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‘Survivor’ winner to help celebrate professional women

Area women will have an opportunity to be recognized for their hard work in the professional world. For the 30th year, the Women’s Leadership Event will honor the their contributions to the workforce and the community.

The event will take place Wednesday April 27 in the Treasure Island Resort & Casino Events Center and include a business expo, lunch, fashion show and an award ceremony to name the Business Professional Woman of the Year.

The event is sponsored by a number of local businesses and organizations, including Express Professional Solutions. The company’s general manager, Christy Rikli, has served on the board and planning committee for the event for nearly 20 years.

“Our mission is to provide motivational learning event for all professional women and recognizing the contributions women have made in the workplace and the community,” she said. “We all know that women make a significant contribution to the success of businesses in the area and also their community involvement, so we as a board and sponsors of the event have looked for a way to recognize these women.”

'extraordinarily dedicated'

Nominations can come from all different businesses, but Rikli said the board will be looking for someone who’s made a significant impact for not only the company they work for, but for the community as well.

“Winners of the past have been extraordinarily dedicated, focused, and usually manage a lot of different aspects of their roles,” Rikli said. “They’re innovators — usually they’re very humble as well.”

Past recipients include Julie Eckstrom, who emphasized the importance of customer service while assisting commercial clients as business banking officer at First Farmers & Merchants bank.

“There’s an old stereotype of women behind the man — women are forging through,” Eckstrom said. “I think it just helps more women by getting recognized for it.”

The event will feature keynote speaker Holly Hoffman, a South Dakota native who was the last woman standing on season 21 of CBS reality show “Survivor Nicaragua.”

“We were excited about Holly because she has a great story to share with women and the ability to turn adversity into strength,” Rikli said. “She has a message of positivity, determination and confidence.”

Nominations for the award can be submitted by April 15 to Christy Rikli by email at or by phone at 651-388-6331.

The event will take place 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Tickets are $45 and must be reserved by April 20; visit