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Lindner Women in Business mission comes full-circle at 2020 Empowerment Day

Annual leadership conference concluded year of programming that inspired action, new opportunity

Lindner Women in Business’ in-person programming for the 2019-20 academic year ended similarly to how it began: with honest conversation, inspiring stories and actionable advice from some of Greater Cincinnati’s most impressive female leaders.

The Lindner Inclusive Excellence program’s fourth annual Empowerment Day, which was held a the beginning of Women’s History Month on Saturday, March 7, attracted nearly 250 aspiring and established business professionals united by the common purpose of defining empowerment and lifting others up.

A young man in a sweater with red hair speaks to a young woman in a black blouse and cream-colored blazer at a long table in a crowded classroom

Empowerment Day, presented by Lindner Women in Business, brings together aspiring and emerging business professionals together with established business professionals for a day of learning, sharing and mentoring. / Photo provided by Lindner Women in Business member and student Aleah Mersch, BBA ’20.

“A common thread among this year’s Empowerment Day speakers is that, in some way, they have created new or equal opportunities within their companies, careers or respective disciplines,” said Lindner Women in Business 2019-20 President Logan Davis, BBA ’21. “Our executive board and planning committee was really intentional about bringing women who were representative of diverse perspectives and who could inspire all the people in the room.”

A caucasian woman with blonde hair and waring glasses, a black blouse and a red jacket speaks in front of an auditorium with her hands visible

Julia Poston, Cincinnati office managing partner at EY, delivered the morning keynote, sharing career milestones and lessons learned from being a trailblazer for women in accounting. / Photo provided by Lindner Women in Business member and student Aleah Mersch, BBA ’20.

Julia Poston, Cincinnati office managing partner at Ernst & Young (EY), kicked off the day with her morning keynote, “Leadership and Learning to Thrive.” Poston shared stories and learnings from the many firsts she achieved in her life and career: She was the first woman to establish a flexible work arrangement with her at-the-time employer, Arthur Andersen, where she was the second woman to be promoted to partner in the Cincinnati office. She was the first female partner — there are 12 now — at EY’s Cincinnati office when she joined the company in 2002. Additionally, Poston became the first female managing partner for EY Cincinnati at the dawn of the economic recession that began in 2008.

“When I reflect back on my career and I think about the opportunities for leadership, there are several milestones,” said Poston, who also founded and chairs the Cincinnati Women’s Executive Forum. “But what I’m absolutely certain of is that leadership is learned. I may sound like I have strong vision and plans for my life, but not so much. Certainly, incidences came up in my life that I leaned into and jumped into and started to see that I could make a difference, but I was learning all the way. On days like today, you have a chance to hear from people about their experiences and learn from what they've done.”

An African American woman wearing a light blue blouse, glasses and braids speaks in front of a classroom while holding a notebook

Lucrecer Braxton, lead PR, communications, and content, strategy at Togo Company, presented "The Successful Female Entrepreneur" during a breakout session. / Photo provided by Lindner Women in Business member and student Aleah Mersch, BBA ’20.

Additional speakers and panelists included:

  • Kristin Baker, Talent Management, DHL
  • Breanne Bovara, Wealth Management Advisor, Fifth Third Bank
  • Lucrecer Braxton, Lead of PR, Communications, & Content, Strategy, Togo Company
  • Kristen Curtiss, Portfolio Manager Assistant, Johnson Investment Counsel
  • Beth Giglio, Senior Vice President, Human Resources, 84.51°
  • Heather Harris, Chief Operating Officer, Five Seasons Family Sports Clubs
  • Jamie Horn, Director of Marketing, Johnson Investment Counsel
  • Janet Jansen, BBA ’92, Vice President of Area Sales, Paycor
  • Stephanie Jones, Wealth Management Advisor, Fifth Third Bank
  • Gwen Keihl, Portfolio Manager Assistant, Johnson Investment Counsel
  • Emily Leverone Kendall, Associate Vice President of Marketing, Philips Edison
  • Cheri Padgett, Senior Private Banker, Fifth Third Bank
  • Isabel Paschel, Account Executive, DHL
  • Jennifer Porter, Vice President & Director, Investment Management Group Administration, Fifth Third Bank
  • Kristi Eckert Schmitt, Partner/Principal, EY
  • Megan Schulte, Senior Campus Recruiting Specialist, Deloitte
  • Janelle Wichmann, BBA ’13, Senior Brand Manager, Procter & Gamble
  • Terron Wilson, Talent Manager, Diversity & Inclusion, 84.51
  • Andrea Wolcott, BBA ’19, Account Representative, DHL

The closing keynote speaker for Empowerment Day was the very leader who kicked off Lindner Women in Business’ year of programming back in August 2019: Carl H. Lindner College of Business Dean Marianne W. Lewis, PhD.

Lindner College of Business Dean Marianne Lewis wears a patterned blouse and a blue-grey jacket, holding a microphone and speaking to a group of people in an auditorium

Marianne Lewis, PhD, dean at the Carl H. Lindner College of Business. / Photo provided by Lindner Women in Business member and student Aleah Mersch, BBA ’20.

Lewis spoke about her experience with serendipity — following her passion, taking and making time to reflect and learn from her experiences in order to build purpose into her life and career, and the benefits of belonging in to a community, of having a core team to both push you and help you.

“Theory. Practice. Reflect,” said Lewis. “When you have amazing experiences, if you don't stop and really think about what's happening, you don't actually make the time to learn. I believe if we get really good at putting ourselves out there for new experiences and reflecting on those experiences, we will continue to build that confidence. You will see that loop not only continue but actually start to speed up and grow.”

Three women in business professional stand and smile as a group in front of a Lindner College of Business backdrop. The woman in the center, Christine Schaub, is holding a glass award for her distinguished service

Lindner Women in Business 2019-20 President Logan Davis, Fifth Third Vice President and Distinguished Service Award Winner Christine Schaub and Lindner College of Business Dean Marianne Lewis. / Photo provided by Lindner Women in Business member and student Aleah Mersch, BBA ’20.

Two women were recognized for their leadership and service to the regional business community: Abby Mitchell, BBA ’18, and Fifth Third Bank Vice President Christine Schaub, BBA ’89. Mitchell, an account executive at Pep, received the Outstanding Alumna Award. Schaub received the Distinguished Service Award for providing mentorship and advice to many Lindner Women in Business members.

While Empowerment Day is beneficial for current Lindner students, nearly a dozen high school seniors with outstanding offers for admission were also in attendance. The event has historically been influential in helping students finalize their decision to come to Lindner. Lindner Honors-PLUS student Annika Braaten was a prospective student at 2019 Empowerment Day. She went on to serve as this year’s Empowerment Day project manager as a first-year student, and will continue ont the 2020-21 executive board.

Lindner Women in Business was founded in the spring of 2013 as a student organization made up of 30 members and transitioned to a Lindner Diversity and Inclusion (now the Lindner Office of Inclusive Excellence) program in the summer of 2018. Lindner Women in Business was recently recognized as the Student Organization of the Year by the University of Cincinnati Student Activities Board for its continued success in empowering members of the community and maintaining a member retention rate of more than 90%. Learn more about the program and how to get involved.

To conclude Empowerment Day, Davis introduced the executive board for the 2020-21 year and invited Incoming Lindner Women in Business President Vanessa Morrow, BBA ’21, to the stage for closing remarks.

Nine young women in business professional attire stand as a group and smile in front of the stairs in the Lindner Hall atrium

The 2020-21 executive board for Lindner Women in Business. / Photo provided by Lindner Women in Business member and student Aleah Mersch, BBA ’20.

Lindner Women in Business 2020-21 executive board:

  • Annika Braaten, BBA ’24, Chief Experience Officer
  • Emma Focht, BBA ’22, Chief Marketing Officer
  • Kaitlyn Gallimore, BBA ’18, Chief Empowerment Day Officer
  • Erin Gregg, BBA ’22, Chief Information Officer
  • Amber Herzog, BBA ’22, Chief Human Resources Officer
  • Vanessa Morrow, BBA ’21, President
  • Paige Owen, BBA ’22, Vice President
  • Sarah Telscher, BBA ’22, Chief Partnership Officer
  • Priti Vitankar, BBA ’23, Chief Finance Officer

Featured image: Lindner College of Business Office of Inclusive Excellence program Lindner Women in Business held its fourth annual Empowerment Day on March 7, 2020, attracting nearly 250 attendees made up of aspiring, emerging and established business professionals. / Photo provided by Lindner Women in Business member and student Aleah Mersch, BBA ’20.