Saturday, March 20, 2004

Eight women broke barriers

'Hard work, ability, exceeding expectations ... pay off'

By John Eckberg
The Cincinnati Enquirer

It's vital for women executives to fill their "credibility bucket" every day, says Diane L. Dewbrey, a senior vice president at Fifth Third Bank and a 2004 YWCA Career Woman of Achievement.

"I think of it this way. Every time you do something right, another coin goes into the bucket. As you build it up, you gain respect and responsibility," she says. "Hard work, ability, exceeding expectations and talent eventually pay off."

For winner Anita Ellis, director of curatorial affairs and curator of decorative arts at the Cincinnati Art Museum, success is not that much of a secret. It's a continuum marked by periods of inquisitiveness, introspection and, finally, insight.

"You get into a field based on curiosity," Ellis says, "trying to piece together puzzles of information to give you insight into history, culture, sociology and even economics.

"You want to see how they come together. I think it's probably true for many fields."

Ellis, Dewbrey and six other women from Greater Cincinnati will be honored May 14 at the YWCA Salute to Career Women of Achievement luncheon at the Albert B. Sabin Cincinnati Convention Center.

Ashley Trotter, a Walnut Hills High School senior, is the Mamie Earl Sells Scholarship Award winner for 2004. She receives $2,000 to use at any university.

Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and writer Ellen Goodman will be keynote speaker. Honorees were chosen from more than 100 nominations by an independent panel of judges. Tickets for the event are available from the YWCA at 241-7090.

"Many have broken barriers and probably faced a lot of obstacles, and usually that's a consideration when judges look at candidates for this award," said Charlene Ventura, president and chief executive of the YWCA of Greater Cincinnati. "I think it's a stellar group."

Winner Sharon D. Johnson, principal at Withrow University High School, believes achievement usually follows passion. "It is what drives you," Johnson says.

While educators may not be mindful of profit-and-loss statements, balance sheets and inventory, supply channels and marketing opportunities, like most executives educators keep a keen eye on the future.

"We're not always paid what we're worth, but the reward is the difference we're making in the lives of others," Johnson says.

Honoree Dr. Yvette Casey-Hunter, chief medical officer for the Winton Hills and West End health centers, found her calling while working for the Peace Corps in M'Backe, Senegal, West Africa, and later in Boston, while employed as a regional liaison officer to the national Center for Health Services Research and Development.

"What really makes me go and gives me my greatest satisfaction is to see young people grow into successful, productive adults and citizens," she says.

The daughter of Cincinnatians Dr. Edmund C. Casey and community advocate Liliane W. Casey, she came to the West End clinic two years ago as a pediatrician.

Her experiences in service and medicine now lead her to take a broader view of her field and her career. She credits her family for much of it. "Without family support and understanding, you cannot achieve anything," she says.

For honoree Nancy L. Zimpher, president of the University of Cincinnati, management insights about team-building, mentoring and productivity closely parallel lessons learned while teaching multiple grades back in a one-room classroom in Missouri in 1971.

"There was a garage door running down the middle of the room," she says, "so it was actually a two-room school, but we would sometimes open that door and put all eight grades into one room."

More than 30 years removed from that classroom in the Ozarks, Zimpher is still in education as the president of a major American university.

There are lessons for women - and men - in that career path, too, she says. "Careers are less planned than one might have expected."


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