In May, Cleveland County Lifestyle salutes the many outstanding ladies in our community. The role played by women here, as elsewhere, all too often goes unnoticed and unappreciated. First, I’d like to tip my hat (or would, if I had one!) to all the moms (past, present and to-be). Mothering is one of the toughest jobs in the world. There are no set hours or paid sick days, or indeed, a pay check. Yet, as I think most moms would agree, it’s also one of the most rewarding. (On a personal note, kudos to my niece—and Lifestyle columnist—Lindsey Davies, who is an amazing mom to a sweet, precocious 2-year-old boy.)

Next, a shout-out to all the working women out there. In this issue, we highlight our third cadre of “Women of Influence” honorees, this year representing business, civic affairs, the nonprofit sector, education and law. We think you’ll enjoy reading about their many accomplishments and their philosophy on giving back to the community.

In this issue, you’ll also hear about a local woman’s recent journey to Israel and the intense spiritual connection she felt while traveling through the Holy Land, and hear the story of a man who, following the loss of his beloved wife from cancer, launched a business to help others cope with grief. You’ll also read about a local artist who was selected to illustrate an autobiography for children based on the life of the late principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, Wilma Mankiller—and in the process underwent a profound personal spiritual experience.

Those are just a few highlights of what you’ll find inside this issue. Hope everyone is enjoying the spring weather!