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Wednesday, July 22, 2020

YWCA Names Eight Women as 2020 Career Women of Achievement

The 2020 YWCA Career Women of Achievement. Top row, l to r: Iris Simpson Bush, Deborah Gentry Davis, Brandi Nicole Hutchins Elliot, Jennifer Loeb Goodin. Bottom row, l to r: Roni Luckenbill, Jeanne Rehling-Golliher, Verna L. Williams, Mary Zalla.
(Img: Mary Strubbe Photography)

Eight Cincinnati-area women have been selected as 2020 YWCA Greater Cincinnati Career Women of Achievement, outstanding role models for their leadership, vision, community service and renowned professional success.

The Annual YWCA Career Women of Achievement Luncheon is usually the largest luncheon of business professionals in the midwest region, attracting 2,000 attendees and held in the spring. This year, however, due to the pandemic, organizers decided to hold the event as a broadcast on network television on June 18.

“Rather than waiting until next spring to hold our annual luncheon or attempting to organize a virtual event, we are meeting the COVID-19 crisis head-on by transforming the previously- scheduled May 6 luncheon into a television event on Local 12,” said YWCA President and CEO Barbara C. Perez.

The event, now in its 41st year, is the single largest fundraiser for the 152-year-old YWCA Greater Cincinnati. Proceeds from the annual luncheon directly support the YWCA’s community-wide programs in the three areas of safety; racial justice and inclusion; and empowerment and economic advancement.

“We will still profile the eight 2020 Career Women of Achievement award honorees as well as our two student scholarship recipients. The hour also affords us a rare opportunity to provide viewers with an overview of how the pandemic has made our domestic violence shelter services more vital than ever.”

Event Co-chairs Deborah Hayes, vice president and COO of The Christ Hospital Network, and Hamilton County Coroner Lakshmi Sammarco, M.D. said they believed it was imperative that the event be delayed no further.

Due to the tight quarters at the YWCA domestic violence shelters during the COVID-19 epidemic, families had to be moved to motels, costing the organization an unbudgeted $36,000 a week for food, basic supplies and housing. Proceeds from the annual Career Women of Achievement Luncheon had already been designated to benefit the Domestic Violence Shelter Program.

In addition to paying tribute to the honorees and the ongoing work of the YWCA, the television program featured a message from Patty Brisben, the originally-scheduled keynote speaker for the May 6 luncheon. Brisben, founder and chair of Pure Romance, is an entrepreneurial servant-leader who now employs 30,000 consultants around the globe. Her Patty Brisben Foundation for Women’s Sexual Health works in unison with colleges and universities to advocate for and advance the understanding of issues facing women’s sexual health world wide.

The 2020 Career Women of Achievement winners are:
Iris Simpson Bush, president and CEO of Pig Works, the umbrella organization over the Flying Pig Marathon and Related Events.

Achievements include: National Race Director of the Year, 2018; Running USA’s Hall of Champions Inductee, 2018; Women Who Mean Business, Cincinnati Business Courier, 2018; Woman of the Year, Cincinnati Women’s Sports Foundation, 2017; Spirit of Cincinnati Award, Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau, 2013.

Deborah Gentry Davis, vice president of Human Resources, Hard Rock Casino Cincinnati.

Achievements: Named a Wise Woman by the organization 100 Wise Women, 2020; Board Member, Mission and Volunteer Committee Chair, American Red Cross Greater Cincinnati Dayton Region, 2015-present; Board Member, Executive Committee, Kemba Credit Union, 2002-present; Hero Honoree, United Way of Greater Cincinnati, 2015; Board Trustee, United Way of Greater Cincinnati, 2012; President, Queen City Chapter of the Links, Incorporated, 2007-2011; YWCA Board Member, 2001-2006; Graduate, Leadership Cincinnati Class 28.

Dr. Brandi N.H. Elliott, director, Office of Ethnic Programs and Services, University of Cincinnati.

Achievements: Staff Senator, Inaugural University of Cincinnati Staff Senate, 2019-2021; President, Ohio Consortium of Multicultural Center in Higher Education, 2018-2019; University of Cincinnati Student Affairs Red and Black Award, 2019; Inductee, Sigma Phi Women’s Honorary Society, 2017; Latinos En Accion Advisor of the Year, 2013-2014; Two-Year Appointment as Co-Chair of the UC Diversity Conference, 2011-2013; Honoree, Black Girls Rock!, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., Beta Eta Chapter, 2011-2012; Graduate, YWCA Rising Star Board Leadership Program, 2011-2012.

Jennifer Loeb Goodin, executive director, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Cincinnati

Achievements: President-Elect, Leadership Council of Non-Profits Board, 2020; Best Places to Work Award from the Cincinnati Business Courier, 2019; Board Member, Avondale Development Corporation, 2014-2019; Better Business Bureau Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics, 2017, 2006; Named one of Cincinnati’s Forty Under 40 (at age 28) by the Cincinnati Business Courier; Graduate, Leadership Cincinnati Class 30; Named one of the Cincinnati Business Courier’s People to Know in Non-Profits, 2015.

Roni Luckenbill, CEO, Girl Scouts of Western Ohio

Achievements: Board Chair, National P.R.A.Y. Organization, 2018-present; Executive Committee, United Way of Greater Cincinnati, 2016-present; Board Chair, Leadership Council for Nonprofits, 2017-2019; Chair, Girl Scout National Cookie Steering Committee, 2015-present; Board, Women’s Fund of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, 2010-2016; Inductee, Association of Girl Scout Executive Staff Hall of Fame, 2008.

Jeanne Rehling-Golliher, President and CEO, Cincinnati Development Fund

Achievements: Named one of Cincinnati’s Most Powerful Business Leaders by Cincinnati Magazine, 2019; Received a Key to the City from Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley in recognition of the CDF’s 30th Anniversary and Significant Contributions to the Neighborhood Revitalization, 2018; Received the Building Our Beloved Community Award from Over-the-Rhine Community Housing for support of affordable housing, 2018; Received the Globe Award from The Cincinnati Shakespeare Company for leadership, commitment and support of the Otto M. Budig Theatre, 2018; Received the Ed Hubert OTR Made Award from the Over-the-Rhine Chamber of Commerce for outstanding contributions to community development, 2018.

Verna L. Williams, Dean and Nippert Professor of Law, University of Cincinnati College of Law

Achievements: One of the few African American women to argue a case before the U.S. Supreme Court; First African American to serve as Dean of the University of Cincinnati College of Law; Member, Standing Committee on Amicus Curiae Briefs, American Bar Association, 2019-present; Member, Ohio State Bar Association Deans/Practitioner Advisory Council, 2018-present; Board Member, Mercantile Library, 2018-present; Vice-Chair, Task Force on the Ohio Bar Examination, 2017-2018; Leadership Council, Women’s Fund of Greater Cincinnati Foundation, 2008-2012.

Mary Zalla, Global President Consumer Brands and Managing Director Cincinnati, Landor

Achievements: First female CEO of Landor, a global brand strategy consultancy and design firm; Vice Chair, Executive Committee, Cincinnati Museum Center, 2020; Executive Committee, Northern Kentucky University Foundation Board, 2020; Trustee and Head of Marketing Committee, Horizon Community Fund, 2020; Recipient (along with her family), the Northern Kentucky University Lincoln Award, 2019; Northern Kentucky University Outstanding Alumna Award, 2017; Northern Kentucky University Commencement Speaker, 2013; Other key events of the October 20 YWCA Career Women of Achievement program include:

Two scholarships were presented at the event. Presentation of the Charlotte R. Schmidlapp Scholarship Award, Fifth Third Bank, Trustee, went to Briana (Bree) Moss, an active volunteer with the YWCA’s Project CARE (Community, Accessibility, Responsiveness and Education).

The YWCA awards 10 African American high school women, the Mamie Earl Sells Scholarship. The top scholarship award of $3,000 was awarded to Thalia Grant, a senior at DePaul Cristo Rey High School.

Last year YWCA Greater Cincinnati served over 8,500 women, men, and children through direct services, an additional 1,000 through community trainings and 2,700 through its domestic violence hotline.

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