2017 Honorees

2017 Career Women of Achievement Luncheon
May 10, 2017


Duke Energy Convention Center 

Career Women of Achievement Luncheon

Learn About Sponsorship Opportunities

2017 Luncheon Sponsors



Patty Brisben

Founder & Chairwoman, Pure Romance

As a single mother of four, Patty Brisben launched her business out of the family basement 24 years ago. Filled with determination to succeed amidst naysayers about her choice of business, she grew Pure Romance into the largest direct seller of relationship enhancement products in the world. Patty refused to allow others to define or limit her. Instead, she created a new paradigm. Patty centered her message on the quest for women to better understand their bodies, health and relationships. Pure Romance parties offer a safe, confidential setting for discussion. Currently 30,000 consultants represent her products across the globe. To further her commitment to women’s health Patty founded the Patty Brisben Foundation for Women’s Sexual Health in 2006.

Says nominator and fellow entrepreneur Donna Salyers, “Patty has taken a sensitive subject and presented and marketed it with great respect and class. Her amazing personal achievements have changed the lives of women around the world, enabling them to gain financial independence, benefitting not just individuals but their families and communities.”

Pearl of Wisdom
“Stay a student, it will benefit you in all facets of life.”


  • The Patty Brisben Foundation for Women’s Sexual Health was founded by Patty in 2006. It partners with universities and research organizations to study sexual dysfunction and disorders. The Foundation has raised $3.5 million
  • Last year Pure Romance generated $200 million in annual sales as the second largest female owned business in Cincinnati
  • Patty is the author of “Pure Romance Between the Sheets.” It offers vital sexual health information, relationship advice and the most commonly asked questions stemming from her days as a Pure Romance consultant. She also collaborated with Dr. Keri Peterson on the e-book, “Sexy Ever After: Intimacy Post-Cancer.”
  • Member, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park Board of Directors
  • Adopter of a class at William Howard Taft Elementary School, Mt. Auburn
  • Guest Lecturer at Yale University, The Ohio State University, University of Cincinnati, University of Kentucky, Purdue University and Indiana University



Sister Sally Duffy, SC

President & Executive Director, SC Ministry Foundation

Few people know that Sister Sally began her career as an Olympic-caliber basketball player and women’s coach at the University of Notre Dame. Keeping her eye on the ball enabled her to be laser-focused on every future endeavor. As a Sister of Charity, she is dedicated to serving Cincinnati’s most vulnerable, marginalized and needy. Blend her degrees in political science, education, counseling, theology and healthcare and you have one of Cincinnati’s foremost authorities on non-profits. Her involvement extends to such critical areas as comprehensive, immigration reform, Medicaid expansion, the end of the death penalty and social justice for the underserved. As head of SC Ministry Foundation she is responsible for daily operations, coordination of finances and investments, program-related activities and the grant review process. With a staff of just four full-time employees and two part timers, she manages a budget of $8 million with an asset base average of $170 million. She is a self-described joyful servant leader with dozens of accolades and awards that attest to her tenacious spirit of good will.

Advice for others who desire to #StandOut:
“Do not let others define and limit you.”


  • As president of SC Ministry Foundation Sister Sally is a tireless advocate of the Price Hill area where she is a founding board member and current chair of Price Hill Will, working with such agencies as Santa Maria Community Services, Seton High School and the Legal Aid Society
  • Tri-Health Board of Directors
  • Co-Chair, Immigration Action Team, Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber 
  • Co-Chair, Cincinnati Child Poverty Collaborative
  • As a hospital President and CEO she provided the leadership and direction to turn around a $6 million dollar loss into a $2,992,000 net income in just one year.




Margaret "Peggy" Kendrick Hostetter, MD

Chair, Department of Pediatrics, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine; Director, Cincinnati Children’s Research Foundation

Peggy Hostetter graduated first in her class from college and medical school, so it’s no wonder she continues to accumulate an unprecedented list of firsts. She arrived in Cincinnati following her tenure as the first female chair of the Department of Pediatrics and Physician-in-Chief of the Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital. Today she holds three key leadership positions as the first woman to chair the Department of Pediatrics (a joint appointment of Cincinnati Children’s and University of Cincinnati), the first female director of the Children’s Research Foundation and first female chief medical officer. Not only is she responsible for much of Cincinnati Children’s 15,000 employees, including residents and fellows, she also supervises the directors of 42 academic divisions and three institutes in the Department of Pediatrics. One colleague says, “When I listen to her speak, I am even more inspired about being a member of this community as a clinician and researcher.” Another described her as “approachable, humbled, informed and visionary.” Additionally, Dr. Hostetter brings national recognition to Children’s through her appointments to top tier national pediatric organizations.

Advice for how & when someone should #StandUp:
“Stand Up when there is injustice, especially for children."


  • Leads the clinical, research and teaching activities of one of the largest, most comprehensive and prestigious pediatric medical centers in the nation
  • Holds six patents for inventions related to infectious diseases, including an antibody that prevents life-threatening infections in patients using central venous catheters
  • Elected to the prestigious National Academy of Medicine (Formerly the Institute of Medicine) in 2001
  • President, American Pediatric Society, 2015-2016
  • Elected in 1993 as the first female president since the early ‘60’s of the Society for Pediatric Research




Lisa Knutson

Senior Vice President, Chief Administrative Officer, The E.W. Scripps Compan

Lisa is the highest-ranking woman executive in Scripps’ 139-year history. According to Rich Boehne, the company’s CEO, “Lisa blends her flair for process with a creative gene and a hell-bent commitment to mission into an executive package that demonstrates real impact not just at Scripps, but in the Greater Cincinnati community.”

Following positions at Arthur Anderson and Fifth Third Bancorp, Lisa brought to Scripps best practices in human resources, talent management and corporate planning. Her analytical skills, strategic thinking and ability to build consensus helped position Scripps for dramatic changes. Lisa led the process to create the structures that transformed Scripps into separate companies encompassing the acquisition of TV stations and the spinoff of both cable TV networks and newspapers. She adeptly directed teams that executed some of the most complicated business deals in the media industry. That same knack for organizational effectiveness is evident in the many community activities Lisa tackles with boundless energy and can-do spirit. Last year she took on her first role as a public company board member with WesBanco, a banking company with reported $336 million in revenue.

Pearl of Wisdom:
“Be relentless in finding your highest and best use for the world.”


  • Helped create two new corporate structures when Scripps spun off cable networks HGTV and The Food Network, creating Scripps Networks Interactive. Four years later Lisa led the planning and transition for Scripps to purchase nine television stations from McGraw-Hill so the company could increase its television footprint.
  • Led the transition teams when Scripps completed the U.S. business community’s first double-spin double-merge business transaction, spinning off the Scripps newspapers, joining them with those of another company and merging that company’s 14 television stations into a new E.W. Scripps Company. The deal made Scripps one of the country’s largest local television station owners.
  • Board and Executive Committee member, Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber
  • Board member, Talbert House, Bethesda, Inc. and TriHealth, Family Nurturing Center (former chair) and Camp Joy (former President)
  • Trustee, Scripps Howard Foundation




Sonia Jackson Myles

Founder & CEO, The Sister Accord, LLC

Sonia leveraged her corporate experience in leadership, diversity, inclusion training, purchasing and human resources to create The Sister Accord. Her foray into women’s leadership began at Ford Motor Company where she was the first woman to be promoted while on maternity leave. Seeing no support for women in a male-dominated industry she remembers saying, “Well, I’m going to change that! I truly believed that I had the power to make positive change at a company that was nearly 100 years old!”

She initiated a women’s resource group and made similar inroads at The Gillette Company which was soon after acquired by P&G. Today Sonia has partnered with some of America’s top companies to hold 14 Sister Accord Leadership Enrichment Tea Parties across the nation. The goals are to educate girls and women, enlighten them with the power of sisterhood and eradicate bullying and violence. Soon her message of female empowerment will spread world-wide along with her long-standing philosophy: “When you operate with an abundance mindset, believing in the infinite possibilities for your life, mentoring and supporting other women becomes second nature.”

Advice to others who desire to #StandOut: 
“Be true to you. Be authentic. Have a passion for serving.”


  • Led her team to deliver $425 million in value creation as P&G Director, Global Packaging
  • Won the prestigious Leading the Way Award as Ford Powertrain Purchasing Manager for unprecedented results managing a $4.3 billion budget
  • Author of “The Sister Accord: 51 Ways to LOVE Your Sister” which was nominated for a NAACP Image Award in the debut author category, last year’s “7 Essential Steps to Bringing Your Dream to Life” and the new “51 Ways to LOVE Your Children"
  • Serves as a coach, consultant and motivational speaker with the goal of reaching one billion girls and women to live The Sister Accord principles
  • Florida A&M School of Business and Industry Advisory Board
  • Disney Dreamers Academy Speaker Advisory Board




Julia W. Poston

Office Managing Partner, Ernst & Young LLP


As a role model for business women, Julia Poston is a true Cincinnati trailblazer. She is the first female partner in the Ernst & Young (EY) Cincinnati office, the first female Managing Partner of a Cincinnati Big Four accounting firm and the first female Assurance Leader in the EY Central Region. She combines those professional leadership responsibilities with a firm commitment to the community by serving on over a dozen boards. That same spirit of selfless service extends to the firm’s employees. The annual EY Connect Day involves employees in more than 800 hours of community service to area nonprofits. Julia makes it a point to roll up her sleeves and visit each work site. A flexible work culture allows employees to be involved in year-round volunteer service. According to one employee, “I can genuinely say I am a stronger, smarter, more confident woman all around due to the mentoring and leadership Julia has provided me. She empowers, inspires and truly above all genuinely cares about the success of everyone she works with—professionally and personally."

Advice for how & when someone should #StandUp:
“Help others who are not as fortunate as yourself or whose voices aren't being heard.”


  • Board Chair, United Way of Greater Cincinnati, 2017
  • Board Co-Chair, Cincinnati Regional Business Committee, 2017
  • Board member and 2015 Chair, Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber
  • President and Founder, Cincinnati Women’s Executive Forum
  • Board member, Cintrifuse, Cincinnati Museum Center, and REDI Cincinnati



Shantel Thomas, PhD

President and CEO, A Sound Mind Counseling Service, LLC

“Regardless of your life’s trials, pains and heartaches, everyone can achieve a sound mind. You cannot give up when life gets hard; you must dig in and fight.”

This career philosophy is the basis for the area’s first large African-American female-owned counseling practice. What began as a one-person office founded by Dr. Thomas in 2000 has grown into a thriving business with a dedicated operations staff and 11 therapists in two locations. A Sound Mind Counseling Service addresses the well-being of the whole family. Dr. Thomas strategically sought Spanish-speaking therapists, those who know sign language and others knowledgeable about trauma and addictions. As a way to reach out to the community, counseling groups for couples are available with free dinner and childcare. One of Dr. Thomas’ most successful pro bono groups is After the Affair for women whose husbands have strayed. Men’s and Women’s Mental Health Days focus on pressing issues, especially the one for women addressing abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety. Dr. Thomas developed a self-esteem handbook and speaks nationally on depression, post-divorce, post abortion and relationship recovery.

Ways Shantel #StandsOut:
“I stand out against injustice and all "isms".”


  • Grew A Sound Mind into a thriving counseling service free of debt and with no business loans, so far providing services to over 200,000 clients
  • Supervises students at Xavier University, University of Cincinnati, Lindsay Wilson College and the Union Institute & University 
  • Launched a church sign language ministry and offers counseling at churches and speaks on mental health issues
  • Has delivered addresses at the American Psychological Association, the American Counseling Association and the Ohio Counseling Association
  • Trustee, Princeton Education Foundation and Board member, Eve Center ( Christian non-profit offering free counseling for women)



Chiquita V. White

Associate Director, Hair Care Research and Development, The Procter & Gamble Company


As a scientist, innovator, business leader and mentor, Chiquita is one of the nation’s foremost authorities on hair care innovation, especially for women of color. She leads a research and development team that consistently grows the P&G market share in the global hair care business. In fact, she received the Chief Technology Officers (CTO’s) Pathfinder Award for groundbreaking work on the Pantene Gold Series designed for historically underserved consumers. It represented $3 billion in new market opportunity. She also received the CTO Diversity and Inclusion recognition for her work in recruiting, establishing and sponsoring Affinity groups. Her team of technologists, scientists and engineers represent the best of STEM careers. Chiquita seeks every possible opportunity to encourage women to pursue STEM careers, enthusiastically recruiting women for STEM positions at P&G. She currently leads the Hair Care Talent Development Program which manages the careers of 600 innovators. A lauded MIT graduate, Chiquita views amongst her greatest achievements recruiting and developing young engineers and scientists at P&G.

Pearl of Wisdom:
“With confidence, I can do anything good I choose. The Universe does not argue with a made up mind.”


  • Executive Committee, United Way Women of Tocqueville Society
  • Charter and life member, and current parliamentarian, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Phi Psi Omega Chapter
  • Designed, developed and presented the AKA Project Ascend monthly STEM camp for high school students
  • Board liaison, National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME)
  • Served on the MIT Board of Trustees and as president of both the MIT Alumni Association and the Black Alumni of MIT
  • Received the highest MIT alumni achievement honor: the Bronze Beaver Award
  • Serves on several committees, Queen City Chapter of The Links, Incorporated

View the List of all Former Honorees

YWCA 2017 Mamie Earl Sells Scholarship

presented by Kroger


  • Malika Muhammad

  • Fairfield High School earning dual credit at Butler Tech
    Malika Muhammad will not be deterred. Even though she was born with Sickle Cell Anemia, the high school senior still manages to maintain a 3.943 grade point average, work a part-time job and an internship, volunteer throughout the community and even make Homecoming Court. Armed with a cheerful disposition and a thirst for knowledge she gives 100% to everything she encounters.

    Her academic studies have been challenged by frequent pain and fatigue, a high risk for stroke and at one point, monthly blood transfusions. While she is cautious about her physical activities and has missed a great deal of school, she will not allow her disease to stop her from reaching her goals. Step one is to earn a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Design with a minor in marketing. Once she becomes a graphic designer she plans to land a position as an art director for a major company.

    Malika wrote on her application, “I can do anything I set my mind to, no matter what obstacles I face. As long as I persevere, use determination and stay courageous, there’s nothing I can’t do.”



    YWCA 2017 Charlotte R. Schmidlapp Fund Scholarship, Fifth Third Bank Trustee


    RahShawn Hill

    Brown Mackie College
    RahShawn Hill is determined to create a better life for her children, passionate about being a role model that will inspire her kids to pursue their dreams of higher education. The single mother of six arrived at the YWCA Domestic Violence Shelter in December. She is a full-time student at Brown Mackie College poised to earn her LPN degree this year. It’s also her sixth year working full time as a CNA at Rosedale Green in Covington. The next step is to earn her RN degree.

    For many, juggling a full-time job with a full load of classes is a seemingly impossible task. RahShawn’s day begins at 5 a.m. when she starts preparations to shuttle the children to school and day care. While it is tiring, she says, “The will to succeed outweighs the long hours of studying and working every day and every night. I want to better myself first and foremost so I can then be a stronger me for my children.”

    RahShawn is excited about her career path and the ability to better care for herself and her children. Once she obtains her LPN degree she hopes to enroll in the Christ Hospital School of Nursing.


    2017 Career Women of Achievement Keynote Speaker


    Robin Givens

    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.



    2017 Career Women of Achievement Co-Chairs


    Mary Miller

    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

    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.



    Learn more, get engaged, empower others, empower yourself.