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Women to Watch

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Tracy Curtis – The Entertainer

For Tracy Curtis 2016 was a milestone year.

“I got married, blended together a new family of seven, moved into a new home, and released two new books,” said Curtis, “Oh and I turned 50, though that’s not slowing me down.”

Charlotte’s favorite humorist, speaker, author and all around funny lady is best known for the sharp wit and biting humor she displayed as a weekly columnist for the Charlotte Observer from 2006 to 2016. Her public pursuit of perfection, life, love, and marriage earned Curtis a legion of devoted fans.

Last year she won the National Independent Publisher Book Award for the first in her Humor Me series, “Holidazed: Wrapping Your Brain Around Christmas,” a collection of her favorite holiday columns throughout the years. Two subsequent books have been flying off the shelves at local booksellers.  “Trophy Mom: Hope Springs Maternal” and “Beach Bummed: Riding the Wave of Summer,” have kept her fans in stitches since she left the Observer.

Her followers keep up with Curtis through her “Whit Happens” blog and her regular “Muse-letter” at: http://www.tracyleecurtis.com/

Curtis is coming into the New Year hard at work on her first novel.

“It’s fiction of course,” says Curtis, smiling with a wink, “The story features a family humor columnist at a large metro-paper entertaining the masses while behind the scenes her family is falling apart.”

Curtis believes laughter is the best medicine for almost any circumstance.

“If you can’t laugh about it,” she says, “What’s the point?”

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Molly Barker – The Runner

Molly Barker doesn’t shy away from challenging discussions. She’s interested in differing points of view from her own, and actively listens as an initial step to understanding others.

“Listening is a discipline,” says Barker, founder of the Red Boot Coalition. The non-profit, founded in 2014, educates about the power of judgment-free listening as a way to build trust and understanding on issues as diverse as politics, race, and gender. “Listening to others with different ideologies from my own has given me the opportunity to have authentic conversations on real challenges facing us all.”

In February, RBC launches the Red Boot Challenge in Charlotte, a series of meetings where community members are invited to participate in the Coalition’s 11 step process to cultivating trust and understanding.

Barker is no stranger to creating empowering organizations.

She’s widely known as the founder of Girls on the Run. The program she developed in 1996 helps young girls embrace their individual strengths and successfully navigate life experiences. Though Barker retired from the organization in 2013, Girls on the Run continues to have impact through chapters in more than 220 cities, having reached more than one million girls.

An avid runner and a four-time a Hawaii Ironman tri-athlete, Barker  was recognized by President Barack Obama and President George H.W. Bush at a ceremony in Washington, DC, as a Daily Point of Light. In 2015 she was honored by Runner’s World as one of the “Top 50 Most Influential People in Running.”

“Running has always been a safe place for me to be with my thoughts,” says Barker. “I believe Red Boot Coalition is also a safe place where people can engage in honest sharing and compassionate listening.”

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Haley Bohon – The Educator

When Haley Bohon launched SkillPop in the fall of 2015, she was sparked by a desire to buck the trend of isolated online learning by developing a community driven forum where people could make friends and learn from each other.

“I never learned best through online, internet based training,” said Bohon a mechanical engineer by education and training. “I felt there was a better way through creating interpersonal connections in a relaxed, fun environment. SkillPop offers intimate classes on subjects from marketing to photography in inviting spaces where people learn, meet others and explore the city.”

Instructors are local professionals passionate for sharing their knowledge and skills. Classes are held at some of Charlotte’s most engaging spaces including Hygge Coworking, Charlotte Art League, The Daily Details, and Savvy + Co.

Since launching, SkillPop has offered more than 250 classes reaching almost 4000 participants. The wide variety of offerings includes Water Coloring, Gardening, Hand Lettering, Social Media, and Graphic Design.

“I get chills when I think about the level of success we’ve had in such a short time,” said Bohon, who opened a Raleigh branch of SkillPop in August of 2016. “We have 6 people on staff and we have plans for continued growth in 2017. This is just something I stumbled upon. SkillPop has far surpassed every dream I thought I had for the business.”

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