By Kathy L. Collins
“Behind every great woman are other women,” said Dr. Kathryn L. Kepes in her acceptance speech after being named the 2009 Pioneering Woman of the Year by the American Business Women’s Association (ABWA) in October. The other nominees were Tammy Bracewell, with the Brandon Chamber of Commerce, and Arlene Waldron, with Bank Atlantic, who is co-founder of the Brandon Foundation.Kepes runs the Center for Radiation Oncology in Brandon. She has run the center since 1993 with the mission: “To provide state-of-the-art radiation therapy in a community setting, emphasizing innovative technology in a comfortable and supportive patient-oriented environment.” Kepes has over 20 years of experience. She earned her medical degree from St. Louis University in Kansas City. She also holds a Masters in Business Administration and Health Administration from the University of Miami School of Business.Kepes said, “When you talk about pioneering women, it is really about where you come from. When I started medical school, women were chosen to attend because the government was subsidizing the school. Now, women account for over 50 percent of admission.” She added, “When I returned to Brandon, I was one of only three female doctors. We all had something unique to communicate because we were women. I owe the Brandon community more than this award can give me. I never thought of myself as a pioneer in business.”Kepes is well loved and well thought of in the community. Helen Lepre, whose husband was a patient of Kepes, said,” Dr. Kepes is a very caring person. She was very encouraging to us when my husband was suffering with a brain tumor. She gave us hope when hope was all we had.”The Pioneering Woman’s Event was started by the Brandon Sunburst Chapter of the ABWA to honor women in the greater Brandon community who have made significant contributions in the community, either through their work or civic contributions. Past recipients include Anne Nymark, Trudy Carey, Kay Sullivan, Cookie Gray, Carol Todd and Sandra Murman.The event, which included dinner, a silent auction and networking opportunities, was highlighted with guest speaker, Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio. Iorio said, “Some decry the time in which we live. I say it is great. We women have more options than ever before.” She further stated,” Your net worth as a person has nothing to do with your occupation. It matters what kind of parent, daughter or wife you are and how you treat other people.” Mayor Iorio concluded, “I believe that this region of the county and city are poised for great things in the future.”The ABWA’s mission is: “To bring together business women of diverse occupations and to provide opportunities for them to help themselves and others grow personally and professionally through leadership, education, networking support and national recognition.” The Brandon Sunburst Chapter meets the first Tuesday of the month at Giordano’s, located at 11310 Causeway Blvd. in Brandon. If you would like more information, contact Grita Perry at 393-7188.