Heroines Among Us

Rotary Club of Edina recognizes women in leadership.
Donna Tilsner, Ruth Valgemae, Terri Rose, Kim Foote, Katey Taylor, & Chrysanne Manoles

The Rotary Club of Edina established an annual Women in Leadership Award in 2008, 25 years after Rotary Club International’s male-only membership provision was eliminated. In the 1980s, the Rotary Club of Edina welcomed its first female member, Chrysanne Manoles, after whom the award is named. Nominees cannot be current Rotarians and they must work, live, or volunteer in Edina. Edina Magazine is proud to spotlight some of the impressive accomplishments of these outstanding past award recipients.

2015: Kris Marshall
Marshall is the director of Connecting with Kids, a program of the Edina Community Foundation focusing on creating a healthy community. The program brings together kids and adults for a day of service in the community, which Marshall says “really helps kids learn to be a part of the community.” She also heads up the Connecting with Kids Leadership Breakfast, honoring adults and students who go above and beyond in the community.

2014: Kim Foote
Foote was honored for her work with the 50th and France Business Association. Active on the board for four years, Foote leveraged her corporate finance background to provide guidance on process and procedures to improve the structure of the association. She helped advise the group because she was committed to making the association “stronger for the future.”

2013: Ruth Valgemae
Valgemae chaired the Edina quasquicentennial, a year of special events celebrating Edina’s history. Valgemae, along with many volunteers, pitched in to plan and execute these events, giving countless hours of time and valued experience. “My advice to everyone is to find something you love and get involved,” says Valgemae. “Volunteer your time and you will meet amazing people who share your interests and take you places you didn’t even know existed.”

2012: Katey Taylor
Taylor accepted the award for her tireless work with Abbey’s Hope, a charitable foundation created in 2008 following the death of her young daughter from injuries she received from an improperly maintained wading pool drain. Taylor was instrumental in getting the Abigail Taylor Pool Safety Act signed into federal law in 2008. Taylor feels she is part of something much bigger and says when you find something in your life that you’re passionate about, you have a huge opportunity to be a leader.

2011: Terrie Rose
In 2000, Rose founded Baby’s Space at the Little Earth Neighborhood Early Learning Center in Minneapolis, which was set up as a child care and early childhood education center that focuses on overcoming the adverse effects of poverty on child development. Since receiving the award, she has published a book, Emotional Readiness. Rose is passionate about all children having access to quality education.

2010: Donna Tilsner
Tilsner has worked with youth and adults across the city of Edina. In addition to scheduling the adult athletics programs and warming-house program, Tilsner coordinated the summer playground program, which served more than 1,000 kids in Edina and employed around 50 high school students from the community. Today, Tilsner works with area seniors as a recreation supervisor. She believes that a can-do attitude and working together as a team is how you can make others feel empowered.

2009: Anne Byrne
Byrne has worked with the Children’s Law Center, an organization that provides free legal service to Minnesota youth who are wards of the state, in foster care or have been removed from their homes for safety reasons. As a volunteer with the law center for 15 years, Byrne worked hard to promote the rights and interests of children involved in the legal system. She encourages everyone to get involved in the community, saying “you get as much as you give.”

2008: Laurel Wills
As the first recipient of the Chrysanne Manoles Women in Leadership Award, pediatrician Laurel Wills, M.D., was recognized for her work with the Minnesota chapter of Reach Out and Read, a nationwide nonprofit partnering with clinics to provide developmentally appropriate books at well-child check-ups, promote parent-child book sharing and encourage achievement of early language and literacy milestones. Wills says, “Engaging parents in reading with their kids is so important as parents are their baby’s first teachers.”