Meet the 2019 Smart Women Award honorees

Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C®) is pleased to return as Presenting Sponsor of the 2019 Smart Women Breakfast & Awards. This event provides a platform for dynamic networking and addresses important issues facing women in the workplace and in life. 

We are proud to be part of this event that celebrates the achievements of leading businesswomen, inspiring male advocates and effective women’s programs through the Smart Women Awards. The list of honorees is impressive and represents some of our community’s most committed and accomplished women, as well as those supporting women’s leadership. Congratulations to all 2019 winners!

Since 1963, Cuyahoga Community College has been the place where thousands of women have received the education needed to secure family-sustaining jobs and thrive in their careers. As the place “where futures begin,” we are here to help you no matter where you are on your career and life journey. Whether you are looking to re-enter the workforce or gain a new skill set, Tri-C is the partner to help you grow personally and professionally.

As 61 percent of our students are women, we are proud of unique efforts to support women at Tri-C. Our Black American Council Minority Women’s Leadership Initiative connects students with professionals to serve as resources and mentors and provides a format for dialogue, introspection and reflection among future leaders. Tri-C’s Women in Transition program provides education, training and support to women who are overcoming pivotal challenges in their lives. And the recently launched Tri-C Network of Women (NOW) is a resource group for women employees that provides a forum for networking and professional development. 

The Cuyahoga Community College Foundation is a key partner to Tri-C in its efforts to uplift, advance and empower women. The Foundation makes it possible for students to access a Tri-C education and provides support services to ensure their success.

Please enjoy the 2019 Smart Women Breakfast and join Cuyahoga Community College and the Tri-C Foundation in congratulating all of the winners and showing appreciation for their commitment to our community.

Alex Johnson, Ph. D., president
Cuyahoga Community College

Megan O’Bryan, president
Cuyahoga Community College Foundation

 


2019 Advocate for Advancement Honoree

Marc S. Byrnes, chairman
Oswald Cos.

As chairman of Oswald Cos., a full-range provider of insurance brokerage and risk management services, Marc S. Byrnes continues a career-long commitment to diversity and inclusion in the workplace. His dedication to creating and supporting career leadership paths for women and minority segments in Northeast Ohio has spanned decades across the public, private, and civic and nonprofit sectors he has served.

Chief among Byrnes’ achievements at Oswald was his work to help found the Oswald Women’s Leadership Council, a groundbreaking initiative within the traditionally male-dominated insurance industry. Since its 2013 inception, this council has appointed females to many key leadership roles within Oswald, including its first female board member and first female executive team members. The group also hosts an array of intensive workshops and development events to continuously help advance women in their professions.

Additionally, Byrnes has directly helped pave the way for many incredibly talented women in Northeast Ohio to attain leadership positions in and outside of Oswald, including for The Cleveland Leadership Center, United Way Greater Cleveland and more.

His efforts to promote such opportunities in the workplace and beyond have earned Byrnes numerous accolades over the years, including recognition in 2018 as a Humanitarian Award honoree by The Diversity Center of Northeast Ohio, a Lead Diversity Alumni Award winner by PwC and “Pink Tie Guy” honoree by Susan G. Komen Northeast Ohio.


2019 Progressive Entrepreneur Honorees

Brittani Bo Baker, managing partner
Bubba’s-Q

If you’re a Cleveland native, you’re likely familiar with Bubba’s-Q, a restaurant and catering business in Avon that features traditional southern-style Bar-B-Q cuisine. Founded by retired NFL player “Great Al” Bubba Baker and his wife, Sabrina, the company’s patented boneless ribs have found an even wider reach since being featured on the ABC show Shark Tank.

The daughter of this founding duo, Managing Partner Brittani Bo Baker, has been involved with the growth of Bubba’s-Q since its inception out of the family home. Waking up before middle school to help prep the day’s catering and returning to help wash dishes, she worked her way up through every position after the opening of Bubba’s-Q restaurant in 2006. That was also the year she patented Bubba’s Boneless Ribs with her father.

Learning every aspect of the business hands on from a young age has made Baker the strong, persistent and passionate second-generation business owner that she is today. She continues to apply her entrepreneurial prowess to push Bubba’s-Q to new heights, while also exploring new entrepreneurial challenges and projects.

In 2017, she co-founded a gourmet line of seasonings, Grammaw Knows, and in 2018, created and hosted her first Girl Boss Business Brunch to promote productive business relationships among women. Additionally, Baker volunteers with Lutheran Metropolitan Ministries Workforce Development and serves on the board.


Flo Brett, executive director
Effective Leadership Academy

Flo Brett’s path to becoming the executive director of award-winning youth leadership nonprofit Effective Leadership Academy was far from traditional. Beginning her career as a nurse in the United Kingdom, she worked her way up the corporate ladder to become a prominent leader mentoring and coaching professionals in the clinical space.

However, several unexpected events would drastically change Brett’s entrepreneurial direction, including the loss of a child and the developmental learning challenges facing another. She decided to instead dedicate her life to making a positive difference in the world for not only her remaining children, but thousands more.

Brett emigrated to the United States and began helping her son with his learning challenges directly in the classroom. While there, she saw a significant gap in leadership training within the education space. She decided to dive into research and found that while traditional education is designed to teach young people hard skills, it neglects soft skills like communication and teamwork. 

This discovery led her to found ELA in 2008, building an innovative curriculum to equip students along the middle school to college continuum with the transferrable skills they need to be work- and citizenship-ready adults. By leading the charge at the forefront of youth leadership development in Northeast Ohio, Brett has built a successful organization providing one-of-a-kind services that has impacted the lives of more than 20,000 young people.


Patti Conti, president and CEO
HMT Associates

When Patti Conti founded HMT Associates in 2002, her goal was to be an indispensable partner to her clients. As president and CEO, she has grown the agency to become just that, transitioning the organization from a traditional shopper marketing agency into a fully integrated, award-winning brand engagement agency.

Conti’s initial entrepreneurial vision for HMT Associates shifted as she recognized changes taking place within the marketplace. To keep on top of these consumer shifts, as well as expand and deepen her team’s strategic expertise to meet evolving client needs, she created an Insights team. With this team, she developed an innovative, proprietary FOURmulasm — which enables HMT Associates to move seamlessly from humanizing data to creating eye-opening insights and spot-on strategies. It also helps the organization develop big ideas that engage consumers and shoppers anywhere along their purchase journey.

Leveraging FOURmulasm, Conti has led the agency to grow business with long-standing clients, as well earn new business — realizing 30 percent growth over the past year. Recent highlights include working on the global OREO Dunk Challenge, hosting the Ultimate Tailgate Party for Cub Foods and being awarded all of Heineken’s emerging brands.

Conti’s progressive leadership has also seen HMT Associates named a top agency by the Path to Purchase Institute and Chief Marketer Magazine, and earn numerous industry awards including the Reggies, Pro Awards, IT List and Design of the Times.


Margaret “Margy” Judd, president and owner
Executive Arrangements

When Margaret “Margy” Judd joined Executive Arrangements (EA) in 1991, the company served as a full-service events organization. However, since buying it out in 2001, Judd — now president and owner — has implemented a new vision for the organization, growing EA into a destination services provider focused on helping job candidates and their families choose and then acclimate to living in Northeast Ohio.

Under her leadership, EA has helped bring significant new talent to the region, boasting an 80 percent success rate of convincing a candidate and his or her family to move to the area. These transplants then give back the community, both professionally and civically, ultimately benefiting Northeast Ohio well beyond their workplace.

Judd has fostered this high rate of recruiting success not only through her focus on a largely women-run, collaborative work environment within EA, but through her recent founding of the Counsel of Independent Talent Attraction Companies (CITAC). Bringing together a group of like-minded individuals and businesses in the talent industry throughout the Midwest and East Coast, she promotes collaboration beyond Northeast Ohio to share industry ideas and best practices.

Outside of EA, Judd’s entrepreneurial drive has her highly involved in the local community herself. She serves on the board for Play House Square and as a member for In Counsel with Women, and is one of the seven founding members of the first class of Cleveland Bridge Builders.


Lindsey, Kathryn and Whitney Neidus; co-owners
StoneWater Golf Club and The Venue at StoneWater

After pursuing separate, successful careers in the event, culinary and marketing industries, the Neidus sisters united their respective strengths to co-own and operate StoneWater Golf Club and The Venue at StoneWater in Highland Heights. In three short years, they’ve grown StoneWater from a golf-only brand to incorporate thriving restaurant and events services, boosting revenue by 150 percent.

Whitney Neidus, who serves as general manager — events, brings know-how from her experience founding award-winning private events company Party Couture. Kathryn Neidus shines as StoneWater’s executive chef, having worked alongside some of Cleveland’s finest chefs, including Zack Bruell at L’Albatros. As operations and marketing manager, Lindsey Neidus pulls from extensive experience working on advertising campaigns for large brands such as Macy’s and Anthropologie, as well as managing marketing and events for Dow Jones.

Together, the Neidus sisters’ backgrounds make them an entrepreneurial power team, reinventing the vision of what a modern golf club should be. Since taking over ownership of StoneWater, they’ve invested in renovating the clubhouse, restructuring memberships and incorporating the brand-new Rustic Grill Restaurant. They also run a robust catering and events business through the venue that earned StoneWater the distinction of being named a WeddingWire’s Couple’s Choice Award winner in 2018.

The Neidus trio isn’t stopping there. They’ve recently signed on for their next joint entrepreneurial venture, to take their talents to Little Mountain Country Club.


2019 Progressive Organization Honorees

CBIZ Inc.

Financial services and business consulting company CBIZ Inc. promotes inclusion among its workforce through a uniquely structured internal entity. Known as CBIZ Women’s Advantage (CWA), former CEO Steve Gerard conceived of the entity in 2007 to strategically promote diversity across business lines, geographic regions, age groups and ethnicity companywide. The initiative is continued today under President and CEO Jerome Grisko.

For 11 years, CBIZ Executive Vice President – Benefits and Insurance Division Nancy Mellard has led CWA in conjunction with an executive board consisting of female leaders who are elected to serve three-year terms. Under their guidance, CWA provides female staff members with opportunities for professional development and training, mentorship, recognition and career enhancement, as well as a variety of educational and networking events. 

Since its inception, CWA’s efforts have had a significant impact across CBIZ recruitment, retention and advancement initiatives. The company’s senior management has implemented CWA recommendations for more flexible work arrangements, transparency around opportunities for advancement and inclusion of qualified female presenters at conference and training events.

CWA also leads a team of local CBIZ female leaders in each geographic region, which has led to increased revenue, professional development engagement and external recognitions of employees across the company. These subgroups have together raised more than $500,000 for Dress for Success affiliates across the country and provided 11 women to serve on those affiliates’ boards, including in Cleveland.


Hyland

Hyland – the developer of OnBase, an enterprise content management and process management software suite – demonstrates a commitment to creating a progressive culture of diversity and inclusion at every level of the organization. This commitment starts at the top with CEO and President Bill Premier, a signee of the CEO Action Pledge, which helps Hyland benchmark with organizations that make diversity and inclusion a top priority.

Chief among company priorities are its Women in Tech and HylandWIN (Women in Networking) programs. Hyland hosts a biannual Women in Tech Conference, as well as an ongoing Women in Tech group that supports female employees in the IT space and connects them with schools, organizations and events that advance women in STEM. The HylandWIN program also provides female employees with group support, focusing on grooming soft skills and promoting community and technical outreach programs.

Outside of structured programs, Hyland strives to provide a safe and comfortable place for employees to work in through on-site amenities such as daycare services.

Ultimately, the company’s success in its diversity initiatives is clear, marked by a 50 percent growth in the number of female employees over the past three years in its U.S. locations. Its efforts have also earned Hyland recognition among the “Top 23 Best Employers in Technology for Women — 2018” list, as published by Forbes.


PNC

Financial services organization PNC promotes an all-inclusive culture built around the idea that every voice matters. To instill this value companywide, leadership implements initiatives around a variety of diversity and inclusion topics, with specific, progressive programming aimed at empowering women.

Most notably, PNC hosts a Women’s Business Development program that provides networking and mentoring opportunities for businesswomen. It also provides all employees the opportunity for certification as a PNC Women’s Business Advocate (WBA), to better understand and meet the financial needs and well-being of female financial decision-makers in their communities. More than 1,700 WBAs, both men and women, have been trained through this program to date.

Furthermore, PNC hosts speakers’ series and regularly collaborates with the Business Journals and Bizwomen.com to broadcast webcasts specifically for women. It also engages with external programs such as the Women Presidents’ Organization, a peer-to-peer mentoring model for high-revenue-generating women who own and run businesses, C200, a membership organization composed of the world’s most successful women entrepreneurs and corporate innovators, and the C-Ahead leadership and C200 Protégé programs.

The success of PNC’s efforts to promote diversity and inclusion within the workplace is evidenced through a number of earned accolades, including recognition among the “Top 50 Companies for Executive Women” by the National Association for Female Executives.


Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP

Since Partner Brandi N. Weekley joined Taft Law firm Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP seven years ago, she has helped make advancing women initiatives and assisting women entrepreneurs a key company priority. Much of this progress has been made in collaboration with Taft’s Gender Advancement Committee, a group that spans all 10 firm offices.

This group has helped Taft – led by Chairman and Managing Partner Robert J. Hicks – create and incorporate ever-more-progressive policies to better support work-life balance for its staff. Most notable among these is its gender-neutral, 16-week-paid parental leave for birth or adoptive parents, a policy unmatched within the industry.

Also key among the Gender Advancement Committee’s achievements are two programs created in the last year aimed at supporting Taft’s busy, often traveling, attorneys. The first, a firmwide emergency care program, incorporates 24/7 service portal [email protected] Taft employees can use this tool to find a last-minute caregiver for in-home or in-center childcare, or in-home adult care, when needed. The second program, Milk Stork, provides overnight breast milk delivery to help breastfeeding attorneys plan their business trips more efficiently. Through this program, Taft reimburses all related expenses.

With no sign of slowing its momentum to advance women initiatives in the workplace, Taft has been recognized among the top 10 law firms in the “Inclusion Blueprint” survey conducted by Diversity Lab and ChIPs.


2019 Progressive Woman Honorees

Heidi Boehlefeld, managing partner
Renner Otto

With 25 years’ experience in law, Heidi Boehlefeld stands out as a leading woman in a traditionally male-dominated industry. However, as managing partner of intellectual property law firm Renner Otto, her accomplishment is even more clear, as studies show an overwhelming 70 percent of IP attorneys in law firms are male, with even greater gender disparity among firm leadership roles.

Having worked both as in-house counsel and in private practice in strategies and tactics for IP protection on a global scale, particularly in patents and trademarks, Boehlefeld is well positioned to lead Renner Otto. Recognizing the negative impact of its outdated management structure on attorney retention, she spearheaded research of best practices and implementation of a new, comprehensive management structure and related compensation plan, reversing decades-old practices and associated behaviors. Boehlefeld has also prompted the firm to invest in much-needed technology upgrades, including back office and client-facing software, as well as reorganization of the staff and updates to Renner Otto’s physical office space.

Ultimately, through an aggressive overhaul of firm operations, Boehlefeld has identified and addressed longstanding people issues that adversely affected morale and productivity. She uses interpersonal savvy to drive change at both the firm and individual level, taking new lawyers under her wing to mentor the next generation on the practice and business of law.


Melony J. Butler, executive director
Dress for Success Cleveland

Melony Butler, executive director of nonprofit Dress for Success Cleveland, has changed the lives of thousands of women through the organization’s mission to supply them with the tools to achieve economic independence. Her dedication to this personal; she first walked through the doors as a client in 1999.

Looking to improve her circumstance, she initially participated in and completed the organization’s job retention pilot program, Professional Women’s Group. Butler’s passion and work ethic led to her being hired at Dress for Success Cleveland as office manager before she was promoted in several roles before being named executive director in 2011.

Throughout her 19 years with the organization, Butler has been instrumental in developing programs for the organization’s clients. She redesigned the Steps to Success program and Professional Women’s Group format, while also significantly increasing Dress for Success Cleveland’s professional speakers bureau. Additionally, she introduced individual consultation services to better serve clients and help them overcome the challenges she knows firsthand of transitioning from an employee to becoming the leader.

Butler’s work has earned multiple awards and recognition on behalf of the organization and herself, including “Professional Women’s Group of the Year” by Dress for Success Worldwide and Robert Half International in 2010, “Clevelanders Standing Strong Through Adversity” by the city of Cleveland in 2018 and the “Inspire Award” by Celebrating Women 2018.


Patricia Connole, CEO
US Communications and Electric Inc.

Even in the early days of her career working as an accountant for an electrical contractor, Patricia Connole was looking ahead to the future of technology needs. Recognizing an opportunity to meet a growing technical demand within the communications space, she approached her then-boss, and was asked, “If this is such a good idea, why don’t you do it yourself?” 

So Connole incorporated US Communications and Electric Inc., a technology-based communications cabling design and installation company, in 1996. As CEO, she has grown the organization from an operation based out of her kitchen into the second-largest structured cabling company in Ohio and the 10th-largest female-owned business in Northeast Ohio. Employing more than 100 associates and counting to meet consistent 10 percent annual growth, Connole has won many big landscape projects in the region.

She has worked hard to make US Communications and Electric a champion for workforce diversity, particularly in hiring and developing veterans, earning certification as a WBENC Women’s Business Enterprise, Disadvantaged Business Enterprise, Ohio EDGE-certified business and more. The company has also been recognized by the National Guard and Reserves, as well as AMVETS, and as a “Top Small Business in Ohio” by DiversityBusiness.com, among other achievements.

Persisting in a traditionally male-dominated field, Connole has grown a successful, respected business leading the industry in work ethics and dedication to customers and community. US Communications and Electric regularly supports MetroHealth, the USO, Providence House and the Salvation Army.


Susan Fuehrer, medical center director
VA Northeast Ohio Healthcare System
(Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center)

As the medical center director of the third-largest Veterans Affairs hospitals in the country, Susan Fuehrer oversees the care of 115,000 veterans across 20 Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center (VAMC) locations throughout Northeast Ohio. Both leader and visionary, she maintains more centers of clinical, education and research excellence than any other VAMC and is recognized for making transparent, data-driven decisions on behalf of veterans, staff and taxpayers.

Fuehrer’s start with the organization was humble. She joined as a management intern in 1986 while attending night classes at Case Western Reserve University to earn her MBA. Over the next three decades, she worked her way up through numerous positions to occupy the director role she thrives in today, becoming widely recognized as a trailblazer in the Veterans Health Administration.

Chief among Fuehrer’s accomplishments is her championing of the VAMC initiative to rein in narcotic prescriptions over the past decade. Spotting the effects of the opioid epidemic early on in veterans returning from overseas, VAMC has achieved the lowest opioid prescribing rates in the network of Veterans Affairs hospitals.

Fuehrer also contributes to Cleveland’s greater health care industry at large, serving on the board of directors for Cleveland’s Healthcare Information Management Executives, the Northeast Ohio Chapter of the American Red Cross and the Center for Health Affairs. She is also a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives and serves on the board of the Cuyahoga Community College Foundation.


Dee Haslam, co-owner
Cleveland Browns

Together with the Haslam family, Cleveland Browns Co-owner Dee Haslam purchased the Cleveland Browns in 2012 to realize a commitment to restoring championship football in Cleveland. A serial entrepreneur, she has brought extensive, award-winning advertising and media production experience to her role to reach that goal.

Serving on the team’s Legislative and Conduct committees, Haslam helps direct all important processes and decisions for the organization. She applies the same business savvy and sheer determination she’s used to buy and acquire companies to these tasks, helping to drive three areas of focus for the Browns: providing a consistently winning team on the football field, taking exceptional care of the team’s fans by providing a premier experience throughout the year and striving to make a positive impact in the Northeast Ohio community with an emphasis on education, youth football and community engagement through volunteerism.

Her efforts helped earn Browns ownership the Tank Younger Award from the Fritz Pollard Alliance for having built one of the most diverse front offices in all of sports. Haslam has also received recognition with the YWCA Tribute to Women Community Service Award, a Junior Achievement Business Award, University of Tennessee Distinguished Alumni Award and more.

In addition to her work with the Cleveland Browns, Haslam serves as senior executive for RIVR Digital and Nest Features. Her time spent in media production included co-producing notable television hits such as Trading Spaces for TLC, Whale Wars for Animal Planet, Renovation Realities for HGTV and DIY Network, and Escaping Polygamy for A&E.


Renee Ingram, PHR, SHRM-CP, HR generalist/recruiter
Apple Growth Partners

Apple Growth Partners is composed of certified public accountants and business advisors dedicated to providing services and creative solutions that deliver healthy, sustainable growth for both the company and its clients. Similarly, Renee Ingram, PHR, SHRM-CP, strives to create healthy, sustainable growth for the firm’s employees in her role as HR generalist/recruiter, in particular, for women looking to establish a better work-life balance.

Bringing nearly 20 years of recruiting experience when she joined the organization in 2017, Ingram’s progressive approach to modernizing the workforce has made a significant impact on Apple Growth’s culture in a short time. She has been a vocal advocate for change, influencing the design of new employee initiatives to both benefit current employees and help increase new graduate attraction and retention. These include Apple Growth’s recent moves to establish a career coach for female employees, initiate paid paternity leave and roll out a flexible hours model with a work-from-home component.

Keeping abreast of the evolution of employee benefits, for all employees but especially those beneficial to women, Ingram regularly educates and advises the firm’s executive committee on how to better hire, manage and retain top talent. Pairing this knowledge with excellent interpersonal skills, she has also set a record new hiring streak for number of full-time employees hired in a year, adding significant value to all major departments.


Laura Kepley, artistic director
Cleveland Play House

From a young age, Ohio native Laura Kepley had a passion for theater. She fed this passion by acting throughout high school, college and after graduation – consistently in productions directed by men. As such, she says she never dreamed she could one day become the artistic director for one of the largest theater districts in the country.

That changed when Kepley met her first female artistic director, prompting her to take a leap of faith and apply for the master of fine arts degree in directing program at Brown University/Trinity Repertory Co. The only woman in that program for two of the three years, she worked her way up through a number of traditionally male-dominated roles, finally leading her to her role at Cleveland Play House (CPH).

Starting out as associate artistic director for CPH, Kepley assumed the role of artistic director in 2013. Now overseeing a $9 million operating budget, she’s proving much of the discouraging “career advice” she received over the years wrong, and inspiring an industry still struggling with low numbers of minority leadership to see women as capable and influential leaders. 

Through CPH, Kepley focuses on providing unique development opportunities to aspiring women and African-American professionals in the field, promoting diversity within its apprenticeship program, creating a new Managing Director Fellowship for African-Americans and establishing policies that drive gender parity both onstage and off.

Kepley’s efforts have not only earned recognition for CPH, and she’s been named a Crain’s Cleveland Woman of Note.


Jeanne Mullin, shareholder, co-chair, medical malpractice defense group
Reminger Co. LPA

Joining law firm Reminger Co. LPA as an associate in 2000, current shareholder Jeanne Mullin quickly found her passion in focusing on the defense of medical and professional negligence cases. Today, she specializes in the development and execution of effective defense strategies that help her clients combat exposure to catastrophic injuries and instances of death. Her cases involve high stakes, and Mullin serves her clients with unmatched dedication and compassion that have earned her the role of co-chair of Reminger’s Medical Malpractice Defense Group.

She has also strived to help develop a culture that promotes inclusiveness and mentorship, earning her a spot on Reminger’s executive team and board of directors. Chief among Mullin’s achievements was helping to develop Reminger’s Women’s Leadership Council, which oversees the mentoring, networking, training and development of women attorneys.

Serving as a member of several bar associations, as well as a fellow of the Litigation Counsel of America, Mullins has been recognized among the “Best Lawyers in America” since 2012 for Medical Malpractice Law-Defendants, among other accolades. She has handled complex cases in other states on a pro hac vice basis, presenting matters on appeal at both the state and federal levels, including presenting a case to the Ohio Supreme Court that resulted in precedent law relating to medical credentialing. And she is a passionate advocate for Down syndrome support, volunteering on the board of GiGi’s Playhouse Cleveland.


Lorraine Vega, senior vice president and senior program officer
KeyBank Foundation

As senior vice president and senior program officer of KeyBank Foundation, a nonprofit charitable foundation funded by Key Corp., the impact of Lorraine Vega’s responsibilities can be felt throughout the organization, the Cleveland region and even across the nation.

Locally, she drives impactful initiatives to create safe, affordable, inclusive communities within the Cleveland region – managing an active $15 million grant portfolio focused specifically on corporate grants related to education, civic and health and human services programs. She also oversees an additional $4 million in grantmaking for KeyBank Foundation in Key’s Pacific Northwest and Rocky Mountain regions. Across programming and regions, Vega emphasizes the importance of diversity and inclusion throughout KeyBank’s entities, providing leadership and guidance for Key’s senior leader board placement, employee giving programs, governance activities and community relationships profile in Hispanic communities across the franchise.

Vega’s efforts to empower to the Hispanic community extend beyond the nonprofit, as well. She has held several leadership roles in Latino community circles, including serving as a board trustee of the (Cleveland) Hispanic Roundtable and, in her earlier years, founding director of the League of United Latin American Citizens. 

Tirelessly civic minded, Vega is a trustee of the boards of Lutheran Hospital, National Urban Fellows, Business Volunteers Unlimited, Center for Nonprofit Excellence and Sullivan Scholarship Fund of the Cleveland Foundation. She actively encourages others to contribute and participate in partnerships with civic organizations.


Lorna Wisham, vice president, corporate affairs & community involvement, president, FirstEnergy Foundation
FirstEnergy

Cleveland-native Lorna Wisham got her start at The University of Akron, where she earned a bachelor of arts degree in business and organizational communication. Her hard work and dedication would see her take her passions to the federal stage.

Wisham took on a master’s degree in public communication from American University, Washington, D.C., followed by Leadership Cleveland and the German Marshall Fellow program abroad. She then worked her way up through a number of roles to become senior adviser to federal affairs for FirstEnergy, where she lobbied Congress on a broad spectrum of issues, ranging from utility operations and cyber security to regulatory and environmental issues.

Today, she leverages this experience at FirstEnergy, where she serves as vice president, Corporate Affairs & Community Involvement, as well as president of FirstEnergy Foundation. She has advocated FirstEnergy’s policy position with the administration and various federal agencies, while making time to give back to the Cleveland community as a director on the University Hospital Case Medical Center and Cuyahoga Community College Foundation Board.

Wisham’s progressive tenure as a change agent on both a local and national scale has earned her honors from the Women of Color Foundation, the Diversity Center of Northeast Ohio and Kaleidoscope Magazine, among others. λ