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What a pleasure to be at the YWCA 18th Annual Milestones: A Tribute to Women March 14 at SeaGate Centre. I know all of this year's honorees in one way or another. The place sparkled as guests networked in a room full of community leaders and many past honorees.
Emcee Diane Larson of WTVG-TV, Channel 13 and a 2008 honoree, announced 2013's exceptional women of northwest Ohio. But not before Lisa McDuffie, president and CEO, explained how the YWCA strives to eliminate racism and empower women via programs such as Battered Women's Shelter, a child care resource and referral, a breast cancer program for early detection, a healthy lifestyle program, a rape crisis hot line, youth development programs, and a permanent housing program.
The Milestones awards were created in 1996 to recognize extraordinary women leaders of northwest Ohio. Presenting sponsor ProMedica was represented by Barbara Steele, systems integration president and a 2004 honoree, who said these women have lived "a life of purpose, passion, intent, and integrity."
The 2013 Milestones honorees are:
Carolyn M. Putney — Arts. She is the Toledo Museum of Art's first female chief curator.
Linda Brown-Ewing — Business. She is a mentor in financial literacy for Toledo Public Schools students, for the under-banked population, and for small business owners.
Janet H. Robinson — Education. She is interim president of Lourdes University who said thanks to all mentors for sharing, caring, and supporting education.
Teresa Fedor — Government. Ms. Fedor (D., Toledo), a state representative, Air Force veteran, and former schoolteacher, was credited for her help in fighting human trafficking.
Dr. Anne Towey Ruch — Sciences. She is co-founder of SewHope for global health care and education.
Wanda Jean Butts — Social Services. She turned tragedy onto triumph when she started a nonprofit swimming program for minority children and adults after her son Josh drowned at the age of 16.
Patricia Kirchner Appold — Volunteerism. Mrs. Appold is president of the Oliver House Development Company, president of the Library Legacy Foundation of the Toledo Lucas County Public Library, a charter member of Women's Initiative of the United Way, a founder of the Boys and Girls Clubs Ladies for the Clubs, and an advisory board member of the Mud Hens.
The event netted $80,000 for the YWCA's programs.
Thanks go to the event chairman Barbara Vaughn and her committee, which included board chairman Sally DePerro, a 2007 honoree.
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Stranahan Great Hall was filled to the brim early on the morning of March 15 for the ninth annual "Connect for Leadership" Leadership Toledo Community Fund-raising Breakfast.
Leadership Toledo, founded in 1980, is about "Leading community involvement. Engaging today, impacting tomorrow." The intense nine-month program identifies the needs of the community, creates solutions, and implements them via the participants to prepare them for active and informed community involvement.
More than 1,300 adults and nearly 700 youth have graduated from Leadership Toledo programs.
Event chairman Bill Garbe of Fifth Third Bank said he is proud of Toledo with its vibrant past and limitless future. As a 2004 graduate of the program, he said he was surprised at how much he learned about Toledo and the community, even though he grew up in West Toledo and attended St. Francis de Sales High School and the University of Toledo.
A testimonial from Jenny Kim, a Notre Dame Academy student and 2012 member of the program, was outstanding. She said leadership comes from a passion about others and coming together as a community.
Sara Best of Aly Sterling Philanthropy, and a 2008 graduate, introduced her son Noah, a St. Francis de Sales student who is in the 2013 class of Youth Leadership Toledo. Then the more than 50 members of the 2013 class received kudos.
There was a lineup of youth and adults to receive hugs from special guest Phyllis Romick, Leadership Toledo's administrative assistant who retired after 19 years of service. She touched a lot of lives during her tenure, and she is dear to many.
A special guest was former University of Toledo and Canadian Football League star Chuck Ealey, founder of the Chuck Ealey Foundation to establish mentoring programs at local schools.
He teamed up with Leadership Toledo for an Undefeated Spirit essay contest that will give three $1,000 scholarships to area high school seniors. Ten football players and 10 girls basketball players are the finalists. The winner will be announced during a ceremony April 16 at the UT Driscoll Alumni Center.
The goal of $75,000 is nearly met. The proceeds go toward the operation of youth programs, to keep them free of charge.