PIQUA — The YWCA’s 22nd annual Women of Excellence awards luncheon honored Connie Strehle of Piqua and Myrna Yoder of Troy as the 2018 Women of Excellence and Darby Bubp of Piqua as the 2018 Young Woman of Tomorrow on Thursday afternoon, and in turn, the honorees recognized the women who came before them.
Prior to the luncheon, a tribute was held for the late Cheryl Stiefel-Francis, recognizing a woman whose presence was missing from the crowd, as Stiefel-Francis was actively involved in the community.
“Cheryl touched everyone’s lives,” said Kathy Alexander, a Women of Excellence committee member.
Linda and Chris Tatarian performed Tim McGraw’s “Humble and Kind” in Stiefel-Francis’ memory.
The first 2018 Woman of Excellence to be honored was Connie Strehle, Ph.D., of Piqua.
Strehle retired this year after 44 years in education, and her career included positions at Dayton City Schools, Vandalia Schools, Trotwood-Madison Schools, Miami East Schools, and most recently, Piqua City Schools, where she was principal at Springcreek Elementary from 2014 until retirement.
A native of Vandalia, she holds a bachelor’s degree in school health from Eastern Kentucky University; master’s degrees in educational leadership and counseling from Wright State University; and a Ph.D. from Miami University.
Strehle immediately recognized her parents’s efforts to help her achieve. “They were kind … They gave up a lot in their lives for us kids,” she said.
She said her mother, who is 93 years old this year, is humble, tenacious, and hardworking.
Strehle is also a mother herself, and her two adult children, Robin Williams and Nick Strehle, both attended the awards luncheon with her. “They have been my life. I am so proud of them,” Strehle said.
Strehle also took a moment to comment on the teaching profession, saying that she saw a quote on social media that said, “Teachers need good coworkers.”
“When teachers work well together, the whole school will succeed,” Strehle said.
Myrna Yoder of Troy was also honored as a 2018 Woman of Excellence.
Yoder, a native of Union Township, attended Bowling Green State University, where she met her future husband, Ray Yoder. She became a teacher of high school mathematics, and when the couple started having children, she stayed home and assumed all the roles that entails.
She and Ray, a longtime area dentist and Miami East Schools supporters, have five children and eight grandchildren. Following her husband’s passing in 2005, Yoder began volunteering for the American Red Cross.
Yoder has also taught GED and English as a Second Language, serves as an election official, is on the Miami Valley Career Technology Center Board of Education, is active in the First United Methodist Church and in support of Miami East schools, and is director of Fish of Troy, Inc.
Yoder remarked about learning from her mother and mother-in-law. The latter left the Amish church when she was 12 years old, and, “She taught me life is funny … (and) good and warm,” Yoder said.
In working with Fish of Troy, she said that serves people in need at every income level and that “there are women of excellence at every level.”
Darby Bubp, the 2018 Young Woman of Tomorrow, was unable to attend the luncheon due to a history mid-term at Georgetown University in Washington D.C. at the same time, so her mother, Maria, accepted the award on Bubp’s behalf.
Bubp was co-valedictorian of her class and participated in an array of activities from Interact Club, National Honor Society, Science Fair, Speech and Debate Club, YMCA Leaders Club, Student Council and Special Olympics volunteer, among others.
Bubp also credited the YMCA Youth in Government program with playing a key role in her life, helping her realize that she wanted to be able to have a voice in government. She also said that Show Choir was like a second family to her.
Maria Bubp read a speech from her daughter, saying, “Growing up in this community has been a blessing.” Bubp’s speech went on to say that she was grateful for her community, her grandparents, and her parents, whose love inspires and motivates her.
The keynote speaker, Cassie B. Barlow, Ph.d, COO Southwestern Council for Higher Education, spoke after the awards ceremony, encouraging women take risks in pursuit of their careers and dreams. Barlow used the example of her mother, who was the second generation of Italian immigrants in New York. Her mother graduated with a degree in physical education in 1949.
“She was in charge of female physical education,” Barlow said of one of her mother’s first jobs after graduating. Her mother also found that there were no physical extracurricular activities for girls, only boys, so she began holding secret practices with girls before and after school and coordinating with other schools so her girls would have other teams with which to play.
Barlow said her mother’s efforts led to the passing of Title IX in 1972, which prohibits discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance.
Barlow added that her mother’s actions, like many of the people who came before them, helped lay the stepping stones of success for the next generation.
“She was one of many who took risks within their field,” Barlow said.
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