Sunday, February 22, 2004

Local aims, global goals

Chamber's incoming chairwoman plans to help region become more international, inclusive

By Cliff Peale
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Janet Reid, incoming chairwoman of the Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce, will be the first woman, the first African-American and one of only a few small business owners to head the region's largest business group.
The Cincinnati Enquirer/MEGGAN BOOKER

The Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce hasn't taken a position on the proposed repeal of Article XII, the Cincinnati charter section that prohibits the city from passing a gay-rights law.

But Janet Reid, who will become the chamber's chairwoman in ceremonies Thursday night, has an opinion.

"I'm for the repeal," said Reid. "For me, this is beyond a religious argument. This is about how you treat people."

Reid, 49, is rarely short of opinions or the determination to succeed. She built her consulting firm, Global Lead Management Consulting, after a decade of work at Procter & Gamble Co. Global Lead employs about 40 workers at its headquarters in Roselawn and offices in Baltimore and Philadelphia.

And as presiding officer of the chamber's board of trustees, she'll express her sentiments as the first woman, the first African-American and one of only a few small business owners to lead the region's largest business group.

Position: Managing partner and co-founder, Global Lead Management Consulting in Roselawn, and incoming chairwoman, Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce.
Age: 49.
Resides: Amberley Village.
Family: Divorced, two children.
Education: Bachelor of science degree in chemistry from Howard University, 1975, Ph.D. in chemistry from Howard, 1979.
Career: Ten years with Procter & Gamble Co., 1980-1990. Formed J.B. Reid & Associates, which eventually became Global Lead.
Board memberships: Xavier University, Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority, YWCA.
"You don't have the same deference now," the Amberley Village resident said of her views on the importance of an active role in the community. "People don't say, 'I'm so glad to be here. I'm just going to shut my mouth.' The model now is not the command-and-control model. It's a community piece that really does involve community."

The chamber chair leads the organization's board, and board members said Reid's selection could be an important symbol in what has been a power base for the region's business community.

Tom Cody, an executive vice president at Federated Department Stores who has served with Reid on several boards and worked with Global Lead, said she has a blend of corporate and small-business experience that not many chamber board chairs have possessed.

"I can approach a small to mid-sized business from an intellectual perspective, but I can't bring experience to the table," Cody said. "She really is a big-picture person who is solutions-oriented. She'll come in and say, 'Here's the way you can approach this to add value,' " he said.

Beyond the chamber's core functions of adding member services and growing the regional economy, Reid has some goals she'd like to see the 6,000-member organization tackle.

She wants to make Greater Cincinnati a more international region, from more welcoming international images at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport to teaching more foreign languages in local schools.

She said her two grown children - "I've dragged them all over the world" - probably wouldn't want to return to live in Cincinnati because the city focuses too much on itself, and not enough on other cultures.

"We need to talk to more people about the power of the global economy," she said. "We need to ensure that young people being educated in this region go overseas. Companies are looking for a stable economy and good workers. In about 10 years, they'll also be looking for people who understand cultures other than their own."

Reid said it is important for the chamber to reflect the more diverse Greater Cincinnati. The group has made strides in that direction with its board of trustees, including participation by more small-business owners, women and minorities, she said.

"Diversity is having different types of people around the table," she said. "We need inclusion. If people aren't heard and thoughts aren't equally valued, then you don't have inclusion."


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