Ashley Furniture's Baker & Molling earn STEP Ahead Award
July 27, 2021 | 9:32 am CDT

ARCADIA, Wis. - The Manufacturing Institute announced it will recognize Betty Baker and Megan Molling of Ashley Furniture Industries with the STEP Ahead Award. The STEP Ahead Award honors women who have demonstrated excellence and leadership in their careers and represent all levels of the manufacturing industry from the factory floor to the C-suite.

The Manufacturing Institute (MI) is the workforce development and education partner of the National Association of Manufacturers.

Betty Baker
Betty Baker

“It is an honor for me to be nominated by Ashley Furniture and to be chosen as an honoree for the 2021 STEP Ahead awards,” stated Betty Baker, Domestic Casegoods product engineer, Ashley Furniture Industries. “I am looking forward to meeting each one of these amazing women at the Gala in Washington DC to hear each of their stories and the impact they have made and continue to make in the fields of manufacturing.”

“Ashley Furniture has many intelligent and talented women helping us meet our vision of being the Best Furniture Company. We couldn’t be more proud to have two of our very own be honored with this prestigious award,” stated Todd Wanek, president and CEO, Ashley Furniture Industries. “Betty and Megan show an outstanding amount of hard work and commitment as leaders in their job and in their communities every day. This recognition is well deserved!”

Megan Molling
Megan Molling

“I am extremely humbled to receive the Step Ahead Award. Throughout my tenure at Ashley, I have had the opportunity to learn from and grow with so many incredible leaders and team members – many of which have been women. I am extremely proud to be the recipient of the Step Ahead Award and part of an organization that celebrates and empowers women in manufacturing!” stated Megan Molling, Global Supply Optimization manager, Ashley Furniture Industries.

“Women in manufacturing proved themselves time and time again after the pandemic began, leading our industry in innovation and progress. We will honor these manufacturing leaders with the STEP Ahead Awards, elevating their success and granting them a platform to inspire the next generation of women manufacturing leaders,” said MI Executive Director Carolyn Lee. “The skills gap persisted throughout the pandemic, but our STEP Ahead honorees will help us fight it — they’ll play a crucial role in bringing more talented, motivated women into manufacturing. We’re confident these honorees will serve as living proof that women can dare to dream of a fulfilling, rewarding career in the industry.”

The STEP Women’s Initiative is a national program designed to close the gender gap in manufacturing. According to the organization, STEP works to foster a 21st-century manufacturing workforce by empowering and inspiring women in the manufacturing industry through recognition, research and leadership, as well as by motivating alumnae to pay it forward by mentoring the next generation. The STEP Ahead Awards honor exceptional women in manufacturing and motivate them to mentor the next generation through an annual awards gala and alumnae programs.

The recognition ceremony for the 130 recipients will take place on Nov. 4 in Washington, D.C. The STEP Ahead Awards program will highlight each honoree’s story, including her leadership and accomplishments in manufacturing.

Ashley Furniture is currently ranked #1 on the FDMC 300, which tracks the largest North American wood products manufacturers and ranks them by sales. Established in 1945 and headquartered in Arcadia, Wisconsin, the company has 15 manufacturing and distribution facilities worldwide, encompassing more than 13 million square feet.

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About the author
Karen Koenig | Editor

Karen M. Koenig has more than 30 years of experience in the woodworking industry, including visits to wood products manufacturing facilities throughout North America, Europe and Asia. As editor of special publications under the Woodworking Network brand, including the Red Book Best Practices resource guide and website, Karen’s responsibilities include writing, editing and coordinating of editorial content. She is also a contributor to FDMC and other Woodworking Network online and print media owned by CCI Media. She can be reached at