By Okon Ekpenyong
Ohio’s Second Lady Tina Husted joined other women’s executives and business leaders in Central Ohio to commemorate the Women’s International Day in honor of Women’s History Month, which celebrates women’s contributions to history and contemporary society on March 8, 2023.
Husted attended the 2nd annual Women in Business Summit at the Renaissance Day Hotel in downtown Columbus and moderated the executive powerhouse panel. The Summit focused on empowerment for female executives and rising leaders in Ohio’s Business community.
The event started at 1 pm and concluded at 6:15 pm. Second Lady Tina Husted spoke to Peggy Simmons, Executive Vice President of Utilities at AEP, Cindi Englefield, Co-founder of Accelerating Angels LLC, Jessica Mayer, the Chief Legal and Compliance Officer with Cardinal Health, and Paaras Parker, the Chief Human Resources Manager at Paycor. It was fascinating to hear how their careers began, how they overcame obstacles, and what inspired them to persist.
“We learn from each other when we hear about other women’s experiences in the workplace, and women enjoy learning from each other’s experiences. The number of women in Governor DeWine’s cabinet is about 75%, the highest number in any state leader’s cabinet in the state’s history,” Ohio Second Lady Tina Husted said.
It also featured the Women Legislators Panel and four breakout sessions focused on making better financial decisions as a business leader and being bolder when faced with life’s most challenging moments and career success. Elizabetta Nies, Miss Ohio 2022, provided the closing remarks.
While the Summit highlighted women’s leadership in the workplace, all panelists and attendees knew that the Summit would not have been possible without the courageous women in history who fought so that they could have equality in the workplace.
The Cancer Often Collaborative’s founder, president, and CEO, Mary Jenkins, is a breast cancer survivor who works with several resources advocacy groups to provide financial support and other resources to recently diagnosed cancer patients. Jenkins has also experienced the struggle of not knowing where to start or how to access resources to help after receiving her diagnosis, so she created the nonprofit to help others.
“It was a fantastic summit, there were so many different people from different walks of life, and they all talked about connecting, having resources to support what they are doing, and giving back to the community. Today is Women’s international day, and it worked out great that I am here,” Jenkins said.
Ohio Chamber of Commerce hosted the Summit, and FC Bank, a CNB Bank division, was the sponsor. And the Summit falling on Women’s International Day, observed Wednesday, March 8, genuinely fits the day’s focal point in honoring women’s achievements and promoting gender equality.
The MC of the Summit was Darci Congrove, who joined GBQ (Empowering Growth) in 1998 and currently serves as a managing director, which is responsible for guiding the firm’s strategy and operations.
The five executives quoted Duke University’s Women’s Basketball Coach, Kara Lawson, who appeared on a video and was a standout athlete at Tennessee University under legendary head coach Pat Summit. The panelists shared examples of how playing and training in a team environment helped them navigate success as mothers, wives, and executives. Husted encouraged families to try to have weekly dinners at least once to check in with each other.
Richland Area Chamber and Economic Development representatives Angie Cirone, Jennifer Wagner, and Sandy Messner attended the Summit and provided their biggest takeaways.
“I want to lead by living into my authentic self and find the right balance for that specific time and place,” Angie said.
In response to Tonya Tigger’s “Unapologetic Boldness” panel hosted by Tiggett and CO’s founder and Chief Career Strategist, Sandy pledged to be more “unapologetically bold” when making sound and positive career and life decisions.
There will always be hurdles in life, and Jennifer “wants to handle them better, as life is not always easy. Knowing that you can handle difficulties leads to happiness”.
“Whenever a group of like-minded people pulls together, you can tackle anything. The good thing is that we collectively engage in dialogues surrounding gender equity, reproductive rights, violence, and abuse against women. If we continue to work together to make this society more inclusive for everyone, we will be on the right track”, Jenny Saunders, the Chairperson of the Board and President of FCBank, said.
In one of the breakout sessions, Catherine Strauss, the Columbus Office Managing Partner at Ice Miller, discussed negotiation and self-advocacy. VP/C&I Commercial Team at FC Bank, Dina Shultz, moderated the panel discussion on making confident financial decisions as a business leader.
Among the panelists were Donna Davis, Chief Financial Officer of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, and Cindi Englefied, co-founder of Accelerating Angels LLC.
State Representative Andrea White, Ohio Senate Minority Leader Nickie J Antonio, and Ohio House Minority Leader Allison Russo participated in the Women Legislators panel hosted by Leah Pappas Porner, Columbus and Washington DC partner at Calfee. Initially, none of the legislators intended to run for public office; however, each was already working in the community and advocating for more effective policies in their profession.
Before entering the Miss Ohio contest and winning in 2022, Nies was CEO of a collection of Bed & Breakfasts at age 15 and gave the closing remarks at this year’s summit. “Miss America offers so much more than a beauty pageant; it provides professional development, personal growth, and networking opportunities,” Nies said.
Society should continue honoring women for what they can do because it’s not just walking in a pretty gown. Nies also noted that these types of business gatherings, where a woman can connect with other women and see the opportunities and see where that education, the steps, and the experiences we have had, whether it’s on stage at Miss Ohio or Miss America or in the workplace, women become better women and better representatives.”
Columbus International Women’s Day 2023
On March 6, the Columbus International Women’s Day committee and organizers gathered at the Ohio Statehouse to celebrate International Women’s Day. In this event, women throughout Central Ohio were honored for their continuing efforts to fight for equality and empower one another as they grow.
Dublin City Councilwoman Ukeme Awakessien Jeter, who was at the event, stated, “It was so lovely to be back in person for the 12th Annual Columbus International Women’s Day Celebration. Always great to be in a room full of inspiring women and men who support us.”
“The event featured the insights and perspectives of leaders like State Rep Anita Somani, MD, and the extraordinarily talented Caroline Inspires; the program centered around the theme of embracing equity and encouraged attendees to do their part to advance equal opportunity, promote fair treatment, and protect the freedom of woman,” Marshall Troxell, who works in the office of Columbus Mayor Andrew J Ginther said.
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