Congratulations to the 2021 Women of Action Award Winners!
Woman Business Owner of the Year Award
Liz Bechtel | Bechtel CPA
Recognizing a successful business owner or entrepreneur who has had a significant impact on the South Jersey community.
Liz Bechtel is the founder of Bechtel CPA, The Accountant for Women Entrepreneurs. She works with women owned businesses to help them drive their business forward and achieve their desired lifestyles. She’s passionate about working directly with business owners to help them understand the financial status of their company and to lower their taxes. Liz has over 10 years of experience in tax, accounting, and consulting, working primarily with service-based businesses and contractors.
She’s a proud alumnus of Rowan University, where she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Accounting and Master’s degree in Business Administration. Liz is licensed as a CPA in NJ and PA. She was also awarded the SNJBP’s 40 under 40 award in 2017.
Liz is a wife, mom of 2 boys and a bulldog. When she’s not spending time with family and friends, she enjoys volunteering and reading a book on the beach.
First Responder of the Year Award
Denise Shibe | Nurse
In recognition of a healthcare worker or other front-line worker who has gone above and beyond to provide care, support or assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Denise Shibe is a retired registered nurse whose career spanned the country and numerous specialties, all while she provided holistic nursing care to patients and educational support to their loved ones. Denise’s journey to nursing began at a young age, when, at age 13, she told her mother that she wanted to be a nurse and move to California. At 16, she began working in a nursing home, and at age 20, graduated from St. Joseph’s School of Nursing.
Upon graduation, Denise moved to California to live and work, until she returned home to New Jersey and became a traveling nurse. Her career as a traveling nurse took her from coast-to-coast, including Hawaii and Alaska. Becoming a traveling nurse would prove to be the greatest decision she made, as it was during her time in Alaska that she met her husband. Denise settled in New Jersey, raised a family, and continued her career as a nurse at Kennedy Health System, now Jefferson Cherry Hill Hospital. Her 46-year career includes work in the PACU, emergency medicine, critical care, homecare, obstetrics, and medical-surgical patient care.
Denise’s career provided her with many wonderful, rewarding experiences that allowed her to use her training. One of her most memorable nursing moments was performing CPR on a man in a local pharmacy; this moment granted Denise an American Heart Savers Award. Denise is also the recipient of the Daisy Award. Denise came out of retirement this past year to administer the COVID-19 vaccine, and continues to pursue her Bachelor of Science in Nursing. In retirement, she enjoys traveling, spending time with her family, and continuing her friendships with her lifelong friends from nursing school.
Non-Profit of the Year Award
Food Bank of South Jersey | Lavinia Awosanya
In recognition of a non-profit organization’s outstanding effort to provide support and relief during the global pandemic.
Marking its 36th year in 2021, the Food Bank of South Jersey (FBSJ) is the leader in providing safe and nutritional food to people in need throughout South Jersey. FBSJ distributes food, provides nutrition education and cooking courses, and helps food-insecure families and seniors find sustainable ways to improve their lives. Throughout 2020, with COVID-19 bringing school closures, stay-at-home orders, record-breaking unemployment and rising poverty, FBSJ distributed more than 22.5 million pounds of food – the equivalent of over 18.7 million meals – throughout its four-county region of impact: Burlington, Camden, Gloucester and Salem counties, increasing its partner agency network to over 210 and serving over 95,000 food-insecure South Jersey residents each month.
During 2020, the Food Bank of South Jersey distributed over one million emergency food boxes in direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic and elevated its child feeding program from approximately 300,000 children’s meals distributed during 2019 to over 950,000 children’s meals distributed to the region’s most food-vulnerable youths. FBSJ is a member of the Feeding America network of national food banks. Visit www.foodbanksj.org. On Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn, follow the Food Bank of South Jersey @foodbankSJ
In her role as Chief Development Officer, Lavinia Awosanya advances the Food Bank of South Jersey’s mission by leading fundraising, marketing and partnership cultivation strategies.
She also oversees and directs all aspects of donor relations, and provides general oversight of development and volunteer activities.
The WOA 2021 Key Note Speaker
Key Note Speaker
Megan Varrell | Gloucester County Habitat for Humanity
Megan Varrell is the Resource Development Director of Gloucester County Habitat for Humanity the Southern New Jersey affiliate of the largest not- for profit builder in the world, Habitat for Humanity International. Locally, Gloucester County Habitat for Humanity’s mission is to put love into action by building homes, communities and hope.
Under her direction, the affiliate has significantly amplified its reputation as a valued partner and trusted community leader. With a deep belief in our mission to ensure strong and stable communities and families through affordable homeownership, Megan drives a results-oriented marketing and sales process that focuses on creating and implementing special build events, grant writing and sustaining a robust pipeline to increase retention and build enduring partnerships.
Megan has always believed in the power of network marketing and before joining Gloucester County Habitat, she served as Director of Membership and Events for the Gloucester County Chamber of Commerce. During her time at GCCC, Megan worked to develop and sustain a strong business community. Early in her career, Megan played a key role in developing and promoting major concerts including several WDAS-FM “Unity Day” concerts on the Ben Franklin Parkway, Q102’s “Jingle Ball” and “End of Summer” Luaus.
Named a “Top 20 under 40” by SJ Biz in 2019, Megan is also a 2017 Gloucester County Chamber Member of the Year, a 2019 Greater Woodbury Chamber of Commerce “Dancing with the Stars” participant, and the 2020 “Young Professional of the Year” honoree of the inaugural Marquee Awards hosted by the Greater Woodbury Chamber of Commerce.
She and her future wife, Lauren, have two dogs and live in Mantua, Gloucester County, NJ.