Starr Women's Hall of Fame Reveals 2021 Class of Inductees

Hall honors Kansas City’s greatest women, past and present

A new group of extraordinary women, past and present, who have made their mark on the greater Kansas City community have been named to the Starr Women's Hall of Fame.

The Hall of Fame was created to honor women who have made Kansas City a better place to live, work and serve. Alicia Starr and Marjorie Williams, Ed.D., are co-chairs of the 2021 induction ceremony.

“We are excited to bring these 11 remarkable women into the Starr Women’s Hall of Fame, a group that sets a standard for achievement and public service,” Williams said. “The stories of these women are an example and an inspiration to future generations.”

The 11 outstanding women in the 2021 class of honorees will be honored in a private broadcast celebration on Tuesday, June 22. Festivities will commence with a preshow at 5:45 p.m. followed by the private broadcast at 6 p.m.  Details about the event as well as ticket and sponsor opportunities can be found at www.umkc.edu/starrhalloffame/

The new inductees are:

  • Sister Corita Bussanmas (deceased) and Sister Berta Sailer, founders of Operation Breakthrough. Together, they provided education and social services to more than 10,000 of KC’s most vulnerable children and their families. In 2014, they were awarded the John and Marion Kreamer Award for Social Entrepreneurship from the UMKC Bloch School of Management.

  • Rafaela “Lali” Garcia, founding member of La Raza, now UnidosUS, building a stronger community by creating opportunities for Latinos. She is a former Jackson County Commissioner and served on the boards of Guadalupe Centers, the Hispanic Economic Development Corp. and MANA, a national Latina organization empowering women through leadership development, service and advocacy.

  • Karen M. Herman, one of the founders and the first president of the Women’s Foundation. She is a longtime advocate and philanthropist for women and hunger relief, and has received multiple community recognitions including Woman of the Year Award from the Central Exchange and the U.S. Mayoral End Hunger Award.

  • Gayle Holliday, Ph.D., introduced female bus operators into the workforce as HR Director at the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, many of whom were single mothers and heads of their households. She served on President Bill Clinton’s transition team.

  • Norge Jerome, Ph.D., served as Director of USAID, the federal international development and humanitarian agency. A professor and author of three books, she received the U.S. Department of Labor Spotlight Award for expanding the scope of food and nutrition services to poor women and families in developing countries.

  • Audrey H. Langworthy, a 17-year Kansas state senator. Her recognitions include the National Society for the DAR Award for Excellence in Community Service, the Johnson County Community College Foundation's Johnson Countian of the Year Award and was named to the University of Kansas Women's Hall of Fame.

  • Carol Marinovich, the first woman mayor of Kansas City, Kansas, who led the successful conversion to a Unified County Government and the development of the Kansas Speedway NASCAR racetrack, resulting in a complete economic renaissance for her community. She was recognized as Kansas Citian of the Year by the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce.

  • Nelle E. Peters (deceased), the first female architect to have a significant impact on Kansas City’s built environment, she is best known for designing her signature colonnaded apartment buildings in central neighborhoods of Kansas City and the Luzier Cosmetics Building in Midtown. She designed more than 1,000 buildings during her career before retiring in 1967.

  • Rosilyn Temple, founder of the Kansas City, Missouri chapter of Mothers In Charge, Inc. after the murder of her 26 year-old son. She has responded to more than 400 homicide scenes in the city since 2012 to comfort family members and support law enforcement. She is changing the conversation surrounding violence reduction in our community by elevating the voices of bereaved mothers and women.

  • Sonia Warshawski, a Holocaust survivor who was sentenced to three death camps between the ages of 14 and 19. She became the voice of those who died and began speaking to students, adults and numerous organizations and has become a role model for trauma survivors. Her granddaughter made an award-winning documentary, “Big Sonia,” to share her story with an even wider audience.

The Starr Women's Hall of Fame is dedicated to recognizing extraordinary Kansas City women and preserving the history of their accomplishments. These women are social reformers, volunteers, philanthropists, civic leaders, activists and educators. They are neighborhood leaders and grassroots organizers, from yesterday and today, both famous and unsung. They are movers and shakers whose tireless commitment to community has made Kansas City a better place to live. The Hall of Fame is a repository for their legacies, offering an extensive archive of these women’s activities and achievements available to researchers, educators and historians.

A permanent display honoring Hall of Fame members is now open to the public on the third floor of the Miller Nichols Library at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. The library is at 800 E. 51 St., Kansas City, Missouri.

By sharing their stories, the Hall of Fame encourages and inspires women everywhere. Biographies of all of the honorees are available at umkc.edu/starrhalloffame/hall.cfm.

The Hall is named in honor of Martha Jane Phillips Starr, a legendary activist and philanthropist who blazed a trail for family issues and women's rights. The hall of fame is made possible through the Starr Education Committee, Martha Jane Starr’s family and the Starr Field of Interest Fund, which was established upon her death through the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation. The idea for the Starr Women’s Hall of Fame stemmed from Starr Education Committee members.

The civic organizations that advocate on behalf of women and family issues and have signed on in support of the Starr Women’s Hall of Fame include: American Association of University Women, American Business Women’s Association, Association for Women Lawyers of Greater Kansas City, Central Exchange, CBIZ Women’s Advantage, Girl Scouts of NE Kansas and NW Missouri, Greater Kansas City Chamber’s Executive Women’s Leadership Council, Greater Kansas City Women’s Political Caucus, Jackson County Missouri Chapter of the Links, Inc.; Junior League of Kansas City, Missouri; KC Metro Latinas, Kansas City Athenaeum, Kansas City Young Matrons, OneKC for Women, SkillBuilders Fund, Soroptimist International of Kansas City, Soroptimist Kansas City Foundation, UMKC, UMKC Women’s Center, UMKC Women’s Council, UMKC Women of Color Leadership Conference, United WE, WIN for KC, win|win, Women Leaders in College Sports, Women’s Public Service Network, Zonta International District 7 and Zonta Club of KC II.

Published: Apr 28, 2021

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