Here are the Perspectives ’15 Women Who Excel honorees
A flexible work environment has been central to the internal strategy of Staffing Solutions Enterprises for nearly two decades, and has established itself as effective in helping the company retain top talent. Led by President SueAnn Naso, the company is moving the needle on individuals’ professional development by devising unique strategies that help employees progress through each phase of their careers. According to Staffing Solutions’ When Work Works’ 2014 Winner Benchmarking Report, 96 percent of its employees agreed that they have the flexibility needed at work to manage personal family responsibilities, an increase from 79 percent the prior year. Furthering this progress, in 2006, Staffing Solutions created the Executive HR Women’s Network out of a need for networking opportunities, sharing challenges and gathering advice in the HR space. The network gives professional women an opportunity to meet and gain trust with peers and advisers, which offers a sounding board for ideas before they’re presented internally. The group now has more than 160 members. As a team of businesswomen, staffing professionals, mothers and caretakers, Staffing Solutions Enterprises supports its employees and fellow HR professional women so they can thrive in and out of the workplace.
Anita Bradley understands the importance of recovery. As executive director of the Northern Ohio Recovery Association, Bradley has spent more than 22 years working in the chemical dependency profession. Having been in recovery for more than 23 years, she understands the importance of blending personal and professional knowledge to promote the power and possibility of recovery. NORA is a community-based substance abuse peer recovery support organization that provides culturally relevant addiction prevention, treatment and recovery support services to youth, adults and families. NORA engages those struggling with substance abuse in fun group activities that aim to refocus their minds while providing a positive stimulus. Bradley served on the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment National Advisory Council and the Ohio Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors as the legislative co-chair for eight years. She has provided technical assistance to a multitude of agencies and monitored treatment agencies for program compliance and quality improvement. Bradley organized a public Recovery Month event that has led to annual Recovery Monthly activities in the tri-county area. Many of the Alcoholics Anonymous meetings she began have continued and she has sponsored numerous women through the program.
CEO and founder
Christine Lobas launched Studiothink in 2004 during the most difficult time of her life — when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Now celebrating 10 years in business, her vision has come alive and the company has 17 full-time employees. A dedicated, hard-working mother of three, wife and professional, she treats her employees and colleagues with respect and shows gratitude and appreciation to everyone. Lobas, who serves as CEO, will greet you with a warm smile and leave you with an even warmer hug. As the communications chair for the Cleveland chapter of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization, Lobas was awarded Best Event Branding at the 2013-2014 EO Marketing and Communications Awards at the Global Leadership Conference. She also recently became the communications chair for the Cleveland chapter of the Global Entrepreneurs’ Organization. Lobas is a member of the American Advertising Federation, American Marketing Association and Legal Marketing Association, and serves on the boards of the Epilepsy Association, The Benjamin Rose Institute and the Corporate Committee of Southwest General Hospital. As a role model and mentor who continuously supports efforts that empower women to rise above adversity, Lobas served as a panelist at last fall’s Women of Power conference and is an active supporter of the Flourish Conference for Women in Leadership.
Martina Moore, CEO of Moore Counseling & Mediation Services Inc., started her business 15 years ago as a sole practitioner in the counseling field. Moore’s business has since grown to five locations that serve some 500 clients per week in outpatient substance abuse and mental health counseling. Moore is a doctoral student at Walden University pursuing her degree in counseling education and supervision with a specialization in consultation. She holds a master’s degree from John Carroll University in community counseling and human services, and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Notre Dame College. She is a trained Gestalt family therapist, a substance abuse professional, a certified mediator and a Certified Employee Assistance Professional. She is also visiting faculty at John Carroll University and an instructor at the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland. Moore is the 2013 doctoral emerging leader for the Association of Humanistic Counselors, and founded its Ohio chapter. In 2014, Moore wrote a federal grant that was awarded to assist in procuring a drug used to prevent heroin and opiate overdose that was given to 200 drug users. Since the inception of the company, Moore has demonstrated accelerated growth and focused leadership. She has shown dedication and commitment to her business, employees, clients and the Northeast Ohio community.
Rachel Y. Talton, Ph.D.
Synergy Marketing Strategy & Research Inc.
When Rachel Y. Talton, Ph.D., lost her first husband, she turned tragedy into triumph. Not only did she begin speaking across the region and state about the power of faith and perseverance, she founded Synergy Marketing Strategy & Research Inc. Talton, who serves as CEO, has always been passionate about the advancement of women, which she says is in her genes. Her mother, an important role model, headed the League of Women Voters in her preteen years, earned three graduate degrees, raised two children without the full-time support of their father, and served in leadership roles for a number of nonprofit and civic organizations. Following in her mother’s footsteps, Talton mentors up to two emerging female leaders, who are often minorities, each year and serves on various boards and committees. Through Synergy, she designed a program called Women in Business Pay It Forward, where the company donates in-kind marketing and/or research services to one burgeoning women-owned company per year. In 2014 Talton co-founded Flourish Leadership LLC, which designed a model of leadership and development to support high-achieving women in their executive careers, businesses and personal lives. The inaugural Flourish Conference for Women in Leadership also was held last year.
Betsie Norris founded Adoption Network Cleveland in 1988, after searching for and reuniting with her birthparents. During this process, she discovered the lack of support and a central location for information geared toward adult adoptees and birthparents. Today, Norris, who serves as executive director, is a nationally recognized leader on adoption and adoption-related issues. She has overcome bureaucracy and apathy to help the community understand how adoption and foster care impact everyone. One key success of Norris and Adoption Network Cleveland was overseeing and managing the Adopt Cuyahoga’s Kids Initiative when Cuyahoga County faced a crisis — more than 1,700 youth were in permanent custody, and 900 of those were in danger of aging out. Through the initiative, 332 youth were placed in permanent homes and saved taxpayers over $50 million. Other organizations have sought to implement similar programs. Norris also oversaw the creation and integration of an array of new programs that provide services to families throughout their adoption journey. Norris and the organization recently celebrated another success. They worked for more than 25 years to bring access to original birth certificates for all Ohio-born adoptees. In 2013, SB 23 was signed into law, which gives the 400,000 adults adopted between 1964 and 1996 access to their birth certificates.
Progressive Woman Honorees
Elizabeth Crosby finds it hard to measure the pride and admiration she feels for her friend, Cindy Artino. “She is a self-made woman who found a way to make it in a world that holds little value for high school diplomas and single moms,” says Crosby, who met Artino when the two worked together at Gates, McDonald & Co. “She has never allowed her fears and insecurities to dictate her path. She has always treated people fairly and with the utmost respect.” Artino was often concerned that her lack of a college degree would hamper her professional career. It never stopped her from working hard, however, as Artino brought the same passion and energy to everything she did. In February 1992, Artino was hired as a claims manager at Spooner Inc. Spooner manages workers’ compensation, unemployment and short-term disability claims for employers. Artino, who now serves as Spooner’s president, not only transformed the claims management processes at Spooner, she developed and launched its managed care organization, MAI Inc. She also oversaw the acquisition of John Cantlon and Associates and seamlessly integrated the two organizations. She created strategic alliances with various vendors including law firms to insure for quality service to Spooner’s clients.
Deborah S. Plate, DO, has built a legacy of caring and advocacy that began when she completed her family medicine residency at Akron General Medical Center in 1991. Her career has come full circle as the board-certified family medicine physician is now teaching residents in the same program. As the clinical associate director of the family medicine residency program, Plate’s responsibilities include teaching both residents and students. She also serves as the family medicine clerkship site director and undergraduate director, and has been appointed as a full professor of family medicine at Northeast Ohio Medical University. In addition to her role as a teacher, Plate has a private practice at Akron General’s Center for Family Medicine and enjoys her role as a caring primary care physician. She hosts the “Akron General Health Connection” radio program every Saturday at 7 a.m. on News Radio WTAM 1100 where she discusses breaking medical information, tips for healthy living and a wide variety of important health topics. Plate has published numerous articles on women’s health issues and is also very involved in community service, serving as physician coordinator for both free clinics in the Akron area at ACCESS Inc. and at the University of Akron.
Joan A. Morgenstern
Director, Early Childhood Services
The Mandel JCC
Joan A. Morgenstern sees her job as an early childhood educator as a way is to help young children see themselves as capable well before they see it themselves. Completing her 10th year as director of Early Childhood Services at the Mandel JCC, she supports her teachers’ efforts to cultivate children’s intellectual dispositions, not just their academic skills. Working for a large nonprofit presents the challenge of continually educating, informing and advocating for practices that support educational excellence. Morgenstern insists on low teacher/child ratios, which may come at the expense of her department’s budget. Morgenstern is less concerned with what the children learn — and more with how they learn. Prior to her position as director, Morgenstern spent many years as a classroom teacher, and the experience helped her to not only understand the importance of exemplary education, but to be equally committed to elevating the early care and education field. Morgenstern directs a team of 25 early childhood educators that serve 110 children aged 18 months to 5 years. For two consecutive years the Mandel JCC’s Early Childhood Center has been recognized as No.1 in quality among national JCC Early Childhood programs.
President and CEO
Lake View Cemetery Association
Katharine Goss has always had an entrepreneurial spirit, a strong sense of business and a true dedication to the Greater Cleveland community as a strategic volunteer and trustee. In 2010, after serving as a trustee of the Lake View Cemetery Foundation for several years, the board recruited her to become executive director of the foundation. During 2013, she became president and CEO of the Lake View Cemetery Association, charged with management, operations and marketing of the Cleveland landmark. She is one of only a few women leading major, historic cemeteries in the U.S. Her initial goal: Implement a strategic plan with a laser focus on top-line growth as the first step in the sustainability of the cemetery. Like many long-time organizations noted for quality and service, Lake View Cemetery Association is re-inventing itself for the future, including developing 65 acres that can provide space for interment of 100,000 people for the next century. Goss’s plans include larger staffing, especially in the sales and marketing areas, and sales for the first fiscal quarter of 2015 are up 39 percent. Prior to switching careers, Goss was in the wealth management field for more than 18 years, especially active in marketing and business strategies.
Lindsay G. Silverstein, an executive director at the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, knows about having to deal with prejudice in one of her former workplaces — and how not to let it destroy her focus and passion for her mission. While working for a national nonprofit agency, she was one of a team of four development directors who happened to all be Jewish. The team worked well together, and surpassed all fundraising goals, which had a large impact on the agency’s mission. A new supervisor was appointed, and the team soon learned and adapted to a challenge of having an anti-Semitic boss. Silverstein did not let it affect her focus. She kept working through the difficult atmosphere, and after more than six months, she left to take another job. Since that time, Silverstein has been with other organizations and has had to be in the minority as one of the few of her faith. She has taken this on as a challenge and not only informs her staff, bosses and leaders about tradition and holidays, she makes it her goal to meet with regional and national decision-makers so they understand to not plan events on certain religious holidays. She is proud of her differences and others’ differences as well.
Executive Director and Founder
Girls With Sole
Girls With Sole uses fitness and wellness programs to empower the minds, bodies and souls of preteen and teenage girls who are at risk or have experienced abuse. As a girl, Liz Ferro, executive director of Girls With Sole, used athletics to help her through her emotional struggles associated with abuse. She’s now using her organization to instill in abuse victims the “finish-line feeling,” which is the feeling of accomplishment one gets from crossing the finish line in athletics or in life. Building on the idea that girls and women who play sports have a more positive body image than those who don’t, Ferro works tirelessly to ensure the female youth of Cleveland have the opportunity to utilize fitness programs to excel. The nonprofit employs weekly exercise courses in dancing, biking and other activities that have helped more than 800 girls and women since Ferro founded the organization in 2009. Participants, themselves victims of abuse or neglect, are offered donated athletic apparel — a pair of running shoes, a sports bra and water bottle — and given a chance to try out different activities to find the one that works for them. Ferro is in the process of running a marathon in every state in order to raise awareness of the nonprofit.
Jim Wojtila has known Maria Gaeta for the past 10 years and has been fortunate to work with her for the last three years at Mar-Bal Inc. “While Maria is currently my direct report, she has chosen to report to the entire Mar-Bal workforce of 500 employees and does so in a positive, professional way,” says Wojtila, who serves as Mar-Bal’s CFO. Gaeta joined the plastic and injection molding company in November 2012 as corporate director of human resources. In addition to her role being new to the organization, Gaeta was the only woman serving in a senior leadership role. “While this would be a daunting task for many females, Maria quickly earned the trust of the entire organization, was promoted to a role on the executive committee and has earned the praises of all co-workers and business partners she works with,” Wojtila says. In her short time at Mar-Bal, Gaeta has helped develop an HR policies and procedures manual to ensure consistent and effective administration. She has also set up a new platform for payroll and benefits administration, performance management and recruiting, among other tasks. Gaeta has become integral to other HR initiatives as well and has Mar-Bal poised for continued growth.
President and general counsel
MidWest Materials Inc.
When it comes to encouraging women to become active in their communities and companies, Noreen Koppelman-Goldstein leads by example. President and general counsel of MidWest Materials Inc., she has guided the distributor of steel and other metals to unparalleled growth. Her community and professional endeavors include being a past president of the Lake County Bar Association; serving on the boards of the Lakeland Foundation and the Cleveland Jewish Federation’s Endowment Committee; and being an active member of the Menorah Park Center for Senior Living board and vice president of the board of directors of Jewish National Fund in Cleveland. Koppelman-Goldstein has guided MidWest Materials’ growth by empowering management and employees to bring modern technology to the industry. From manufacturing to electronic quoting and purchasing innovations, her ability to listen to suggestions from employees and bring many of these to fruition has resulted in financial and employment gains for the company. At MidWest Materials, several management roles are filled by women, such as director of purchasing, senior accounting manager, director of logistics and human resources manager. She has guided many of these employees during their careers at MidWest Materials from entry level positions to management responsibilities.
Being born into a family that knew the value of public service and diverse viewpoints gave Peggy Zone Fisher a firm foundation to seek opinions and form consensuses. She is the daughter of Michael and Mary Zone, both whom served on Cleveland City Council for a total of 21 years, and her brother, Matthew Zone, currently serves as a Cleveland City Councilman. Fisher is president and CEO of The Diversity Center of Northeast Ohio, a human relations organization founded in 1927 as The National Conference for Christians and Jews dedicated to eliminating bias, bigotry and racism in the U.S. The center promotes understanding and respect through facilitated conversations on the issues of race, ethnicity and culture in area communities. One of Fisher’s early exposures to those issues was during the 1967 campaign of Carl Stokes for mayor of Cleveland. Her father was the only one west side Cleveland councilman to publicly support Stokes. As a result, the Zone family received death threats and constant harassment for supporting the candidate who became the first black mayor of a major U.S. city. Under Fisher’s leadership, the center has been recognized as a national leader in the diversity and inclusion field and has become a dynamic and important figure in the Northeast Ohio region.
Robin Doerschuk started with Alliance Solutions Group, a full-service staffing and recruitment agency, immediately following college graduation in 2004. She was looking for a career where she would have the opportunity to help people and make a difference in Northeast Ohio. Alliance was an ideal fit for Doerschuk’s values and goals because she could help people find work and help companies find top talent to improve their workforce — all while stimulating the local economy. When Doerschuk joined Alliance, there were seven employees and the company delivered less than $2 million in revenue. There was very little structure and Doerschuk’s passion and drive to help make Alliance a success served both her and the company well. She was a sensation immediately upon hire, and has earned several promotions during her 11 years with Alliance. Since 2005, Doerschuk has been the company’s leading sales person. In 2013, she was promoted to director of sales. She is the only sales consultant selling all nine of the company’s specialized brands. In her first year of this position, she secured 23 new clients for the business bringing in $2.9 million of revenue. Doerschuk creates and defines new and innovative lines of business around what the client and markets are dictating.