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A local non-profit places at-risk youth on a path to success. See how they’re changing things up to provide some major support.

CATS is a program that helps at-risk teens in Greater Cincinnati. Photo by: Jonathan Gibson Photography – Cincinnati Wedding Photography

The Cincinnati Arts and Technology Studios (CATS) wants to help local youth in Cincinnati Public Schools. According to CATS Marketing and Communications Director Brooke Sallas, the non-profit organization is doing just that by partnering students from the school district with like-minded organizations to help students earn fine arts and elective credits so they can graduate from high school on time and head down a path to a successful life.

“Our team of staff, art instructors, board of directors, and partners are dedicated to unlocking each student’s potential, equipping them with critical life skills and nurturing their unique abilities through graduation and beyond,” explains Sallas.

The program at CATS was modeled after the Manchester Bidwell Training Center, which inspires to re-engage young adults in their education while helping them discover their self-worth through the power of art.

“Students work alongside professional artists in a first-class environment featuring cutting-edge technology and equipment, where they are nurtured and encouraged to develop skills that will propel them into successful futures,” says Sallas.

The history of CATS goes back to 2003 when it was established by a small group of passionate leaders who wanted to make a difference in the Tri-State. Those founders include Lee Ault Carter, Pierre Wevers, Bob Castellini, and Bill Strickland.

Today the program offers five studio courses including ceramics, 2-D design, 3-D design, digital multimedia, and stained glass, all of which are designed to meet Ohio Department of Education visual arts standards and are open to high school juniors, seniors, and overage underclassmen.

“Each course offers students the opportunity to earn credits toward graduation,” says Sallas. “Many of our students also enroll in our highly-notable workforce development program, Bridging the Gap (BTG), that focuses on preparing graduates to launch successful careers following high school graduation. BTG also provides skilled workers to industries that have a shortage of talent.”

CATS offers support to kids in the community in several ways, according to Sallas. These include:

  • Building consistent relationships with students, schools, and partners
  • Meet at-risk teens where they are
  • Provide a first-class learning environment
  • Maintain small classes to ensure personalized attention
  • Empower teens to define and achieve success through a culture of respect, a strong message of success, accountability, instruction, and caring
  • Leverage the arts to help students create their lives as they do their art
  • Staff successful working artists with hearts for at-risk teens
  • Support 18 months post-graduation to help them stay successful

Sallas says that what helps CATS stand out is that the program is closely connected to Cincinnati Public Schools to work collaboratively on behalf of students while also marrying professional teaching artists with career educators to offer a model of education in a small student-to-artist ratio.

Students also receive support in training and certification, connections with employer partners, access to college mentoring, local college tours, and extended opportunities.

The support offered through CATS is just the beginning as there are several new things on the horizon for the organization.

“We just went through a rebrand and we are focusing on brand awareness and connecting with our community,” says Sallas, who recently joined CATS to help reverse the sentiment of being a ‘hidden gem’ in Cincinnati.

Additionally, says Sallas, the Young Professional committee is working to bring a series of Sip and Paints to offer fun and engaging activities while showcasing the work CATS does.

“We were also recently selected by UC DAAP for the E2C Symposium, a design blitz benefitting a local non-profit, where DAAP’s emerging creatives investigate our facility through design thinking to improve our current space and bring about a more innovative environment to our students,” says Sallas.

To learn more about CATS, the work they do to support local youth, and more, visit You can also follow along on Facebook and Instagram.

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Learn about a local roundtable for HR professionals that’s empowering, connecting and accelerating people and business results.

The Cincinnati Regional Chamber offers an HR Roundtable to offer organizational thinking and networking among c-suite leaders in the city.

Lisa Gick is more than just the CEO and Founder of The Curious Agency. She’s also a member of the Cincinnati Regional Chamber’s HR Roundtable.

“The HR Roundtable brings together c-suite and talent professionals from a diversity of industries who understand and share the unique challenges of top-level management,” explains Gick. “The program empowers leaders to build organizational experiences that uplift people and accelerate business results.”

The trusted board of advisors behind the HR Roundtable join together to discuss strategic HR issues as well as emerging trends. The group meets 6 times a year for half-day sessions, and cover themes and content that are driven by the group’s interests.

“HR Roundtable members participate in additional chamber-sponsored events dedicated to professionals in all the Chamber Roundtable communities, including CEOs, marketing, sales, finance, and IT professionals, that cover relevant topics like leadership development and employee engagement,” says Gick. “The professional connections enabled through the Roundtable bring meaningful relationships that endure.”

Those enduring relationships are something that Gick cherishes. “When you join the HR Roundtable, you’re walking into a dynamic and welcoming community of professional peers offering mutual learning, thought leadership in the profession, and support,” she adds. ‘Our members can speak openly and candidly when they gather, knowing they will receive genuine feedback and contribution from the group, in the environment where confidentiality is respected and honored.”

The members in the HR Roundtable are key leaders in their companies and offer a strategic mindset and transformative practice considerations, helping to provide a way to think differently about the organizational experience.

“Members may come with a request of their peers on a challenging or puzzling business initiative or they may come with an offer for the request of another member,” she says. “There’s a spirit of generosity in offering one’s best thinking on developing concepts or practice needs.”

You can learn more about the Chamber’s HR Roundtable here.

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Creatives have a new co-working space that provides access to private offices and workspaces while also using professional production equipment at no extra cost to them. 

Joshua Reid (center) is the founder behind the newly opened StudioCincy, a space for creatives in Cincinnati.

Joshua Reid is the Founder and CEO of StudioCincy, a photo and video rental studio and co-working space that is designed for creatives, freelancers, entrepreneurs, start-ups, and those who are looking for an affordable and motivational environment where they can work.

Reid’s entrepreneurial career often encountered the same obstacles: loneliness and a lack of funds.

“Way too often on the journey of chasing your dreams, you’re the only one with a true passion to bring that idea to a reality,” explains Reid. “For most, there’s also a barrier for not having access to the funds or capital to fuel that idea.”

Little by little Reid was able to create the space he’d always envisioned for himself – a space that was just for people who want to chase their dreams and have a vision to do great things without feeling lonely, discouraged, or unsupported.

“This desire then birthed StudioCincy, a place where we not only provide the space, but also the equipment at no extra cost, to bring those ideas to a reality,” he says. “Our belief is that a creator’s vision should not be blocked by the lack of equipment, and/or the finances to purchase or rent the equipment needed to bring that vision to a reality.”

The space at StudioCincy includes a 1,200-square-foot photo and video rental studio that works for photography, videography, team meetings, workshops, and small events. Equipment included with each booking also includes 3,800-square-feet of private offices, work stations, and a fully-equipped professional podcast room.

The idea behind StudioCincy makes it unique in itself, but the services that come along with the organization add to its uniqueness.

“We provide all camera, lighting, and sound equipment for our studio rentals at no extra cost,” says Reid. “We have a hub of computers equipped with the full Adobe Suite for editing, at no extra cost. Our podcast room is equipped with professional-grade podcasting equipment at no extra cost. We also have a Members Only lounge for our members, with free snacks and beverages, as well as a full kitchen for our hourly rentals.”

The goal at StudioCincy is to accommodate the needs of the customers by eliminating the barriers often faced by entrepreneurs. Other amenities at StudioCincy include 24/7 access, 24/7 on-site security, 24/7 free parking, online booking, free high-speed wi-fi, photography and videography studio, private offices, workspaces, professional equipment rentals, controlled environment for creatives, game/lounge room, and free snacks and beverages.

Reid says that although the ribbon cutting and grand opening for StudioCincy was recently held the team is already looking at opening location No. 2.

You can learn more about StudioCincy at or by following along on Instagram or Facebook.

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A local professional women’s organization is launching a new way to help women find the resources they need to advance their careers.

Ellevate Network, an organization launched 21 years ago with chapters nationwide, is passionate about their mission in creating a community of strong professional women who strive to help each other succeed. The Ellevate Network community opens doors for opportunities to gain inspiration from other hard-working women, as well as helping women expand in the next steps of their careers.

To further that mission, the organization recently announced the launch of a new initiative: Ellevate Experts.

“Ellevate Experts are the women within our community who are committed to supporting our members through their career journeys,” says Johanna Pulgarin, program manager for Ellevate Network. “By sharing their knowledge, stories, and best career advice, our Experts can be the catalyst you need to help you achieve your professional goals.”

According to Pulgarin, Ellevate Experts allows for moments of shared knowledge, opportunity, and constant support. 

The inspiration behind Ellevate Experts is to make it easier for professional women to communicate and collaborate to expand in their endeavors. “We wanted to make it easier for Ellevate members to find and connect with other members who might be able to help them achieve their professional goals,” Pulgarin explains. “There are so many incredible women in the network, but it can be intimidating to have to search through for someone who might have the experience and advice you’re looking for. Ellevate Experts have shown their breadth of knowledge through submitting content on our site, and are committed to supporting other women. It’s a lot less intimidating to reach out to someone when you know they’re part of a group of women who want to help.”

“The project,” Pulgarin says, “couldn’t have been made possible without the work of the rest of the Product, Design, and Engineering teams.”

There is a specific process involved in building the community and creating effective networking. This process is what makes Ellevate Experts so empowering and allows them to continue to flourish, according to Pulgarin.

“Members are labeled as Ellevate Experts after engaging with specific benefits on our website — they’ve published two or more articles, have hosted a Jam Session (what we call our webinars) or spoken at one of our events, and they’ve filled out their Member Profile,” Pulgarin says. “Once those requirements are met, they’re featured on the Ellevate Experts page of our site. We encourage members to reach out to each other via the Conversations messaging tool on our site with specific asks or genuine interest in each others’ experiences, to create authentic connections that go beyond the typical cold introduction we dread when networking.”

The uniqueness of Ellevate Experts comes from its Ellevate members, Pulgarin explains. “They already believe in the importance of seeing more women succeed in their careers,” she adds. “They believe in lifting each other up, and they do what they can with what they know in order to play a role in that success. There’s huge potential in creating an impactful connection with an Expert who can answer your questions or give advice about the professional goals you’re trying to achieve.”

This new launch isn’t the only thing Ellevate has brewing. “We’re continuing to help our community make the most impactful connections they can, and one way is by offering Suggested Connections in our member directory and throughout the site based on things like your city, your goals, your industry, and other factors,” Pulgarin explains. “Soon you’ll see Suggested Experts to help you narrow your search even further.”

To learn more, visit

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Did you know that Ohio was voted one of the best places for women to start businesses? According to, the state was ranked No. 2, behind Texas. As the number of female entrepreneurs in the United States steadily grows, attention is being focused on the support that is being made available to women business owners, and the gap between them and their male counterparts. One of those categories of support? Financing options. It has already been established that women entrepreneurs may be treated differently when it comes to applying for credit. For example, Fortune Magazine and Bizz2Credit revealed that women tend to get approved for loan amounts that are 45 percent less compared to men. Yet the number of women taking the plunge into business continues to grow, and as a result, women are looking for ways to succeed in entrepreneurship, including financial support. Cincinnati is brimming with financial options to help them do just that.

Small Business Grants -The Amber Grant & EnrichHER Funding

The EnrichHER Funding program and society have long been known for supporting women entrepreneurs. While other parts of the society connect women with mentors and other business support resources, the funding program seeks businesses in existence for a minimum of 12 months, and also stipulates a credit score of 600 or higher. The financing options are also varied, and include loans up to $250,000, lines of credit and grants.

The Amber Grant is also another great program for women looking to start their own business, and is backed by WomensNet. Each month, a $2,000 grant is given out, and at year-end, a grant worth $25,000 is granted to one of the 12 business owners. Application is easily done online, and the website also offers a host of additional resources, including tips on how to secure the best loan for your business.

Local Loan Programs – The Cincinnati Access Fund

In 2018, The Cincinnati Access Fund program was launched as an initiative supported by Fifth Third Bank. The fund’s value stands at $3.5 million and is specifically geared towards women and minority-owned small businesses in Cincinnati. It was announced that the Access Fund will offer two different loan options aimed at both new and existing businesses. Microloans are for loans of a value of $100,000 or less, and are for those businesses that find themselves unable to access traditional financing. Term loans are for those entrepreneurs looking to grow their revenues and employee base, and are offered in amounts of $100,000 and $350,000. The program stands apart from others in the sense that it is specifically aimed at small businesses, and can be a great stepping stone in helping small business owners improve their chances of securing traditional financing later down the line, including improving chances and rates charged when using and securing short term consumer financing.

Startup Programs – The Hillman Accelerator & The Brandery

In 2017, the Hillman Accelerator was launched with the aim of assisting women and minority entrepreneurs who were in the tech industry. Funded by firms such as The Brandery and CincyTech, the program has seen great success since the launch, and was one of the most publicized attempts at encouraging diversity in business startups. It is also much more than just a financing program. In addition to connecting entrepreneurs with suitable venture capitalists, the Hillman Accelerator also connects you with mentors to guide you in navigating the beginning process, and also to help businesses with their customer acquisition strategy.

One of the program’s investors, The Brandery is also a great option for female entrepreneurs, and helps in the area of branding, marketing, and design for new companies. The startup boasts multiple female mentors who can help you understand what it is like as a woman in business, and in return for their participation, The Brandery secures a 6 percent stake in each startup for $50,000 in capital, office space for a year, and additional benefits.

It has never been a better time to get into business as a woman. More female entrepreneurs are not only starting their own businesses, but proving repeatedly what a success they can be in the industry. In response, more companies are taking notice and providing the resources to enable and encourage female participation. The world is slowly welcoming female entrepreneurs into the fold, Cincinnati included.

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See how a local organization is leveraging members’ skills and networks to improve the community.

Skills are key in any career. So are the connections you have. When you use your skills and your network to help better the world around you, you can make a huge impact.


The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber’s Influence Cincinnati initiative wants to encourage those connections and skills to make the city we all call “home” even better.


“Influence Cincinnati is an initiative designed to identify ways that participants can harness the influence they already have – in their jobs, communities, and spheres of influence – to create a future we all want to call home,” explains the Chamber’s Government Affairs Coordinator Hannah Boone. “Influence Cincinnati invites experienced and emerging leaders across the region and all Chamber members interested in shaping civic decisions and conversations to meet throughout the year to have candid conversations about civic engagement, advocacy, public policy, and politics with experts and key decision makers.”


The inspiration behind Influence Cincinnati comes from the Chamber’s desire to get members deeply involved in the work everyone is doing to make the region better.


“Influence Cincinnati is a place for people of all professional backgrounds who have a passion for moving our region forward,” adds Boone. “There are so many individuals who want to harness their influence to raise the profile of our region but they don’t know where to start – that’s where Influence Cincinnati comes in.”


There’s is no one-way street behind the movement and organization of Influence Cincinnati. Boone says the initiative aims to be engaging for members as well as a place to have two-conversations with business and community leaders, elected officials, policy makers, and thought-leaders in the region.


Boone says the kickoff for Influence Cincinnati is planned for June 18 from 3-4:30 pm at the University of Cincinnati’s 1819 Innovation Hub. Then, meetings will be held on a regular basis, Boone says, every other month.


You can sign up to become a member of Influence Cincinnati on the Chamber’s website.

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Learn about the eight life balance pillars that were a game-changer for our life coach columnist and how they can help you, too.

“When you have your health, you have everything. When you do not have your health, nothing else matters at all.” ― Augusten Burroughs, Dry

When you hear the word “health” do you immediatethink about your physical body and overall wellness? Sure, most would. 

What if you were told that your body is only one part of being healthy?  

As a business career woman or momprenuers, the focus on ourselves is often put on the back burner.  

I learned along my journey there were many times I felt I was juggling so many balls and the expectationsto getting everything done, and done well, were overwhelming.  

Usually my health would suffer with not sleeping, overeating, drinking to numb out, and just feeling sad and depressed. The struggle was real.

Then I discovered a better way to BALANCE all the responsibilities and expectations on my terms through the support of a coach and learning about the life balance pillars – game changer.

How you do one thing is how you do all things, as I know to be true, so of course I couldn’t be focusing on one area of my life without including all areas.  

Here’s what I share with you to get back to living a life by design and how you can make it happen.

The key is Balance in all areas which includes the following eight.

1. Career Work
2. Recreation – Leisure – Fun
3. Spiritual – Personal Development
4. Family and Friends
5. Money – Finances
6. Physical Environment
7. Spouse – Relationships – Significant Other
8. Health – Physical Well-Being

The goal is to achieve equal balance in all eightareas.  How is this possible you ask? By simply being willing to commit, show up, act, and do the work you are well on your way to finding the balance.

The process begins with getting clear on where you are in each category and finding ways to increase your overall relationship in each of those areas.

Using a scale from 1 to 10 (10 being you have a good handle on this area) identify where you are now by scoring them accordingly.

The areas that score low need your attention to improve the relationship.

For example – you score yourself low for Money and Finances because you of the following questions: do you have enough income, are you saving for unforeseen situations, are you accumulating a lot of debt, do you desire more, are you hiding out from your money and finances, are you putting your head in the sand hoping it will all workout?

Take this awareness and begin finding ways to improve relationship with money and finances bymaking simple adjustments which may include auto bill pay, balance your accounts monthly, set up a budget, talk to a financial advisor, find side work for additional income, etc.

The same is true with the other seven areas.  You find where you are not meeting the overall relationship with that area and then find ways to change to improve that relationship.

Don’t get overwhelmed and try to make all areas a 10 by next week.  Take your time to really analyze each pillar and pick on or two and begin there.  Make it a priority and stay focused on simply raising the connection in all areas knowing you can create the business and life you love from being doing this work.

And please remember allowing balance to be your focus, and not the punishment, will offer what you need in order to tap into creating a life by design, and one that you love with passion and purpose.

For additional support I am offering a free assessment available to Chic’er through May – schedule your time here.

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See how this Leadership Cincinnati grad is furthering her career and legacy through a powerful program for local professionals.

Leadership Cincinnati is all about building community and Sarah Weiss, CEO of The Nancy & David Wolf Holocaust & Humanity Center at Union Terminal, wants to build a community that ensures the lessons of the Holocaust inspire action.

“I oversee a staff of about 15 who carry out our mission through education, programming, museum experiences, and other initiatives,” she explains. “As a small organization, I get to be involved in many facets of the organization.”

Weiss says the path that got her to where she is today is part luck and part hard work.

“From the time I was young, I was surrounded by people who worked hard toward a mission and it rubbed off,” says Weiss. “After graduating with a business degree from the University of Cincinnati, I knew I wanted to make a difference in the community and was seeking a path into the non-profit community.”

Weiss originally got her start through Public Allies, where she was eventually connected with the Holocaust & Humanity Center.

“That was almost 15 years ago and I was immediately inspired by the work and the mission,” says Weiss.

She first joined the staff there as a program manager and when the founding director left a few years after she started, the board asked her to serve as the interim director.

“At 25, I thought I was too young,” she says. “At the time I told them I could run the organization but didn’t need the title. They insisted and were right.”

Following a year of guidance, mentorship, and hard work, the board selected Weiss as the director.

Nearly 12 years have since gone by and Weiss has grown an organization that is very much dedicated to its mission.

While Weiss enjoys all that she does, she really finds her inspiration in the people at the core of it all – Holocaust survivors.

“Each one of them experienced unimaginable obstacles and loss, but through their resilience and fortitude, they went on to build new lives,” she says. “Their strength and perseverance to rebuild inspires me each and every day and reminds me of the power of the human spirit.”

To bolster her experience, Weiss participated in the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber’s Leadership CincinnatiUSA program. In fact, participating in the program has always been something Weiss hoped she would do.

“I love learning and growing, especially when it relates to our city,” says Weiss. “Professionally, I was in the midst of leading our organization through a major change and I thought it would give me new resources and perspectives for managing the transformation.”

Weiss appreciates the program itself, but what she loved the most were the people.

“The relationships and connections made are incredibly powerful,” she says. “I have never been among such a smart, thoughtful, committed group of individuals. While everyone came from different backgrounds, each person brought passion and talent. In addition to the classmates, the people we met through the program are all committed to make our region better. While the program itself creates unique experiences and exposes participants to experiences in the city that you would have otherwise, I learned the most from my classmates.”

Weiss’s journey through the program was about meaningful experiences and meaningful relationships.

“In addition to the many meaningful experiences throughout the program that made a lasting impact on me, the relationships are what fuels uncovering legacies,” she says. “I feel I have a diverse network of individuals in various fields and parts of our community that I can call on for guidance, support, or to make change. The legacy and lasting impact is in the relationships that will continue to offer rewards for years to come.”

Weiss encourages women to participate in the program because women leaders are needed everywhere and it offers women the opportunity to participate in a program that promotes all leaders.

Leadership CincinnatiUSA® is the region’s flagship leadership development program. It is an immersive civic learning experience designed to help participants understand the assets and challenges of the region, elevate their leadership, and further engage in the community. Applications for Class 43 are due May 24, 2019. More info at

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What happens when the road gets rough on the journey toward our goals? Melissa offers some invigorating insight.

Are you a woman with drive, passion and focus ready to jump into a new business or career, or already in business and want to expand and grow? BUT you are paralyzed from the thought of taking on this new venture?

Whether you own a brick and mortar, run an MLM or online business, or a partner in a firm, your focus is on how to grow and be a successful business owner. 

Sure, you had a deep desire to create the opportunity from a place of passion and purpose, and you believed in yourself to be successful, but WHY did you say yes?

What I know for sure is the one thing that can unlock your scarcity and uncertainty about your business, and allow you to catapult to the next level, is knowing and remembering your WHY.

Simon Sinek, author, and Tedx presenter, on Start with Why demonstrates how “why” brings great leaders to inspired action. Many already know what and how they do something for their business but the power in WHY is the purpose for the cause or belief.

So why does your business even exist? It started with a Why!

Often the breakdown of a business occurs when the WHY is forgotten and everything begins to focus on numbers, goals, unnecessary interruptions, shine object syndrome, or perhaps you feel like quitting because you think what “others” are doing is better than yours.

Flip the switch and get back to your Why — write it out and be very specific with details including emotions and feelings.  

For example, if you are with a health care company perhaps you wanted to get healthy, of course, AND that you wanted to live a longer life, without disease, for a long time while watching your kids grow and have their own children.

If you work in a financial instruction because you are good with numbers and want to make a six-figure income, AND you see the value in having investments and savings to create a lifestyle that allows you to vacation often, buy a new car every three years, and put your kids through college.

Or recall a time when you left a job or career, you had a very distinctive reasons why you would leave, and it was strong enough to allow you to do so without hesitation.  

Be encouraged to identify and/or rediscover your why often by allowing yourself to tap back in and recall what made you say YES to the business in the beginning and know that this reason is still true. 

Of course, your Why may change a bit over time but for the most part it is still the reason that drives you and allows you to stay connected to the passion and purpose of doing business and its all centered around your WHY.

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This locally-based transportation company gives you a safer, more dependable, cost-effective option when going to and from the airport.

Taxi Maxx offers transportation to and from CVG and Dayton airports.

Max Osadchy wants to give his clients what they want when they want it. And that’s affordable and convenient transportation to and from the airport before and after their travels.

That’s why he launched Taxi Maxx, a locally owned and operated airport transportation company based out of Mason, back in 2011.

“The goal behind Taxi Maxx is  to provide both the community and businesses with gold standard professional service from a company that they can trust,” says Osadchy.

Taxi Maxx offers affordable pricing to individuals, as well as term billing for corporate clients.

Prices through Taxi Mass vary and are based on mileage, however, Osadchy says there is a flat rate from Mason to CVG of $70 and a flat rate of $90 to the Dayton airport.

Osadchy prides himself on giving his customers high quality service. “We want our customers to feel comfortable and taken care of when choosing us,” he says. “The bulk of our business is corporate and families. We understand traveling can be a hassle, we want to be a positive experience in their journey. We are always available through reservation for those late night flights and conveniently meet our arriving customers inside CVG to help with luggage and eliminate the ‘search’ for their taxi/car.”

Osadchy says that Taxi Mass continues to offer its clients a more dependable, seamless and safer choice in their airport travel.  

To learn more about Taxi Maxx, click here. You can also “like” them on Facebook or call 513-280-2412.

Taxi Maxx is also currently on the search for new employees. You can inquire by emailing or by calling 513-280-2412.