2021 VIRTUAL WOMEN OF ACHIEVEMENT
Wednesday, June 23, 2021
For 36 years, we’ve gathered during lunch to honor a select group of Columbus women who have made extraordinary contributions to their families, workplaces, and communities. This year’s Women of Achievement event took place virtually on Wednesday, June 23, 2021.
Our 2021 Honorees
Dr. Deena Chisolm
Nationwide Foundation Endowed Chair in Health Equity Research
Director, Center for Child Health Equity and Outcomes Research
Vice-President, Health Services Research
Dr. Chisolm’s research focuses on improving the health and health care of minority and at-risk adolescents. She holds the Nationwide Foundation Endowed Chair in Health Equity Research and serves as founding director of the newly established Center for Health Equity and Outcomes in the Abigail Wexner Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. She is also a Professor of Pediatrics in the Ohio State University College of Medicine with joint appointments in the Colleges of Public Health and Nursing.
Executive Director, Community Shelter Board
Michelle Heritage has extensive nonprofit and public sector experience including more than 30 years in leadership roles in the homeless system, mental health, child welfare, and the alcohol and drug systems. She leads CSB – an organization focused on rapidly placing people who are homeless in permanent housing while connecting them with employment and job training, medical care, and behavioral health care to help them remain stable. She is a founding member of the Affordable Housing Alliance of Central Ohio, The Economic Mobility Coalition and the Prevent Family Homelessness Collaborative.
Executive Director, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center – East Hospital
Whether in big decision-making that impacts the health care of Central Ohioans or in small caring acts to motivate young minds and emerging professionals, Mary Howard has been influential at Ohio State and throughout the greater Columbus area. Prior to her current role as Executive Director, where she is responsible for operations, strategic planning and program development, Mary served East Hospital as Associate Executive Director and Chief Nursing Officer. Mary began her career as a staff nurse at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and progressed to serve in various leadership positions in a variety of patient care areas, including Women’s Health, Oncology and Rehab/Post-Acute Services and was promoted to Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer at Grant Medical Center.
Chief Executive, Easton, Steiner + Associates
Jennifer Peterson strongly believes that the success of an organization is not based on profit alone –Businesses must be respected in the community and aligned with causes that reflect integrity and a desire to have a positive long-term impact. Jennifer plays an instrumental role in the Easton Community Foundation, a supporting organization of The Columbus Foundation established to support community betterment. One of the Foundation’s initiatives that is very dear to her heart is the Change for Charity meter program, which benefits six area nonprofit organizations each year. Her leadership and enthusiasm have significantly raised awareness for a multitude of causes and the resources they make available in the community.
President, National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc., Central Ohio Chapter
Linda Kanney devotes her time, talent and resources to the elimination of racism and the empowerment of women. In her current role, Linda leads, NC100BW – an advocacy organization working to address racial and gender disparities for Black women and girls in the areas of health, education and economic empowerment. Through her leadership, the Central Ohio Chapter has a seat at the table for conversations and action on pay equity, paid family and medical leave, infant and maternal health, metabolic syndrome, educational equity, criminal justice reform, and voter engagement. Since the founding of the Central Ohio Chapter, NC100BW has awarded over $50,000 in college scholarships to Black females.
Founder & CEO, The Saunders PR Group
Gayle Saunders has led public relations for Nationwide, Ameritech (AT&T), National City Bank (PNC), the Memorial Tournament and NASCAR and held executive roles at National City Bank, The Ohio State University, the City of Columbus and Columbus City Schools. In her extensive experience in public relations, Gayle served as liaison to the White House and managed over 100 national media outlets during The Ohio State University’s Spring 2013 Commencement when former President Barack Obama gave the address. Named 2018 Public Relations Practitioner of the Year by the Central Ohio Public Relations Society of America, Saunders is the first Black person to earn this title in the history of the chapter.
Director, Department of Neighborhoods, City of Columbus
Carla has a passion for working with cross cultural groups that empower individuals to have their voices heard so that they can advocate for themselves and others as well as groups that promote literacy, education, and health and wellness. In her prior role as the Assistant Director of Economic Development and Community Partnerships for Franklin County, she managed the Board of Commissioners Community Partnership Grant program, a $16,000,000 portfolio that provides support to local community-based organizations that serve county residents. In addition to the Community Partnership program, she managed the People Works Workforce Development program which assists low-income county residents to obtain full-time living-wage jobs and career pathways leading out of poverty.
Our 2021 Women on the Rise
Maria Elizabeth Cortez
Community Outreach Director, New American Welcome Center, YMCA of Central Ohio
Maria Cortez has a passion for advocating. She has gained experience working for nonprofits in Columbus. These experiences have set Maria up for success; she brings a unique perspective to the needs of the community. Maria says working with diverse populations has served as a catalyst for greater advocacy within her role. Maria puts the needs of the community first, constantly working to find solutions and services for those who are underrepresented. Outside of her work, Maria volunteers on various boards and organizations to empower, educate, develop and mentor women, Latinx, immigrant, New American and Refugee community members.
Founder & CEO, Eryn PiNK Ltd.
Executive Director, ICE Mentors Inc.
Eryn Hathaway is a wife, mother and public servant who built a career around her shared passions for marketing and youth advocacy. She is the Founder and CEO of Eryn PiNK Ltd., a school program and girl empowerment organization serving 250+ students annually (2011). Eryn is a graduate from Otterbein University and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Relations and Speech Communications. Formerly, she served as a Brand Strategist with PMM Agency, a full-service marketing firm, representing Fortune 500 Corporations for 10 years. For her commitment to empowering the community and next generation of leaders, Eryn was recognized as a 2019 “History Maker” by McDonald’s and Radio One and was awarded the Otterbein University Young Alumni Award.
Tawana L. Mims
Small Business Underwriter and Diversity & Inclusion Associate Resource Group Co-Chair, Encova Insurance
Tawana L. Mims provides leadership support among all Associate Resource Group leaders and on the steering committee for Encova of Ohio Foundation philanthropy efforts. She joined Encova (Motorists) Insurance in 2013. Tawana earned a Bachelor of Administration from DeVry Institute of Technology in 1998. She currently serves as the Co-Chair for Seeds of Caring’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion steering committee and holds leadership roles with the Black Employee Resource Council and Huntington Bank’s Think Tank Committee. A native of Ypsilanti, Michigan, Tawana is married with three children and lives in Pickerington, Ohio.
Marketing & Communications Manager, The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio
Tanya Salyers is the Marketing and Communications Manager for The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio, a public foundation whose mission is to transform the lives of women and girls. She serves as a Board Member for New Leaders Council Columbus, an organization that works to recruit, train, promote and develop progressive change makers, and for Zora’s House, a safe space for women of color to thrive. Tanya is a graduate of Shawnee State University and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature. A proud Korean-Appalachian, Tanya is a transplant from Portsmouth, Ohio. She has made Columbus home for the last 14 years and lives in the city with her son, Calder.
Executive Director, Reeb Avenue Center
Founded in 2015, the Reeb Avenue Center houses multiple nonprofits working together to deliver critically needed resources to the city’s south side. Zahler leads this effort with dedication to the community, a heart for others and determination to succeed in the fight against poverty. She has been involved with Leadership Columbus and Bloombase Leadership and recently joined Vistage. Zahler serves as the president of the South Side Thrive advisory board. She hails from Findlay, Ohio and graduated from Bowling Green State University. Zahler currently lives in Hilliard, Ohio with her husband, Andrew, and one-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Blake. Zahler also coaches Varsity Volleyball at Grandview High School.
As YWCA Columbus strives to create a more equitable society, we believe it’s important to acknowledge our
accomplishments and celebrate our progress. Women of Achievement honors leaders in our community who
motivate us with their example of determination, generosity and courage.
Women of Achievement Attendee
Women of Achievement Attendee (2020)
Women of Achievement Attendee (2020)