Movers & Makers asked organizations working in service of women and families to introduce their notables to our readers, part of a regular feature highlighting people making a difference in Greater Cincinnati’s nonprofit community.
Rainie Moody’s belief in clients inspires belief in themselves
Rainie Moody is a notable change agent for breaking the cycle of poverty two generations at a time. As managing director of HER Cincinnati’s Scholar House program, Moody develops innovative programming that creates a pathway to success for single parents pursuing a college degree. Moody’s team walks every step of the way with single moms to make sure that they walk across the graduation stage and into a better future. Moody uses her signature character strengths of love, humor and gratitude to foster hope and encourage self-confidence in women, believing in them so fiercely they can’t help but to believe in themselves. One of Moody’s favorite things outside of work is time alone during early morning hours spent self-reflecting, exercising and meditating. Moody is working on a podcast with her two closest friends, hoping to share information she’s acquired that may assist others with their own journeys.
Holly Hankinson advocates on policies important to women and families
Holly Hankinson has a heart for advocacy, particularly for women and families. She started as a volunteer with the Greater Cincinnati Foundation Women’s Fund in 2015 and loved the work so much that she joined in 2017 as the first staff member with a sole focus on advocacy and public policy. Hankinson designed and managed advocacy strategies around issues important to women, including pay equity, the city of Cincinnati’s salary-history ban, and the launch of the Appointed initiative, which empowers women to seek leadership roles on government boards and commissions. Hankinson says, “It’s never been more important for public leadership to reflect the community it serves than right now.” Hankinson builds relationships with elected officials across the region. In her spare time, Hankinson is an avid runner and loves to entertain family and friends at home. She’s also very competitive at family game night. She will never let her kids win (just like she was raised!).
Leslie Touassi brings women information on health issues
Leslie Touassi is vice president of community impact at the Junior League of Cincinnati, an organization dedicated to advancing women’s leadership for meaningful community impact through volunteer action, collaboration and training. For the past two years she has led multiple committees, including advocacy and education, volunteer events and a partnership with Family Nurturing Center, a local nonprofit focused on ending the cycle of child abuse by promoting individual well-being and healthy family relationships. This year she planned two women’s health forums for members, including “Understanding Women’s Healthcare Today,” related to the Dobbs v. Jackson abortion ruling, and a women’s heart health forum in partnership with Christ Hospital, the American Heart Association and the Center for Closing the Health Gap. In Touassi’s professional career, she is a student services coordinator at Mount Healthy City Schools and an adjunct instructor at the University of Cincinnati. She recently published her first book, “Fostering Love.”
Diana Porter sings and organizes, bringing music to work for justice
Diana Porter has always been involved in music and in singing her beliefs. She was a high school teacher and union officer and the lead singer in a political folk-rock group, Band Together, when, in 1983, MUSE: Cincinnati’s Women’s Choir was formed and put out the call for feminist singers. It was natural that she would find herself a founding member who, through the years, has continued to serve in leadership on the music and social justice committees as well as the board. MUSE’s mission for both musical excellence and social change means not only performing large, often themed, concerts, but also propels the choir to sing to support many causes – women’s rights, yes, but equally important racism, LGBTQ rights, environmental issues, worker/union struggles, peace and justice. Porter continues to identify these issues and find ways to get MUSE involved. Forty years later, she is still singing and organizing.
At Strategies to End Homelessness, Jennifer McEvilley lifts work quality
As managing director of Strategies to End Homelessness, Jennifer McEvilley is responsible for the work of the Compliance, Planning and Evaluation program, and the Homeless Management Information Services system, ensuring that the essential work of the organization is completed at the highest level. Strategies to End Homelessness serves as the lead agency for the Hamilton County/Cincinnati Continuum of Care and is a Unified Funding Agency, as designated by HUD. McEvilley communicates and works effectively with persons in and outside of the agency, with clients or persons in elected or government-appointed roles. McEvilley is an expert on HUD funding, Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS and Emergency Solutions Grant funds. She has helped to bring more than $27 million dollars to the community to serve individuals and families experiencing homelessness, and, more importantly, preventing homelessness and sparing families the trauma of homelessness.
Dana Saxton’s life propels passion to bring furniture to those in need
Dana Saxton, executive director of New Life Furniture Bank, is passionate about making sure that every family overcoming homelessness, domestic abuse, extreme poverty or other devastating circumstances has essential home furnishings when starting over. Since taking the position in 2016, Saxton has multiplied the agency’s impact from furnishing 500 homes a year to more than 2,000 in Greater Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky and Dayton. Saxton is motivated by her own experience of being raised in poverty by a single mother and is committed to making sure that no child sleeps on the floor. NLFB distributed over 27,000 pieces of furniture last year and provided 1,866 beds to families in need. Saxton loves to travel with her family and friends, hike, walk and read historical fiction. She is a graduate of Mount Saint Joseph University and maintains close friendships with her “Mountie buddies” in the area.
Donna Shockley comes through for women in residential treatment
For over 16 years, Donna Shockley has been giving service every day to the clients of First Step Home. Shockley has worn several hats throughout her tenure, including group facilitator, community outreach coordinator and manager of treatment service providers. Currently, as manager of residential housing, Shockley is responsible for orientation, engagement, and operations of daily functions. Her extensive experience helps all the women and children who reside at First Step Home. She loves and believes in what she does. Shockley is an integral part of clients being able to complete their residential treatment and to heal and become whole again. Outside of her work at FSH, Shockley happily serves as staff pastor of evangelism and outreach at the New St. Paul Church. She also enjoys spending time with her family and decorating.
Mary Ellen Mitchell’s insights improve work for those in crisis
Mary Ellen Mitchell is the co-director of Lydia’s House in Norwood. She’s a thoughtful advocate for women and children in crisis, with a razor-sharp intellect for creating new possibilities for family stabilization. A one-woman continuous improvement plan, Mitchell is able to perceive flaws in a system and come up with alternatives in the time it takes most people to realize a process isn’t working. Her professional life is not siloed, but she manages instead to blend her family and the relationships she holds in the community. Like a skillful braider, Mitchell incorporates her husband and three children into the life of the nonprofit, and she invites new volunteer faces in through her involvement at Bellarmine Chapel at Xavier University. When she’s not working, Mary Ellen enjoys collage making while listening to classic country music. Her go-to karaoke pick is “Coal Miner’s Daughter.”
Rickell Howard Smith’s background builds to taking on YWCA’s mission
Rickell Howard Smith, a Cincinnati native, was named president and CEO of YWCA Greater Cincinnati in February 2023. Smith started her career as a civil rights lawyer before rising to several prominent leadership roles serving women and children and advocating for gender and racial equity in local systems. Prior to joining the YWCA, Smith served as senior director at Greater Cincinnati Foundation and as the founding executive director of the Center for Social Justice at Urban League of Greater Southwest Ohio. Rickell is poised to deliver the YWCA’s mission to eliminate racism, empower women, and promote peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. She is a graduate of Howard University and Temple University’s Beasley School of Law.
Laurie Lambert harnesses words to fight gender-based violence
Laurie Lambert has been a facilitator at Women Writing for (a) Change since 2013, the same year she organized the first V-Day event at WWf(a)C. The two-day event, part of a global creative movement to increase awareness of gender-based violence, features more than 20 writers sharing original work, with proceeds benefiting writing programs for survivors of gender-based violence. Lambert continues to coordinate this event, now in its 11th year. Lambert has also facilitated an all-gender writing class at WWf(a)C since 2015. A poet herself, Lambert is the author of “What I Carry” and “What We Are Made Of” (both from Finishing Line Press). Her poems have been included in several journals and anthologies.
George Sehi gives back by helping women working for American dream
George Sehi founded Women Walking West. Born in Iran, he came to the U.S. in 1975 with $500 in his pocket and the dream of the best possible education. In 1978, an earthquake in Tabas, where Sehi was raised, killed more than 50 family members and friends, including his father. A college official’s generosity made it possible for Sehi to finish his studies. Sehi made a commitment to give back to those facing similar challenges. He completed a doctorate and rose to be founding executive dean of his community college. After retiring in 2012, he established Women Walking West. With more than 100 volunteers, the organization has helped more than 145 women from 43 countries with mentorship and financial help. W3 thrives on the contributions of volunteers and community partners to its mission of removing educational, social, cultural, financial and language barriers so women can achieve their educational dreams.
Lisa Nolan offers women independence with professional clothes and support
Lisa Nolan serves as executive director of Dress for Success Cincinnati. Nolan leads the organization in its mission of empowering women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and development tools to help them thrive in work and in life. Prior to joining DFSC in 2017, Nolan was an associate at the Cincinnati law firm of Wood Herron & Evans LLP, specializing in intellectual property litigation. She is a graduate of Leadership Cincinnati Class 44 and Cincinnati Academy of Leadership for Lawyers Class 21. Nolan was recognized by the Cincinnati Business Courier as a 40 Under 40 leader in 2021 and as a 2023 Woman of Distinction by the Girl Scouts of Western Ohio. In Lisa’s free time, she likes to practice yoga. Something most people don’t know about her is that she was an engineering major in college.
Julie McGregor works tirelessly for women, families and more
Julie McGregor is a notable figure in the women and family services sector in Cincinnati with 16 years of experience at Santa Maria Community Services. As Every Child Succeeds program director and chief program officer, McGregor has driven the organization’s transition to a family-centered approach to delivering service. Her commitment is reflected in her roles at Santa Maria and on the School of Social Work alumni board and in her work with the UC Health Mobile Crisis Team. McGregor shows her dedication to her Price Hill community, organizing community events, advocating for minorities and promoting empathy through education and awareness. Her selfless, empathetic and hardworking nature makes her an exemplary leader. McGregor loves reading, spending time with family and friends, traveling, exploring new places and food both in Cincinnati and elsewhere, and she is typically up for trying anything fun and exciting. She is originally from Buffalo, N.Y.
Elaine Bobbey’s leadership, expertise keep Rosemary’s Babies moving ahead
Elaine Bobbey is a board member of Rosemary’s Babies, chair of the Holloway House & Resource Center Committee, and a phenomenal volunteer who joined the board in 2019 after retiring as president of Evenflo Feeding. Bobbey’s leadership, business expertise and determination to improve the lives of teen parent families have proven evident as Rosemary’s Babies worked to acquire and renovate a new facility over the last two years. Bobbey ensured the organization moved forward when the CEO was dealing with major emergencies. She stepped up to steer the renovation committee to guarantee opening the new facility this fall. She participated in Greater Cincinnati Foundation’s Groundwork Series on racial equity to get a better understanding of the population served and the social injustices related to Black people and minorities. One thing most people don’t know about her is that she is a great dancer and loves music.
Megan Fischer piles up the help with 10 million diapers and more
Megan Fischer is the queen of absorbency. Just a few short years ago, Fischer read an article about diaper need, and caregivers not being able to afford enough diapers to keep their babies safe and clean. Enraged, Megan started Sweet Cheeks Diaper Bank – out of her basement. Now housed in a 10,000-square-foot warehouse with sister programs, Tidal Babe Period Bank and Fly and Dry Basic Needs Bank, Sweet Cheeks is about to distribute its 10 millionth diaper. Fischer is a person of vision and action, who always finds a way, and will keep you laughing while she does it. When Fischer is not managing her arid empire, you might find her surrounded by her strange crew of critters, cross-stitching morbid scenes, or cheering on her beloved Bengals.
Sharon Zamberlan returns to revive fundraiser for Assistance League
Twenty-five years ago, Sharon Zamberlan initiated the Cincinnati chapter of Assistance League. She served as the chapter’s first president and has overseen many events and committees since 1998. She has been a hands-on leader for New Beginnings, an Assistance League program that provides new, essential household items to domestic abuse survivors leaving area shelters. Zamberlan is returning to the executive board to help revive Assistance League’s Books and Brunch event for spring 2024. Zamberlan was the first chairperson of this important fundraiser and her vision continues. She is a wife, mother and grandmother who loves to travel and enjoy long stays in Naples, Fla. Serving the unmet needs of women and children in Cincinnati continues to be a passion for her.
Nick Caprino provides youths with legal protection they need
Nick Caprino is among the region’s leading legal advocates for vulnerable children. He is an attorney at Children’s Law Center, a unique nonprofit firm providing free, high-quality representation, community education and policy reform, so youths can grow into adulthood in safe, healthy ways. Caprino safeguards the rights of child victims of sexual and violent crimes – in criminal-court cases against perpetrators and as survivors seeking protection orders. He stands up for students with disabilities, youths facing unfair school discipline, incarcerated children, and others. In Ohio and Kentucky, Caprino gives youth a meaningful voice in justice processes and ensures the legal system does not create trauma for young people. In 2022, Nick conducted multiple public education presentations about legal strategies for vulnerable youth, reaching over 170 community leaders. Caprino enjoys being outdoors with his wife and two young children. He loves running and participates in Cincinnati’s Flying Pig half-marathon annually.
Nina Creech takes responsibility for wide range of PWC programs
Nina Creech has been at the heart of People Working Cooperatively for 30 years. She currently serves as the organization’s senior vice president and director of the Whole Home Innovation Center, which provides health-focused housing services and education to families. Creech is responsible for PWC’s accessibility and aging-in-place initiatives, as well as its lead poisoning prevention programs, asthma trigger reduction pilot programs and the agency’s volunteer program, all of which serve low-income children and their families. Creech also manages PWC’s client services team, and oversees the organization’s new workforce development initiative, building a pathway for employees to develop technical skills and leadership ability that strengthens the agency’s capacity and improves quality of services. Creech is a fierce advocate for families living in poverty and works tirelessly to meet their housing needs. Creech was born in Italy and proudly celebrates her Italian heritage through her favorite pastimes, cooking and traveling.
Danielle Amrine leads Welcome House finding solutions for homelessness
Danielle Amrine, known as Daney, is the CEO of Welcome House Inc. in Covington. Amrine has been with Welcome House for almost five years, and her staff has watched her blaze a trail to not only end homelessness in Northern Kentucky, but throughout the state. Amrine loves to take her staff to lunch and then hit up an escape room, she loves doing things with her two beautiful girls, especially related to sports, and something that most don’t know about her is that she’s an avid bird watcher.