Girl Scouts of Historic Georgia honors 4 Women of Distinction

Susan Cooper, Crystal Shahid, Catherine Trotter and Cathy Williams have been selected as the 2015 Girl Scout Women of Distinction honorees. 

The dinner in their honor will be held Thursday at 7:00 p.m. at the Green Island Hills Country Club. 

The Girl Scouts Woman of Distinction Award honors women whose lives reflect the values in the Girl Scout Promise and Law and who serve as excellent role models for girls. These women are valuable community servants, serving in leadership roles throughout the community.

Proceeds from the event will benefit Girl Scouts of Historic Georgia. Individual tickets are $50 and sponsorship opportunities are available. Contact LaDon Shaw, fund development director, at 470-208-3666 or lshaw@gshg.org for more information.

Girl Scouts is the preeminent leadership development organization. Through Girl Scouting, girls discover more about themselves, connect with others and take action about things that are important to them. The exciting Girl Scout leadership experience builds girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place. For more information about becoming a member, volunteering or making a donation, visit www.gshg.org.

Susan Cooper

Susan Cooper, a business owner and servant leader who grew up in Tuscaloosa, Ala., is the wife of a

military veteran and the mother of two daughters.

Susan spent 20 successful years working as a banker for Wachovia, where she was among the top 10 percent of the company's highest performing employees. She retired as vice president and director of Wachovia's Mortgage Banking division.

While Susan was excelling in her banking career, she worked part time as a top producing real estate sales agent. In 2008, at the brink of a national financial crisis, Susan put her experience to work toward following her dream and founded Centennial Realty and Mortgage Company.

In addition to running her own company, Susan's proven volunteer leadership with the Urban League of Greater Columbus led to an interim position as president and CEO of the organization that is focused on economic empowerment for the disenfranchised.

"I have never encountered a person with as much passion, leadership and commitment to improve the lives of the disadvantaged," said nominator Timothy Woodson.

Susan was honored in 2007 as the top Urban League Board Chair in the entire movement.

Many other community organizations have benefited from Susan's servant leadership. She served as president of 100 Women of the Move, vice president of the Northeast Columbus Kiwanis Club and on the Boards of Directors for Girl Scouts of Concharty Council, Girls Inc., and the Small Business

Development Committee of the Chamber of Commerce. Susan received a National Congressional Leadership Award and was recognized in the Wall Street Journal as a recipient of the Georgia Business Woman of the Year Award in 2006. She was named a Zeta Phi Zeta Community Pearl in 2014.

Crystal Shahid

It's often said that if you want something done, you should ask a busy person.

Crystal Pendleton Shahid is one of those people.

A successful banker, committed wife and mother, and energetic community volunteer, Crystal's impact is felt throughout the community.

Crystal chairs the board of Partners in Education through the Chamber of Commerce; co-chairs Cufflinks and Pearls, a Networking mixer held as part of the Fountain City Classic; and serves as a member of the boards of the Muscogee Educational Excellence Foundation, the Historic Columbus Foundation, Muscogee County Ferst Foundation for Childhood Literacy and Midtown Columbus Inc. She is a member of the Junior League of Columbus, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., and the Fort Valley State University Alumni Association.

Crystal's generosity and hard work have been recognized by Columbus and the Valley Magazine, where she was included in the "Five under 40" list in 2012. She received the Junior League of Columbus President's Award, was named Woman of the Year and Christian Educator of the Year by First African Baptist Church, and was selected as a member of Leadership Georgia in 2013.

Synovus, Crystal's employer, honored her leadership and professionalism in 2012 by selecting her to be part of their Emerging Leaders Program.

"Crystal is a moving force in Leaders of Today and Tomorrow, a leadership building and mentoring program that is cultivating the future leaders of this community," Mayor Teresa Tomlinson said. "Her vision for a better Columbus and her relationships to bridge generations are planting the seeds for a leadership harvest this community will enjoy for decades."

Crystal is married to Zak Shahid Sr. They have a 3-year old son, Zaki Jr.

Crystal continues a legacy of leadership; her mom, Jeanella Pendleton, has also been honored as a Woman of Distinction.

Catherine Trotter

Catherine B. Trotter's primary professional role is to advance Brookstone School.

Her career there began as a student, and later circled back to her alma mater, which she now serves as Assistant Head of School for Advancement. Catherine's work has included leading three student groups to Liberia to visit Rick's Institute, Brookstone's partner school, where they shared with students and school leaders.

While there, Catherine met with the President of Liberia to promote education. As she has exercised her outstanding commitment to Brookstone, Caterine has not only advanced the school where she attended, but also made her Columbus hometown brighter and more vibrant.

Catherine served more than 20 years as a trustee of the Historic Columbus Foundation, where her mother, also a Girl Scout Woman of Distinction, was its first director.

She is a sustaining member of the Junior League and has held leadership positions with the Colonial Dames Columbus Town Committee and Leadership Columbus Alumni, which she served as president.

She was in the 1986 class of Leadership Georgia and has served on the boards of B.R.I.D.G.E., American Heart Association, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Girl's Inc.

She's a member of the St. Francis Auxiliary and has served as a committee chairwoman for Steeplechase.

For more than 30 years, Catherine has taught Sunday School at First Presbyterian Church, where she has influenced the lives of countless young people. She served six years on the board of the Thomwell Home for Children in Clinton, S.C.

Catherine earned a degree in journalism at the University of Georgia. She is a certified fund raising executive and is a member of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. She is married to Perrin Trotter; they have one son, Collier, and a daughter-in-law, Erin.

Catherine has been described as an encourager who is gracious, efficient, well-spoken and devoted. We describe her as a Woman of Distinction.

Cathy Williams

Though her impact has been felt in every corner of the Columbus community, Cathy Williams has focused her passion for public service in two areas -- affordable housing and education.

As the founding president and CEO of NeighborWorks Columbus, Cathy has assisted more than 1,300 families become first-time homebuyers and built an organization rated "exemplary" by NeighborWorks America.

Cathy has a commitment to transparency and grassroots leadership, which have been hallmarks of her professional and volunteer service.

Known for asking hard questions and engaging others in dialogue that drives change, Cathy served as a member of the Muscogee County School Board from 2007-2014.

"To stand for public office is a true test of character," said NeighborWorks Chairman Timothy Farmer. "Cathy is dedicated to public education and believes it is a primary way for many families to break the cycle of poverty.

"Her commitment to public education goes hand in hand with her commitment to quality housing as key ways to provide others with the tools to become all that they aspire to be."

Cathy is a graduate Troy University and of the Achieving Excellence in Community Development Program at Harvard University.

She is an executive board member of the Chattahoochee Council, Boy Scouts of America; is member of the National Association of Women in Construction; and is a life board member of the National Association of Home Builders.

She has held numerous volunteer leadership positions with Columbus Technical College, the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce, Georgia State Trade Association for Nonprofit Developers, the Housing Authority of Columbus, Leadership Columbus Alumni, and many others.

Cathy and her husband, Chuck, live in the Historic District, where they are active neighborhood leaders and cheerleaders for downtown development. They have four adult children and two grandchildren, who Cathy calls the "light of her life."