From the Editor

The first interview suit I ever bought was purchased in 1991. The jacket was magenta with a navy blue plaid, worn atop a navy pencil skirt with navy pumps. I felt so smart in it, so professional, and the feeling of confidence it gave me played no small part in landing my first job out of college.

Well into my second job, when I needed to expand my wardrobe to accommodate trade shows in Chicago and agent meetings in New York, I sprang for my next suit. I ordered it by phone from the Tweeds catalog in those pre-internet days, and it was so expensive to me at the time that I had to have a glass of wine before I made the call. It was chocolate brown wool, very tailored, with a round collar, covered buttons and little slits in the hem of the skirt. I had never in my life owned a piece of clothing that fit me so well. I loved wearing that suit and felt proud every time I stepped forward for a handshake and an introduction.

The last suit I remember well was long and black. The suit jacket had a beautiful chartreuse lining and was cut so long it felt like wearing tuxedo tails. The pants were wide-legged and drapey, and I needed to buy a pair of extra-high heels to pull off the look. It gave me a stature I wasn't used to as a petite woman, but I learned to carry it off.

Right now, I don't have a single suit I can wear. The magenta suit is long gone; the brown suit is not as tailored to me as it used to be; and recently, when occasion for a pantsuit arose, I pulled out the black one only to discover it, too, no longer fit.

The suits are gone, but not the impression they left. They gave a young woman stepping up to greater challenges the confidence, poise and professionalism to meet them. Putting them on was like putting on my best self, a self that did not go away when the suits went to Goodwill.

That's how I like to think of the women featured in this issue of Coulee Region Women, who wear their best selves all the time. Every day, just doing what they do, they put their "best foot forward" to step up for our community and the women in it.

Here, we celebrate quiet leaders like Mary Larson, whose vow to "live gently" is borne out in community and environmental endeavors. Under Tami Plourde, a brewery famous for its local beer is becoming equally famous for its community-building. And Amy Penchi ensures La Crosse makes a fine first impression with her hospitality skills.

We prove you're never too young to put your best foot forward-as in the case of CMNH spokesperson Lindsay Schmidt-nor too old, as hiker and activist Kay Rutherford demonstrates.

We'll show how you can step up to a challenge with the Festival Foods Grandad Half Marathon and ensure a lifetime of healthy steps by becoming educated on joint replacement. We'll also show you how to put your best foot forward by adopting simple but effective actions that foster kindness.

In the void left by the suits in my closet, I've added a new piece of clothing: a jacket sporting our Coulee Region Women logo. Its length and elegance remind me of my last black suit, and when I

Betty Christiansen



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What is inside this month's issue:

Living Gently
Mary Larson of Full Circle Supply steps up for the community and the environment.

Personal & Professional
Brewing Success
Tami Plourde and Pearl Street Brewery concoct craft beer and community.

Paying It Forward
A mother-daughter team puts the "miracle" in Children's Miracle Network Hospitals-and helps others do the same.

Enjoy Your Stay
Amy Penchi is on the front lines of putting the city's best foot forward.

An Accommodating Home
An adapted home embraces a couple of mixed mobility.

Healthy Living
A Woman's Guide to Joint Replacement
Maintaining hip and knee health can ensure years of putting your best foot forward.

Seeing La Crosse on Foot
Runners take to the streets from bluff top to river's edge.

The Charmed Life
A balance of elegance and ease makes for distinctive dining at The Charmant.

11 WAYS TO shine
Being your best self can make a difference in an anxious world.

Taking Root and Branching Out
A new model of thrift store benefits donors and the organizations they value.

Women in the Region
Conquering the Fear Factor
Kay Rutherford proves we can all step up to a challenge, regardless of age.

Retail Therapy
Re-create your fashion palette with these top color trends.

A Trip To the Red Carpet
A Coulee Region woman steps into the limelight at the Grammys.


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