Culturally conscious, authentic leadership
TIME’s Person of the Year for 2017 was the Silence Breakers, people who spoke out again sexual assault and harassment. In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, the #MeToo movement sprang up, which was followed by Time’s Up.
At this point, there are more questions than answers, and a lot of people are asking what’s next.
It seems like the perfect time to discuss what it means to be an authentic leader who is dedicated to building and fostering a strong culture for women in the workplace.
How do women in business get to a place where they are comfortable in their own skin, no matter what industry or position they’re in?
It starts at the top. How can executives build a workplace and culture that provide opportunities for everyone? How should they instill the ideals of inclusion and diversity into team members? How can you be a leader who is authentic, yet still culturally conscious?
These questions and more will be asked at the Smart Women Breakfast in a panel discussion, moderated by Tiffani Tucker, anchor at Cleveland 19 News, with three dynamic women business leaders: Linda Bradley, vice chair of the Women’s Health Institute at the Cleveland Clinic, Teresa Hack, president and COO of Channel Products, and Kim Riley, president of Hylant’s Cleveland office.
The event also will recognize our annual Smart Women Award winners. On the pages that follow, you’ll read about women entrepreneurs who have founded or co-founded for-profit or nonprofit organizations; women who have risen through the ranks of organizations across their distinguished careers; entities that develop and foster initiatives that support women; and men who advocate for the advancement of women.
We hope after reading these inspirational stories you’ll join us on April 26 at the Smart Women Breakfast to honor the 2018 award winners and listen to the discussion on culturally conscious and authentic leadership. Congratulations to all of this year’s honorees!
Introducing the 2018 panelists
Dr. Linda D. Bradley
Vice chair of obstetrics, gynecology, and Women’s Health Institute
Linda is professor of surgery at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University and vice chair of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women’s Health Institute at the Cleveland Clinic. She is director of hysteroscopic education for the residency program at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine. She is an internationally recognized gynecologic surgeon, known for her expertise in diagnostic and operative hysteroscopy, saline infusion sonography, endometrial ablation, alternatives to hysterectomy, hysteroscopic sterilization and the evaluation of abnormal uterine bleeding.
President & COO
Channel Products Inc.
Teresa is president and COO of Channel Products Inc. She serves on the board of directors of a leading outdoor furnishing retailer and on the visiting committee of Cleveland State University’s Monte Ahuja College of Business. A sought-after speaker on issues of leadership, personal development and business culture, Teresa holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree and a Master of Organizational Leadership degree.
Dr. Karen Miller
executive vice president of Access, Learning and Success
Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C®)
Karen has been Tri-C’s provost and executive vice president of access, learning and success since February 2017 and a key college leader for almost two decades. She has been instrumental in developing and implementing Tri-C’s strategic plan and in recent years, spearheaded initiatives that raised graduation rates to historic highs. Past positions at the college include vice president of institutional research and enrollment management and dean of student affairs at Metropolitan Campus. Miller has presented at numerous academic conferences and held board positions with the Ohio Articulation and Transfer Network and the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers.
President, Cleveland Office
Kim joined Hylant in 2011 with over 30 years in the insurance industry. In her role as president, she is responsible for the overall leadership, direction, growth and success of the office. Kim focuses on leveraging the strengths of her teams by building on their talents, expertise and industry specialization. Before joining Hylant, she served as the president for First Horizon Insurance Group and First Tennessee Insurance Services, property and casualty agencies, and is a past vice president serving in various capacities for CNA Insurance Co.
2018 Advocate for Advancement Honoree
Vice President, Senior Portfolio Manager
When you contemplate the potential likelihood of any disease, anything greater than zero is too high, says Scott Sargent. When you learn that one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in their lives, it’s terrifying.
Sargent, vice president and senior portfolio manager at Huntington Bank, is an active volunteer for the Susan G. Komen organization’s Northeast Ohio affiliate. He has served on a number of committees and in several leadership roles to help raise funds, increase awareness and recruit new board members.
In 2013, he was on the committee that laid out the budget for the coming year, including what grants were to be written to applicants throughout Northeast Ohio. In 2017, he was one of the fortunate individuals who handed the oversized checks to that year’s recipients.
“Fewer things are more redeeming than seeing that entire process come to fruition,” Sargent says. “The only thing better will be increasing the amount of money we will get to give back to the region, eventually slicing that mortality rate to a fraction of what it is today, ultimately settling in at zero. Because anything greater than zero is simply too high.” ●
2018 Progressive Entrepreneur Honorees
President and COO
Channel Products Inc.
Teresa Hack has forged her own path in the gas appliance industry. She’s taken Channel Products Inc., a decades-old U.S. manufacturing company, and expanded it to add capabilities to serve new customers in Europe and China, leading to exponential growth.
Hack, the company’s president and COO, has a passion for seeing people develop and thrive. She lives by the idea of never managing people, but rather leading people while managing processes. Under Hack’s leadership, Channel Products is known for autonomy, a focus on individual strengths, a bias toward action, meritocracy and remarkable levels of teamwork. She is currently authoring her first book as a way to share her journey’s lessons in life, leadership and business.
Hack has helped Channel Products double its revenue and quadruple its profitability. This spring, the company will move from its original headquarters in Chester Township to a modern, state-of-the-art facility in Solon. The new headquarters will feature an innovation center, a research and development lab, and training facilities. Hack continues to lead her company’s development of new components and systems to support the gas appliance industry. Channel Products has several new patent applications pending in support of these new products. ●
When Diawn (DK) Jones took over Soza Fitness & Wellness, it was in rough shape. The gym needed to be completely made over in terms of its look, style, management and staff. She also wanted to remake the structure of its fitness classes and compete with major chains like LA Fitness and Planet Fitness. The fact that she is a minority business owner presented additional challenges.
She had to be creative, which led to the launch of animal fitness classes. Animal Fitness brings goat, kitty and puppy yoga to Cleveland and she’s preparing to launch the first alpaca yoga class. She has also teamed up with the local and big chain gyms to create mobile animal fitness classes. Jones has expanded her network and proven both her business acumen and her ability to innovate.
In 2016, she started a second business called Hippie Chemist where, as co-owner, she makes all natural products, healing oils and all-natural pet products. Jones simply wants to make the world a healthier place with her products and her effort to educate others. Her work is paying off as she has doubled the membership at Soza and now has more than 30 fitness classes. ●
Alive On Purpose
LaToyia Jones understands what can drive someone to the point where they want to take their own life. At the ages of 17, and then again at 21, she attempted suicide. Despite growing up in a suburban, working class home among successful people from whom she could learn and look up to, Jones still suffered from depression and extreme self-doubt.
She felt her life had no purpose and for this reason, she no longer wanted to live. After her second suicide attempt, Jones began to discover her purpose and her personal brand.
She realized that her story was all too common and that when she shared it, people were moved by her talks — especially young people. Jones started Alive on Purpose to build awareness of suicide prevention through support, intervention and self-discovery.
As a licensed grief recovery specialist, a certified corporate coach and a group facilitator, Jones teaches classes to help both adults and teens bridge the connection between their past experiences in order to find the proper completion to move forward with their lives.
She makes her presence known throughout Cleveland as she inspires, encourages and strengthens others to live lives far beyond their current level of displayed potential. ●
2018 Progressive Organization Honorees
As a baby, Liz Ferro bounced around numerous foster homes until she was adopted at the age of 2. As a young child, she was sexually abused by a neighbor. As she grew up, Ferro found solace and purpose in one constant: sports.
Through running, swimming and other fitness activities, she discovered the healing power of the “finish line feeling.” That undeniable sense of pride and accomplishment that comes from setting and reaching ambitious goals in sports or life was something she wanted other girls and young women going through difficulties to experience.
As founder and CEO of Girls With Sole, Ferro has served more than 1,000 girls ages 9 to 18 through her signature program, Lacing Up for a Lifetime of Achievement. The LULA program includes a guided curriculum and exposure to numerous fitness activities that teach girls teamwork, leadership and healthy habits that last a lifetime.
Ferro firmly believes young people — especially girls — who have access to sports and fitness opportunities have a healthier body image and self-esteem than those who do not. She also knows those living in economically depressed areas have little access to these opportunities. It’s a disparity she refuses to tolerate or ignore. ●
Dawn Hanson is a marketing communications and branding executive with deep experience in the global manufacturing space in four countries.
As president and CEO at The Fairmount Group LLC, she led the charge to shape women’s initiatives in the workplace long before diversity and inclusion became buzzwords at companies. She has successfully translated her passion for advancing and empowering women in the workplace into a living, and has become a champion for many women and organizations that pursue the same goals.
The Fairmount Group works exclusively with progressive, well-intentioned clients committed to the empowerment of women, reproductive rights, civil liberties, environmental protection, education, social responsibility and other fundamental issues of today’s world.
Parker Hannifin Corp. worked with Hanson’s team to develop the identity and positioning of its worldwide women’s initiative called Peer W. Thompson Hine relied on The Fairmount Group to refine and share the success story of its firm-wide Spotlight on Women Initiative. This program focuses on supporting, developing and advancing women both personally and professionally.
Hanson and her team reach organizations to tell their compelling stories that result in greater awareness of their causes, growth in volunteerism and increased funding — always in the most meaningful, respectful and empowering way possible. ●
2018 Organizations that Empower Honoree
Alexandria Johnson Boone started the Women of Color Foundation for networking and to provide personal and professional development, education and training to women of all colors. To support this mission, the nonprofit has produced annual conferences, retreats and executive training programs.
Boone, the organization’s founder and chairwoman, is also president and CEO of GAP Communications Group, a full-service public relations, marketing and community outreach firm.
One of the foundation’s most successful programs has been the Women’s Prison Outreach Initiative, a groundbreaking collaboration with the Ohio Reformatory for Women in Marysville. The program includes career development training and has been a powerful tool in providing hope and empowering these women to find a new way forward in their lives.
The Women of Color Foundation also has the Women’s Entrepreneurial Program, which is designed to help local women-owned businesses; the WomenSpeak Collaborative, which is a consortium of local, regional and national organizations focused on programs that benefit women and girls of color; and the C-Suite Summit, an executive-level experience for corporate and nonprofit executives and entrepreneurs.
The nonprofit also hosts an annual Stellar Awards Luncheon that recognizes and celebrates women of color who have achieved major milestones in their lives and careers. ●
2018 Progressive Woman Honorees
Megan Mayhugh Arth
Chief Growth Officer
Megan Mayhugh Arth is an extremely determined and resilient person employed in a critically important role at TalentLaunch. As chief growth officer, Mayhugh Arth is responsible for overseeing and accelerating growth across the organization’s five operating companies. She brings a gritty determination and an ability to strategically navigate and adapt to enterprise-wide change, while focusing on employee engagement, driving business results and improving the bottom line.
Mayhugh Arth has faced and overcome a number of challenges throughout her life. She was an excellent and driven student despite not being diagnosed with dyslexia until late in her school career. She had to find ways to compensate for the disability and went on to graduate magna cum laude from Amherst College with a bachelor’s degree in psychology.
Despite these setbacks, she has worked at some of the most elite companies in the world like McKinsey & Co. and Bridgewater Associates. She was the youngest partner and chief people officer at Dealer Tire and also served as a partner in Cleveland Social Venture Partners in 2016. She is also an ice hockey coach in Shaker Heights and helped coach her son’s mite hockey team to two undefeated regular seasons. ●
Director of Advocacy and Community Initiatives
Margaret Bernstein began at The Plain Dealer in 1989 as a reporter, editor and columnist. She is the 2008 winner of the National Association of Black Journalists’ community service award, a strong believer in the power of mentoring, and was recognized as a national big sister by Big Brothers Big Sisters of America for her work with two Cleveland girls.
Passionate about literacy and the influence of reading, Bernstein left the paper to work with the national board of Little Free Library. Later, she would take a job as the director of advocacy and community initiatives at WKYC. Less than a year after landing the job, she won an Emmy for her #WeReadHere campaign.
Many women, especially those in media, face a daily struggle of gender bias. For women of color, that bias can often run deeper. But Bernstein has used the platforms through which she appears for positive, affirming, community-changing ways. For her “Slavic Village Reads” project — a yearlong effort to encourage the entire community to read with their kids — she arranged for news coverage, promos and personality appearances. A year later, reading scores at the five elementary schools in that neighborhood had increased two grade levels. ●
Manager of Philanthropy and Volunteers
Eliza Bryant Village
Chantel Davis has progressively taken on additional responsibilities at Eliza Bryant Village, creating new processes and monitoring systems in its volunteer program that help build relationships with individuals and organizations in the community. In turn, those relationships help raise funds and support the mission of the Eliza Bryant.
Before taking her current role of manager of philanthropy and volunteers, Davis was pressed into service to manage the development department after Eliza Bryant’s long-time president and CEO, and her direct supervisor, retired. She was suddenly a one-woman operation, solely responsible for grant management, volunteer program coordination and marketing.
In her role, Davis achieved several important milestones. She updated the volunteer procedure and policy manual, revamped individual and group applications, created a volunteer page on Eliza Bryant’s website and promoted the volunteer program in the community.
Under her leadership, 311 volunteers, 55 ongoing volunteer groups and 25 ongoing volunteer church groups have logged more than 1,600 hours enriching the lives of the seniors Eliza Bryant serves. She has helped to channel the immense community support behind Eliza Bryant, increase its presence in the community and create innovative programming, all while facing reduced funding sources, achieving impressive results under difficult circumstances. ●
Regional Demand Manager, North America
Hayat El-Khoury was born in Beirut, Lebanon, and emigrated to the U.S. with her parents, settling in Cleveland. She attended Cleveland State University and earned undergraduate degrees in chemical engineering as one of only a handful of women in the program.
Hayat’s career started at Oatey. She quickly made significant contributions, broadening her scope of responsibilities, taking on numerous leadership positions and thriving in each role. Ambitiously furthering her career, she landed a job at AkzoNobel as supply chain and process excellence manager for the packaging coatings North America business.
Leading special projects, reliably delivering strong performance, she exemplified inspirational leadership and continued to take on larger roles. She is now regional demand manager of North America and is advancing this new role within AkzoNobel, providing expertise across functions and directing the implementation of integrated business planning.
She is a member of the North American leadership team responsible for the metal coatings business in North America.
El-Khoury embodies visionary leadership that empowers and develops people, especially women, in her industry. She exemplifies organizational awareness, human capital strengths and outstanding interpersonal, motivational and communication skills. She is committed to being an amazing mother, wife, daughter and sister, while balancing her career responsibilities. ●
Tucker Ellis LLP
After her mother’s breast cancer diagnosis, Jayne Juvan recognized that in addition to being an attorney, she also needed to become a caregiver. She stayed up late most nights researching her mom’s illness and treatment options, while connecting with breast cancer survivors and their caregivers globally to better understand their experiences.
She eventually launched a blog on health care law that was quickly picked up by the media, landing her national speaking opportunities early in her career. Her social media following grew, and her online presence helped her to land new client relationships and rise to partnership status after only seven years of legal practice.
In the past few years, she was featured in an e-book about her use of social media as an attorney and a case study on disruptive innovation. She’s written pieces on corporate governance for Bloomberg Law, and Thomson Reuters has also published her work.
Juvan is now a partner at Tucker Ellis LLP where she co-chairs the corporate governance practice and chairs the private equity practice. She is also the vice chair of the American Bar Association’s Corporate Governance Committee and has advised clients on transactions valued at more than $1 billion. ●
Sandra Madison, AIA
Chairperson and CEO
Robert P. Madison International Inc.
Sandra Madison started training to be an architect as a child, without even knowing what one was, in a disadvantaged neighborhood in Baltimore. Among the poverty and boarded-up houses, she saw its potential.
She attended the University of Maryland, College Park, where there wasn’t a lot of diversity — just five black students: three females and two males. By the end of her third year, she was the only one remaining. That didn’t change much when she entered the professional world.
Madison, AIA, CEO and chairperson of Robert P Madison International Inc., is the 0.4 percent representation of black females in the field of architecture. Under her leadership, RPMI, the first black-owned architecture firm in Ohio, was pulled out of a downward spiral to again realize growth and a return to a place of prominence.
In 2013, the firm stagnated and downsized nearly out of business, and even failed to make payroll. Madison led the charge to restore the firm, landing it a role on the Hilton hotel design build team, followed by additional large projects in the years to come. She grew the firm by five employees and became majority owner and the firm’s new CEO. ●
Senior vice president, Ohio market president
Bank of America
Jeneen Marziani is no stranger to overcoming obstacles. Growing up in a military family that was constantly on the move — 12 times to be exact — she learned to adapt and be flexible, which has helped her thrive both personally and professionally.
Over the past 25 years, Marziani has risen through the ranks at Bank of America to her current role as senior vice president, Ohio market president. As the senior local executive, she oversees all operations and more than 1,500 employees across the state.
She is one of 25 female market presidents out of the 95 Bank of America markets across the country — a fact that empowers her female colleagues and other women in the communities the bank serves. Marziani has accomplished all this despite several unforeseen life events that affected her family.
Her father had a serious spinal cord injury, prompting her to serve as a secondary caregiver to her elderly parents while also raising two children of her own. Shortly after, her brother-in-law passed away at an early age, leaving her sister and three young children without a husband and father. By viewing every challenge as an opportunity, Marziani always finds a way to make it all work. ●
President and CEO
As president and CEO of Providence House, Natalie Leek-Nelson has championed the holistic, trauma-informed, family-centered approach of the organization. She passionately educates and advocates for policies and practices to support women in their goals to be safe, stable and self-sufficient caregivers while overcoming their crises, such as domestic violence, homelessness, substance abuse and mental health.
Leek-Nelson has worked to evolve the service model of Providence House from protecting children to supporting their families and building stronger, safer communities. She also leveraged her corporate experience to improve its business model, streamlining operations, establishing outcome-based practices and increasing revenues.
She led a successful campaign to raise $3 million to expand the Providence House campus, doubling the number of at-risk children served to nearly 400. In 2015, Providence House opened its pediatric crisis nursery, the first of its kind in the U.S., to care for children in crisis who have medical needs while stabilizing their families.
Leek-Nelson is also making an impact throughout the community with her innovation and collaboration. She speaks frequently on the issue of child abuse and neglect, stressing the importance of keeping families together and working with parents to address issues that place their children at risk. ●
Vice President, Human Resources
CrossCountry Mortgage Inc.
Michelle Novak has risen through the ranks in her career at CrossCountry Mortgage Inc. from an administrative assistant to vice president of HR. She faced many challenges, the most significant of which was the fight to be recognized as a female who had the ability to get the job done.
It took hard work, time and determination, but eventually Novak was recognized for her success at filling open positions, so much so that she was asked to find a replacement for her old position after being promoted to recruiter.
Novak entered the workforce without a college education, choosing instead to take care of her younger brother and the household in place of her mother. She learned at a young age to be responsible, organized and resourceful. She would later enroll in college, paying her own way while working full time.
In her current role, Novak believes it is extremely important to encourage young professionals, both women and men, and to mentor them to achieve their full potential. Determination was the key to her career success, a lesson she shares with others, telling them it’s not how they fall, but how they get up that matters. ●
Ashley Basile Oeken
Ashley Basile Oeken, president of Engage! Cleveland, started her career in a two-year fellowship with the Fund for Our Economic Future. When the organization began transitioning out of the Cleveland Foundation to become its own nonprofit, Oeken assisted in setting up the organization. She was promoted twice and with each promotion found new determination and strength to grow.
She took the helm of Engage!, becoming its first executive director. Initially, Engage! was incubated within the Greater Cleveland Partnership. She worked to merge Engage! into the organization, appealing to the board of directors who unanimously agreed that it should be its own nonprofit.
She helped lead the organization through the transition, a complicated process that she implemented seamlessly. She hired an additional staffer, a consultant to handle accounting and then worked to identify opportunities for pro bono services.
The organization was set on a great trajectory, and it has since greatly raised awareness of its mission to attract and retain talent in Cleveland and its profile in the business, civic and young professional communities.
Oeken’s enthusiasm for Cleveland is absolutely infectious. She approaches each project with a great deal of passion, levelheadedness and dedication. ●
Associate Dean and Professor of Law
Cleveland-Marshall College of Law
Milena Sterio was 16 when she moved to the U.S. from war-torn Yugoslavia. She graduated magna cum laude from a joint degree program at Cornell Law School and University of Paris 1 — two law schools in two countries taught in two languages. She practiced law in New York for three years before being hired at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law.
In academia, Sterio has excelled as a teacher and scholar. She specializes in international law, devoting energy and enthusiasm to prepare and deliver her lessons. Sterio is also a prolific scholar, having published three books with two in the works, and published numerous law reviews and other writings.
In 2013, she was a Fulbright Scholar in Azerbaijan where she taught two classes at Baku State University. There she engaged in research regarding a disputed territorial entity between Azerbaijan and Armenia.
Since 2014, Sterio has served as associate dean for Academic Enrichment and has organized academic programs and lectures supporting faculty research. She has proven to be a fast learner, willing to spend the time and energy to develop administrative and managerial skills, and to overcome any work-related obstacles by putting in extra effort. ●
Mary Stinn, CPA
Mary Stinn, CPA, has been an integral part of the Corrigan Krause team since starting as an associate 1994.
Today, she serves as an equity director, the leader of the assurance services department, the firm treasurer, a member of the business development group, and oversees the quality control aspects of the practice, including continuing professional education, staff development, technology implementation, financial reporting and the peer review process.
Stinn is the first of two female directors appointed at the firm and has been an instrumental part of Corrigan Krause’s growth and success, contributing to double-digit growth each year for the past 10 years.
Her innovative service ideas and focus on training and mentoring the younger staff have contributed tremendously to the firm’s success.
She has accomplished much in her career, but her passion lies in helping others develop successful careers. She launched CK University internally, a platform with easy access to resources, and she organizes year-round training for staff members.
Stinn has been a key contributor to the firm’s continuing professional education program. She has helped Corrigan Krause navigate the competitive talent recruitment landscape and manage major industry changes to support the firm’s growth. ●