Dr. Bridget McCandless says encouragement is crucial to remind women to reach a little further and accomplish a little more.

McCandless, president and CEO of the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City, on Thursday was named the Woman of the Year at The Examiner’s second annual Women of Distinction Awards.

Business owner and civic leader Brad Speaks described her as “a tireless advocate for improving the health and welfare of the citizens of Eastern Jackson County.” He mentioned such efforts as getting cities to raise the age for tobacco sales to 21 and getting local governments to create a prescription-drug database to get a handle on the opioid addiction epidemic.

But McCandless offered another way of looking at it. She suggested the Woman of the Year award be called “a member of the club of women who encourage other women.”

All who get such awards, she said, only do so because other women have spurred them on. She listed several in her own life: business owner and civic leader Shirley Baker; Carol Sue Bass, first woman to chair the board of the Independence Chamber of Commerce; Liz McClure of the Truman Heartland Community Foundation; her good friend Debbie Little Eagle; her “mom mentor” Kathy Bishop – and her own mother.

“So you need to go home today and hug other women of distinction in your life,” McCandless said.

McClure also was among the 20 women honored at Thursday’s luncheon and nominated for Woman of the Year. All 20 honorees are profiled in a special section in today’s Examiner.

There was a 21st woman as well. Barbara Potts, the first woman to serve as mayor of Independence, was given the Lifetime Achievement Award.

She raised four children, and when the last left for college she was asked to run for City Council.

“And I had to think about it quite awhile because I just didn’t see myself as a politician,” she said.

She ran, she won, and four years later ran for mayor and won that, too.

“But I had no idea that raising four teenagers would prepare me for this job,” she said, drawing laughter and applause from the full room at the Stoney Creek Hotel & Conference Center.

What would you like your legacy to be, she was asked?

“That I cared about the people I served,” Potts said.