Thursday evening, The Keene Sentinel and its partner in the event, Monadnock Center for Violence Prevention (MCVP), honored 10 women whose actions have contributed mightily to the quality of life in this region.

The 10th annual Keene Sentinel Extraordinary Women Awards paid tribute to women who, to a person, give back to their communities, their families and to their colleagues, seeking little acknowledgement.

Paul Miller, former executive editor for The Sentinel, emceed the event and closed his remarks by speaking about an inspirational Ted Talk he watched recently. Titled “Want to Truly Succeed?,” the talk was presented by Amber Hikes, chief equity officer for the ACLU. She reminds, Miller paraphrased, that no matter a life’s journey, we all need to lift as we climb. When one reaches success, it’s fine to celebrate, but of greater importance is to send a ladder back down to lift those behind you.

Hikes says that she learned from her mom, “there’s no point in being the first if we are also the last.”

The women honored Thursday have been extending themselves to others all their adult lives, and were accompanied by friends and family members who have been lifted by the recipients’ examples or actions.

The evening was made possible by sponsors Cheshire Medical Center-Dartmouth Hitchcock, Tom Call Excavation, Savings Bank of Walpole, Connection, Douglas Co. and MCVP.

Since Extraordinary Women was launched by this newspaper in 2013, more than 100 local women have been recognized, their stories recounted in a glossy magazine, their words captured in videos produced by The Sentinel news staff and their deeds feted at an annual event.

This year, due to the ongoing impacts of COVID-19, Extraordinary Women was an intimate affair, held before a group of about 60 at Showroom, the Colonial Performing Arts Center’s dazzling new space on Commercial Street, located literally in the shadow of exciting renovations taking place at the main theater. A post-event reception for the women occurred at Nova Arts and Brewbakers, a vibrant new restaurant, coffee house and gathering spot on Emerald Street; Brewbakers, when it was on Main Street, was displaced by the Colonial expansion.

Honored this year were:

Susan Maydwell, a physician assistant at Cheshire Medical Center-Dartmouth Hitchcock who, among her many volunteer efforts, has made numerous relief trips to Haiti;

Phyllis Phelps, the spiritual co-founder and executive director of House of Hope NH, a Keene home for women recovering from addiction;

Katrina Nugent, prevention education program director with MCVP, the local agency that helps adults and children find safety from abusive situations;

Anjalee Dreher, owner of Heaven Hair Gallery, a local salon that has, as part of its mission, raised money for numerous nonprofits;

Denise Thomas, a Realtor with Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate The Masiello Group, a tireless volunteer and supporter of many local causes;

Kimberley Diemond, founder of Joy’s Network, a support effort that features gift baskets and other assistance to area residents going through cancer and cancer treatments;

Mindy Cambiar, executive director of Hundred Nights, whose operation has grown dramatically over the years and will expand into new space on Water Street;

Caragh Wilder, a soccer and basketball coach and middle school math teacher at Westmoreland School, recognized as a role model for her students and athletes;

Dawn Martin, vice president of mortgage lending at Savings Bank of Walpole, a dedicated board member for several local organizations and a fierce advocate for those with autism; and

Shay Croteau, director of New Life New Horizons, part of Southwestern Community Services, a center dedicated to getting those with special needs employment and other assistance.

The stories of all these women have as consistent themes that recognition is not the objective, that helping others is at the core of their lives. But for one evening, at least, their deeds received tribute for what they truly are: extraordinary. Find their stories at

Recommended for you