The awards, are a key component of the STEP Women’s Initiative, an industrywide effort to close the gender gap in manufacturing through mentorship and support. This announcement is timed to coincide with the start of Women’s History Month, as well as to promote International Women’s Day (March 8)—celebrating the societal, personal and professional achievements of women around the world.

“Janet is an inspiration and role model for everyone on the Essity team, men and women, engineers, plant workers, front office staff, upper management—everyone,” said Rob Fuhrmann, Essity Vice President of Professional Hygiene Manufacturing. “We are proud to employ ambitious, dedicated women like Janet, who help break gender barriers in manufacturing, science, engineering and technology.”

In her role with Essity, Lee leads a team of all-male electrical technicians at the Harrodsburg papermaking facility, and through her technical mastery, leadership and engagement, has delivered significant impacts in reliability, cost, and safety. Lee is alsothe leading mentor for developing electrical talent in her area. She focuses on encouraging more women to seek careers in STEM and leadership positions, and mentors her colleagues’ daughters through a job shadow program by meeting with them to discuss opportunities for women in the field.

Lee is an active member of her community as well, where she volunteers as a Girl Scouts troop leader, an after-school mentor at her church and a member of the production crew for Woodsongs Old-Time Radio Hour, a weekly music radio show produced at the Lyric Theatre and Cultural Arts Center in Lexington, Kentucky.

“Certainly, this is a very exciting and humbling honor,” said Lee. “I believe you need three things to succeed as a person and a professional: passion for what you do, compassion for the people who support and rely on you, and gratitude for every opportunity. I am so fortunate to have found my path with Essity, a company that prioritizes being a responsible member of the communities in which we operate and driving global sustainability. The rest follows naturally, whether that means leading a team in a new initiative or mentoring a young person and helping them pursue their STEP dreams. My hope is that, in some small way, my efforts will lead other girls down a similar path of fulfilment.

Janet will join the other honorees at the 2022 STEP Ahead Awards Leadership Program in Washington, D.C., April 27–28, 2022. The two-day celebration will feature the 10th annual STEP Ahead Awards presentation on the evening of April 28.