YWCA names 2022 ‘Career’ class

Eight Greater Cincinnati-area women have been selected as 2022 YWCA Greater Cincinnati Career Women of Achievement, outstanding role models for their leadership, vision, community service and renowned professional success that also embraces the mission of the YWCA.

Due to COVID-19, the women will be profiled and honored for the third year in a special one-hour television broadcast and stream instead of a luncheon.

The event continues to be the single largest fundraiser for YWCA Greater Cincinnati, founded in 1868. Proceeds directly support YWCA community-wide programs in the areas of safety, racial justice and inclusion and empowerment and economic advancement. YWCA Greater Cincinnati continues to experience the impact of the pandemic, serving survivors and their children in hotels.

During 2021 over 8,500 women, men, and children were assisted through direct services, an additional 1,000 through community trainings and 2,700 through the domestic violence hotline. Several community programs focused on racial justice and inclusion through direct service, issue education and advocacy.

“The women recognized each year by YWCA have always been catalysts for change in their companies and in the community,” believes Career Women of Achievement Co-Chair Jodi Geiser, retired executive with EY. “Each of these accomplished women has done much toward fulfilling the YWCA’s mission and have embodied the motto lift as you climb.”

Geiser is leading the Career Women of Achievement effort with Co-Chair Deborah Gentry Davis, vice president of human resources at Hard Rock Casino Cincinnati. Both are past Career Women of Achievement honorees.

“For 153 years, the YWCA has been a beacon of light that assists the most vulnerable in our community,” said Gentry Davis. “This broadcast/streaming event and fundraiser honoring these amazing women further strengthens this work in the community and continues their efforts to best serve the Greater Cincinnati area.”

The pair recently announced the eight recipients of the prestigious Career Women of Achievement who will be profiled during the May broadcast. The 2022 Career Women of Achievement honorees are:

Jennifer Davis, President, Feminine Care, Procter & Gamble

Davis leads P&G’s multibillion-dollar global feminine care business, serving women and girls in nearly 120 countries. Through these global brands, Jen has been lauded for her mission to increase girls’ access to menstrual products in order to boost confidence at puberty. She is especially passionate about the role global social impact programs have on society such as the award-winning Always #LikeAGirl, #EndPeriodPoverty and #KeepingHerPlaying, using sports as a way to increase self-esteem.

“Over time, I have learned that leadership is less about what I know and more about asking the right questions of the team.” — Jennifer Davis

Humility, hard work, and a commitment to excellence, were instilled in Davis at a young age. Originally, she set out on an academic path but found she could satisfy her love of learning and leading diverse teams in a business career.

Davis is compelled to leverage her voice and position toward centering conversations on the additional challenges faced by women of color — while also celebrating their impact and amplifying the collective work being done.

“The realization that I didn’t accomplish anything alone is what inspires me to help others find their calling, develop their strengths, overcome obstacles and have equal opportunity,” she said.

Achievements:

  • Period Education Project Board of Directors covering the U.S. and Canada
  • Greater Cincinnati American Red Cross, Board of Directors 2016 – 2018
  • P&G Hispanic Community Network Executive Sponsor
  • Development under her watch of the Always Like A Girl Campaign seen by more than 85 million people

Chandra Matthews-Smith, Chief Community Engagement Officer, United Way of Greater Cincinnati

Matthews-Smith is a pioneer as the first to assume the role as United Way’s community engagement officer. She oversees community engagement for nine counties, including Hamilton County and several in Northern Kentucky, Eastern Ohio and Southeast Indiana, as well as programs such as Success By Six®.

Chandra Matthews-Smith

Much of her strategic thinking stems from work in a similar position at Hamilton County Job & Family Services and her 21 years at Beech Acres Parenting Center. She is known for cultivating trust and collaborative relationships, strong networks andcommunication with grassroots organizations. If you meet her, you remember her. She’s humble, tenacious, and compassionate about those she serves, complemented by an innovative spirit to assist all stakeholders.

Achievements:

  • Cincinnati Hamilton County Community Action Agency Board Chair
  • Past President, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., Cincinnati Queen City Alumnae Chapter
  • 2021 Mayor of Cincinnati Humanitarian of the Year Award
  • Enquirer Woman of the Year
  • Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Keeping the Dream Alive Award
  • Co-founder of C&C Premier Cleaning to employ people with felony records or other barriers to obtaining employment
  • Walker Funeral Home and Radio One Pillar of the Community Award

Nerissa E. Morris, Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources and Diversity Officer, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center

In her youth, Morris’ father, a pastor, gave her a plaque with the wise words, “Good, better, best — Never let it rest, till your good is your better, and your better is your best.” It helped shape her focus on excellence leading to a career filled with continuous learning, seeking new paradigms for doing business and leading with curiosity, confidence and courage.

Nerissa E. Morris

As a result, Morris came to Cincinnati Children’s with a world-class resume that included global and national expertise across various industries, having served in senior leadership positions at the University of Miami, Ford Motor Co. and Volvo Car Corp. Such experience led to Morris’ current role overseeing a staff that serves over 16,000 employees, a $325 million budget and transformative initiatives such as raising minimum wage, structuring career pathways, strengthening culture and establishing diversity, equity and inclusion as a top leadership priority.

Morris has leaned into opportunities from international roles in Sweden and Brazil, to her current role as the first Black leader at the senior vice president level at Cincinnati Children’s. At times being a ‘first’ or ‘only’, especially as a Black woman, she has answered the call to serve, lead, mentor, and pave the way for others.

Achievements:

  • Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber Board of Directors
  • ArtsWave Board of Trustees
  • Xavier University Williams College of Business Dean’s Executive Advisory Board
  • The Conference Board CHRO Council II Executive Committee
  • International Women’s Forum, Ohio
  • Cincinnati Business Courier 2021 C-Suite CHRO of the Year

Elizabeth Pierce, President and CEO, Cincinnati Museum Center

Energetic, driven, focused, inclusive and creative. These are some of the many traits used to describe Elizabeth Pierce as she is the first woman to lead Cincinnati Museum Center in 200 years. She oversees a $16 million operating budget, 150 employees and collections containing more than three million items. As a renowned collaborator, she oversees the National Underground Railroad and Freedom Center in conjunction with Woody Keown, Jr, its President/COO.

Elizabeth Pierce

Pierce guided the successful Union Terminal sales tax campaign followed by a $230 million historic preservation effort. While striving to maintain a diverse board and workforce, she propelled Cincinnati to America’s forefront as a national resource for the American Alliance of Museums Facing Change: Advancing Board Diversity & Inclusion Initiative.

As a champion for diverse representation on the Museum Center’s board and throughout its many programs, she says, “Equity in the workplace is about recognizing and working to remove race and gender-based disparities that have prevented people from fully realizing opportunities for growth, promotion and advancement. It is also about helping all parts of the organization understand what/where improvements can be made and how they may be supportive.”

Achievements:

  • 2019 Apple Award from the Architectural Foundation of Cincinnati
  • Led the 2021-2022 accreditation process through the American Alliance of Museums
  • Association of Science Museum Directors Board
  • American Alliance of Museums Excellence in DEAI Task Force
  • Association of Science & Technology Centers CEO Task Force
  • University of Cincinnati Center for Integrative Health & Wellness Community Advisory Board
  • Greater Cincinnati Foundation Women’s Fund Leadership Council

Regina Carswell Russo, Founder/CEO, Right Now Communications

As an award-winning journalist, Carswell Russo may be best known for her 15 years as the only African American female anchor on Fox19. Following her TV career, Regina continued to be a trailblazer as the first African American woman to head communications at the Cincinnati Art Museum and then at the Contemporary Art Center. 

Regina Carswell Russo

When the region needed a coordinated strategy to communicate safety issues surrounding the COVID pandemic, Carswell Russo was tapped to lead the effort. She established the Regional COVID Communications Center.

“I never ask anyone to do something I’m not willing to do myself,” she says. “I bring my authentic self to the work I do. I believe in work/life integration. I’m relentlessly curious, a disrupter of the status quo and I always trust my instincts, believing that anything that is worth doing is worth doing with excellence.”

Achievements:

  • National Association of Television Arts and Sciences Ohio Valley Chapter two-time Emmy nominee
  • Five Ohio Associated Press and Michigan Associated Press Awards
  • Cincinnati Opera Board of Trustees
  • Cincinnati Chapter of the Links, Inc., Strategic Planning Chair

Jeanne Schroer, President & CEO, Catalytic Development Funding Corp. of Northern Kentucky

Schroer is one of the Tri-State’s premier authorities on all facets of commercial real estate. Her expertise extends from project financing, lender/investor relations, project valuation and capital acquisition to teaching at the University of Cincinnati’s Real Estate Center.

Jeanne Schroer

“My 10 years of time teaching at UC as well as my current volunteer involvement teaching in the Real Estate Accelerator Lab has been my way of preparing the next generation of real estate professionals, which hopefully includes increasing the numbers of females and people of color,” she said.

Prior to her current role as the founding President & CEO of the Catalytic Fund, she held senior management positions with Corporex, which has $1 billion in assets today, where she was able to make a significant impact on the company’s early growth with its developments along the Covington riverfront, and its hotels, office buildings, sports clubs, and industrial parks.

As a real estate professional dedicated to the revitalization of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky’s urban communities, Schroer was the perfect choice to lead the Catalytic Fund, a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) that brings non-traditional growth capital to communities and their under-used buildings. Its revitalization projects impact the quality of life for residents and create an economic boost for the region.

Achievements:

  • First female recipient of the University of Cincinnati Distinguished Real Estate Professional Award
  • The Lane Report’s “Top Ten Businesswomen in Kentucky”
  • Outstanding Women of Northern Kentucky Award
  • Covington Business Council Founders’ Award for meritorious service in improving the economic being of Covington
  • NKY Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Award recognizing significant advancement of economic development in the Northern Kentucky region

Melissa Stevens, Chief Digital Officer, Head of Digital and Marketing, Fifth Third Bank

Stevens’ career has focused on enabling the lives of others, supporting customers and employees, spanning across five continents and more than 700 cities globally, with short stints living in Spain and Brazil.

Melissa Stevens

Minnesota born and raised, Stevens lived in Manhattan for nearly 20 years before making a home in Cincinnati. She reports directly to the CEO and leads the transformation and growth of the digital banking experience for customers, employees, communities and shareholders, while enhancing the bank’s brand, putting customers at the center.

Education is a passion for Stevens and she holds degrees in business administration, labor relations, human resources, English and psychology. These focus areas were intentional because of her relentless appetite to understand people, be an exceptional communicator, comprehend organizational culture and understand the intricate financials and operations that come with running a business. Using data to make
evidence-based decisions come very naturally and has served her well with her degrees and career choices.

Her personal goal is to enable the lives of others. As one of few female executives at the bank, Stevens appreciates the importance of this and works to help women advance. She regularly speaks to employee groups internally and externally, and engages with the bank’s Women’s, Young Professionals, LGBTQ+ and other business resource groups. She is focused on diversity and inclusion not because it’s good business, but because she believes it’s right.

Achievements:

  • Led Fifth Third’s ArtsWave campaign, raising a record $1 million from employees
  • Cintrifuse Board and Executive Committee
  • Named to American Banker’s Most Powerful Women in Banking Women to Watch the past three years
  • Information Age’s Women in Tech Digital Leader of the Year in 2020, Transformational Leader of the Year in 2019 and Digital Leader of the Year in 2018

Kristen Hall Wevers, SVP, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, UC Health

Hall Wevers is the first woman to join the executive team at UC Health.

She manages a $14 million operating budget and a team of over 40 who lead brand strategy, marketing, communications, market research, consumer insights and business development outreach. Hall Wevers led the launch of the first UC Health brand platform called “In Science Lives Hope” which has put UC Health top of mind beyond the Tri- State. Her team has been recognized for leading statewide communications during the COVID-19 pandemic in coordination with the Governor’s office, world-wide press coverage when Cincinnati native and UVA college student, Otto Warmbier, was transported to UC Health for care after imprisonment in North Korea.

Kristen Hall Wevers

Her impressive work history has prepared her for this position. She previously served Greater Cincinnati as Mercy Health System Vice President and Chief Brand, Marketing and Communications officer; Messer Construction’s Vice President for Marketing, Corporate Communications and Sales Support; and in various executive positions during her 17 years at Procter & Gamble.

Throughout her career, Hall Wevers has been actively committed to mentoring others, eliminating discrimination, and promoting equality. She has leveraged her leadership positions to support and advance company supply chain goals to buy from women-owned and minority-owned businesses. Her commitment extends to ensuring her team is more diversified and representative of the community it serves.

Achievements:

  • Chaired the Cincinnati Strong Victims Fund Steering Committee following the Fifth Third Fountain Square shooting
  • United Way of Greater Cincinnati Board Member
  • Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Cincinnati Board of Directors
  • Leadership Council for Non-Profits Facilitator/Mentor
  • GreenLight Fund Cincinnati Advisory Group
  • Former Impact100 Board member; Xavier Women of Excellence mentoring committee
  • C-Suite Award Winner: Chief Marketing & Communications Officer, Cincinnati Business Courier

Judges for this year’s event were Cathy Bernadino Bailey, Director, Greater Cincinnati Water Works; Stacey Browning, Growth Consultant, Multiply Impact Ventures; Dave Foxx, Chairman, d.e. Foxx; Albert Smitherman, President, Brewster Pumping/Jostin Construction; Pamela Weber, Senior Vice President, PNC Real Estate Banking, PNC Bank.


www.ywcacincinnati.org/careerwomen

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