Laudable leading ladies

Honoring the recipients of IB’s inaugural “Women of Industry” awards

From the pages of In Business magazine.

When it comes to assessing one’s impact, it’s one thing to influence the direction of a business organization, but it’s another to make your mark on an entire industry. We established the “Women of Industry” awards program this year to honor women who have had a significant impact on their respective industries — locally, regionally, nationally, or globally — and we’re delighted to present a 2015 class of five women who have met that high standard.

We received nominations for 31 area business leaders, and it wasn’t easy to select the five best. Our judges, who included IB staff plus Laurie Benson (retired CEO of Inacom Information Systems) and Wendy Bauman (president of the Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corp.), didn’t come up with the same list of five women before they met early last month to debate the merits of various applicants. However, we eventually reached a consensus about the five who best illustrate the kind of businesswomen the award is meant to recognize — forward-thinking women who are pioneers in their respective fields.

The women introduced in these pages are not only respected in their chosen fields, but also sought after for their insights.

You can celebrate them during the inaugural Women of Industry awards program on Thursday, Nov. 5, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the Sheraton Madison Hotel, 706 John Nolen Drive. Tickets cost $45 each or $300 for a corporate table of eight, and you can register online at

Lisa Kivirist

Sustainer of the Sisterhood

As a sustainable farmer, author, and advocate, Lisa Kivirist has been the driving force behind Inn Serendipity Farm and B&B in Browntown, but the term sustainable farmer only scratches the surface when describing her. Thanks in part to Kivirist, women are the fastest growing group of new farmers, and as entrepreneurs dedicated to providing healthy food through sustainable and organic agriculture, female farmers have taken advantage of innovative opportunities to lead industry growth. Yet she continues to battle the stubborn reality that women farmers are an isolated and underrepresented group, so she serves as both an inspiring voice and networking spark for female farmers committed to stewarding the land and cultivating healthy communities.

Jordyn Schara

Youthful Yearning

In an age where teen activism has been at long last activated, nobody has been more active than Jordyn Schara, president and founder of HOPE (Helping Our Peers Excel). Schara founded HOPE at the age of 14 to give teens opportunities to tackle issues in their community and beyond, and to give them the tools to be part of the solution. Schara’s primary tool is her own strong character because she’s never been discouraged when adults don’t respond to her calls for action. The rest of us are beneficiaries of her remarkable determination, especially when she tackles an issue like prescription pill and drug disposal (P2D2). When we dump unwanted drugs down the drain, they contaminate groundwater, causing problems for humans and aquatic animals. Schara responded with a drug collection program to prevent medicine cabinets from becoming drug dealers.



Carol Schroeder

Retail Radiance

In retail, orange has become the color of money thanks largely to Carol “Orange” Schroeder, co-owner of Orange Tree Imports, an award-winning gift and gourmet shop in Madison. Her insights into independent retailing, offered in three English and two Russian editions of “Specialty Shop Retailing: How to Run Your Own Store,” have reached 40,000 people worldwide. She continues to spread the gospel through a popular weekly blog, (, bimonthly columns for the national trade magazine Gifts and Decorative Accessories, and at national and international trade and gift shows. Under Schroeder’s direction, Orange Tree Imports, now celebrating its 40th anniversary, operates under an innovative management style called “participative democracy,” which has inspired retail stores around the world to offer employees a more meaningful role in the business.

Ayla Annac

Invivo’s Verve

Her fuel is a personal passion to fight heart disease. Her leadership style has had a global impact and helped her company earn a prestigious award for innovation. Ayla Annac cofounded InvivoSciences, a Madison biotech engaged in the development of precision and regenerative medicine, to develop a system for testing the safety and efficacy of treatments for heart disease, which claimed the life of her father. Annac’s leadership style, described as “dynamic” by IVS Chief Science Officer Dr. Tetsuro Wakatsuki, not only helped the company develop its technology and global commercial plans, it helped earn an Edison Award recognizing the world’s most innovative new products, services, and business leaders.

Deb Archer

Destination Devotee

Deb Archer, now in her 20th year as president and CEO of the Greater Madison Convention and Visitors Bureau, does not lead a tourism organization. She has transformed the GMCVB into a destination marketing organization. Without Archer, there is no Madison Area Sports Commission, perhaps no second convention hotel under consideration near Monona Terrace, and no discussion about re-imagining the Alliant Energy Center. Archer has not only continued her quest to position destination marketing as an economic force in Dane County and Wisconsin, she influenced the Destination Marketing Association International’s groundbreaking “DestinationNEXT” program, a strategic roadmap for the future of global destination marketing, and she lent her expertise to the U.S. Department of Labor to help build a competency model for the destination-marketing profession.

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