Ohio University Zanesville, Zane State College, and the Muskingum Family Y recently announced the recipients of the Women of Achievement awards in seven categories. The dinner banquet was cancelled due to the pandemic, but the honorees are being celebrated throughout the week with video tributes that will be placed on social media pages of the partners for this community event. This years recipients include: Ruth Ann Allen, Monica Batteiger Tami Fitzgerald, Lacey Geyer, Jamie Trout, Sarah Wickerham, and Tara Wilson.
Ruth Ann Allen is the recipient of the Muskingum Family Y Lifetime Service Award. She has distinguished herself by inspiring countless students and adults to pursue musical interests – as a teacher in Franklin Local and Zanesville City School Districts, private voice instructor and church musician, director and soloist. She served on the Ohio Music Teachers Association, Zanesville Concert Association Board and is a past president of the Thursday Music Club. She is a 55-year soloist for Zanesville’s Messiah and a 40-year actor and music director for the Renner Theater.
Allen has served on the Friends of the Library Board and was Eastern District President of the Ohio Child Conservation League. She is a fifty-year member and past Regent of the Daughters of the American Revolution. She is also a member of Delta Kappa Gamma Teaching Society and Philo Performing Arts Committee, which provide scholarships for local students. In 2019, she was inducted into the Franklin Local Citizen Wall of Honor and was recognized by the Thursday Music Club.
Monica Batteiger is the Josephine Phillips Health Care Award recipient. She is recognized as a tireless crusader in the battle against addiction. Her compassion frequently extends beyond addicts to family and friends desperate for healing.
As co-founder of Drug Free Muskingum, Batteiger has organized and hosted a variety of educational events, including Steps of Faith prayer walk, Celebration of Life, Unlock the Stigma, Recovering Our Community and Compassion Roll Call. She is the founder of Genesis Healthcare’s warm handoff program, which ensures that hospitalized patients continue treatment support at home.
Batteiger is an active member of Cornerstone Church, where she is the female lead for Celebrate Recovery. She was instrumental in starting a Friends and Family recovery group that meets at Eastside Community Ministry. In April 2018, Muskingum Area Mental Health and Recovery Board recognized her as a Bringing Help and Bringing Hope Family Advocate.
In addition to her passionate work in the battle against addition, Batteiger works as a stylist and nail technician at Style Out Loud in Zanesville.
Tami Fitzgerald is the recipient of the Winifred K. Vogt Education Award. She has impacted education at the local, state, and national levels. She taught science at West Muskingum High School for 34 years, also serving as leader of the Professional Development Team and Resident Educator Program, coach for the Test of Engineering Aptitude, Math and Science and advisor for Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Ski Club.
Fitzgerald taught master’s level courses as an adjunct professor at Muskingum University. She served as a Teaching Ambassador Fellow at the US Department of Education, where she implemented a leadership program, created a STEM Mentoring Café at the Smithsonian and consulted for the STEM Master Teacher Corp pilot program. She is currently the Director of Outreach and Engagement at the National Board for Professional Teaching.
She has received numerous accolades, including West Muskingum’s Outstanding Educator, West Muskingum High School/District Teacher of the Year, Muskingum Valley Educational Service Center Exemplary Educator, American Red Cross Hometown Education Hero, National Society of High School Scholars Educator of Distinction, Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, and Claes Nobel Educator of Distinction Top Ten Educator of the Year.
The recipient of the Ethel Granger Schultz Young Adult Award is Lacey Geyer. She experienced a defining moment in her personal and professional life when her father Bob Higgins lost his battle with cancer. During her grief, Lacey made the decision to leave her job at Cerner Corporation and become the third-generation owner of Higgins Lumber in Roseville.
Geyer immersed herself in learning about every aspect of the building material industry, Higgins Lumber brand, employees, customers and suppliers. As she sought to honor and continue her family’s legacy, she faced an uphill battle in an atmosphere of uncertainty and a male-dominated industry. Under her leadership Higgins Lumber achieved its most profitable year in its 60-year history. In 2020, Lacey was finalist in five categories and voted Best New CEO at the BizX Conference sponsored by ActionCOACH. Higgins Lumber continues to make its mark on the village of Roseville by supporting projects, fundraising and school events.
Geyer serves on the Zanesville Community School Board, is a former member of the Muskingum County Community Foundation Council, and is a founding member of the Zanesville Muskingum Chapter of Business Network International.
Jamie Trout is the recipient of the Mary Townsend Professions Award. Well recognized as a relationship builder has forged partnerships between Eastside Community Ministries and other local agencies to connect clients in search of food, clothing or emergency assistance.
Under Trout’s leadership as executive director, Eastside Community Ministries distributes more than 60,000 pounds of food and 100,000 clothing items each year. As Operation Feed co-chair and a Muskingum County Hunger Network board member, she helps coordinate local food pantries, monthly produce markets, and the SOUPer Bowl event. Thousands of young people benefit from programs like Tools for Schools, Lace Up for Kids and Eastside Community Ministries’ youth program.
In cooperation with Muskingum Behavioral Health, Trout is a champion for those in addiction recovery. She helps meet the needs of new residents in local recovery centers. She opens the doors of Eastside each week to host Women’s Empower Hour and a Family and Friends of Persons with Addiction. In 2017, she received a Friend of Recovery Award.
Jamie is the assistant pastor at House of Grace Church, where she is involved with Sunday School classes, outreach and plays. She is also a member of Zanesville Daybreak Rotary.
The recipient of the Mary Vashti Jones Funk Business Award is Sarah Wickerham. She was one of State Farm’s youngest agents when she opened her own business in 2010. Since then, she has doubled the size of her agency and earned prestigious recognition from State Farm Insurance including Chairman’s Circle, Legion of Honor, and Ambassador Club status. Through corporate funding, Wickerham provided multiple computers to Tri-Valley Schools and hosted an Impact Teen Drivers seminar at the high school.
She serves on the Salvation Army Advisory Board, where she and her children enjoy supporting Angel Tree. She is a member of the Genesis Spirit of Women Board. She helps local youth develop leadership skills through iBelieve Foundation’s iConnect program at Muskingum University. She also invests time and resources with Eastside Community Ministry, Muskingum County Humane Society, Zanesville Civic League, Zanesville Esquires Club, Forever Dads, TJ 5K, Recovery Nation and local sports, theater, and arts programs.
Wickerham is an active member of North Terrace Church of Christ, where she and her husband Jeff are prayer partners, on the baptism team and leaders of a new Family and Marriage ministry. She was also a key sponsor and volunteer for the church’s Generosity Feeds program.
Tara Wilson is the recipient of the Aldine Roach Flegal Special Recognition Award. She serves as the office manager for Linn Engineering, a position she has held for 33 years. While Tim and Cindy Linn appreciate Tara’s efficiency, compassion, and dedication in her professional role, they admire her service to the community above all.
As part of a United Methodist Women’s (UMW) district mission team, Tara became a national task force advocate against human trafficking. She is a member of the Mid-East Ohio Rescue and Restore Coalition, educating others while lobbying for stronger laws and victim rights. Her association with UMW also led her to serve on the board of Lifewell Youth Ministry for 15 years.
Tara was a charter member of Angelkeepers Ohio Child Conservation League and fulfilled several leadership roles at the local, district and state level. She is vice president of the OSU Extension Master Gardener Program and treasurer of the Muskingum Valley Garden Society.
Tara is board treasurer for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Zanesville, where she also serves on the OSU Pep Rally and Bowl for Kid’s Sake committees. In 2017, she received the Delores J. Woerner Dedicated Volunteer Service Award. This year, she and her little Brandalyn were awarded BBBS of Zanesville and State of Ohio Big/Little of the Year.
“The videos will air on the Muskingum County Women of Achievement, Zane State College, and Ohio University Zanesville Facebook pages,” explained Brenda Elswick, chair of the Women of Achievement committee. She went on to encourage those interested in learning more about the Women of Achievement program and about the recipients being honored to like or follow these pages so you are alerted when the videos are posted. “In addition, all the videos will be available in a playlist on Zane State College’s YouTube channel later in April,” Elswick said.
The Muskingum County Women of Achievement program seeks to honor outstanding women who live or work in Muskingum County. All proceeds from the annual event provide scholarships for women to attend Zane State College or Ohio University Zanesville. To learn more call 740-588-1206. The website for the Muskingum County Women of Achievement program is www.zanestate.edu/woa and the Facebook page is “Muskingum County Women of Achievement.”
Presenting Sponsors for the 2020 program include Barnes Advertising, Century National Bank, Linn Engineering, Ohio University Zanesville, Northpointe Surgical Suites, Trikes by Rodney LLC, and Zane State College.
Benefactor Sponsors include The Community Bank, Genesis HealthCare System, Muskingum County Community Foundation, Muskingum County Family Y, Muskingum County Women’s Republican Club, and North Valley Bank.
Patron Sponsors include Jody Ballas, Coconis Furniture & Mattress 1st, Drug Free Muskingum, The Energy Cooperative, Lepi and Associates, and Cindy Linn
Individual Sponsors include Mary Ann Bucci, Diane Jones, Sarah McInturf Linn, Janice Tucker McCloud Stacey Russell, and Mary Swope.
Friends of Women of Achievement include Nancy Beitzel, Champion Services LLC, Vickie MacLaine, Christine Shaw, and Virginia Smith.
Nominations forms for the 2022 Muskingum County Women of Achievement will be available in late December 2021 and will be due in January 2022. Please save the date of April 6, 2022, for next year’s event.