Bloomington will honor five local women for their service to the Bloomington community in honor of Women’s History month in March, according to a press release from the city.

The city of Bloomington Commission on the Status of Women has organized an event series to celebrate Women’s History Month. The theme of the first event date is “Valiant Women of the Vote,” celebrating the centennial of women’s suffrage.

The commission gives awards annually to women for their work in women’s issues, diversity and inclusion. It will present the Woman of the Year Award, Toby Strout Lifetime Contribution Award, Emerging Leader Award and Young Woman of the Year Award.

The Woman of the Year and Toby Strout Lifetime Contribution awards will be presented at the Women’s History Month luncheon at 12:15 p.m. March 25 at the Monroe Convention Center. Tickets are $25 per person and must be purchased online before March 23.

The Emerging Leader and the Young Woman of the Year awards will be presented at the Women’s Leadership Development event at 10:30 a.m. March 28 at City Hall. This event will be free and open to the public.

The Woman of the Year Award recognizes women who improved the quality of life for other women through inspiration, community service or external professional accomplishments, Bloomington spokesperson Yael Ksander said in an email. The recipient should also be a positive role model for women in the community.

Jessika Hane, adjunct instructor at the IU O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs, will receive the Woman of the Year Award for her work with multiple nonprofits. Hane served as the marketing committee chair and board president for Cardinal Stage Company, a professional theater company in Bloomington. Hane was a scholarship chair for the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County. While working with the foundation, Hane co-chaired the Thrive By Five endowment initiative, a program to help fund early childhood education.

Hane said she works to encourage women to stand up and give back to their communities.

“I think it’s absolutely all of our times to raise our hands and say yes to things we’re excited about supporting and excited about doing and that’s why I do it, because I want to show other people that if you have a passion for volunteering, that if you have a passion for helping others, that you shouldn’t hold back” Hane said. “You should do as much as you can.”

Hane said she was surprised to receive the award.

“I never thought I would get an award like this when there are always amazing women in our community who are doing so much good work,” Hane said. “I was so surprised and pleased and it’s a big honor.”

The other recipient of the Woman of the Year Award, Dr. Tashera Perry, will receive it for her work on women’s health.Perry is a staff physician and adjunct clinical assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology for the IU School of Medicine and the Medical Science Program, according to the release.

Perry also serves as a fellow for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, member of the American Medical Association, the Indiana State Medical Society and is an ISMA Alternative Delegate for the Monroe County Owen County Medical Society.

This award recognizes women whose work has advanced the status of women through leadership and service, according to the city’s website.

The award will go to Beth Lodge-Rigal for her work with Women Writing for (a) Change, a creative writing program for women.

Lodge-Rigal established the Bloomington-affiliate of the program in 2004 and has also facilitated writing circles, outreach, retreats and directing programs at the Bloomington school.

The most rewarding part of her work was receiving feedback from participants in her classes, Lodge-Rigal said. At the end of her sessions, writers would put feedback on index cards to give to her.

“I remember one time early on there were three different cards in one of those classes that we read out loud and they all said this is way more than just a writing class,” she said. “This sounds kind of silly but it was like getting to hear back from people who were doing this that there was more going on than just writing creative nonfiction.”

She said she was pleasantly surprised to receive the award.

“It definitely feels like some kind of validation of this work,” Lodge-Rigal said. “I mean mostly I feel like I’ve been doing this very much under the radar. It’s one step at a time, building the community from the inside out with Women Writing for (a) Change.”

The Emerging Leader Award acknowledges a woman who has a relatively short history of achievements but has had an effect on the community and demonstrated enthusiasm, according the city’s website.

Shatoyia Moss, the city’s safety director, will receive the Emerging Leader Award for her work in issues related to diversity and inclusion. Moss started the inaugural Black Girl Summit that took place in November 2019, a convention for middle and high school-aged women that featured workshops to empower women of color.

Moss works as a mentor to three young women and is also the chairwoman of Delta Sigma Theta’s Delta Gems program, according to the release. The Delta Gems program provides framework and resources for African American women to plan and develop their careers, according to the Delta Gems website.

The award recognizes a woman between the ages of 11 and 18 who has made a positive change in women’s and girl’s issues in the community, according to the release.

Solveig Hicks is a junior at Bloomington North High School. She is the president of the Young Democrats club and founded the school’s chapter of the National Organization for Women. In 2019, she organized a North-South High School reproductive rights rally and in 2017, spearheaded a Tri-North Middle School protest of the school’s dress code.

Hicks said although she’s proud of the work she’s done, there is still a long way to go.

“I’m receiving this award, but I know that in my lifetime, I’ll still be subject to discrimination,” Hicks said. “But that also empowers me to keep fighting to end that.”