2013 marks the 10th anniversary of the Stevie Awards for Women in Business, the world's top honors for female entrepreneurs, executives, employees, and the organizations they run.
As we approach the entry deadlines for the 2013 competition we'll look back at some of the women who have won Stevie Awards over the past decade. We'll catch up with them on their current activities, and learn what their Stevie win meant to them and their careers.
Today's profile is of 2004 Lifetime Achievement Award winner Valerie Herskowitz.
Valerie Herskowitz is the kind of person who just doesn’t stop giving. At the time Herskowitz was named recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Stevie Awards for Women in Business in 2004, she was recognized for her relentless dedication to working with individuals with autism. To this end, she owned and operated Dimensions Therapy Center, a business dedicated to helping those with autism through speech and occupational therapy. She also has served as president of the National Autism Registry for 14 years. In this volunteer role, she works with the organization to take them closer to their mission of providing community-based opportunities for those with autism. The organization has held numerous outings, offered camp scholarships and hosted other recreational activities, all in an effort to create opportunities for adults with autism.
Herskowitz spent more than 35 years as a speech pathologist, catering to those with autism. She was working in the autism field when she learned in 1993 that her own son was diagnosed with autism. Her life dramatically changed. Since then, everything Herskowitz developed or has been involved with regarding autism somehow has her son’s imprint on it.
In 2008, Herskowitz sold Dimensions Therapy but remains very involved in supporting those with autism through speech therapy. She's currently president of the Florida Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists.
Now that her son is an adult, she is focused on his future. Spurred by her son's autism diagnosis, and to provide opportunities to those with autism, Herskowitz founded and owns The Chocolate Spectrum (www.thechocolatespectrum.com), which employs individuals with autism who procure and sell artisan chocolate candy. Her family owned and operated chocolate company offers a range of delicious chocolate confections while supporting individuals with autism. A portion of each sale is donated to autism-focused charities. Each day the firm acts on its mantha: Creating Sweet Opportunities for Those With Autism.
Herskowitz’ tireless efforts have allowed her and her family to remain committed to their mission of aiding and supporting individuals with autism everywhere, first from her therapy center business, for which she earned her Stevie Award, and now through their chocolate enterprise. She is the author of two books on autism: Autism and Computers: Maximizing Independence Through Technology, published in 2009; and Always Leave Them Laughing, published in 2012.
“Winning the Stevie Award helped raise overall awareness of autism, further demonstrated the significance of helping those with autism and helped promote my work in this very important field," Herskowitz said. "The town where I lived at the time I received the award -- Davie, Florida -- was so proud of and impressed with my Stevie Award that they named a day after me! I never could have anticipated that this type of recognition would elicit such a response from my community, and I am grateful that the judges acknowledged the importance of supporting those with autism. Winning the Lifetime Achievement Stevie Award was one of the high points of my career. It was wonderful and rewarding to be honored for my efforts within the realm of autism, which is so very crucial to me and my family.”
The entry deadline for the 2013 edition of the Stevie Awards for Women in Business is August 28, and late entries will be accepted through September 25 with payment of a nominal late fee. Complete entry details are available at www.StevieAwards.com/Women.