Women Making a Difference

by Nov 29, 2023Online Exclusives, People, South Brunswick

Brunswick County Chamber of Commerce celebrated women and named June Baker as Woman of the Year at the 2023 Women of Impact Brunch.

June Baker dabbed at tears and shook her head in disbelief. When she arrived at the Women of Impact Brunch on November 15, she was unaware that she would be named Brunswick County Chamber of Commerce Woman of the Year. More than 100 people attended the event at The Isles Restaurant in Ocean Isle Beach.

“I’m absolutely in awe of all the great people here,” Baker said when she accepted the award. “I’m overwhelmed by this award. I never, ever expected this.”

She explained that health issues caused difficult times over the past few years, but added, “I cannot say enough about the company I work for and the friends I have. I couldn’t have made it without them.”

Baker, who is manager of physician relations/recruitment at Novant Health Medical Group in Bolivia, was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent surgery.

Mary Hemphill Mary June Baker

Laurie Griswell, community engagement partner at Novant, nominated Baker for the award. She told the audience that Baker “has done an amazing job of bringing much needed primary care, especially primary care physicians, to our area.” Griswell added that Baker ensures that the newcomers become part of the community and understand the organizations in the community.

Among Baker’s other achievements are the launch in 2009 of HealthWatch, a television program that focused on health-related issues. It continued until September 2023. She is chair of the New Hope Clinic board and serves on the Brunswick Wellness Coalition board. She is an active member of the Brunswick County Chamber of Commerce and Southport Rotary Club.

“She has made a remarkable difference in Brunswick County and is absolutely deserving of this award,” Griswell says. Baker recently moved from Oak Island to North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Linda Stinson, chair of the Women in Business committee, explained that the committee at the Brunswick County Chamber of Commerce was organized in 2014 to focus on women in business.

Linda Stinson

“We wanted to celebrate the businesswomen in our community, so we created the Women of Impact,” she said. “This is our sixth year. The purpose of the award is to honor someone for her exemplary contributions to our community over the years.”
Susan Freeman, executive director of the Brunswick County Chamber of Commerce for nearly five years, is on the board. “Our teammates always say, ‘We are family.’”

Freeman is proud to note that 610 businesses are members. Women-represented businesses throughout the county expressed their belief in the award and the annual Women of Impact Brunch.

“[This event] means empowering women,” said Regina Lowry, activities life enrichment director at Autmn Care in Shallotte. “It’s helping enrich everyone’s lives.”

Allison Szafarski, operations manager for restaurateur James Lane, said, “It shows growth in the county and what an impact women contribute to make this community better.”

Anna Bowers, chief marketing officer of Comfort Keepers, which was the speaker sponsor, said, “Being part of the Brunswick County Chamber and the Women in Business Committee has been such a blessing for me. It provided an opportunity for me to get to know a fabulous group of professional women, passionate hard-working women, who truly care about our community.”

Bowers and Kristin Kane, owner of Comfort Keepers, introduced the speaker, Mary Hemphill, Ph.D. Hemphill is a leadership expert, coach and inspirational speaker and the first North Carolina state director of computer science and technology education. She is also chief executive officer of the Limitless Lady, a company she began that assists people in developing their leadership skills. She made an impact as speaker in 2022 so the chamber invited her to return this year.

Hemphill emphasized that each person has a narrative and has opportunities and challenges throughout their lifetime, but they can solve their dilemmas. She explained there is a difference between living and existing.

Women of Impact Awards

“Existing is going through the motions of life, responding to triggers, not changing. Living is finding a purpose. You have value. The smallest choices you make today create a future and a tomorrow. Women of impact know how to move forward. They give others courage.” She advised women to have confidence in themselves. “Walk into every room as if you belong there,” she said.

“I’m just really happy to recognize all the wonderful women in Brunswick County,” said Elizabeth Wassum, philanthropy manager for Novant Health Foundation. “It feels powerful to see old friends and make new ones.”

“Anything that puts an emphasis on women is a good thing, and we all need to support it,” said Karen Joseph of Sunset Beach.

Want to know more?
Brunswick County Chamber of Commerce
112 Pine Street, Shallotte
(910) 754-6644