.  

Kari Warberg Block, CEO, Founder and Farmer in Charge of Earth-Kind was recognized with the 2016 CTB Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award. The exclusive award is designated to the owner of a North Dakota Certified Woman Owned Business who has demonstrated staying power, innovativeness, forward thinking and contributions to her community. Kari started Earth-Kind in 2000 with nothing more than a 99 cent package of garden seeds and a purpose to make natural pest control effective and available to homes everywhere. Today, Earth-Kind products are made exclusively from ingredients grown on family farms and sold in 55,000 retail stores throughout the U.S. She is a member of the National Women’s Business Council, which advises the U.S. Small Business Administration, Congress and the White House on issues of impact and importance to women business owners, leaders and entrepreneurs. Kari sits on an advisory board for a major retail corporation to provide guidance to the supplier diversity team as they work to provide market access and close knowledge and capital gaps for women owned businesses ready to scale. She has received numerous awards and recognitions as a champion for value-added agriculture, sustainability and women’s entrepreneurship. CTB is pleased to be able to add one more honor to her list of accomplishments as this year’s, much-deserved, award winner.

Betty Mills, was selected as the 2016 CTB Woman of Honor, a special recognition of someone CTB believes upholds true strength, wisdom and foresight. Betty’s widespread impact on our state is undeniable. With her self-proclaimed beginnings as a tractor driver and rattlesnake hunter, she went on to play an instrumental role in a variety of organizations and initiatives. Betty served on the Veteran’s Memorial Library Board, Bismarck City Planning Commission, North Dakota Educational Broadcasting Council, North Dakota Advisory Committee to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, Supreme Court’s Public Trust and Confidence Implementation Committee, the North Dakota Legislative Compensation Committee, was a charter member of the Bismarck League of Women Voters, and a participant in the Alternative to Violence program at the North Dakota State Penitentiary. She is also a founding member of the Bismarck Mandan Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, member of the Unitarian Universalist Prairie Star District Board, and served eight years as Trustee of the National Unitarian Universalist Association. To top it all off, she is the co-author of “Mind If I Differ?” and the 100 Year History of the North Dakota State Bar Association, she was a weekly columnist for the Bismarck Tribune for 25 years, and her current writings can be found in Inspired Women Magazine. CTB is honored to highlight Betty’s lifelong and continued contributions as a mentor and leader in North Dakota.

“North Dakota is home to numerous women from all walks of life that are doing amazing things to strengthen their communities and to make a positive impact on those around them. We often don’t take the time to celebrate the accomplishments of dedicated leaders, mentors and entrepreneurs all around us, and these awards aim to change that. By highlighting the impact of these three honorees, we hope to encourage other women to dream big and pay it forward and for everyone who knows them to cheer them on.” Explains CTB Executive Director, Deb Eslinger.

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