At this time last year, it would've been hard to imagine exactly what the next 365 days would have in store for the residents of our region.

Although many were beginning to come to grips with the fact that we would soon be under a lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus, it would've been difficult to predict just how much those disease mitigation efforts would change our daily lives.

Schools shut down, restaurants and businesses closed or drastically altered their daily operations, the region's workforce suffered through layoffs, the stock market took a volatile turn as it plummeted and rebounded without much warning and the oil and gas industry took hits from which it may never fully recover.

But through it all, the people and businesses of our region proved just how resilient they could be.

This edition of the Southwest Pennsylvania Business Journal celebrates the women of our area who navigated a pandemic, taking care of themselves and their families, while managing to never miss a beat in their professional lives.

It was all in a day's work for the toughest among us who have sometimes been inaccurately referred to as, "the fairer sex."

In many cases, it was Southwestern Pennsylvania's businesswomen who led the charge in keeping businesses and entire industries afloat as chaos descended upon the area in seemingly every direction.

This edition's cover story focuses on Joyce Katzeff, Brandi Miller and Nikia Burns, businesswomen from the region whose personal enterprises have all survived and thrived during the pandemic.

Their near herculean efforts, along with many more women from around the area, in the face of great devastation and suffering are inspiring on many levels.

As always, we at the Observer-Reporter look forward to receiving your feedback on our latest publication. Please feel free to reach out to me with any comments, questions or concerns at jsanta@observer-reporter.com or 724-222-2200, ext. 2410.

Thank you very much for reading.

John Santa