In 2009, Darcie Harris was in Rwanda helping women in that African country do what Harris has done here: succeed in business. Harris traveled there as part of a team from the Institute for the Economic Empowerment of Women that presented a leadership-training program, then visited businesses of each of the students. The outreach was part of the institute’s Peace Through Business program, which helps train women entrepreneurs from war-torn countries in business practices, followed by mentorship with American women business owners. Harris currently mentors a woman from Afghanistan who wants to become a consultant to female business owners. "It would be hard to count the actual number of women Darcie has helped,” Cyndy Hoenig, public relations specialist in Oklahoma City, wrote in nominating Harris. "The number of lives she has touched is in the thousands.” Harris 12 years ago founded EWF International, a company that offers peer advisory groups, coaching and consulting for female business owners and executives. The company has licensed branches in Tulsa and in Colorado. Before launching EWF, Harris managed a 24-hour crisis help line with a staff of five and 250 volunteers that helped with recovery after the Oklahoma City bombing in April 1995. She has held positions in sales, marketing and management and is a regular editorial columnist for The Journal Record newspaper.
Meet five remarkable women from Oklahoma. Whether they’re entertaining millions, serving their communities or sharing their knowledge, they’re using their gifts to inspire others. The Oklahoman’s Features Department narrowed finalists for the you! section’s Woman of the Year to five extraordinary women. A panel of staffers from The Oklahoman chose our winner, Dawn Welch, owner of the Rock Cafe in Stroud. Each of these women had a standout year in 2009. — Lillie-Beth Brinkman