When it came time for us to plan this year’s Women 360, we knew it would need to look a little different this year. It’s been a different kind of year, after all.

Mask mandates, school closures, business hardships, hospital surges and all the many other ripple effects of the COVID-19 pandemic meant we couldn’t just move ahead with business as usual.

For one thing, our internal process had to change. Social distancing rules have basically taken in-person interviews off the table, and photographs are difficult to get in person, too. Sharing people’s life stories and conveying a sense of their personalities to readers, without ever meeting them face-to-face ourselves, presents a challenge -- one that we knew would impact the feel of a magazine full of intimate feature stories like this one.

The intent of Women 360 has always been to spotlight exceptional, influential women who make our community a better place. To share their stories, honor their contributions, and spark inspiration among our readers. We didn’t want that to change this year.

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But we didn’t want to ignore the virus, either. We want this publication to reflect the era we’re in.

For every wave of negativity that pulses around the pandemic, we’ve noticed powerful, positive undercurrents -- new opportunities for creative thinking, new pathways and approaches to leadership, and an enhanced appreciation for personal connection and small blessings.

We decided to feature women who have embraced and embodied these silver linings, putting their talents to use to help lead the community through this turbulent time. Women who have put in extra hours, effort and energy to tackle whatever new challenges arise. Women who have made some hard decisions in their leadership roles, and who have done so with compassion, grace, reason and wisdom.

Every woman in this magazine is a standout individual, and together, they paint a greater picture about the Detroit Lakes community -- who we are, what we stand for, and how we persevere in the face of adversity.

That’s why, this year, we opted not to choose just one “Woman of the Year.” Instead, we have nine of them.

They are: Trisha Mariotti, Roosevelt Elementary School Principal; Jenny Lessman, Sanford Health Physician's Assistant; Danielle Olson, Ecumen Detroit Lakes Executive Director; Abby Pettit, Detroit Lakes High School Activities Assistant; Jessica Burhans, Midwest Bank Business Development Officer; Mary Rotter, Laker Prep Preschool Co-owner and Teacher; Mary Erickson, mask-making extraordinaire; Jillene Gallatin, Trinity Lutheran Church Pastor; and Melissa Peterson, Essentia Health Director of Nursing.

We hope you’ll be as encouraged and inspired by their stories as we are.

Women 360 is out on local newsstands today, inserted inside the Wednesday, Oct. 28 Detroit Lakes Tribune, or read the full magazine online HERE.