Special to The Explorer

Oro Valley resident Ellen Kirton has been presented the MIX FM's Woman of the Year award.

Kirton was recognized at the annual Women's Foundation of Southern Arizona's luncheon, with more than 800 in attendance. During the event, the foundation awarded nearly $75,000 to 15 programs "designed to improve the lives of a diverse group of women and girls in southern Arizona," a release said.

The Woman of the Year is awarded to an individual "who has a powerful story and contributes significantly to the community."

Kirton was nominated by her daughter Christina Cook, who wrote a moving letter that chronicled Ellen's journey from a young girl in a desperate environment through many challenges and successes in her life. Most of her career was spent in banking, rising to senior vice president of a major national bank.

Kirton owns a consulting firm, Consultive Business Planning. She is president and chief financial officer of EffortlessHR, and she stages homes for real estate agents. Kirton has just completed a book, "Cinderella Is Still Dancing."

She has served on the boards of Easter Seals and the Orange County Performing Arts Education boards. She is a past president of New Beginnings for Women & Children and the Catalina Council Boy Scouts of America. Kirton now sits on the executive boards of Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the National Association of Women Business Owners.

New Beginnings for Women & Children is of special importance to Kirton. "If there had been such an organization when I was growing up, life would have been far different for my mother, my siblings and me," Kirton said.

Susan G. Komen for the Cure is also central to Kirton. She is a breast cancer survivor, as is her daughter Christina. Because Ellen contracted breast cancer at 35, she encouraged her daughter to be checked when she turned 35. That saved her life as in a short period of time she had stage 4 cancer. Early detection was the key.

Ellen is a member of the Northern Pima County Chamber of Commerce and serves on its public policy committee.

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