The Outstanding Women of Northern Kentucky Awards were established in the fall of 1984, when the late Nancy Boothe, wife of then-NKU President Leon E. Boothe, invited several faculty and staff members to a luncheon for a discussion of ways to involve more women from the NorthernKentucky area in the University community.

By the end of that meeting, a preliminary plan had been devised to establish the Outstanding Women of Northern Kentucky Awards, which would be presented during the annual Northern Kentucky University Women’s Week celebration.

In the spring of the following year, the first Outstanding Women of Northern Kentucky Awards luncheon was held with The Kentucky Post acting as a co-sponsor. Thomas More College later joined as an additional sponsor. After the newspaper closed in 2008, Toyota became the major sponsor, assumed responsibility for event production, and supported the scholarship program. With the 2014 announcement of Toyota’s headquarters consolidation and eventual relocation to Texas, the program was again in need of a champion to carry the torch. The Women’s Initiative of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce has adopted this program and will continue its remarkable legacy.

At the first celebration, five women were honored. Since that time, more than 140 women have been recognized for blazing trails, opening doors or demonstrating leadership in their homes, their professions, their communities or their state.

Judges typically honor women in the following categories:

  • Emerging Leader
  • Outstanding Women
  • Helen Carroll Champion of Education
  • The Henrietta Cleveland Inspiring Women Award presented by St. Elizabeth Healthcare
  • Judy Clabes Lifetime Achievement