Career Women of Achievement Luncheon

YWCA 2018 Annual Career Women of Achievement


Wednesday, May 9, 2018, 11:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Duke Energy Convention Center

Sponsorship Benefits 

2017 Sponsors

Full Listing of Past Honorees

Past Keynote Speakers



The YWCA Career Women of Achievement Luncheon was established in 1980 to increase community awareness and appreciation of the diverse contributions of women in the work force and in the community. The luncheon has evolved into the YWCA's largest fundraising event, sponsored by 150 companies and organizations each year, with an attendance of over 2,100. All proceeds directly benefit YWCA programs, supporting its mission to eliminate racism and empower women.

Upwards of 75 women are nominated to be Career Women of Achievement each year. An independent panel of 5 community leaders selects women who exemplify personal career success, dynamic leadership qualities and the unique ability to serve as role models. Former honorees include artists, physicians, educators, executives, politicians, lawyers, human service workers, entrepreneurs, and law enforcement officers.


 YWCA 2017 Annual Career Women of Achievement




2017 Career Women of Achievement Honorees
Front: Dr. Shantel Thomas, Sonia Jackson Myles, Lisa Knutson, Patty Brisben
Rear: Sister Sally Duffy, SC, Dr. Peggy Hostetter, Chiquita V. White, Julia W. Poston


 Mary Miller, Co-Chair, Hope Felton-Miller, Board Chair, Robin Givens,
Barbara Perez, President/CEO, Liza Smitherman, Co-Chair 



Malika Muhammad, Mamie Earl Sells Scholar, Robin Givens, RahShawn Hill, Charlotte R. Schmidlapp Scholar 


2017 Honorees & Scholar Bios





Robin Givens began her acting career in 1985 with an appearance on the Cosby Show. The following year, she landed her breakthrough role as Darlene Merriman on the hit ABC series Head of the Class (1986-1991). In 1989, she co-starred with Oprah Winfrey in the miniseries The Women of Brewster Place. Givens then starred in several back-to-back movies including a critically acclaimed starring role in A Rage In Harlem (1991) with Forest Whitaker, Danny Glover & Gregory Hines; Boomerang opposite Eddie Murphy in 1992; Foreign Student (1992) and Blankman with Damon Wayans and David Alan Grier (1994).

In 2008, Givens worked with Tyler Perry on his film The Family That Preys with Kathy Bates and on his TBS series House of Payne. She also had a recurring role on USA Network’s Burn Notice.

Givens’ extensive stage acting included a successful stint on Broadway in the leading role of Roxie Hart in the Broadway production of Chicago and in the Off-Broadway production of The Vagina Monologues. Robin recently garnered rave reviews and the coveted ‘Image Award’ for her starring role in the acclaimed production of Blues for an Alabama Sky.

She has written and directed her very own Original Musical Joy in the Morning. This uplifting theatrical experience with soul stirring music convinces audiences that there truly can be…Hope after Heartbreak. The message of Hope is not new to Robin Givens. In 2007, she published her first book, Grace Will Lead Me Home which will be re-released with an updated forward this Spring.



Mary Miller is the CEO and co-owner, of JANCOA Janitorial Services, Inc., an award-winning, certified WBE that is a family operated, commercial cleaning service located in Cincinnati. Mary is known for her optimism and desire to help others realize their uniqueness and personal power. Through JANCOA’s renowned employee benefits program, the Dream Manager, she has created an exceptional work environment. The Dream Manager, popularized by the bestselling book by Matthew Kelly, under the same name, grew from an employee retention program into an encouraging example of what a business can be. As CEO, Mary has driven the company’s success and exponential growth. Mary believes success came when she stopped selling and started caring…and that’s really the core of who she is.

Mary has gained an international following as a popular speaker advocating for everyone to change direction and focus on their dreams, both personal and professional. As author of Changing Direction, she strives to stay on a path of positivity and determination while continuing to achieve her dreams and inspire others to reach for theirs.

In addition to running a business with more than 500 full-time employees, Mary is an associate coach for Strategic Coach, where she works with fellow entrepreneurs on work-life balance, growth and enjoying the process.

Mary enjoys sharing her vision and inspiration by actively participating in many industry, business and nonprofit organizations, including the YWCA.
Two of Mary's recent achievements include being a YWCA Career Woman of Achievement in 2013 and a 2015 Enterprising Women of the Year honoree.



Liza D. Smitherman, Vice President of Professional Development for Jostin Construction, Inc. and Partner in Brewster Pumping, LLC, is a graduate of Bowling Green State University with a B.S. in Education and a M. Ed. in Counseling from Xavier University.

She joined Jostin Construction, formerly Jostin Concrete Construction in 1998, in partnership with her husband in their first generation, family-owned business. Jostin provides construction management, general contracting, general trades, pump, place, finish and total package services to construction managers, general contractors and owners. At that time, Liza provided basic accounting and financial support to the company.

As the business grew, she shifted her attention to providing knowledgeable leadership in the planning and directing of programs for all human resource areas within the company including employment, employee relations, compensation, training and development, benefits administration, and equal employment opportunity. She also facilitates the development of policies and programs to meet Jostin’s organizational needs.

In 2005, Liza took a primary role in the start-up of Brewster Pumping, LLC, a subsidiary of Jostin Construction. Brewster Pumping performs concrete pumping services for Jostin Construction as well as other clients within its regional market. Liza directs and coordinates the day to day activities of the business as well as provides direction toward establishing and implementing short and long term goals.

Liza is active in community organizations, serving as a member of the Board of Trustees for City Gospel Mission, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and Cincinnati Children’s Foundation. Liza’s passion with both local and national workforce issues has allowed her the opportunity to also serve on the board of the National Skills Coalition, a broad-based coalition that seeks to raise the skills of America’s workers across a range of industries. She is also a member of the steering committee for Business Leaders United for Workforce Partnerships. Locally, Liza is a member of the Leadership Council for Partners for a Competitive Workforce and co-chair of the Construction Industry Partnership Team.


Watch Past Honoree, Scholar and YWCA videos.


Want to learn more about volunteer opportunities for this event? Email Sophia 





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