YWCA will add 7 women to academy
It was a challenge for the selection committee to choose only seven for the YWCA Columbus 2018 Women of Achievement — women whose work embodies the YWCA’s mission of “eliminating racism, empowering women.”
In recent years, the organization has chosen five or six women. This year, it stretched to seven, said Terri Williams Ifeduba, vice president of engagement and development at the YWCA.
The honor, bestowed by the YWCA for more than 30
years, welcomes the women to join the ranks of dozens of others who have come before them and are now members of the Women of Achievement Academy.
“You’ll hear a recurring theme of women lifting women up,” Williams Ifeduba said. “It’s an opportunity to recognize women who might not be recognized otherwise.”
These women will be inducted into the academy April 11 during an event at the Greater Columbus Convention Center:
Janet Chen, executive director of ProMusica Chamber Orchestra. A leader in an industry that often is biased against women, Chen said she loves that music is a “universal language.”
Chen said she enjoys working with people from “all walks of life.” Being a successful woman is about “believing in yourself and seizing the opportunities that are in front of you,” she said.
“But it’s also about knowing you have a great amount of support in other women,” Chen said.
Mimi Dane, CEO of Flying Horse Farms and a former lawyer. She knows what it’s like to be a woman in the field of law; she has experienced sexism and started a mentoring program to help other women who are pursuing a legal career, she said.
“I think my mantra for a long, long time is each of us has to define success for ourselves,” Dane said. “I think as women we support each other. In the end, only we can decide what success means to us.”
Maude Hill, senior vice president of community relations and government relations at Homeport. She has fought all her life to help ensure civil rights and human rights for others.
Now, she said, she loves to see faces light up when a family gets a home through Homeport, a nonprofit group that provides affordable housing for low-income families.
To other women, Hill said: “All things are possible if you work hard and you strive to achieve those goals. It’s good to dream.”
Kathy A. Krendl, president of Otterbein University. Krendl said she realizes the importance of helping shape the lives of young women.
She co-teaches a class on women and leadership to freshmen at Otterbein. For those students, and other women, she said she’s seen the difference that realizing potential can make.
“Aim high, build your confidence, go for it,” Krendl said. “We’re here for you.”
Elizabeth O’Connor Seely, chief administrative officer of Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center’s hospital division. She recognizes the impact that Girl Scouts had on her as a young woman, and she hopes to help other women become leaders through the program, she said.
“For me, giving other girls the opportunity to have leadership experience, to realize their full potential, is important,” she said. “It’s important to me to pass the torch and help other girls become leaders.”
She advises girls to not let others tell them that they can’t — or shouldn’t — do something they want to do.
Nancy Tidwell, owner of NRT and Associates, a small public-affairs and publicrelations consulting firm. As an African-American woman, Tidwell knows the challenges that both African-Americans and women face in pursuing business success, she said. That’s one reason why her company focuses on including small and underrepresented businesses in construction projects, Tidwell said.
“I always wanted to do my part. I’ve been pretty lucky to be able to choose what I do.
“Women in particular, I think, have a lot more power than women think they do ... their voice does make a difference,” Tidwell said.
Michelle Yeager-Thornton’s advice for women is to do something she has done as co-founder and chief operating Officer of the Champion Cos., and that, she said, is to help somebody else.
Yeager-Thornton said she has championed increased vacation and maternity leave and created a leadership program at Champion, a real-estate firm.
“Always look for an opportunity to help lift somebody else up, professionally or personally,” she said. “It’s tough out there, and if everybody was mindful and just tried to do a good thing each day, the world would be a better place. I think we can do a lot together.”