About the Awards

Horizontal Line


Return to Award Homepage


About the Governor's Trailblazer Awards
for Women Business Owners


Trailblazer Awards recognize the rich legacy of women's business ownership in Wisconsin.  Wisconsin's women-owned businesses have provided family supporting, community enriching jobs for generations. By starting and sustaining businesses, exploring markets, creating jobs and stimulating local economic growth, Wisconsin women business owners play a leading role in our economy.  The Trailblazer Awards celebrate women's long history of entrepreneurship and deep roots in Wisconsin's business community.


Award Eligibility


Candidates for the award must be Wisconsin residents and own a registered business that is not a non-profit. The business must be:  woman-owned, defined as 51% or more ownership or stock; in compliance with state and federal laws and guidelines; currently located in Wisconsin; and since its founding conducted business continuously for the number of years of the recognition sought. 


Awards Categories


Torchbearer Awards
recognize businesses started by men or women currently run by the female relative of the founder, that have been in continuous operation for at least three generations.


Business Pioneer Awards
recognize women-owned businesses that have been in continuous operation for 25 years or more.  (The generational component is not required.)


Thrive Award  New in 2016!

recognize a woman business leaders who has operated her business for the past 50 years or more, serving as a pillar of the business community and inspiring generations of women to follow their own entrepreneurial passions and dreams.




Online Nomination Form (nominations for 2016 are closed)


Nominations are now OPEN for the Wisconsin's 2016 Governorís Trailblazer Awards for Women in Business, recognizing women pioneers in the business community.  Nomination Deadline: December 31, 2015


Who can nominate?  Business and professional associations, elected officials and others were invited to nominate businesses for Trailblazer Awards and business owners may also self nominate for awards. 


For more information or to submit a

nomination form, contact:


Christine Lidbury

Executive Director

phone: 608 / 266-2219

email: womenscouncil@wisconsin.gov 


Trailblazer Award Sponsors 


Office of the Governor


Office of the Lieutenant Governor


Wisconsin Women's Council


BMO Harris Bank 


Wisconsin Women's Business Enterprise Certification Program  at the Wisconsin Department of Administration


Wisconsin Women's Business Initiative Corporation (WWBIC)


The Widget Source


Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce 


BMO Harris Bank is the exclusive sponsor of the 2016 Trailblazer Luncheon. Learn more about the BMO Harris Bank

              BMO Financial Group 


2016 Governor's Trailblazer Awards Organizing Committee


 Mary Jo Baas, Chair, WI Women's Council

 Patty Cadoirin, WI Women's Council

 Sue Ann Kaestner, The Widget Source

 Christine Lidbury, WI Women's Council 
 Michelle Mettner, Vice Chair, WI Women's Council

 Vickie Wenzel, Atmosphere Commercial Interiors