The Iris Awards:  Honoring women of achievement in Southwest Washington

The Iris Awards

Iris is the Greek word for rainbow. In Greek mythology, Iris was the goddess of the rainbow, the messenger of the Olympian gods. Her name contains a double meaning, being connected both with iris, "the rainbow," and eiris, "messenger."

Iris is also associated with communication and new endeavors, both of which are exemplified by women in their public and private roles throughout Southwest Washington and beyond.  The organizers of the Iris Awards note that women’s lives today “represent a rainbow of possibilities.”

Clark College President Robert K. Knight said, “Since 1985, Clark College has been a regional leader in celebrating the contributions of women. We’re proud to make this announcement, and we hope that the community will share our excitement.”

Clark College Foundation President & CEO Lisa Gibert said, “We believe that the Iris Awards will be a fresh and meaningful way to inspire, celebrate, and honor the lives of women in Southwest Washington and beyond.  Most of all, we hope that the Iris Awards will inspire women of all ages in our region to dream and to achieve.”

Vancouver Business Journal Publisher John McDonagh said, “We are proud to join Clark College and the Clark College Foundation in celebrating the accomplishments of women in our region.” The Vancouver Business Journal’s publications include the Women in Business Directory, the only Portland/Vancouver metro area directory of women owned, directed and/or managed businesses. The Iris Award winners are featured in the annual directory.


The 2013 Iris Awards

Congratulations to the 2013 Iris Award winners: Dianna Kretzschmar, Lisa Lowe and Jaynie Roberts!  These three incredible women who are leaders in senior advocacy, the law and the arts in Southwest Washington were honored at the annual awards ceremony held March 7, 2013 on the eve of International Women’s Day.

Dianna Kretzschmar Lisa Lowe Jaynie Roberts

The 2013 Iris Awards ceremony was sponsored by Riverview Community Bank and emceed by Laural Porter of KGW Newschannel 8.  Thank you to all of the nominators, sponsors, supporters, attendees and winners for making the 2013 Iris Awards such a memorable event! 

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2013 Iris Awards: In the News

3 women to be honored for works: Annual Iris Awards recognize lasting contributions in Southwest Washington

The Columbian - March 3, 2013

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2013 Iris Awards to honor achievement and service

The Reflector - February 20, 2013

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Clark College announces the 2013 Iris Award winners

The Daily Insider - February 6, 2013

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Video highlights of the 2013 Iris Awards


Honoring women in Southwest Washington: a history

Women of Achievement 2009 celebration
The 2009 Women of Achievement celebration marked 25 years of honoring women in Southwest Washington.  Left to right:  English as a Non-Native Language professor and 1985 Woman of Achievement Priscila Martins-Read, former director of women’s programs and Women of Achievement event founder Pat Watne, KGW-TV anchor and Women of Achievement emcee Laurel Porter, Clark College President Bob Knight, and YWCA Clark County Executive Director Kathy Kniep.

In March 1985, Pat Watne, the Director of Women’s Programs at Clark College, organized a photography exhibit to recognize the outstanding contributions made by eight women in Southwest Washington.

The project was held to commemorate National Women’s History Month, to recognize International Women’s Day, and to honor volunteer efforts and community leadership of women in Clark County. The women recognized in the photo exhibit were also celebrated at a tea. Within four years of its inception, the event moved from the college to the Red Lion Inn at the Quay.  In 1991, YWCA Clark County joined Clark College in sponsoring the Women of Achievement celebration.  In 2005, the event moved to the Hilton Vancouver Washington, having become the largest event of its kind in Southwest Washington.

In 2012 - with a new name but an unchanged mission - the Iris Awards returned to Clark College.

A list of award recipients over the years can be found at