CHEYENNE – First American Title Southern Wyoming Area Manager Paula Poythress was honored Friday afternoon as the winner of the 2021 Women’s Leadership Award.

She was a finalist, along with four other influential women who were celebrated by more than 250 attendees at the monthly Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

“This year’s award winner is no stranger to our community,” said former leadership award winner Kathy Cathcart. “She has a longstanding reputation for unwavering community support and business success, and she exemplifies the true meaning of the Women’s Leadership Award.”

Poythress said she was honored to win the award, and felt extremely appreciative for being recognized in a town she loves deeply. She gave a special acknowledgement to her fellow nominees, Laramie County Community College’s Lisa Trimble and Danielle Ryan, Western Vista Credit Union’s Lorrell Walter and the U.S. Air Force’s Alice J MacVey.

“I was so shocked,” she said. “All of the women that were in that group of people ... were a phenomenal, wonderful group of people, and way more deserving than I am.”

As well as winning the leadership award, Poythress was the moderator for a panel of women who discussed their experiences climbing the ladder of success. Many shared their thoughts on how vital it is not only for communities, as a whole, to support them, but for women to lift each other up.

State Auditor Kristi Racines said she grew up in a generation that focused on a competitive environment between women. She witnessed a narrative portrayed as a “success pie,” and “less for you, means more for me.” She explained how this isn’t true, and while being jealous may be the natural instinct, it’s important to push past it.

“Breaking those thought patterns is really important,” she said, “and so is training the next generation to be really excited for other people’s success, and really being excited for other women’s successes.”

This concept of encouragement was important to all the panelists, including state Sen. Tara Nethercott, R-Cheyenne.

“If you want more women in leadership, then women, you have to do it,” she said. “And women and men in the room, you have to support them in their efforts to achieve that.”

She said there have been studies conducted that prove women are less likely to apply for a position they feel they are less qualified for, and, statistically, men have no qualms about doing so. She encouraged fellow female professionals to take the risk, and share an interest in a position, promotion or raise.

Nethercott was also excited for the opportunity to celebrate other Cheyenne leaders.

“I think it gives the community a moment to pause and step back and appreciate all of the wonderful women we have in our community,” she said, “and really have that time to say thank you, to encourage others to step up and to lead through servant leadership.”

Although it seemed every individual at the luncheon was delighted to bask in their success, panelist and commander of the 90th Missile Wing at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Col. Catherine Barrington, still looked to the future in terms of efforts to equalize the playing field.

She said throughout her more than two-decades-long career, she has seen more opportunities arise for women, and positive changes in military culture and climate. But she said there is still work to do.

“It’s raising each other up,” she said. “And when you lock arms and you march forward together, you get a lot farther than if you try to go out on your own.”

Jasmine Hall is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s education reporter. She can be reached by email at jhall@wyomingnews.com or by phone at 307-633-3167. Follow her on Twitter @jasminerhphotos and on Instagram @jhrose25.

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