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These five women stand on incredible achievements in very different areas, but they have one thing in common: their leadership is pioneering the way for others to follow.

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In 2020, metroMAGAZINE explored how the COVID-19 pandemic affected our local nonprofits’ operations and how they continued to serve the community despite unforeseeable demands on staff and resources. Now we look at how they are moving forward in 2021.

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Jill Orton’s two-decade American Red Cross career has been diverse and interesting and she’s had the opportunity to grow as a leader as she helps execute the organization’s life-saving mission to alleviate human suffering.

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Educator Jacqelle Lane considers teaching a calling, and she strives to make sure every student in her classes knows they matter. She has also created an anti-bullying and teen suicide prevention platform the goes well beyond the classroom.

Although hope is rising that the end of the COVID-19 pandemic is coming, it's still not over. The last year has been emotionally and sometimes financially draining to nearly everyone, but the people of our community’s hospitals have been on the front lines the entire time. The impact for these healthcare heroes goes beyond managing direct care of COVID-19 patients, and the challenges have evolved along with the pandemic. However, innovation can be the brainchild of crisis, and the pandemic has presented other opportunities including the discovery of resiliency.

The COVID-19 pandemic finally, painfully enters 2021 with fresh hope as a vaccine for COVID-19 becomes more widely available, but the effects of the pandemic on area nonprofits still linger as they close in on a full year of serving the community in challenging circumstances including a growth in community needs, superhuman demands on staff, and a reduction in support.