The Phoenix Business Journal recently recognized 31 women on April 3 at its 17th annual Outstanding Women in Business awards ceremony, an event that drew a record number of more than 550 people. The impact the honorees have across an array of economic sectors in their community is impressive – and so are the achievements of Ilana Lowery, part of the successful team behind the event.
Lowery is the Phoenix Business Journal’s editor-in-chief, who grew up in the south suburbs of Chicago of Homewood-Flossmoor. Now celebrating 23 years at PBJ and an adjunct professor at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, she attributes her success to strong family values and parents who were strong role models.
“My working-class parents wanted everything for their children that they didn’t have, and they worked very hard when we were kids to make sure that we were strong, independent, determined adults,” she said.
“My dad was in retail (he sold shoes) and was always working – he was the breadwinner – it was easy to see that he wanted what was best for his family. My mom stayed at home and raised us with a lot of discipline and love.”
Lowery, the youngest of four children, graduated from University of Illinois, Chicago, with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications. “Both of my parents encouraged all of us to go to college. Back then, it wasn’t a question, it was expected,” she added. In fact, she followed in her father’s footsteps literally; selling shoes for the same Chernin’s shoe company as her father to earn money for her college education.
The Jewish faith was a part of the Lowery family’s everyday beliefs and traditions. And the roots of Lowery helping other women in their careers and the significance of social responsibility also began in the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization. She was chapter president for Chaverim BBG (B’nai B’rith Girls).
“My time in BBYO during high school is when I really learned the importance of social responsibility and helping those who are less fortunate. We held a lot of fundraisers and spent countless hours volunteering in our community,” she said. “BBYO also is where I made some of my closest friendships – many of which I still have today. It was all about sisterhood, building confidence and self-esteem, and creating lifelong bonds with girls of the same faith and backgrounds.”
In addition to her responsibilities at PBJ, she’s taught an ethics in journalism class at Arizona State University and is currently teaching its news-writing class of 20 students, a required course. She also serves as an adviser to the Jewish News.
Lowery lives in Glendale with her husband of 13 years, Chris, and Harley, their treasured Red Lab. She praises her husband for being immensely supportive of her career and involvement in the Phoenix community.
Her giving-back philosophy is reflected in her passion for Gabriel’s Angels, the nonprofit that provides pet therapy for at-risk youth in Arizona. “What this organization has been able to accomplish in 17 years is astounding,” she said of the organization’s founder Pam Gaber, the more than 15,000 children throughout the state they’ve helped last year, and its belief that the unconditional love of a dog can heal a child.
Lowery’s community service as a board member for Gabriel’s Angels is also part of the several reasons she was nominated and was a finalist in the private sector category for the Athena Awards in 2014. The prestigious event, presented by the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, honors women leaders.
Her accolades exemplify the Athena Awards, which spotlight women who demonstrate leadership within their industry, mentor women throughout their career and dedicate themselves to the community through activities and charities.
Kathy Shayna Shocket is a reporter and writer based in Phoenix who writes for several publications, including the Phoenix Business Journal. For a list of the 31 women recognized, visit bit.ly/31biz2017.