NORMAN — Typically there is only one winner of the Norman Chamber of Commerce’s Women’s Leadership Award every year, but this year was different.
“It was a difficult decision. There are so many fabulous women out there,” said Cindy Merrick, chair of the Women’s Leadership Award Committee this year.
The winners this year were Sherri Coale, head women’s basketball coach for the University of Oklahoma, and Jaci Williams, of Casa Blanca and McAfee Enterprises.
Since the reception was held Wednesday night, Coale was unable to attend the award reception. Instead, she was recognized at center court before the OU women’s basketball game against UCLA at Lloyd Noble Center.
Sherri Coale: Coale was nominated by Julia Chew, of Julia Chew State Farm. She has dedicated the last 16 years of her life to the women on her basketball team, both on and off the court.
“Under Coach Coale, players are not only held to a high academic standard but must reach out to the community as well,” said Kathy Drummond, a past recipient of the award.
The Sooner women are required to serve in the Sooner Big Sis Program as well as a local nonprofit every year, such as Mary Abbott Children’s House and the Battered Women’s Shelter.
“Sherri’s commitment to service has not only bettered our city, it has bettered the women on her team as future leaders,” Drummond said.
Last year, Coale was recognized internationally as the Inaugural Positive Peace Award Winner by the United Nations.
Jaci Williams: When announcing Williams as a winner of the 2012 Women’s Leadership Award, all Cindy Merrick had to do was put on a large pair of red glasses, a trademark of Williams’, and the crowd instantly made the connection.
Williams was nominated by Norman Rotary Club’s Community Service committee. She founded the Citizens Advisory Board of Cleveland County Child Welfare Unit, spearheaded the Rotary Youth Exchange program for almost 20 years, served on the board of directors for Camp Fire Girls and was a Cub Scout leader.