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35th Anniversary Salute to Career Women of Achievement Luncheon
May 14, 2014


YWCA Career Women of Achievement Honorees, Scholarship Recipients, Co-Chairs & Keynote Speaker
                                                Front: Jalese Stone, Diane Jordan-Grizzard, Joan Lewis, Mary Ronan, Charlene Ventura, Viola Davis, Dr. Monica Mitchell, Theresa Tanner, Kathy Kelly, Kelly Schierloh. Back: Yvette Simpson, Sukanya Madlinger, Nancy Barone, Catherine Roma, Digi Schueler

YWCA President & CEO Charlene Ventura, Event Co-Chair Diane Jordan-Grizzard, Keynote Speaker Viola Davis, Event Co-Chair Kathy Kelly, Board Chair Digi Schueler 



Heartfelt Thanks to Our 35th Anniversary Luncheon Sponsors 



    Nancy A. Barone
    Vice President & COO, UC Medical Center & Drake Center
    UC Health

    Nancy A. Barone’s own life – from staff nurse, to nursing director to vice president and President/COO – is a testament to the success of one woman who cares deeply about the health, welfare and safety of women, children and entire communities. The first and only lay female CEO of any Northern Kentucky Hospital (St. Luke), Barone has succeeded in a male-dominated profession and a much-changed industry during her 30-year tenure. Barone has ensured that the needs of her native Northern Kentucky also have been addressed, including a community foundation and role-model agency for abused children. “I get up every day to do the very best job I can do,” says Barone. “I constantly and consistently seek new opportunities to learn more. I’m passionate about my job – I love the job I do and believe it is important work.”

    Manages $870 million dual health-care facilities, including 5,000 employees and 500,000+ patients annually

    Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives; Member, Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges

    Founder, Northern Kentucky Children’s Advocacy Center and Distinguished Leadership Award winner, 1997

    Cincinnati Business Courier Health Care Hero Award, 2003 and 2012; Newport Achievement Award, 2010


    Joan M. Lewis
    Officer & Senior Vice President, Global Consumer & Market Knowledge
    The Procter & Gamble Company

    Joan Lewis started her first job at 21 at The Procter & Gamble Company with no business experience, not even a business class on her college transcript. “I spent the first year in doubt, essentially trying to figure out how to be someone else,” she says. That doubt disappeared when she decided to bring her “whole self” to the office every day. Described as “calm, intelligent, whip-smart and selfless,” Lewis worked her way up through major P&G Divisions around the globe, and today ensures that the world’s largest advertiser uses innovative research tools and techniques to understand consumers as real people, not numbers on a chart. She also believes that younger professional women need both honesty and encouragement to find their own path to success. “In reality, we all have challenges every day,” she says, “and sharing the challenges can be just as inspiring as the big wins.”

    Manages 1,000+ global associates who conduct more than 11,000 consumer research studies involving 10 million consumer contacts in nearly 100 countries; total research value $350 million

    Board member, Advertising Research Foundation; Member, Miami University Business Advisory Council

    Advertising Age “Top 25 Women to Watch,” 2010



    Sukanya R. Madlinger
    President, Cincinnati-Dayton Division
    The Kroger Co.

    Some people approach work with a constant eye toward the next career opportunity, but Sukanya Madlinger believes in a “clear focus on being the best in each of the many roles I have served vs. looking toward the next position.” Her path from grocery-store trainee to division president, which now includes leadership of 100 Kroger stores in Southwestern Ohio, has resulted in year-over-year growth in volume and sales for the Cincinnati-based grocer, including $6.5 million in donated goods annually. Madlinger’s colleagues call her a warm and caring strategic leader who sets high personal standards and expects colleagues to achieve and succeed with her. Of particular pride: she is a champion of inclusive workplace environment and scholarships for minority students in the Cincinnati-Dayton region, as well as Kroger’s Cultural Advisory Council. “I have achieved much both personally and professionally,” she says, “but my greatest satisfaction comes from knowing I have invested my resources to help others grow and achieve their dreams in my journey.”

    Manages a 200-member executive team, whose 20,000 associates deliver $5 billion in annual sales

    Fifth female Division President in Kroger’s 130-year history

    Progressive Grocer Top Women in Grocery Award, 2008 and 2013

    Board of Directors, Boys Hope Girls Hope Cincinnati



    Monica J. Mitchell, PhD
    Senior Director, Community Relations
    Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical CenterSenior Professor of Pediatrics, Cincinnati Children's
    University of Cincinnati

    Healthy, thriving communities require key assets: excellent health-care facilities, great research, good data and connections between the providers and people who need it. Mostly, they need caring-hearted women like Dr. Monica Mitchell, a renowned researcher and one of about only 130 African-American women in the U.S. to serve as a full academic professor. Mitchell has spent her career connecting health care agencies – such as Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, where she is a professor of pediatrics – with community-based agencies that include Cincinnati Public Schools, Success by Six, Beech Acres, Talbert House and others. Because of her work, doctors, nurses, practitioners and researchers know what treatments and protocols work - why, how, and how to prove it – to ensure that Tristate children grow up healthy in thriving families and health communities. “…There is strength in community and power in collaboration,” Mitchell says. “It is consistent with the proverb that says, ‘If you want to go fast, go alone…but if you want to go far, go together.’”

    Manages three teams of nearly 50 employees with combined $2.1 million research-operational budgets

    Leadership Roundtable Program, CCHMC, 2012

    McNair Scholars mentors Award, University of Cincinnati, 2010

    Board member, Avondale Community Development Corporation; Gabriel’s Place

    YWCA Rising Star, 2003



    Catherine Roma, DMA
    Professor of Music, Wilmington College
    Founder & Artistic Director Emrita, MUSE Cincinnati's Women's Choir

    Few things are as inspiring and filled with human potential and understanding as voices raised in song. Dr. Catherine Roma has spent more than 30 years making sure that the songs and music in the Tristate never stop bringing people together. Guided by values of feminism, social justice and inclusion, she has directed choirs and commissioned musical works across barriers of race, religion, class, sexual orientation, age and imprisonment, starting in 1984 when she founded MUSE, Cincinnati’s Women’s Choir, from which she recently retired. She continues to serve as the Minister of Music at St. John’s Unitarian Universalist Church in Cincinnati. Two of her choirs are based in men’s prisons; three won category gold medals at the Cincinnati-hosted 2012 World Choir Games, for which she co-chaired the Local Music Advisory Committee. “I value a feminist model of leadership in building community,” Dr. Roma says. “I’ve learned that repertoire, the pieces a group sings, honors our vibrant cultural differences and enables us to learn valuable things about each other.”

    Founder of MUSE Women’s Choir, Martin Luther King Coalition Chorale, UMOJA Men’s Chorus, UBUNTU Men’s Chorus, World House Choir

    Board of Directors, Greater Cincinnati Choral Consortium, 2013-2014

    Devoted Service Award, Martin Luther King Coalition, 2012; King Legacy Award, National Underground Freedom Center, 2013

    Outstanding Alumnae Award, University of Cincinnati LGBTQ Center, 2011



    Mary A. Ronan
    Cincinnati Public Schools

    Thirty-seven years ago, when first-time teacher Mary Ronan took on seventh-grade math and science at Merry Middle School, most of her fellow teachers were women and the principals were men. Over the course of her Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) career – supervisor, director, assistant principal, principal and now superintendent since 2009 – Ronan has shaped CPS into a district whose leaders and school principals, especially women, “reflect the faces of the children we serve.” Whether negotiating labor contracts, hitting the pavement to pass tax levies, boosting academic expectations, or overseeing the district’s 10-year, $1 billion Facilities Master Plan, Ronan’s down-to-earth experience and lofty educational vision have brought CPS recognition as Ohio’s highest-performing urban school district since 2009. “I have persevered through the turmoil of layoffs and restructuring that are so common in the workplace,” she says, “by continuing to do my job and focusing on the students who are in our care.”

    Manages $1 billion operating budget and staff of 4,500

    One of three women to serve as superintendent in Cincinnati Public Schools’ 175-year history

    Coalition for Community Schools Award of Excellence, 2013

    Strive’s 100 Best Communities for Young People Award, 2012

    Board Member: Cincinnati Art Museum; Junior Achievement; Cincinnati Youth Collaborative; Minorities in Math, Science and Engineering; Journeys Mental Health



    Yvette R. Simpson, Esq
    President Pro Tem, Cincinnati City Council
    Of Counsel, Ulmer & Berne LLP

    Her nickname? The “Velvet Hammer.” Yvette Simpson doesn’t mind, because she knows that success – whether emerging from childhood poverty, earning a law degree or getting elected to public office – means working hard with professionalism, respect and perseverance. A native of Lincoln Heights and an attorney for 12 years, Simpson has provided legal advice on issues of employment, media, business and neighborhood redevelopment at leading Cincinnati law firms. She founded and directed the Pre-Law program at Miami University, and previously served on the boards of the YWCA and Urban League. A two-term Cincinnati City Council member, she focuses her energy on issues spanning human services to the streetcar, art to public safety, a Youth to Work summer jobs program to entrepreneurship. “On the inside, I am still that poor little girl…who dreamt of one day becoming a lawyer,” says Simpson. “I am truly motivated by the need to help people, and improve their lives and circumstances, particularly the least among us.”

    Member, Cincinnati City Council since 2011

    Girl Scouts of Western Ohio, Leaders of Promise Award, 2013

    MLK Dreamkeeper’s Award, Voices of the Valley, 2012

    Founder and first director, Miami University Pre-Law Program, 2007-2012

    YWCA Rising Star, 2005


    Teresa Tanner

    Executive Vice President & Chief Human Resources Officer, Fifth Third Bank

    Teresa Tanner’s role as an executive working mother faced its most difficult challenge when her then-toddler was diagnosed with leukemia. Her daughter survived, but the experience was emotional, draining, demanding and challenging in ways she never expected. The courage and resilience she gained fueled her passion to emphasize the “human” component of human relations. At Fifth Third, her HR policies, strategies and initiatives have won the bank two Gallup Great Workplace Awards since 2011. Among the initiatives: the first employee survey; a strategic focus on employee training, emotional intelligence and empathy; adoption of Project SEARCH to train and employ individuals with cognitive and developmental disabilities; and leadership development. “The path to career success can take surprising, messy and wonderful turns,” Tanner says. “Be open to wherever opportunity may lead you; lean into the unfamiliar. You’ll grow in unexpected ways and may uncover your true passion.”

    Manages a direct budget of $66 million covering 300 employees in 12 states

    Gallup Great Workplace Award, 2011 and 2013

    Introduction of Project SEARCH school-to-work program in 2005, which has graduated more than 200 students

    Board member: ArtsWave; Ronald McDonald House; Freestore Foodbank

    Member: United Way Tocqueville Society, Women’s Leadership Council


    YWCA 2014 Mamie Earl Sells Scholarship Recipient


    Jalese S. Stone
    Newport High School

    Member of Newport High School’s Superintendent Advisory Committee, National Honor Society and Students Offering Sobriety Club, Stone is also captain of the cheerleading squad and volleyball team. A charter member of the Northern Kentucky NAACP student organization, she won “2013 Youth of the Year” awards from the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Cincinnati and United Way of Cincinnati.

    Jalese admits that failure and doubt have contributed in large amounts to her success. “The more people doubted me, the harder I tried; and every time I failed, I learned something to help me in the future.”

    “I want to be a success,” she says of plans to be a heart surgeon, “but I also want to be an inspiration. My ultimate goal is to show children that where they start does not have to determine where they will finish.” With a GPA of 4.1, she plans to study biology/pre-med at the University of Louisville.

    Learn more about the Mamie Earl Sells Scholarship





    2014 Charlotte R. Schmidlapp Fund Scholarship Recipient


    Kelly L. Schierloh
    Cincinnati State Technical & Community College

    Kelly Schierloh spent much of her troubled, violent, abuse childhood living on the streets, bunking with friends, or in juvenile detention centers: “I thought it was the only way of getting out of what was going on at home.”

    She never attended junior high, never graduated from high school. Through years of unsuccessful and often abusive relationships, menial jobs and no marketable skills, Schierloh was a single mother of three children in Chillicothe. After sending her children to live with relatives in Cincinnati, she eventually joined them here.

    In 2013, Schierloh turned to the YWCA Workforce Development Program, where instructors describe her as “one of the hardest-working students in class.”
    Eager to keep learning after gaining her GED, Schierloh is pursuing a degree in civil engineering at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College.

    “Getting my GED and going to college have been the two greatest accomplishments in my life,” says the Westwood woman. “There are so many more accomplishments for me to work on in the future. The YWCA has helped me turn my life around.”

    Learn more about the Charlotte R. Schmidlapp Fund Scholarship







    2014 Career Women of Achievement Keynote Speaker

    Photo by Art Streiber

    Viola Davis
    Classically trained, award-winning actor Viola Davis is one of the day’s most accomplished and versatile actresses. She is best known for her role as Aibileen Clark in the popular movie “The Help,” for which she won a Screen Actors Guild Award for outstanding performance by a female, and a Critics’ Choice Award for best actress.

    Rising out of poverty from her home in St. Matthew, SC., Viola fell in love with high school theater as a form of escape. Her passion and talent led to a scholarship to the Young People’s School of the Performing Arts before attending the Julliard School. Her early acting career included “Seven Guitars” on Broadway, TV’s “NYPD Blue” and the film “The Substance of Fire.

    She also appeared in the films “Beautiful Creatures,” “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,” “Knight and Day,” and “Eat Pray Love,” was nominated for a Tony Award for “King Hedley II,” and appeared in the stage play “Fences” and the film “Doubt.”

    “I want to do what Cicely Tyson did to me,” Davis says of her interest in ensuring that women of color are part of the modern artistic-media narrative. “She allowed me to have the visual of what it means to dream.”

    Previous Keynote Speakers include Deborah Roberts, Cokie Roberts, Maya Angelou, Anna Quindlen and Alexis Herma

    View a list of past speakers.


    2014 Career Women of Achievement Co-Chairs

    Diane Jordan-Grizzard
    President & CEO
    Thembi Speaks 

    After 20 years of executive leadership in nonprofits where she proved her skills in organizational leadership and system-wide change, Diane launched her international management consulting practice, Thembi Speaks LLC in 2004.

    While living in Liberia, Diane witnessed the military coup d’état, served as a midwife, and owned a business. The integration of these experiences with her formal studies inspires the framework Diane uses to help individuals and organizations to unlock their purpose, passion, and potential.

    The African proverb “it is not where you are but what you do there that matters,” drives Diane’s passion. She participated in the 2012 UN Commission on the Status of Women, is the author of FREE SOIL (2010), her account of Liberia’s complex history, and her E-Book, Are You Riding In The Back Seat of Your Own Dream? is available on all electronic book platforms.

    Diane is a 2010 YWCA Career Woman of Achievement, and currently serves on  the board of trustees for the YWCA, 4C For Children and the Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati. In 2009, she was the recipient of the WCPO Profiles in Courage Award.   


    Kathy Kelly
    President Kroger Personal Finance
    The Kroger Co.

    Kathy Kelly is responsible for overseeing the financial products and services department for Kroger Personal Finance which consists of five Business Lines – payment cards, gift cards, telecom, financial services and money services.

    Kathy began her career with Kroger in 1985 as a Cash Management Specialist and Assistant Treasurer. In 1998, Kathy was promoted to Director of Investor Relations for the retailer. She was named President of Kroger Personal Finance in 2003. 

    Kathy currently serves on the board of trustees for Easter Seals Tristate, Bethesda Inc. and the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor Foundation Board. She is a past board member and former chair for the College of Mt. St. Joseph. In 2011, Kathy was named a Woman of Distinction by the Girl Scouts of Southwest Ohio and a YWCA Career Woman of Achievement. In 2010, Kathy was named one of McAuley High School’s Women Who Inspire. In 2009, Kathy was named one of Progressive Grocers’ Top Women in Grocery.



    Learn more about the 2013 Career Women of Achievement Honorees and luncheon.




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