Two outstanding women were honored at last Tuesday evening’s Greater Greenbrier Chamber of Commerce dinner as inspirations to many, both in the local community and throughout the state. The event, held at The Greenbrier, was, as usual, a well-attended, successful affair.
Keynote speaker Nikki Izzo-Brown, women’s soccer head coach at West Virginia University, solidly affirmed her leadership qualifications. “I am a leader, I plant seeds and I recruit,” she said. Izzo-Brown claims her pillars of success are vision, believing in it and being unbreakable. “What’s it going to take to succeed?” she asks – a no-excuse attitude. Now entering her 22nd season, Izzo-Brown is the only coach in Mountaineer history to build a nascent women’s soccer program into one of the nation’s elite teams. She spoke in tough terms reflecting her iron will and mental determination for good reason. Her credentials are on the money. She has never had a losing season as head coach and has led WVU to 17 straight 10-plus winning seasons. The team made their first NCAA College Cup appearance last year and finished as the national runner-up. The team’s participation, “was something to be proud of. We didn’t win, but we are winners,” Izzo-Brown said. “We’re going to get back; we’re going to win it.”
Tammy Jordan, the chamber’s 2017 Business Leader of the Year, was credited by former Greenbrier food and beverage manager Rod Stoner for her unflagging support for the town of Rainelle. As owner of the farm-to-table restaurant, Fruits of Labor Cafe and Bakery, which like so many businesses and homes last summer in Rainelle, was 5-feet deep in water. She could have given up, Stoner said, but like other businesses in Rainelle, the community became an example of what you can do. The restaurant reopened, and as Mayor Andy Pendleton claims, Jordan and her staff prepare their food infused with love and good health.
“This is what can happen when a community works together,” said Jordan.
Fruits of Labor is a company that joins agriculture with the culinary industry. Jordan, an inspirational speaker, initiated a unique program several years ago called Seeds of Recovery that provides individuals in recovery from addiction with a way to recover from low self worth and lack of purpose. “Faith has a place in what we’re doing,” Jordan said.
Judge James Rowe, who gave an inspiring invocation at the dinner, called Jordan “the real deal; a transformative innovator and proof that caring, skilled leadership makes a difference.” Drug addiction is a growing problem, he said, but vocational opportunities can make a big difference to many people in these circumstances. In looking for a partner, he found Jordan, and Fruits of Labor and the district court came together to create a successful story.
“We believe in working with the whole person and we invest in students for the length of time they’re in the program,” Jordan said. She urged everyone to take time to invest in people, and “you’ll find individuals who regain their self esteem, their children and their jobs. There may be relapses, but when they are set back upon a path, your investment in one person will radically change many lives.”
“This is an exciting time to be a business leader,” Jordan said.