Woman of the Year Award

Woman of the Year Award/NBWW

National Business Women’s Week is a BPW Foundation signature event started in 1928 that recognizes the achievements of working women throughout history. Each year during this week, the BPW Foundation salutes exceptional female leaders in the workplace. The celebration of NBWW has helped to promote leadership roles for women and to increase opportunities for their advancement professionally and personally.

Similarly, Youngstown BPW carries on this tradition by honoring one outstanding local woman in business each year during NBWW with its ‘Woman of the Year’ dinner and award ceremony, which doubles as a fundraiser that supports the Dr. Anne McMahon Scholarship Award.  During the event, the YBPW Woman of the Year is honored for her achievements as YBPW pursues its vision of the empowerment and advancement of women through education and mentorship by providing resources for a future leader of our community to achieve her educational goals through our scholarship.

If you’d like donate to or sponsor the Woman of the Year event, you can learn more here.

History of the Woman of the Year Award

The YBPW Woman of the Year Award was first bestowed in 1966 to Esther Hamilton, an outstanding columnist for the Youngstown Vindicator with years of service to the community. In the 1980’s, the Woman of the Year Award was transformed into the Athena Award when YBPW partnered with The Vindicator to bring the first Athena program to Youngstown. As the program and award ceremony grew in size, the Vindicator and eventually the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber took over the award program.

In 2011,  YBPW chose to reinstate the Woman of the Year Award.  Since then, the club has reached beyond its membership to look at female leaders in the community that has achieved in their career, mentored others and worked as advocates for equity for women.

This year’s honoree: The Rev. Gayle Catinella

The Rev. Gayle Catinella was born and raised in Chicago and suburbs, graduating from Hinsdale South High School and Loyola University of Chicago. Following graduation, she worked for a year for the church in Belize, and upon her return, she joined the staff of the St. Francis Catholic Worker House in Chicago, a homeless shelter. During this time she also received a Master’s Degree in Social Work. After a short stay running a similar shelter in Rock Island, Illinois, Catinella and her family moved to a farm in Northeast Nebraska, where she worked as a clinical social worker and was adjunct faculty at Wayne State College in Wane, Nebraska.

During this time she felt God’s urging to pursue her call to the priesthood in the Episcopal Church. After finishing a Master’s Degree she was ordained on June 2002 and went to work as assistant Rector at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Lincoln, Nebraska. In 2004, she accepted a call to be Rector of St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Berea, OH, where she served happily for 10 years. In 2014, Catinella was offered a call to St. John’s Episcopal Church in Youngstown. Since her arrival, she has fallen in love with this community, made wonderful friends, and found great meaning in the works of justice in the outreach of the church. St. John’s is involved in the neighborhood, with YSU students, in efforts to combat racism and provide food access, and in supporting the arts.


Currently, Catinella is Secretary of the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Ohio, Secretary of the Board of Help Network, co-coordinator of the Greater Youngstown Community Dialogue on Racism, co-chair of the Community Foundation’s Healthy Community Partnership on Food Access, a member of the Police Chaplain Corps, and a member of Rotary.

Catinella is the proud parent of Paul, Tim, Jacob, Katie, Philip and Martin, and grandma to JD, Jayden, and Christina. She considers this her most wonderful accomplishment.