You knew it was going to be a good night for the ladies at the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame dinner and induction when Teresa Younger, executive director of Connecticut’s Permanent Commission on the Status of Women, offered this bit of advice to the audience at the Connecticut Convention Center.
“Be the kind of woman who, when your feet hit the floor in the morning, the Devil says: ‘Oh crap. She’s up.’“
The advice was just some that was offered during an evening that not only celebrated the 20th anniversary of the organization, but also added four more outstanding women to the hallowed hall. Inductees included former U.S. Commerce Secretary Barbara Hackman Franklin, U.S. Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, and Yale University vice president Linda Koch Lorimer. “It’s an honor,” said DeLauro about being named to the hall that includes dozens of remarkable Connecticut women. “The women in the Hall of Fame all had accomplishments that were extraordinary,” she continued. “I am so pleased to join them.”
More than 1,000 people attended the event that looked like a living who’s who of politicians, corporate and non-profit leaders. Among them, Republican Chris Healy, Democrat Nancy DiNardo, Ted Kennedy Jr. and his wife Kiki Kennedy, business leaders Peter Kelly, Wally Barnes and Susan Rottner and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.
Also attending was State Sen. Toni Harp, who made her own Connecticut history Tuesday when she was elected the first female mayor of New Haven. “It feels great,” said the mayor-elect about her win, revved up over the prospect of her new position as she fielded hugs and congratulations throughout the night.
It was also a special night for two out-of-state residents, Anne Daignault Hartnet of Charleston and her cousin, Laura Gates of Truro, Mass. Their great-grandmother Augusta Lewis Troup, was also inducted to the hall of fame. “We come from good genes,” said Hartnet referring to Troup, a journalist, suffragist and civil rights advocate in the late 1800s and early 1900s. “She is surely smiling right now.”
Besides the four inductees, several other women were honored including Younger, Andree Aelion Brooks, Dr. Carmen R. Cid, Julie DeGennaro, Dr. Merle Harris, Donna Palomba, Fran Pastore, Dr. Alice Pritchard, Jessica Sager, Janna Wagner, and Lynne Williamson. Receiving the 20123 Ella Tambussi Grasso Leadership in Action Grant was Wesleyan University senior Amber Nashay Smith.
If smiles could be measured during the night, one of the biggest was on the face of Geena Clonan, the hall of fame’s founding president. “We knew 20 years ago that there were so many brave women who made history in this state,” said Clonan as she watched the crowd arrive. “I am not at all surprised that it turned into this.”