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The Fire Within Award Program

Each year the Great Falls Development Alliance and community partners honor exemplary women in business through the Fire Within Award program. The program is comprised of two awards, the Inspire Award and the Aspire Award. For several years we awarded one award in each category, but in 2022 we expanded the award program.

Since its inception 13 years ago GFDA has given the Fire Within Award to 84 woman business owners. We welcome nominations from the 13 county region we serve.

Don’t miss this chance to be part of an annual event held at the Haute Hive in Great Falls that celebrates the power, resilience, and innovation of female entrepreneurs in our region. Let’s fan the flames of success together at “Fire Within”!

The Nomination period will close on March 3.

Inspire Award

This award will go to a Woman Business Owner in operation for 5+ years in an established business that has made a significant personal contribution to its success, growth or expansion. We are looking for a business savvy woman who has helped or is helping other business owners or budding entrepreneurs. The winner will have: five plus successful years in business and mentored at least one other entrepreneur.

Aspire Award

This award will go to a Woman Business Owner in operation 1-5 years who has recently realized her dream by starting a new venture. Her early success and accomplishments show her creativity, passion, and drive.

Fire Within 2023

Fire Within 2023 & 2022 were held at the Haute Hive in downtown Great Falls. Check out photos from the past two Fire Within events.

Aspire Award Winners


  • Kari Aguayo, Cultivating Wild Roots
  • Jennifer Benski, HomeCo Realty
  • Lyla Brown, Magpie
  • Kari Ceaicovschi, One Fat Lamb
  • Jaymie Christian, UPS Store
  • Lindsey Godwin, REP Space
  • Shauna Green, Green Apple Counseling
  • Jamie Gregoire, Dahl House
  • Sylvia Hastanan, Greater Good Health
  • Rebekah Jarvey, Rebekah Jarvey Sewist
  • Lani McCarthy, Rise Athletics
  • Ajiah Ross, Simplicity Studio
  • Christy Tatsey, Parallel Connections


  • Trisha Heck; Wild Honey Salon
  • Katie Scollin; Scollin Design
  • Laura Ewalt; Honey Hippo Café
  • Shelbi Frieling & Nicole Frieling; Montana Apothecary & Compounding
  • Ashley Friesen; Threshold Real Estate
  • Holly Kopekin; Omni Marketing & Design
  • Karen Beeler; Life in Bloom
  • Rylie Carmichael; White Bear Baking Co.


  • Brita Lee, Decorating House
  • Veronica Van Voast, The Refinery
  • Molly McGonigal, 406 Cookies
  • Lorie Jean Schult, Good Deeds Real Estate
  • Jade Heather Hinman, Hinman Coffee House
  • Jenn Rowell, The Electric
  • Lyndsay Guiterrez, Nourish
  • Darby Bogden, Colored Snow
  • Kate Stephens, Farm Ag Fashion
  • Ashlee Anderson, BRB Preschool
  • Paulette Wright, Mrs. Wright’s Pasty’s
  • Cassie Campbell, Spices N’ Spurs
  • Heather Kunz, Broadwater Coffee Brewing Company
  • Carie Bates, All The Things Charcuterie
  • Melissa McQuillen, All The Things Charcuterie


  • 2020: Ashley Wilkinson, Fetch Pet Boutique; Candice English, The Farmer’s Daughter Fibers; Hallie Thompson, Wholesome Hal’s; Melissa Dascoulias, Dascoulias Realty Group; Tara Beam, Roadhouse Diner; Vanessa Bucklin, Pondera County Insurance
  • 2019: Susan Crocker, The Good Wood Guys
  • 2018: Yve Bardwell and Maggie Carr, Dropstone Outfitting
  • 2017: Kattie Meyer, Motifs
  • 2016: Heidi Reiste, Electric City Coffee
  • 2015: Amber Fern, Fern Photography
  • 2014: Janet Neil, Bert and Ernie’s
  • 2013: Tracy Perry, The Blue Rose
  • 2012: Kari Lane Johnson, My Viola Floral Studio
  • 2011: Cindy Ceiluch, Cindy Ceiluch Photorgraphy

Inspire Award Winners


  • Keely Baker, Studio Barre
  • Denise Berg, Linda Michaels
  • Deena Birdwell, Simple Style and Then Some
  • Raegen Breeden, Play N Learn
  • Victoria Davenport, Enlightening Minds
  • Amy Eisenzimer, Parker’s Hangover Tonic
  • Bobbie Floerchinger,
  • Melissa Gaspar, Gentle Beginnings Family Care and Birth Center
  • Gena Gremaux, Ridgeline Real Estate
  • Christa Heisler-Liscum, Black Eagle Brewery
  • Andrea Johnson, Advanced Practice Physical Therapy
  • Amber Kenner, Amber Kenner Photography
  • Wendy Newman, Associated Veterinary Services
  • Pamela Purdy, Rocky Mountain Portables/Double G Engraving
  • Jenn Rowell, The Electric
  • Colette Tihista-Longin, Grand Union
  • Erin Townsend, Hempl’s Bakery
  • Tara Tronson, 5th and Wine


  • Brandi Cundiff; Firefly Salon & Spa
  • Gretchen Swift; Floors & More
  • Tammy Stubs; Allstate Insurance – The Quintrell Agency
  • Shirstie Gaylord; Hometana
  • Nicole Wiegand; Downtown Dice & Games
  • Linda Geranios; Geranios Enterprises Inc.
  • Theresa Ormseth; Shortgrass Web
  • Morgan Tweet; IND Hemp
  • Julie Argabright Demarais; Ala Care
  • Melissa Dascoulias; Dascoulias Realty group
  • Heidi Reiste; Electric City Coffee
  • Tara Beam; Roadhouse Diner
  • Tracy Perry; The Blue Rose
  • Candice English; Farmer’s Daughter’s Fibers
  • Susan Crocker; The Good Wood Guys
  • Ashley Wilkinson; Fetch Boutique


  • Robin Miller,Decorating House
  • Angela Smith, Daydream Boutique
  • Joanie Agamenoni, Agamenoni & Frank Reporting
  • Bonnie Beuning, Century 21-Northwest Realty
  • Corinna Dahlin, Corinna Dahlin Photography
  • DeAnna Murphy, Studio Montage
  • Becky Rammel, Golden Triangle Gym
  • Lola Sheldon-Galloway, Dairy Queen and Great Falls lumber
  • Sophia Sparklin, BSpark Architecture
  • Beth Olson, TLC Daycare
  • Amy Roberts, Amy’s Morning Perk
  • Jennifer Klinker Lea, Ox & Son Towing
  • Bethany Benedict, Prairie Kraft Specialties
  • Leslie Vassar, Penthouse Salon
  • Tianna Ford, Two Dot Press
  • Kasey Lorang, Adventurous Learning Space
  • Sara Calhoun, Red Ants Pants


  • 2020: Amber Hofstad, Windrift Hill; Erin Merchant, Schermele Films
  • 2019: Kari Lane Johnson, My Viola Floral Studio
  • 2018: Dianne Meinhardt, Cogswell Insurance/MAA
  • 2017: Beth Leathem, Bighorn Outdoor Specialists
  • 2016: Katy Duncan, Happy Tails Lodge
  • 2015: Linda McPherson, Montana Academy of Salons
  • 2014: Penny Rubner, Penny’s Gourmet to Go
  • 2013: Alison Fried, Dragonfly Dry Goods
  • 2012: Sandra Johnson-Thares, O’Haire Motor Inn
  • 2011: Cari Yturri, Bennett Motors