The Women’s Business Council (WBC) of Marion, Ohio is honored to again sponsor the ATHENA Leadership Award®. The ATHENA was inspired by the goddess of Greek mythology known for her strength, courage, wisdom and enlightenment – qualities embodied in the ATHENA Leadership Model. The Award is unique in both scope – local, national and international – and the ATHENA mission upon which it is based. The ATHENA Leadership Award is presented to a woman – or man – who is honored for professional excellence, community service, and for actively assisting women in their attainment of professional excellence and leadership skills.
ATHENA nominations are solicited from community members. The WBC honors all nominees with a luncheon and awards the beautiful ATHENA sculpture to the final recipient.
The 2020 ATHENA will be presented at a luncheon Monday, March 9, in The Barn at All Occasions, 6989 Marion-Waldo Road, Waldo, Ohio. Social time will begin at 11:00 a.m., and the luncheon at 11:45 a.m. 2020 ATHENA recipient Major Christy Utley is slated to give a few brief comments on her charity of choice, which was The Boys and Girls Club of Marion County. She will relate how the $5,836 they received as a result of the silent auction at this event has made an impact.
Kathie Seckel, chair of the Marion Women’s Business Council board, indicated, “I am always amazed at the strong list of nominees each year. This tells me that the quality of women in leadership positions throughout the Marion community is solid, and we are honored to provide a forum for those accomplishments to be recognized.” She continued, “I know the judges will again have a difficult time choosing a winner.”
Local companies championing the ATHENA recognition include Gold Sponsors: Modern Woodmen Fraternal Financial, Cummins Facility Services, iHeart Media Marion, Marion Flower Shop, Marion Technical College, OhioHealth, and Wyandot.
The Silver Sponsors are The Barn at All Occasions, Mathews Hyundai, McDaniel Motors, Merrill Lynch/The Olson Bush Sharma Group, Nucor Steel, The Ohio Neck & Back Pain Relief Centers, The Ohio State University at Marion, Sakamura U.S.A., Stifel, Tri-Rivers Career Center, The Union Bank Company, United Church Homes, and United Way of Marion County.
The Bronze Sponsors are Aqua Ohio, Carroll’s Jewelers, Dostal & Kirk Insurance and Financial Services, Kegler Brown Hill & Ritter, The First Citizens National Bank, and Marion Star.
Modern Woodmen Fraternal Financial has once again committed to matching the funds, up to $2500, raised from the silent auction which will then be presented to the ATHENA Leadership Award recipient’s non-profit charity of choice.
Due by February 21, Athena luncheon reservations are $20 each and may be made by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling Sherry Goodman, Membership Co-Chair, at 740-751-6950.
Marion Women’s Business Council is dedicated to inspiring women to reach their full potential through mentoring, networking education and recognition. Visit www.WomensBusinessCouncil.com for more information on the ATHENA program or how to become a part the Marion Women’s Business Council.
Dr. Heather Columber
Family Practice Physician
Nominated by: Geoff Gregory
Non-profit donation choice: Marion General Hospital Foundation, Patient Care Professional Development Fund
Knowing that she wanted to be a physician since the first grade, Dr. Heather Columber has worked toward this dream for the majority of her life. She started her family medicine career in Marion in 2005 after graduating magna cum laude from Capital University and then The Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine. After two years in private practice, Dr. Columber realized that she needed to find a balance between career, education, and family.
She then joined OhioHealth and moved her medical practice to Hilliard where she could fulfill her desires; but eventually realized she could make a greater impact at home where she could not only care for her life-long community, but educate and inspire others to pursue medical careers. In 2014, Dr. Columber and OhioHealth took the leap of faith and opened a family medicine office in Marion.
Realizing that medical education was still a passion, Dr. Columber worked with Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine to become an Adjunct Clinical Associate Professor of Family Medicine
Dr. Columber was the first female associate medical director of Primary Care for the OhioHealth Physicians Group in 2017, and currently serves on the Marion General Medical Executive Committee, Marion General Hospital Mission, Culture, and Community Benefit Committee, and was chosen to participate in the OhioHealth Physician Leadership Academy.
Beginning her service to the Marion community as a young candy striper, Dr. Columber now provides free sports physicals for Marion City School students. She and her husband helped develop Prexie Prep Soccer, and she also enjoys working with the Harding Youth Football and Cheer program.
While serving as a clinical professor, Dr. Columber made it a priority to mentor nearly a hundred medical students, 40% of whom were women. She also received OhioHealth’s PRISM Award for stewardship.
In the words of nominator Geoff Gregory, “She worked very hard to gain leadership roles within OhioHeath as a female physician, which has certainly opened the doors for others to walk through.”
Domini Paradiso, who now works with Dr. Columber, states, “As one of the students who had the privilege to learn from her, she is uniquely generous, compassionate, and supportive, which builds up and empowers women around her. I attribute my success as a physician assistant directly to Dr. Columber’s passion for what she does. It is an honor to know such an incredible, talented, professional woman that I can only hope to emulate.”
Marion Mentors 21
Nominated by: Whitney Gherman
Non-profit donation choice: Peace and Freedom Committee
Through Tara Dyer’s long history of advocacy and community service, she has helped nonprofits, schools, government agencies, funders, and businesses advance diversity and support Marion’s most overlooked populations.
Dyer earned her education degree from Defiance College, was a public school teacher from 1980 to 2014, and she continues serving the Marion community in retirement as the current Mentor Supervisor for Marion Mentors 21.
Other local involvement includes with Black Heritage Council, CommUNITY Collaborate, Marion City Schools Diversity Committee, Hats Off to Women, Healthy Food Access, Marion County Housing Coalition, Marion Minority Commission, Leading Ladies, Marion Voices, Meals on Wheels, Peace and Freedom Committee, Turning Point, and Festival of Trees. Dyer helped organize Marion’s annual Martin Luther King, Jr. speech contest, writes grants, and developed an award-winning educational program for African-American high school students.
Dyer’s work for women and girls in Marion also includes mentorship in Leading Ladies, a group that invites women to share stories about overcoming obstacles. They won The Forge Business Plan Competition in 2019. She also serves on the board for Turning Point, an organization with direct ties to supporting women and families experiencing domestic violence.
As an endorsed member of The Matriots, a nonpartisan political action committee, Dyer supports and encourages women to be more fully engaged in the election process. She represented the Democratic Party in runs for city and county offices, and has served as a congressional DNC delegate.
“Tara has created a climate of female empowerment in Marion, said nominator Whitney Gherman. “She honors traditional attributes of women and girls, while paving new paths for the upcoming generation. She is unafraid to create social change and spur critical conversations on how gender and race play a fundamental role in affecting all women’s potential for leadership.”
Gherman continued, “Tara has become a respected elder in the community for her leadership, advocacy, ideas, and commitment to professional excellence and community service. There are countless personal stories and testimonies of how her work has effectively advanced gender equality.”
Marion Palace Theatre
Nominated by: Nikki Workman
Non-profit donation choice: The Palace Academy of the Arts
A true example of hard work paying off, Bev Ford started at the Marion Palace Theatre selling tickets part time and worked her way up the ranks. She is now the executive director and has an impressive list of professional achievements.
Since 2000, Ford has written numerous grants for the theatre and secured $1.7 million in grant funding. She is currently working to raise over $1M to re-roof the historic theatre in 2020; and was instrumental in the planning, fundraising and oversight of a $1.8 million dollar renovation to deteriorating façade and marquees. Ford administered the installation of the digital projection system, retirement of the May Pavilion debt, successful expansion of local productions in programming including summer musicals, adult stage plays, junior musicals, junior plays, dinner theatres, and showcasing hometown musicians and improv performers in the Pavilion.
Under Ford’s leadership the addition of the Palace Academy of the Arts Program began, $32,000 grant funds were secured from PNC (bank) Arts Alive to take the Academy on the road in the summer of 2020, working with the Marion City School’s summer feeding program, to reach underserved youth. Palace Cultural Arts Association (PCAA) membership has continued to grow under her direction.
A Credentialed Minister, Ford and truly “walks the walk” of diving in and getting involved in our community to make it a better place. She is currently a member of the Marion Rotary Club (past board member and numerous committees), Marion Area Convention & Visitors Bureau Board Member, PCAA Member since 2010, Americans For The Arts Member, former Downtown Marion Board Member, former Marion Goodwill Board Member, and she was recognized by Modern Woodmen of America as a Hometown Hero in 2015.
Ford and her husband, Doug, are proud of their work with the Royal Family Kids Camp in Marion, where she also served as a board member from 2002-2008. Together, they worked in the start-up of the camp which is designed to create life-changing moments for children of abuse, continues to operate in Marion today.
Nominator Nikki Workman said, “I also have felt the embrace of Bev’s support, leadership, and visionary-take on Marion’s future. Bev reached out to the Marion County Board of Developmental Disabilities because she wanted to be sure everyone in the community would be able to enjoy the Palace. She began to research ‘sensory friendly’ events and entertainment and now designates a movie time to being sensory-friendly for each family movie held at the Palace. She has continually asked us, ‘How can I help?’ and ‘How can we make the Palace more inclusive for those served by MCBDD?’”
Marion County Federation of Women’s Clubs, Inc.
Nominated by: Nancy E. Hafer
Non-profit donation choice: Marion County Federation of Women’s Clubs, Inc.
Sharol Herr is a 1974 Graduate of the Mt. Carmel School of Nursing, Columbus Ohio; in 1987 Graduated Magna Cum Laude Capital University, Bachelor of Science in Nursing; was a 1995 Honors Graduate of the University of Dayton, Master of Science in Education, Social Agency Counseling; and received her Certification as a Hospice and Palliative Care Nurse in 1995. Her nursing career spanned 40 years and practiced in the areas of Critical Care, Education and Administration. The pinnacle of Herr’s nursing career was the 25 years she spent in the field of Hospice and Palliative Care assuring that patients with advanced illness were cared for holistically with attention to not only the body, but mind and spirit.
Herr was a founding member of an interdisciplinary team and national initiative … a team that trained over 200 programs from across the country in developing Palliative Care Services. The Mt. Carmel site was only one of six in the nation approved to train and mentor other programs.
Under her leadership, Herr’s tireless effort and advocacy has brought new life to the Marion County Federation of Women’s Clubs. The membership has grown about three-fold in five years, and has become a diverse group of women from across the county. Her vision for the organization to become more relevant in the community has guided Herr to collaborate with 19 other non-profits in the community. Herr’s leadership as a steward of the Women’s Club Home has included obtaining grants to improve the parking lot and accessibility for those with disabilities; obtaining grants for new chairs; stabilizing donor base; replacement of the antique heating system with a successful “Turn Up The Heat” fundraiser raising $22k; created a network of gardeners to improve the landscaping; led historical research efforts to obtain State and National Historical site designation for the facility and club; increased programming open to the public to educate on the accomplishment of significant women in history, including women of Marion County; established public tours of The Club Home; collaborated with Marion County Bicentennial Committee; and more.
Nancy Hafer, who has known Herr for over 50 years and submitted her nomination, said, “Sharol can often be heard saying that when we empower and enrich the lives of women, we are also doing the same for families and the community. She is a visionary who is full of hope and optimism for women and families in the community and pours her passions into critical thinking for creative actions and solutions.”
Marion Matters, Inc.
Nominated by: Tom Stotts and Annette Walton
Non-profit donation choice: Marion Matters, Inc.
Six years ago Heidi Jones made the decision to leave a successful career and take on the leadership role for a fledging nonprofit, Marion Matters, Inc. Using her creativity and initiative, Jones has found a way to triple the fiscal resources of the organization and has increased the support staff to help meet the needs of the 350-plus graduates of the Getting Ahead process. By holding each Getting Ahead graduates accountable to the goals they have set for themselves, she enables them to build their resources, stabilize their circumstances, and sustain themselves and their families to break the struggles of poverty.
In 2016, Jones expanded the concepts of Getting Ahead to school aged young adults by garnering the support of Rotary for a three-year grant to support the R-Rules Training Series. This learning option will be offered as a for credit course for students in the EXCEL Program at Harding High School.
Her most recognized achievement took place in 2017 with the creation of the first Employee Resource Network (ERN) in Ohio. The ERN is a low-cost, shared resource to help improve employee retention and productivity. It reduces the demands on the organization’s HR and management staff and saves corporations money through improved staff retention rates. It provides a confidential onsite Success Coach to be a direct conduit to social services, working with employees to eliminate barriers such as: attendance, job performance, financial debt, transportation, workplace conflict, childcare, housing, family challenges, and substance abuse … all of which can be obstacles to job retention and productivity. Not only does the ERN benefit those in our community, but it is a model that is being implemented in other cities in Ohio, and Marion Matters is providing consulting services to these communities.
Over 80% of the 350+ Graduates of the Getting Ahead Program are women, many of them single parents who are working to obtain the knowledge and skills to stabilize their lives and households. Marion Matters provides each of these women access to resources and a sense of hope, enabling them to steady their environments and create a positive home for their children. One of the women Jones has supported has co-authored the book Getting Ahead When Getting Out, and has been invited to present at the Bridges Out of Poverty National Conference four times. Another Getting Ahead graduate is the program coordinator for Marion Matters.
Nominated by Tom Stotts and Annette Walton, they indicated, “Heidi has demonstrated an ‘above and beyond attitude’ approach when it comes to addressing poverty in the Marion community. Poverty not only affects people individually, poverty affects families, education, employment and our community.” They continued, “When it comes right down to it, Heidi is passionate at what she does. Marion Matters is not only her job and career, it is her mission.”
Marion Public Health
Nominated by: Tyler Pigman
Non-profit donation choice: Heart of Ohio Homeless Shelter
Traci Kinsler rose through the ranks at Marion Public Health to become the Health Commissioner of Marion County. She began as the Emergency Preparedness Coordinator. During this role she led the agency through a pivotal time during the H1N1 pandemic. Marion County had one of the most efficient emergency clinics in the state of Ohio. While other counties were labeled for having lines with people waiting outside for hours, Marion County had the right amount of staff who were also well trained so people could go through the clinics quickly leading to an adequately vaccinated population to stop the spread of the dangerous flue in Marion County.
When the Marion City and County Health department merged in 2010, in the midst of the most challenging time for our local public health system, Kinsler took on the expanded role of Administrator and changed the directory of public health service in Marion County. She took Marion Public Health from a reactive health department to a proactive role. Kinsler also focused on employee morale after a contentious merger, and balanced the budget leading the agency to financial stability.
One of her biggest accomplishments was leading Marion Public Health through health department accreditation. While getting accredited was a group effort, Kinsler was the guiding force who organized meetings, staff members, and documents to assure Marion Public Health would pass the site visit. In fact, they were one of only 20% of the counties in Ohio who were accredited.
Kinsler was promoted this year to the role of Health Commissioner. She is currently leading a Community Health Assessment to determine what the biggest health priorities in the Marion area are.
Kinsler has a Juris Doctor degree from Valparaiso University and recently received a Certificate in Public Health.
Tyler Pigman who nominated Kinsler stated, “Ms. Kinsler is an example for women in this community that if you are born here, are educated here, and work here, you can be a pinnacle leader in Marion. Ms. Kinsler is a woman who has shown commitment to the Marion community and I think it is important to celebrate our own homegrown leaders.” He continued, “It is extremely hard to capture how much Ms. Kinsler means to this agency. In her interactions with the staff and public each day, she believe in the best in people and motivates them to be a better person.”
Advisor, Philanthropy and Volunteer Services
OhioHealth Marion General Hospital
Nominated by: Doris Schwartz
Non-profit donation choice: Downtown Marion, Inc.
As advisor of volunteer services for more than 15 years, Beth Meadows has sustained and enhanced a program that today boasts nearly 200 volunteers who contribute more than 22,000 hours of time each year to Marion General Hospital. Additionally, she supports the work of seven TWIG organizations who collectively host 14 fundraising events, operate two full-time gift shops, and contribute back to the hospital over $100,000 each year to purchase equipment, pay for services and support continued education.
Along with her work as advisor of volunteers, Meadows also is the advisor for philanthropy for the Marion General Hospital Foundation. In this capacity she works to develop a donor base that allows the foundation to support the work of the hospital through patient support, associate scholarships, building improvements, medical equipment purchases, and community support. Since the 1990s, the Marion General Hospital has contributed over $1,000,000 toward the establishment and operation of the Center Street Community Health Center and has contributed tens of thousands more to other organizations who have like-minded missions as that of the hospital “to improve the health of those we serve.”
Meadows has dedicated her life in service to her church, Family Life Church, having served as teacher at nearly every level; serves on the worship band, and is active in small groups. As a daughter of the founders, Meadows has spent her entire life serving the church family of Family Life Church. Beth gives significant time providing occasional pre-marital counseling, family and parenting coaching, helping to lead as a vocalist on the worship team and serving as counsel for the vision and future of the ministry
In her role as Downtown Marion’s president since 2013, Meadows has not only provided opportunities for men and women to become community advocates, but, has been an exemplary example that there are no boundaries, no limits, if one has a dream and a vision and has proven that we become unstoppable. The strides and successes recognized and acknowledged today and the steady incline that continues to be made in downtown Marion are a direct result of the forbearance and perseverance of Meadows. And her vision is not just for Downtown Marion, but for the entire community as we work together to have vision become “reality”.
“In conclusion,” said Doris Swartz who nominated Meadows, “one could say that Beth is the ‘queen’ of volunteerism at MGH, but as a volunteer for Downtown Marion Inc, one can definitely say “Volunteers do not necessarily have the time, they just have the heart’”. (author unknown)
Director of Communications
Tri-Rivers Career Center
Nominated by: Diane Watson and Tammi Cowell
Non-profit donation choice: Explore-It-Torium
Ellen Messenger has been Director of Communications for Tri-Rivers Career Center since 1990, and has directed a multitude of marketing projects while overseeing all public relations aspects of the career center. That includes coordinating internal and external marketing (both high school and adult education), as well as that of RAMTEC.
Messenger created the overall look and feel of what you see when you view the “brand” of Tri-Rivers Career Center. The consistency with the marketing, across the board — websites, social media, signage, photos, brochures, recruiting and retention materials, course of study initiatives, etc. — has the vibrancy of a place where a student wants to learn and be a part of succeeding. Messenger created the slogan “Tri-Rivers. A School Where You Are ALLOWED to, INSPIRED to, and EXPECTED to BE AMAZING!”
Not one to “just fill” a seat on a board or committee, Messenger is known to take an active role in helping make things happen where and when needed. Marion County celebrates its 200th birthday in 2020, and Messenger has been instrumental in the Marion County Bicentennial Committee.
This same commitment is demonstrated as Chair of the Marion Area Convention & Visitors Bureau Board, as a Marion Noon Kiwanis board member (2010-present), the Marion County Children’s Services Board (2000-present), the MarionMade initiative (2016-present), and she has taken an active role in the Workforce Development Committee (2017-present) in a partnership with The Ohio State University at Marion and Marion Technical College.
Nominated by both Tammi Cowell and Diane Watson, Cowell said, “Ellen has been demonstrating excellence, creativity, and initiative in her profession as a marketer and community engager with career technical education and the Marion area for over 30 years. She devotes an immense amount of time and energy to improve the quality of life for members of the Marion community including the students she serves at Tri-Rivers Career Center. When I think of this award I think of Ellen Messenger because of her professional accomplishments, her devotion to the Marion community, and the manner in which she has always made herself available to help other women reach their full leadership potential by encouraging them to get involved in the Marion community through the various charitable organizations.
Watson echoed those sentiments, Ellen’s passion in life is always to give 100%. I have never seen her do less. She is one of those people that you are assured will just plain get the job done. Period. End of story. If she volunteers to take on a task or join a committee, she is not doing it to pad a resume; she’s doing it because she genuinely sees the need to make a difference.”
Voice of Hope Family Pregnancy Crisis Center
Nominated by: Lisa Bush
Non-profit donation choice: Voice of Hope Family Pregnancy Crisis Center
Barbara Mills became the Executive Director for Voice of Hope (VOH) in September 2016. Since her time at VOH, she has expanded the ministry outreach, ministry departments and created new positions to employ passionate women.
VOH offers help to mothers facing unplanned pregnancies, as well as women experiencing a plannedpregnancy with an unplanned life. VOH strives to meet the needs of every women with the goal in mind to offset anxieties caused by parenting (planned or unplanned). The VOH program equips mothers with education, community connections, resources, and mentors to guide them in their journey of building a healthy family and future as a mother. At the close of 2015, VOH completed over 600 appointments in all three locations (Marion, Wyandot and Crawford counties). VOH now holds over 1,000 appointments at these locations each year and growing.
Mills believes being pro-life means to not only be “fetus focused,” but person focused. This is what she calls being “Pro-Life for Life”. VOH will be pro-life for the life of the person from conception until natural death by focusing concerns of the mother and what she is experiencing, and sharing a loving, judgment-free environment that will enable her to make the choice that will be a lasting comfort.
This endeavor inspired Mills to develop a program to assist families whose crisis reach beyond the positive pregnancy test. Such as, families who haven’t had the parental training, community connections or mentors guiding them with positive parenting techniques; and have had their children either removed from their home or are at risk of that happening.
This program, 3 P’s of Empowerment, was developed from Mill’s experience as a foster parent working with families striving for restoration. The 3P’s are Partnership, Plan, and Project. Parents are encouraged to take ownership of this journey and partner with Children Services, VOH and other community organizations; develop a visible plan based on the reunification case plan, and project themselves in the future in a positive way and plan past the situation.
Nominator Lisa Bush said, “It is an honor to nominate Barbara as an Athena nominee for the 2020 nomination. As a board member of Voice of Hope, I have witnessed Barbara demonstrate excellence, creativity, and initiative in her profession. She leads Voice of Hope in providing valuable services to Marion, Wyandot and Crawford counties by devoting her time and energy to improve the quality of life for others. She is absolutely in pursuit of helping women reach their full leadership potential.”