2017 Honorees

2018 Career Women of Achievement Luncheon
May 9, 2018


Duke Energy Convention Center 

Career Women of Achievement Luncheon

2018 Partners



Cathy Bernardino Bailey

Director, Greater Cincinnati Water Works

Buoyed by a life-long dedication to public service, Cathy sat in various chairs around the Greater Cincinnati Water Works (GCWW) management table for 23 years until she earned her way to the head seat. Now she is responsible for ensuring clean drinking water for over a million residents. Never at ease with the status quo, she is known as a tenacious yet affable change agent who brings new perspectives and ideas to every project whether it is the systematic removal of lead pipes or innovative ways to maintain costs. Both Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s awarded Cathy and her team the top AAA bond rating. While she is considered a national role model and trailblazer for African-American women in the water utility industry, she still remains a servant-leader. Her employees respect her outstanding interpersonal communication skills and also look forward to key company messages often written in poetic “Dr. Seuss style.” Deputy Director Verna Arnette states, “After 200 years of existence, the City of Cincinnati put a woman at the head of its water utility. But in true Cathy Bailey style, this achievement was not about her; it is about us, our daughters, our families, our communities and our city.”

“Women leading change is about courage, conviction, creativity, and collaboration-inner strengths that we excel in!”


    • First water utility director in the U.S. to establish and obtain approval for a cost-sharing program and associated assistance program for customers to remove their private lead service lines
    • First African-American GCWW division manager
    • First GCWW director to obtain Cincinnati City Council approval for multiple-year rate increases at once in order to establish a robust capital improvement program and a lead service line replacement program
    • The Water Research Foundation Board of Directors
    • Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies Policy Chair
    • President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology Water Utility Representative  


Stacey Browning

President, Paycor

Stacey relishes change. She refuses to shy away from projects that challenge her comfort zone. So in her 26 years at Paycor she has taken on tasks that have propelled the company forward. Never afraid to immerse herself in something new, she devoured information and met with experts until she became an expert herself in a Human Capital Management (HCM) Platform. This enabled Paycor to augment its services beyond just a payroll services company. Stacey also oversaw the strategic direction and construction of the new company headquarters and the acquisition of its Newton Software Division. Known for staying ahead of trends she is equally respected as a gifted leader who enables those around her to grow in knowledge and refine their personal brand. She now supervises over 1,000 employees and a $140 million budget. As a mother of a special needs child, she also finds time to advocate in Columbus for those who don’t have a voice. Due to her relentless efforts she was present when the Governor signed legislation to further assist needy and disabled Ohioans.

“To drive change, become a great communicator.”


    • Serves as the first female president of Paycor
    • Presided over the acquisition of Newton Software of San Francisco that dramatically changed the direction of Paycor
    • Has demonstrated deliberate focus on customers, influencers and competitors in order to build an incomparable HR and technology network that spans across the nation
    • Serves on the Miami University Alumni Board, Forbes HR Council, Cincinnati USA Chamber Board of Directors and Cincinnati Women’s Executive Forum




Tracy Cook

Executive Director, ProKids

Tracy has transformed ProKids into a respected child protection agency known nationwide for its training and support of CASA volunteers—Court-Appointed Special Advocates. This group of over 250 highly-trained volunteers assisted nearly 900 children in the Hamilton County child protection system last year. They augment a professional staff of 35 who work tirelessly to help children escape neglect and abuse.

Beginning as a CASA volunteer in 1992, Tracy joined ProKids as staff attorney the following year. She hit the ground running when named executive director in 1998 and has not stopped since. Under her leadership the amount of children served has nearly tripled. Tracy has also established the agency’s first endowment, regularly educates the public on ProKids’ mission, developed strategic plans that have enabled the agency to incrementally assist more children each year and put in place measures for success. Her passion, commitment and leadership by example continue to move the agency forward every year. She credits the agency’s success to “the persistent need to make things better for abused and neglected children, combined with all sorts of people who have the same goal.”

Learn more about becoming a volunteer ProKids CASA.

“It’s a joy to be surrounded by women of all ages who are tenacious change agents."


    • The number of children served has nearly tripled under Tracy’s leadership. Similarly, the number of volunteers has increased six-fold.
    • Successful outcome measures to demonstrate the results of its work have shown a 99% success rate for keeping children safe from abuse. The measures have been used as an example by United Way and adopted by agencies throughout the state and nation.
    • Su Casa Organization of the Year
    • Cincinnati Museum Center Difference Maker
    • National CASA Urban Leadership Council founding member
    • Nicholas Longworth III Alumni Achievement Award, UC College of Law




Kimberly Halbauer

Managing Director, Private Bank, Fifth Third Bank

During her 28-year career with Fifth Third Bank Kim has demonstrated an unsurpassed work ethic that presented numerous opportunities for advancement until she secured her present position. She is one of just a handful of women who have held leadership positions in all three of the bank’s major business lines: retail, commercial, and wealth & asset management. Kim now presides over Cincinnati’s Private Bank for Fifth Third’s Bancorp where she leads a team of 150 employees responsible for over $12 billion in total assets. Her journey was not easy. Pregnant and in need of a job, she joined the bank directly out of high school. With unstoppable determination she continued to take on additional roles and responsibilities while attending college at night for 11 years. Her experiences have enabled her to help others pursue personal development and maintain an optimistic outlook inside the bank and in the community where she is involved in educational, health and economic development issues. “All women have the ability to forge ahead no matter what your role is and I always want to challenge people to believe in themselves and believe in others,” she says. 

“In order to be a good leader, you must learn to be a good follower.”     


    • Has ensured the diversity of her team with ethnicity and 47% female membership
    • Served as Fifth Third’s first overall United Way Campaign Coordinator raising more than $7 million
    • Is one of the founders and former co-chair of Fifth Third’s Women’s Business Resource Group which focuses on employee engagement, development and retention
    • First female lending officer to join the Cincinnati lending team in Cincinnati
    • Recipient of the 2017 Summit Award, a top honor among the 18,000 Fifth Third employees
    • Current member of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education Board, Tri-County Economic Development Corporation Executive Committee, Horizon Fund of Northern Kentucky Board, Northern Kentucky Education Council Board and Camp Joy Board
    • The Women of Influence Award 2017
    • Outstanding Woman of Northern Kentucky Award 2016
    • United Way Board member and past chair of the Tocqueville Speaker Series
    • American Heart Association immediate-past board chair



Deborah Hayes

Vice President, Chief Operating Officer, The Christ Hospital Health Network

When Debbie was named COO of the Year by the Cincinnati Business Courier it was no surprise. After all, she had just completed a $100 million IT project transitioning a renowned medical institution into an independent hospital. That was just one of dozens of significant projects she has undertaken in her 30-year career at The Christ Hospital. Debbie knows the name of nearly every employee and has made a lasting impact upon countless areas of the hospital. That’s due to her career philosophy entailing five tenets: always work hard, never give up, don’t ever take no as the final answer, always have respect for the humanness of every individual and always do the right thing. This credo was constantly evident as she rose from staff nurse, to a director, chief nursing officer, and other top management positions until COO. As a mentor and beloved leader, she believes in giving to the next generation by teaching and serving in an advisory capacity to the Tri-State’s nursing schools. She recalls, “I used to have a tagline at the bottom of my emails that said, ‘leadership is not about everything that is not right. It is about creating an environment where those around you can become heroes in their own right.’”

“Lead change by envisioning, inspiring, empowering and listening.”


    • Spearheaded the quest to achieve Magnet Certification for Nursing Excellence, making the hospital one of just 6% of U.S. hospitals to receive the distinction
    • A leader in the development of the strategy that resulted in the growth of the organization including the recent opening of the hospital’s sixth outpatient center in Liberty Township
    • Named the 2015 Cincinnati Business Courier’s Chief Operating Officer of the Year as a testament to her leadership
    • Coordinated a $100 million IT transformation project which allowed the hospital to transition to an independent hospital
    • Go Red for Women Campaign Co-Chair
    • Mount Notre Dame High School Board Chair
    • Visiting Nurses Association Board Member
    • Life Center Organ Procurement Organization Board Chair
    • Xavier University Adjunct Faculty member




Wijdan Jreisat

Shareholder, Katz Teller

 A special talent for deeply relating to others and encouraging them to interact has led Wijdan to use those extraordinary skills for the benefit of the community as well as her employer, the law firm Katz Teller. Hired soon after earning her J.D. degree from the University of Virginia, she first focused on business litigation, facilitating companies to settle their disputes among each other. Her finesse for calming people during heated discussions caught the attention of her firm’s leadership. They requested she transfer her extraordinary client relations skills to family law. As a result, she has gained a solid reputation as a skilled convener and voice of reason—and humor---during hotly contested cases. Her talent for getting to the root of a problem and seeking an amicable solution has easily transferred to her community work where she is dedicated to issues involving families, children, women, inclusion and equity. Wijdan serves on several boards throughout the Tri-State that benefit from her strategic thinking, wicked sense of humor and compassion for the plight of others.

“Because we look around and listen to others, women identify and catalyze needed changes.”


    • Shareholder in the family law practice of Katz Teller where she was elected a member of the Katz Teller Board of Directors, serves as its corporate secretary, leads its associate on-boarding program and is a member of several operating committees
    • Founding member and past chair of Social Venture Partners of Greater Cincinnati, an organization of individuals at the top of their field who support area non-profits with their time, expertise and financial commitment
    • The Women’s Fund of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation Leadership Council member and immediate past chair
    • Greater Cincinnati Foundation Governing Board
    • Centre College President’s Advisory Council
    • Recent member of the YWCA, Corporation for Findlay Market and Downtown Cincinnati, Inc. Boards     



Donna Salyers

President & Founder, Donna Salyers Fabulous Furs

An accomplished seamstress and sewing columnist, Donna was on her way to purchase her first full-length fur coat when a car radio show reported on the skinning of kittens to make plush “mink” teddy bears. Horrified, she turned the car around and launched from her home a business selling sewing kits for faux mink coats. The idea took off. Once women sewed less and sought ready-made fashions, Donna Salyers Fabulous Furs was born. It is now one of the largest woman-owned businesses in the Tri-State with annual revenue exceeding $18 million. She often appears on cable shopping networks and is well known by her distributors such as Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus. Her coats, throws and various apparel have graced the covers of prominent magazines, was “Oprah’s Favorite Thing” and have been worn by actresses in dozens of movies and television shows. She expanded her business with a bridal store in her beloved Covington. Ever thankful for her success, Donna “pays it forward” through philanthropic efforts on behalf of the local community and the furry friends she continues to protect.

“Life’s an adventure: seize every opportunity; find the upside in every disappointment and celebrate/savor the journey!”


    • Has worked in every aspect of her business, mentoring others to take the reins of each area by contributing their own creative ideas
    • Teaches faux fur workshops at Parsons and FIT in New York and the Otis College of Art & Design in Los Angeles; sponsors design competitions with the DAAP fashion design students at the University of Cincinnati
    • Is a sought-after speaker on entrepreneurship
    • Is engaged in a growing partnership with PETA UK presenting an alternative to the bear skin caps traditionally worn by the British Ministry of Defense
    • Opened Donna Salyers Fabulous Bridal, a multi-level store located in a historic building in downtown Covington which became the impetus for a bourgeoning bridal district
    • Has been awarded the Outstanding Women of Northern Kentucky Judith Clabes Lifetime Achievement Award, the Friends of Covington Annual Award for civic involvement and philanthropy, the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Image Maker Award and was the first recipient of the Northern Kentucky University Entrepreneur Institute’s Master Entrepreneur Award
    • Regularly contributes to animal preservation initiatives such as The Angel Fund to create habitats for animals around the continent and the Cedarhill Animal Sanctuary based in Caledonia, MS



Carolyn Wallace

Owner, The Perfect Brew

Carolyn is one of Cincinnati’s master conveners. She knows that good food, music and conversation provide the right recipe for community growth. For over three decades she has run the widely successful concert series It’s Commonly Jazz. She harnessed her business skills to create the longest-running free summer jazz series in Cincinnati. When it outgrew Swifton Commons the series moved to the Seasongood Pavilion in Eden Park. She is lauded for her fund raising and friend raising efforts to keep the series operating, all while she owns and runs The Perfect Brew, a catering business launched in 2000. She believes the perfect recipe for community development is to maintain conversations over healthy farm to table food at significant events and, when possible, throw some music in to calm the soul. Her business has grown to include well-known corporate clients. She has partnered with Xavier University, Findlay Market, Ollie’s Trolley and the Food Network to complement events with healthy food that she hopes will be a catalyst for meaningful conversation.

“There is power in using the words "I Am". If You are not saying positive things about yourself change them.”


    • The first African-American manager of a shopping center (Swifton Commons) with the world’s largest mall/shopping center operator (the DeBartolo Group)
    • Enables the area’s budding jazz singers to take center stage with national and international jazz artists, often propelling their careers beyond Cincinnati
    • Supports aspiring chefs and bakers as a Findlay Market Board member and supports the Findlay Kitchen Initiative
    • Sources, contracts, barters and partners with small businesses and urban gardeners whenever possible
    • Commemorated with Carolyn Wallace Day declared by the City of Cincinnati on August 29, 2013 for decades of bringing the community together through It’s Commonly Jazz
    • Named one of Top 10 Small Businesses Under Five to Watch for its blending of catering and fellowship 2014, 2015

View the List of all Former Honorees

YWCA 2018 Mamie Earl Sells Scholarship

presented by Kroger



  • Natera Bean

    Purcell Marian High School earning dual credit from Cincinnati State Technical and Community College
    Natera has big plans and she credits the birth of her son for motivating her to reach for the stars. Initially fearful of revealing to classmates and teachers that she was a teen mom, Natera shared her secret and found boundless support. Now, as Natera prepares to graduate, she does so with a 4.2 grade point average due to simultaneous enrollment in college courses that have provided 22 college credit hours. She has accomplished this feat while taking full responsibility for her son, fulfilling community service requirements and working as a barista.

    When Natera looks back she realizes she had a choice: dwell on the negative side of an unplanned teen pregnancy or venture down a positive path. “I opted into a more optimistic lifestyle which has not only aided me through motherhood, but also throughout my high school career and dealing with pessimistic individuals,” she reveals.

    Motherhood thrust Natera into maturity. She has no regrets. Her long and short term goals are bold. She intends to work her way through Xavier University as a psychology major with little to no debt, attend graduate school to study clinical neuroscience and then become a pediatric clinical psychologist at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.



    YWCA 2018 Charlotte R. Schmidlapp Fund Scholarship, Fifth Third Bank Trustee


    Beverly Hector

    Chatfield College
    Beverly Hector is a single mother who has benefitted from three YWCA programs. She began her relationship with the YWCA Workforce Development Program while 18 and pregnant. Beverly participated financial literacy classes and earned her GED shortly after starting education classes. After fleeing an abusive relationship with her son’s father, she found safety in one of the Domestic Violence Shelters operated by the YWCA. There, she discovered not just protection, but encouragement to follow her dreams, especially since she is estranged from her family and lacks a support system. “We believe in her and she knows she has a ‘family’ of support for her journey,” says her shelter advocate, Lisa Strode.

    Beverly began her studies at Chatfield College in the spring of 2017 with an unwavering goal of becoming a social worker. She’s determined not to live paycheck to paycheck. She believes that earning a college degree will position her as a role model of strength for her son, leaving behind a family history of poverty, depression and anxiety. Her mission is to erase the stigma that single mothers can’t be successful. “I want my son to remember his mommy as always being in school, mommy still got her education when everything else failed, and mommy didn’t give up.”




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