Darlene Ward-Reno, program manager and planning operator with Lockheed Martin Aeronautics and a 25-year Hiram resident, was awarded the top honor as woman of the year during this year’s Tribute to Women of Achievement.
“Well, I am in awe,” Ward-Reno said Friday night.
Ward-Reno was honored for her “organized and meticulous” efforts to raise money and seek out volunteers for numerous charities, as well as donating services as a CPA and grant writer to the National Native American Law Enforcement Association.
“We look forward to another year of donating our time,” Ward-Reno said.
After nominations are collected from the community, past honorees narrow down the selection to 15 women.
These honorees, who either live or work in Cobb, Cherokee or Paulding counties, demonstrate leadership in both personal and professional endeavors in business, nonprofit and volunteer arenas.
The woman of the year finalist is picked by a group of five judges, said Holly Tuchman, the CEO and executive director of the YWCA of Northwest Georgia, who has been organizing the event for the past seven years.
The list of the women recognized in past years has grown to more than 400 honorees.
Deane Bonner, president of the Cobb NAACP, was honored as woman of the year in 2008.
“You don’t do anything alone,” Bonner said, describing what it takes to receive the honor.
Bonner’s daughter, Jeriene Grimes, who recently was elected to the Marietta school board, was a Woman of Achievement at the 2010 awards.
“There are some dynamic leaders that come from all walks of life … all with a mission of empowering,” Grimes said.
In 2013, Cassandra Buckalew, an entrepreneur who owns and operates the Historic Marietta Trolley Co., Peachtree Trolley Co., Marietta Pedicabs, Ghosts of Marietta and Cassandra Buckalew Interiors, received the woman of the year award.
In 2012, the Woman of the Year was freelance writer and historic preservationist for more than 30 years, Becky Paden. In 2011, the top award was given to Harrison High School social worker Penny Warren, wife of Cobb County Sheriff Neil Warren.
At Friday night’s ceremony, the Pat Head Dignity Award was given to Kimberly McCoy, who heads the Victim Witness Unit of the Cobb County District Attorney’s office.
McCoy, who also serves on the YWCA of Northwest Georgia’s board of directors, guides victims and witnesses through the complexity of the criminal justice system.