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M. Jill McMaster of Roane County is among the outstanding East Tennessee women to be honored during next month’s prestigious 2013 YWCA Tribute to Women event.
This YWCA event, in its 29th year, is East Tennessee’s foremost acknowledgment and appreciation of the contributions of area women.
The award ceremony will be on Aug. 15 at the U.S. Cellular Stage at the Historic Bijou Theatre.
McMaster is one of 21 finalists for awards to be presented to six women. This year’s event emphasizes work and dedication to Equality, Empowerment, and Transformation by all 21 finalists.
These themes reflect the mission of the YWCA, which is to eliminate racism, empower women and create peace, justice, dignity, and freedom for all.
McMaster and the 20 other finalists represent nominations from all nine counties of East Tennessee.
They were selected among all the impressive and highly accomplished nominees by a distinguished panel of out-of-state judges.
McMaster, as Roane County’s representative, has redefined the term “retired” to mean “community service volunteer.”
She moved to Roane County in 2001 from Washington, D.C., following successful careers with the Central Intelligence Agency and the U.S. Navy Reserve.
In retirement, she has embraced multiple issues, focusing on early childhood literacy in Roane County and on the challenges of organ allocation and transplantation nationally, an issue in which she has identified critical needs and is providing time and talent to address them.
As coordinator of the local affiliate of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, she provides books to families and encourages parents, grandparents and even grea-grandparents to read to the young ones.
Watching a young child carry around a favorite book warms her heart.
Another of McMaster’s passions is to support organ transplantation in the U.S. Working with the Organ Procurement and Transplant Network, she brings the public perspective to the process of establishing national policy to allocate organs for transplant.
With the need for life-saving transplants greatly exceeding the availability of donated organs, the ethical and analytical challenges are enormous.
McMaster said she wonders on occasion, “When was there time for a job?” Yet she will always make time to play her French horn.
McMaster grew up in Lincoln, Neb., and is a graduate of the University of Nebraska/Lincoln and the University of Chicago.
The Tribute to Women event started in 1985 as a platform to honor women in the community. At the time, all area award ceremonies were honoring business men.
The YWCA Knoxville’s signature event recognizing the outstanding contributions of area women began with categories such as business, education, science, and technology when few women were involved in those fields.
To date, the YWCA has recognized more than 200 women in East Tennessee.
This year, the YWCA Tribute to Women event will also induct Joan Cronan into the Lifetime Achievement listing.
Cronan joins 11 other Lifetime Achievement honorees: Helen Ashe, Donna Cobble, Pam Fansler, Sarah Moore Greene, Mary Lou Horner, Debra London, Pat Summitt, Mintha Roach, Barbara Reid, Liane Russell and Ellen Turner.
Each of the Lifetime Achievement honorees have broken barriers, been a “first” in East-Tennessee, and opened the door for the women who followed.
The red-carpet style event begins with an honoree reception at the First Tennessee Bank at 800 S. Gay St. at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 15.
Next, the crowd moves across the red carpet for the awards ceremony.
For more information on the YWCA’s Tribute to Women, contact Danielle Benson at 523-6126 or DBenson@ywcaknox.com, or visit the YWCA’s website at www.ywcaknox.com.