“Each time a girl opens a book and reads a womanless history, she learns she is worth less.”
It may be hard to fathom, but it was only just up until the 70s that women’s history was virtually an unknown topic in the K-12 curriculum or in the general public consciousness. To bring more awareness to the topic, in 1978, the Education Task Force of the Sonoma County (California) Commission on the Status of Women, initiated a “Women’s History Week” celebration with March 8 designated as International Women’s Day.
But then the National Women’s History Project (NWHP) petitioned Congress to extend the national celebration to the entire month of March. Long story short, National Women’s History Month (NWHM) was born to highlight and acknowledge contributions of women to events in history.
In celebration of NWHM, Cincy Chic asked local women about the resources, mentors, programs, businesses, etc., that have helped them in the past, and is thus creating a brighter future for them and other women. Here’s what they had to say:
“Although God did not give me the perfect family, he did give me the best family and extended family for me. My family continues to be a great source of inspiration for me. From my brothers’ continuous support and encouragement to my children’s belief that I can do whatever I put my mind to, to my husband believing that I have both brains and beauty (that’s important), I am inspired to move forward and to make a difference in the lives of others by being the best mother, wife, sister, friend and entrepreneur that I can be.”
“No one has helped me to grow as a business owner and as a person [more] than John Melvin. He is the Clermont County Small Business Administration (SBA) Guru, but he is much more than that to me. When I first decided to start my business in 2004, he provided much needed guidance and support. Since that time, he has become like a surrogate father to me; always there with advice, encouragement, a big hug, or a firm kick in the butt whenever I need it. Thanks for being there, John!”
“My work as a certified divorce financial analyst (CDFA) has inspired me to grow professionally in financial services. Having gone through a divorce myself I know, too well, the challenges women face during this type of transition. If I can help a newly divorced woman get financially organized, and help her set up a budget so she can confidently move forward with her new life, then I know I’m doing what I was meant to do.”
“Several years ago, I went in to have my first mammogram, as you’re supposed to do at age 40. Long story short, the biopsy determined it was benign.
Needless to say, I felt very blessed and thankful. It was at that point I decided to live each day as if it were my last and do more things I’d thought about, but had put off because I was young, healthy and had plenty of time.
With that said, I took up running in October 2006 and ran the 15k Heart Mini Marathon in March 2007. I [also] decided to train for and compete in a triathlon.
I think one of the best parts of any journey is the people you meet along the way and what you learn from them. I had the honor and joy of meeting some amazing people. Some became mentors. Some are extraordinary athletes. All are incredible human beings who inspired me and taught me.
First there was my trainer, Jamie Hoffpauir, who had taught me how to train properly to run long distances. A superior athlete, herself, she inspired me. Her work with me when training for the Heart Mini made the difference in my ability to compete in the triathlon.
Then there was the woman I refer to as my ’bike mom,’ Karen Martin. She took me under her wing and helped me get up to speed with bike knowledge and skills…literally and figuratively.
Next there was the owner of the bike shop I got my bike from whose honesty, patience, training tips, encouragement and passion for biking and racing made a huge difference for me, Mitch Graham at BioWheels. His ability to see my potential truly helped me see and believe it too.
Last, but not least, there were the instructors and women in my triathlon training group, namely Kathy Krumme with Oakley Cyclery who taught us all racing bike skills and taught me so much more than that. All of the women in the tri training group are incredible cyclists and true athletes. They were patient and understanding and never made me feel like the slow poke as I tried to keep up when we first started training. Instead they would encourage me, assure me they remembered what it was like to be a new rider and told me it would get better and easier. They were right.
But I think the one thing that really helped put a true perspective on my journey as I struggled through the early learning weeks was something sent to me in an email by one of the women in the weekly cycling group. She sent me a lengthy email talking about her experiences when she first started riding. It was heart felt and encouraging. But what really made me realize it would all work out is the quote she included at the end of her e-mail: ‘The miracle was not that I finished. The miracle was that I had the courage to start.’
When I read that, I thought to myself, ‘Yes, it really is all about starting. It really is about the journey, what you learn, who you meet and how the experience enriches and changes your life for the better.’”
“Ray Nelson was in charge of the accelerated learning program in my high school and always took a personal interest in each student.
One day we were talking about what I would do after high school. The roles of women in the early 70s were limited to nursing, teaching and stay-at-home-moms. For the most part, if you married, you stayed home and it was the husband who went to work. While I was certain I would go to college, I had limited my consideration to the traditional roles of that day, nursing and teaching.
As Mr. Nelson and I were talking about my choices, it became obvious he had a different vision. He got agitated [and] I could tell he was a bit miffed at me as I went through my laundry list of choices.
’What about medicine?’ he asked. ‘Well I could consider nursing,’ I told him, ‘but I am not found of needles.’ He replied, ’Mackey – if you are going to go into medicine you are going to be a doctor! You’ll have a nurse to take care of giving shots!’
In that moment Mr. Nelson gave me a life-changing gift, he saw me bigger than I could see myself.
While I chose not to pursue medicine, Mr. Nelson did open my eyes to a universe of possibility.”
“I have been extremely fortunate to have been surrounded by incredible people in my life. Some I have met professionally through groups such as WE Lead Class II and others are in my personal life. The most influential person I have grown from is my mom. She once told me to surround myself with people who make me a better person. Those few words have helped grow tremendously and become the confident woman I am today.”
“When I started my career in 1969, my father was and continues to this day, to be my most important mentor. I began working for him as his ’girl Friday,’ as we were called back then. I am now the president and one of the owners of our company and my father is retired. He always made me feel that I could do anything that I was willing to work for. At the same time, he was always in the background to support me, if I requested it. He also let me fail when appropriate so I could learn to do it my way.”
“Life’s Eye Media is 21/2 years old. We are a video production company, specializing in public relations and marketing materials for businesses. The ‘something’ that has helped my business is giving back, literally. We take 10 percent of our net and donate it to our church or other organizations. I didn’t do that right out of the shoot, but when I did, business started rolling in! So for about the last year and a half, business has been great!
[Also…] Sister Bonnie Steilage, the founder of Franciscan Haircuts from the Heart.
You can read more about her organization on the Web. But she’s one of those women, obviously a nun, who gives of herself 200 percent to make this world a better place. I have a number of mentors, in the business world, but the core of her values are in line with where I want to be and who I try to model myself after.”
“As a first-time inventor, I am extremely thankful to the Inventor’s Council of Cincinnati for its support, encouragement and its deep well of knowledge in helping me navigate in a sea of uncharted waters. I am especially grateful to Andrea Brady, former president and executive director of the Council, and Jackie Diaz, treasurer of the Council, for taking a personal interest in my progress and going out of their way to provide advice and support when I need it most. If it were not for Andrea’s prodding and mentoring, I would not have entered my product in the Cincinnati Inventor’s Fair. Jackie’s counsel has inspired me to raise my expectations to new heights for bringing my products to market and to actively pursue goals, like selling on QVC and Home Shopping Network. These women are more than mentors; they are friends I can count on. Both women are accomplished inventors whose products are being sold in the marketplace. It is a comfort to know that when the going gets rough – and it does – when you yell for help you know you’re going to get a hand up!”
“Cheering for the Bengals for four years completely changed me as a person, for the better. From it I’ve learned countless life lessons that I will carry with me always. It has taught me that hard work and dedication results in the most personally satisfying rewards, that devoting some of your time to charity should be a permanent part of your life and helps you just as much as the charitable cause, and most of all, that friendship, true friendship that adult women have is richer than the most priceless gem you could come across. I am so very blessed to have such bright, beautiful, well-educated women on my side always.”
“In July 2006, after being stay-at-home-moms for the better part of a decade, we decided to start our own business. We wanted to create fun t-shirts that would appeal to women who could relate to some of the funnier things that happen as we go through life’s journey. Our company name is Forever Cheeky and our message is simple: we encourage women to go out and flaunt their cheeky side, the one that is ’fun, feisty and fearless.’
We had the creativity and the desire, but we knew we needed help to bring our ideas to market. We’ve met many extraordinary people who have graciously extended their time, talent and expertise to help us launch our business. The following are some of those folks:
- Our first contact was with Kelly Palmer from Moondance Design Group in Loveland. Kelly’s high energy and creative flair gave a new face to our company mascot and helped us design a fun Web site.
- Donna Drury-Heine, co-owner of Blue Chip Cookies, invited us to speak at her Loveland store to a group of ‘Amazing Women’ thus opening the door to new contacts and networking groups.
- Through Kelly, we met our favorite (outside of our spouses of course) Cheeky Chaps, Jack Heffron and Howard Cohen from Keen Communications who helped us get some great PR in newspaper, radio and TV media.
- It was through Howard that we learned of Cincy Chic and met Amy Storer and her cheeky staff.
We continue to be inspired by all the people we meet who are so willing to share their stories, their words of wisdom and keep reaffirming what we are doing.
“I am 52 years young and have been working in the fashion world since I was 14 years old. I am a newlywed, which goes to show that you never know what life has in store for you. I love everything about what I do and feel blessed to have a career that has never seemed like a job to me. The credit goes to my faith and my mother and father who taught me to believe that anything was possible. ‘If you dream it, you can be it’was the motto in our household. My dad taught me about discipline and good work ethic and my mom taught me compassion and nurturing, which I believe also helped me to be a good mother to my daughter, Julie, who is now 29 years old. My modeling and acting training, when I was just 14, helped develop my self-confidence and self-esteem, giving me the foundation to begin to build my career. My career has taken me all over the world as a talent scout for our international company and then brought me to Cincinnati to open my own agency in June of 2005. My platform in business is to help men and women (ages 7 and up) to become the best they can be in all areas of their lives- not only modeling and acting, but being successful in everything that they choose to do. I encourage people to get their education, find out what they are passionate about (what interests them) and figure out a way to reach their goals. Dream big! Don’t settle! Do not be afraid!
What inspires me each and every day is watching someone change right before my eyes and seeing the confidence when they begin to feel good about themselves. Beauty starts from within and when the outside package starts to fade, it is the inner beauty that will carry us through.”
“My mother is behind all of my accomplishments. She’s my inspiration, my love! I’m a Xavier University graduate. I have my BA in business and minor in marketing. [I have a passion for fashion and] I love to write articles, come up with hot ideas and just write, write, write! My mother has always told me that [if] you have all these ideas, put yourself to work! I told my mother ‘I will!’ She’s the reason I’m doing what I am today. She’s the reason I’ve graduated school, and she’s my thought for everything I do. I now have a focus in life. My goal is coming along. I’m now happy doing what I love. Thank you, mom! You’re that special person!”
“Pure Romance CEO and founder, Patty Brisben, has not only helped thousands of women feel more comfortable and empowered when it comes to their relationships and careers, she has also made a powerful difference in the lives of her family and colleagues. She is the generous and loving matriarch that binds her close-knit family together and carries that same matriarchal spirit into the corporate office. She has always challenged every single one of her employees at the corporate office to speak up and be heard, work hard and passionately, and to never be afraid of any challenge or obstacle. In addition, she has shown me and many of my colleagues that when you work tirelessly, you should always take some time and energy to spoil and pamper yourself as well! We’re lucky to have such a dedicated and fearless leader!” (Submitted by Kim Sheridan, Pure Romance public relations director)
The NWHP has complied the following list of ideas on ways you can promote the 2008 theme of “Women’s Art: Women’s Vision” in March:
- Ask your local schools what they are doing for NWHM. Suggest they visit the NWHP Web site for information and resources.
- Suggest to your local schools and school boards that they encourage students to write an essay or draw a picture about the theme, “Women’s Art: Women’s Vision.” Encourage projects designed to help students at every grade level discover, recognize, and celebrate the ways that generations work together.
- Contribute a NWHM Program Kit to a local school or local library.
- Take a 2008 commemorative poster, banner, or bookmarks to your local library or bookstore and ask what special features or programs they have scheduled for NWHM.
- Ask that your place of worship recognize women’s contribution to your spiritual community either in a special celebration or through announcements at gatherings.
- Write a proclamation for NWHM and ask your local city council or board of supervisions to issue a special proclamation in honor of March being NWHM. Here is a sample proclamation for reference.
- Plan a reception or luncheon to honor the women in your community who have been the builders of communities and dreams.
- Ask your local paper to feature school and community programs that celebrate NWHM. Direct them to the Women’s History Month section of the Women’s History Month.
- Bring “Generations of Women Moving History Forward” placemats to your workplace’s cafeteria or lunchroom.
- Write a letter to the editor of your local paper explaining the need to celebrate and recognize women’s contributions and include information about NWHM and suggestions of women from the community to celebrate.
- Invite a woman from history to be at your celebration program. See the NWHP listings of Women’s History Performers and Authors and Presenters. There may be a performer in your community that you can plan a special program with or one of the listed National Performers can travel across the country to be at your event.
Local Lady Trivia
How well do you know your fellow “sisters?” See if you can answer the following trivia about local women…without cheating and looking at the answers here:
- She became the University of Cincinnati’s 25th and first woman president in October 2003.
- This actress won an Emmy for her sexy role in the 70s TV sitcom classic “WKRP in Cincinnati.”
- This local legend was known as one of the nation’s premier TV and radio broadcasters in the 40s, 50s and 60s and for her charity that provides gifts for hospitalized Tri-State children.
- This Cleveland-born actress was the first African-American to win the Oscar for Best Actress in the 2001 drama “Monster’s Ball.
- Her world-renowned store Fabulous-Furs – headquartered in Covington, KY – provides luxurious synthetic alternatives to real-animal furs and has been worn by countless celebrities.
- This chic actress – born in Nelsonville, OH, and who attended the School for the Creative and Performing Arts – is most famous for her role as a Manhattan sex-columnist in an HBO series.
- This author of “Song of Solomon” and “Beloved” was born in Lorain, OH, and became the first African-American woman to win a Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993.
- She is the CEO and founder of the multi-million dollar Pure Romance, Inc. – based in Loveland, OH – that offers relationship-enhancing sex toy parties for women.
- This gun-slinging, spunky, red-headed legendary markswoman’s life was celebrated in the 1946 Herbert and Dorothy Fields musical “Annie Get Your Gun.”
- Thought Hilary was the first woman to run for president? Wrong! Touted as the leader of the American woman’s suffrage movement, this woman ran for president back in 1872!
Photo: Neysa Ruhl Photography
Location: Fischer Homes
Model: LaDonna Smith, KidQuest Unlimited, LLC
Makeup Artistry: Jocelyn Sparks, Zoë Custom Cosmetics