Cleveland Chamber celebrates International Women’s Day with brunch, recognition of two trailblazers

Millie Thompson Williams (left) and Jennifer Bergman (right) were recognized as Women of Honor at the Greater Cleveland Chamber of Commerce's Women's Brunch and Bubbly on Wednesday, March 8. Pictured with them is Chamber COO Victoria Good.

Wednesday, March 8, was a day to celebrate “firsts” – the first-ever Women’s Brunch and Bubbly hosted by the Greater Cleveland Chamber of Commerce, and recognition of the first-ever female district attorney for Liberty County – Jennifer Bergman and the first-ever female chief for the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas – Millie Thompson Williams. The Women’s Brunch and Bubbly, held on International Women’s Day, welcomed 70 ladies at Weddings at Lakeside, a new venue in Shepherd, Texas.

“What an inspiration that there are so many women here for International Women’s Day,” said Bergman, who took office as district attorney in January 2021. “I would not be here today if not for the women who inspired me to be who I am, so I want to say thank you for that.”

“Breaking the glass ceiling,” a phrase that is used to describe people rising to positions of power despite discriminatory barriers, is only possible because of the women who came before and the women who will follow, Bergman said.

“Every little girl who sees a woman doing great things will be inspired to great things in their lives,” she said.

Mille Thompson Williams was elected by Tribe members in September 2022 and inaugurated in a sacred service in January 2023. As the first female second-chief in the Tribe’s history, Williams knows she is setting an example for future generations.

Williams, referred to as Mikko Istimatokla, said her ascension into Tribal leadership was prophesied by her late son.

“In 2021, my oldest son, Elliott, called me. He lived in Durango, Colo. He called me late at night to tell me something. He said, ‘God wanted me to tell you that he is taking you to the next level.’ Being a Sunday School teacher, I wondered what God was up to. I thought maybe it would be another position in church. I said, ‘If you say so, son.’ Within two weeks, my son passed away from COVID. To this day, I hold it in my heart, just like Mary held it in her heart about her son, Jesus. Never did I think I would be a second-chief. I want to help my people. I want the younger generation of girls coming up to know that they can be what they want to be … I want to encourage them to live up to the standards of living the right way. We, as ladies, need to encourage them and let them know we support them.”

Bergman and Williams were named as Women of Honor for 2023 and were given framed certificates to recognize their achievements. The Chamber plans to make the luncheon an annual event with new honorees recognized each year.

This year’s luncheon was sponsored by Emergency Hospital Systems, City of Cleveland, Cucco’s Air Conditioning and Heating, Shelly Faust Realtor, Southern Elite Mortgage Services, Good Promotions, Postcards Magazine and Weddings at Lakeside.

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Before creating Bluebonnet News in 2018, Vanesa Brashier was a community editor for the Houston Chronicle/Houston Community Newspapers. During part of her 12 years at the newspapers, she was assigned as the digital editor and managing editor for the Humble Observer, Kingwood Observer, East Montgomery County Observer and the Lake Houston Observer, and the editor of the Dayton News, Cleveland Advocate and Eastex Advocate. Over the years, she has earned more than two dozen writing awards, including Journalist of the Year.


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