The YWCA of Greater Cincinnati is honoring eight women for their leadership, community service, and professional success.
The 43rd annual Career Women of Achievement award recognizes those who embody the mission of the YWCA and have been outstanding role models.
“The women recognized each year by YWCA have always been catalysts for change in their companies and the community,” said Career Women of Achievement Co-Chair Jodi Geiser. “Each of these accomplished women has done much toward fulfilling the YWCA’s mission and have embodied the motto lift as you climb.”
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About the honorees:
Jennifer Davis, President of Global Feminine Care, Procter & Gamble
Davis leads Procter & Gamble’s multi-billion dollar global feminine care business, which serves women and girls in nearly 120 countries. She has been recognized for her mission to increase girls’ access to menstrual products.
Davis is incredibly passionate about the role global social impact programs can play in society, such as the award-winning Always #LikeAGirl campaign. She wants to leverage her voice and position toward centering conversations on the additional challenges women of color face—while also celebrating their impact and amplifying the collective work being done.
“The realization that I didn’t accomplish anything alone is what inspires me to help others find their calling, develop their strengths, overcome obstacles, and have equal opportunity,” Davis said.
Chandra Matthews-Smith, Chief Community Engagement Officer, United Way of Greater Cincinnati
Matthews-Smith oversees community engagement for nine counties, including Hamilton County and several counties in Northern Kentucky, Eastern Ohio, and Southeast Indiana. Much of her strategic thinking stems from work in a similar position at Hamilton County Job & Family Services and her 21 years at Beech Acres Parenting Center.
She is known for cultivating trust, collaborative relationships, solid networks, and communication with grassroots organizations. Her nominators describe Matthews-Smith as humble, tenacious, and compassionate about those she serves.
“She has a natural heart to help others. The way she engages communities and helps families is to create the conditions for individual empowerment, creating ways for individuals to see and tap into their inner strength,” her nominators wrote.
Nerissa E. Morris, Senior Vice President , Chief Human Resources and Diversity Officer, Cincinnati Children’s
Morris is the first Black leader at the senior vice president level at Cincinnati Children’s. She has answered the call to serve, lead, mentor, and pave the way for others.
Morris came to Cincinnati Children’s with a world-class resume that included global and national expertise across various industries, having served in senior leadership positions at the University of Miami, Ford Motor Company, and Volvo Car Corporation.
Such experience led to Morris’s current role overseeing a staff that serves over 16,000 employees, a $325 million budget. In her role, Morris focuses on transformative initiatives such as raising the minimum wage, structuring career pathways, strengthening culture, establishing diversity, equity, and inclusion as a top leadership priority.
Elizabeth Pierce, President and CEO, Cincinnati Museum Center
Pierce is the first woman to lead the Cincinnati Museum Center in 200 years. She oversees a $16 million operating budget, 150 employees, and collections containing more than three million items.
Pierce guided the successful Union Terminal sales tax campaign and a $230 million historic preservation effort. While striving to maintain a diverse board and workforce, she propelled Cincinnati to America’s forefront as a national resource for the American Alliance of Museums Facing Change: Advancing Board Diversity & Inclusion Initiative.
“Equity in the workplace is about recognizing and working to remove race and gender-based disparities that have prevented people from fully realizing opportunities for growth, promotion, and advancement. It is also about helping all parts of the organization understand what/where improvements can be made and how they may be supportive,” Pierce said.
Regina Carswell Russo, Founder/CEO, RRight Now Communications
Russo is an award-winning journalist. For15 years, she was the only Black female anchor on Fox19. Regina continued to be a trailblazer following her TV career as the first Black woman to head communications at the Cincinnati Art Museum and then at the Contemporary Art Center.
When the region needed a coordinated strategy to communicate safety issues surrounding the COVID pandemic, she led the effort by establishing the Regional COVID Communications Center.
“I never ask anyone to do something I’m not willing to do myself. I bring my authentic self to the work I do. I believe in work/life integration. I’m relentlessly curious, a disrupter of the status quo, and I always trust my instincts, believing that anything that is worth doing is worth doing with excellence,” Russo said.
Jeanne Schroer, President & CEO, Catalytic Development Funding Corp of Northern Kentucky
Schroer is one of the Tri-State’s premier authorities on all facets of commercial real estate. Her expertise includes project financing, lender/investor relations, project valuation, and capital acquisition.
Before her current role as the founding President & CEO of the Catalytic Fund, she held senior management positions with Corporex. She significantly impacted its early growth with its developments along the Covington riverfront and its hotels, office buildings, sports clubs, and industrial parks.
Schroer leads the Catalytic Fund, a community development financial institution that brings non-traditional growth capital to communities and under-used buildings. Its revitalization projects impacted the quality of life for residents and created an economic boost for the region.
“My ten years of time teaching at UC as well as my current volunteer involvement teaching in the Real Estate Accelerator Lab has been my way of preparing the next generation of real estate professionals, which hopefully includes increasing the numbers of females and people of color,” Schroer said.
Melissa Stevens, Chief Digital Officer, Head of Digital and Marketing, Fifth Third Bank
In her role, Stevens leads the transformation and growth of the digital banking experience for customers, employees, communities, and shareholders while enhancing the bank’s brand and putting customers at the center.
Stevens holds degrees in business administration, labor relations, human resources, English, and psychology. These focus areas were intentional because of her relentless appetite to understand people, be an exceptional communicator, and understand the intricacies of running a business.
As one of few female executives at the bank, Stevens works to help women advance. She is focused on diversity and inclusion not because it’s good business but because she believes it’s right. She regularly speaks to employee groups internally and externally and engages with the bank’s Women’s, Young Professionals, LGBTQ+, and other business resource groups.
Kristen Hall Wevers, SVP, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, UC Health
Wevers is the first woman to join the executive team at UC Health. In her role, she leads brand strategy, marketing, communications, market research, consumer insights, and business development outreach. She manages a $14 million operating budget and a team of over 40 people.
Wevers led the launch of the first UC Health brand platform called “In Science Lives Hope.” Her team has been recognized for leading statewide communications during the COVID-19 pandemic in coordination with the Governor’s office and worldwide press coverage when Cincinnati native Otto Warmbier was transported to UC Health for care after imprisonment in North Korea.
Wevers has been actively committed to mentoring others, eliminating discrimination, and promoting equality throughout her career. She has leveraged her leadership positions to support and advance company supply chain goals to buy from women-owned and minority-owned businesses. Her commitment extends to ensuring her team represents the community it serves.