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When Joyce Fletcher received the phone call from David Bizianes that she had been awarded the Tony Cotten Woman of Distinction Award, she had to pull the car over because she was in shock.
“I’m still very humbled because I know a lot of strong, very involved, very capable women in this county,” Fletcher said. “I am very humbled to be considered in the category with a lot of women that I hold in such high esteem.”
On March 10, the Oldham Chamber and Economic Development held the ninth annual Celebration of Women event, which featured networking, lunch, tablescape decorating and awards, and a panel discussion with local businesswomen.
Fletcher was presented with the Tony Cotten Woman of Distinction Award during the event. Cotten is the former publisher of The Oldham Era and served on the Celebration of Women event board. Cotten embodied a commitment to his community, a spirit of entrepreneurship and a loyalty to his family, according to the award description. The woman recognized each year must also possess those qualities.
Since moving to Oldham County with her family 24 years ago, Fletcher has been heavily involved in the local community, often combining her volunteering with supporting her family.
Fletcher’s four sons all attended Oldham County Schools, which is how she found her initial involvement in the school system. She has now served on the Oldham County School Board for the past 14 years, currently acting as the chairperson and the only woman on the board since Jennifer Beckner stepped down.
“I love children and I’m a huge believer in quality public education. I went to public schools and I think it’s important that we continue to maintain strong public schools in this country,” Fletcher said about serving on the board of education. “I think that everybody should do what they can to support their public schools in the community they live in.”
Within the school system, Fletcher has also been a member of the site based decision making council (SBDM), the Oldham County Educational Foundation and is a former Parent Teacher Association (PTA) President.
She is also involved with the Oldham County Community Foundation and volunteers at her church, St. John United Methodist Church. In addition to her volunteerism, her work as a clinical nurse has also led her to help others, including making five medical trips to Honduras.
Fletcher noted that although Oldham County was not unique in recognizing women around International Women’s Day, the Celebration of Women event is still significant.
“I think a lot of times females move under the radar in terms of what they are doing and what they are accomplishing,” Fletcher said. “I think it’s wonderful that Oldham County decided to highlight what females are doing in their community.”
During her acceptance speech at the Celebration of Women event, Fletcher said she’d like to flip the quote, “behind every strong man, there is a strong woman,” to “behind this woman is a strong man.” Fletcher’s husband, Dr. Eugene Fletcher, nominated her for the Woman of Distinction award.
For those hoping to get more involved in the community, Fletcher’s advice is to find your niche. “I think if you have school-aged children, the best place to start is in the schools where your children attend. I’m also a huge proponent of volunteerism. I think that gives you a sense of ownership too in a place that you live.
“I challenge each of you to find a way to give back.”