A local leader with a long history of community service was honored as The Republic Woman of the Year Thursday night at The Commons.
Lisa Shafran, retired president of the local Turning Point Domestic Violence Services, was recognized during the 40th annual award ceremony, which is sponsored by The Republic.
The Woman of the Year award annually recognizes one woman from Bartholomew County for her selflessness and dedication in making the community a better place.
“There’s a trite saying that says ‘Behind every successful man is a strong, successful woman,’” said The Republic’s Publisher Bud Hunt as he began the event. “I think we are fortunate the women in our community decided that they’re strong and successful on their own, and they’re going to lead us.”
2020 Woman of the Year Kathleen “Kitty” Coriden was a part of this year’s ceremony, presenting Shafran with the traditional “Woman of the Year” necklace. The award also comes with a $2,000 donation to a charity chosen by the award winner. Shafran — in what she joked must be a “tremendous shock” — chose to give the donation to Turning Point.
During her address to the crowd, Shafran thanked the family, friends, coworkers and mentors who have touched her life. She referenced an adage about how the impacts people have on one another are like ripples in the water, continuing outwards and touching others as well.
“I believe one of the greatest gifts from life’s experiences are the people along the way,” she said. “You never know how and when they’re going to impact your life.”
Shafran graduated from Bethany College with degrees in communication and business. After college, her first job was working for Bloomingdale’s in Dallas. She was invited to enter the retailer’s executive training program, which she successfully completed. Eventually, she moved to another Dallas retailer, Neiman Marcus, where she was hired as human resources manager for the company’s largest store at that time.
Shafran and her family moved to Bartholomew County in 1995 when her husband, Joe, accepted in a job in North Vernon. She became involved with the Columbus Service League, an organization founded in 1968 that focused on identifying community needs and working on projects to benefit residents. Shafran’s local involvement included chipping in to sponsor an annual fundraiser called “A Taste of Chocolate” — exclusively for Turning Point.
She worked her way up through the service league and spent her final year with the organization as president of its board. She later took on leadership roles with the United Way of Bartholomew County, the Women’s Professional Development Conference and the Continuous Improvement Council for the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp.
In 2003, Shafran was hired by the Heritage Fund – The Community Foundation of Bartholomew County. She worked there for 10 years, including six years as vice president of development.
Then, in 2013, she was chosen to succeed Patrick Smith as president of Turning Point Domestic Violence Services, which serves Brown, Jackson, Johnson and Shelby counties, as well as Bartholomew.
“My predecessor at Turning Point, nine years ago, sat me down and told me about his career change intentions to leave Turning Point,” said Shafran. “And he thought it would be a great role for me. I was flattered, but frankly, I thought he was nuts. Little did I know it was the ticket to the greatest and most challenging opportunity of my life and would fulfill me in ways I didn’t even know I needed.”
Shafran retired from the role six months ago, with Whittney Loyd stepping into the position.
Republic Editor Julie McClure noted that Richard Gold, one of the many individuals who nominated Shafran, commended the honoree’s focus on prevention during her tenure at Turning Point.
“The truest metric for her time will probably be visible in another 10 years, when all of the youngsters Turning Point has mentored or educated achieve adulthood, and that might well constitute mission delivery: to work toward the prevention and elimination of domestic and dating violence,” wrote Gold.
“Not every teenager has the opportunity to learn about prevention of dating and domestic violence at that age,” said McClure. “It’s something they carry with them into the world, and while some may believe it is only for the teen participants, think about the hundreds, thousands of friends those teens have who may also receive the message and learn about the topic through those who attended the Dance Marathon. That’s changing the world.”
In concluding her address, Shafran encouraged her audience to continue making ripples and waves in the lives of others.
“People are asked all the time what they want their legacy to be,” she said. “For me, it’s you, through the great things I know you will continue to do.”