YWCA will add 7 women to academy

The Columbus Dispatch - - Metro&state - By Danae King

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.”

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