Henrietta Belcher-Stack, Leanne Phillips-Lowe, and Dr. Barbara Ridgely were honored at the 19th annual Women’s Day Celebration on March 6 at Heritage Shores in Bridgeville.
This event, which is presented by Delaware Tech and the Owens Campus Alumni Association, highlights the achievements of exemplary women and benefits the Alumni Association Scholarship Fund.
“Inspiring Women who Provide Leadership and Exceptional Service to their Organizations and Communities” was this year’s theme.
Henrietta Belcher-Stack is a leader and a visionary who works to positively impact women with obstacles facing them – from domestic violence to cancer. She believes that no passion is too small to achieve and that, no matter what the obstacle, it can be turned into an opportunity to find a dream.
Belcher-Stack is an assistant vice president for WSFS and serves as the Millsboro banking office relationship manager. Throughout her career she has held a variety of positions in the banking industry and in business. She is also a Certified Reverse Mortgage Professional and a Certified Senior Advisor.
She has been an active participant in a number of organizations throughout her career, including volunteering at her children’s schools and serving on the Parents Board of Directors at the University of Delaware. She is currently vice president of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs (GFWC) Delaware, a nonprofit federation of 23 community women’s clubs located throughout the state, and has held a variety of leadership roles in GFWC clubs throughout Sussex County.
Belcher-Stack also serves on the Beebe Medical Center Auxiliary Board of Directors. When a single mom of four who was battling lupus and kidney failure found herself homeless, she was instrumental in working with Beebe Medical Center’s thrift store in Rehoboth Beach to obtain furniture when a house was found.
In 2011 she opened the conference room of the WSFS branch in Millsboro to host a workshop for the small business conference. The objective was to provide effective tools for local businesses to build their financial future.
During the summer of 2011, Belcher-Stack was diagnosed with peritoneal cancer, a very rare form of ovarian cancer. She says that after prayers, tears, and questioning “Why me?” she decided that she was bigger and meaner than cancer. She continued working and volunteering during 19 weekly chemotherapy treatments, crediting her family, WSFS colleagues, and volunteer organization members as the source of her strength and drive. Her “get over it” attitude also got her through surgery in March and six more treatments of chemotherapy ending in June.
She is adamant about wanting to “pay it forward” to help women understand just how strong they are in the face of adversity.
Leanne Phillips-Lowe served as the voice of Delaware Tech’s Owens Campus in Georgetown for 26 years.
She began working for the College in 1986 as a part-time program developer in the Continuing Education Department; she had previously been employed with the state Department of Education and Delaware Public Television. Focusing on her personal and professional growth, she worked her way up to ultimately become the public relations manager.
As the voice of the College, Phillips-Lowe was responsible for communication both on campus and with the public.
She has always been known for her control and mastery of the printed word. With her in charge there were no errors or grammatical mistakes in Delaware Tech publications. She was a direct and key force in earning the College and Campus its high quality reputation.
Phillips-Lowe participated in, helped design, and experienced many “firsts” on the Owens Campus, including dedications of the Jason Technology Center, the Williams Conference Center, and the Carter Partnership Center. She also was instrumental in a multitude of annual events including the Women’s Day Celebration, “Starry, Starry Night” gala, fashion show, Alumni Walk of Success, and much more. She also brought the Story Corps project to Delaware Tech and served as liaison to the First State Ballet Theatre that performs The Nutcracker and other famous ballets at the Owens Campus each year.
In her professional position she always led with grace and diplomacy. She sat on a multitude of committees at the College, both as a leader and a volunteer. She has always taken on projects, both at work and in her community, because she truly cares.
Phillips-Lowe has also served and continues to serve as a City of Seaford Councilwoman for multiple terms. Her service began while she was employed full time as Delaware Tech’s public relations manager. Even with a busy and demanding job, she took on a public service role in the interest of her community.
She has also remained active in her church, Our Lady of Lourdes, as a youth leader, member of the Cemetery Board, and a lector for more than 20 years.
She started at the College in a part-time position as a single mom and successfully navigated her career to a full-time manager forging the way for others in communications and establishing a high quality of public relations for the entire College statewide. She is very proud of her daughter, Kateri, a Delaware Tech graduate, and her husband, Tony, who she brought into the College family as a volunteer and a supporter.
Throughout Dr. Barbara S. Ridgely’s 34 years at Delaware Technical Community College, her leadership has had an enormous impact on the state of Delaware. From her roles as assistant to the campus director and business manager for the Owens Campus to her position as associate vice president for institutional advancement in the Office of the President, she has led major projects that have impacted not only the educational institution, but also the local business community.
Ridgely has a strong desire to help other women and has become a role model for others. She was a founding executive committee member and treasurer of the Delaware Chapter of Women in Higher Education. She is also a board member of Children and Families First, a member of Delaware Family Workplace connection, and a volunteer and mentor for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Delaware. She was also one of the first women members of Community College Business Officers and later became an executive committee member and vice president.
She led a variety of major projects for Delaware Tech including the first Child Development Center, the Treasures of the Sea Museum, and the construction of five Owens Campus buildings with a cost of over $20 million.
She also wrote and implemented the largest federal grant of $5 million ever received by the College, raised $1.4 million to increase the number of science labs, and raised $4.3 million for instructional equipment through the Shaping the Future campaign.
She designed the first Instructional Advancement web page for Delaware Tech and wrote and implemented 46 federal grants totaling $20 million.
And thanks to her efforts, Delaware Tech received national recognition in 2008 by ranking fifth in the nation among community colleges by the Council for Aid to Education.
With degrees in economics and business administration in the 1970s, Ridgely became a leader early in her career, even though it was a time when most leadership roles in her fields of expertise were reserved for men. It is also noteworthy that she became the first woman to graduate with an MBA from Southern Illinois University.
Ridgely’s intelligence, strong work ethic, vision, and innate leadership ability led to her success in an amazing number of achievements. Yet, throughout all of her success, she has maintained a humble spirit.
The mistresses of ceremonies for the celebration will was Ruth Ann Minner, former governor of Delaware, and Dr. Harriet Windsor, former secretary of state for Delaware.
The underwriter for the event was Sussex County Council.