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Outstanding Women of Northern Kentucky honorees to be recognized June 23 with virtual celebration

On June 23, the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Women’s Initiative, sponsored by PNC, will recognize its 2020 Outstanding Women of Northern Kentucky honorees with a virtual celebration, taking place from noon to 1 p.m.

The awards – sponsored by St. Elizabeth Healthcare – were established in 1984 by the late Nancy Boothe to honor women who exemplify notable achievement, outstanding service in their professions or to the Northern Kentucky community, and the qualities of personal integrity, perseverance and leadership.

The virtual event will be broadcast free of charge. To register for the event, click here.

The 2020 Outstanding Women of Northern Kentucky honorees include:

Outstanding Women Honorees

Lisa Cooper

Lisa Cooper
Northern Kentucky Area Development District

Lisa Cooper is the Executive Director of the Northern Kentucky Area Development District (NKADD), where she works to carry out the agency’s mission of serving the region in three key areas: community development, human services and workforce development.

Before becoming Executive Director in 2011, Lisa served as a Public Administration Specialist and the Associate Director for Community Development for NKADD, specializing in human resources, training, regional planning, ethics and local government issues. Away from NKADD, she holds active leadership roles throughout her native Northern Kentucky in several local, state and national organizations. These include the Kentucky Area Development District Directors, the National Association of Development Organizations and the Fort Thomas Education Foundation.

Receiving her bachelor of business administration degree from the University of Kentucky, she also has a master of public administration degree from Northern Kentucky University. She lives in Fort Thomas with her two daughters Sydney and Emma.

“I have been blessed in so many ways, and am grateful to all who help me each and every day. My parents, Jack and Lola Bramble, are amazing and supportive in more ways than I can convey. My daughters, Sydney and Emma, are my rocks and my inspiration. I am also very fortunate to have an outstanding network of board members, staff, friends and colleagues who are supportive on so many levels. Thank you to all who continue to work with me every day to serve this great community we call home.”

Wafa Nasser

Wafa Nasser, M.D.
The Whole Child Pediatrics, PSC

An independent woman who, by her own admission, takes life’s challenges head-on, Wafa J. Nasser has practiced pediatric medicine in the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky region for more than 30 years. Immigrating to the United States from Lebanon with her family at age 6, she finished her studies at the West Virginia University School of Medicine despite having to overcome an incurable and progressive disease: muscular dystrophy.

Graduating from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center’s residency program in 1984, Wafa has practiced medicine for 30 years in Northern Kentucky, 22 of which have been at her own practice, The Whole Child Pediatrics. Wafa acknowledges she would not enjoy the life she has without the support of her friends and family, especially when she suffered a personal health crisis that landed her in intensive care in August 2019. They have remained by her side as she deals with battling the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I have been privileged to take care of thousands of children, getting to know them and their parents as if they were part of my family. It was fun over the years making children feel better when they’re sick, teaching them healthy habits and seeing them grow from newborns to young adults. Children are joyful, energetic, eternally optimistic and resilient. I thank them and their families for the joy they have given me these many years.”

Teri VonHandorf

Teri VonHandorf, Ed.D.
Gateway Community & Technical College

Teri VonHandorf has dedicated 25 years to being an educator, the last 19 of which have been spent at Gateway Community and Technical College. Beginning her Gateway career in 2001 as an Adult Education instructor, her tenure has seen her serve in a variety of capacities including: developmental math professor, a division chair and associate provost before taking on her current role as Provost and Chief Academic Officer.

A lifelong Northern Kentucky resident, Teri’s original career goal was to teach middle school math, leading her to attend Northern Kentucky University (NKU), where she earned both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in education. She would follow this by going on to also earn her Ph.D. from NKU in Educational Leadership. An unexpected opportunity, however, led to her teaching adults—and the realization she had discovered her life’s work. This is why Gateway’s annual commencement ceremony is now her favorite day of the year as graduation marks a new beginning in the lives of all those embarking on a new earned path.

She also finds time to work as an instructor at the Life Learning Center and mentor at her high school alma mater, Notre Dame Academy. Teri is grateful for the mission-driven work she gets to do as well as all the amazing faculty, staff and students at Gateway. She is likewise eternally grateful for the blessing of a wonderful family — her husband Jack and children Drew and Kylie — and good friends.

“Congratulations to all the honorees and thank you to the Outstanding Women of Northern Kentucky Committee and the NKY Chamber and the Women’s Initiative for the recognition and celebration. It is truly an honor and humbling experience to be included amongst this group of outstanding women.”

Kim Webb

Kim M. Webb
Emergency Shelter of NKY
Kim Webb is the Executive Director of the Emergency Shelter of Northern Kentucky, a position reflective of her dedication to her work in both nonprofit industry and community-based organizations. Working tirelessly to assist and provide the homeless population with shelter and other life necessities, Webb’s personal and professional life-calling is the same: to advocate for and educate the public about the needs and rights of the homeless. This is what drives her to seek state and locally-funded programs to assist the homeless and to provide them with self-sufficient skills to aid their hopeful return to housing stability. In addition to the Emergency Shelter, Kim serves on the Safety Net Alliance Steering Committee, the Kentucky Interagency Council on Homelessness and the local Continuum of Care (CoC). Her dedication to her cause is epitomized in her leadership motto: “Managers do things right. Leaders do the right thing.”

Vice president of her Leadership Northern Kentucky (LNK) class of 2017, Kim continues to serve on its alumni committee and its Economic Day Development Committee. She has been quoted and recognized as a thought leader in the national media; likewise, she has acted as a presenter for national webinars about homelessness. She is a Governor’s Commonwealth Institute of Parent Leadership 2013 Fellow, and serves on and helped to start the Parent Teacher Student Association at Boone County High School.

“I am blessed to have a position where my purpose and passion connect. Thank you to my husband Marc for believing in me. To my children Kyle, Katie and AJ for allowing me to champion for others that do not have the same opportunities you do. Also, to my sister, Tina, for being my first friend and my best friend. I am who I am and where I am due to a strong network of women who inspire me every day.”

Emerging Leader Honoree

Laura Menge

Laura S. Menge
Greater Cincinnati Foundation

Laura S. Menge is a Senior Philanthropic Advisor at the Greater Cincinnati Foundation (GCF), where she works to help generous individuals, families and companies achieve charitable goals through lifetime giving and estate plans. She leads the Northern Kentucky Family of Funds, through which the past two decades has seen that more than $40 million has been granted in support of nonprofits and communities throughout the region.

A Rhode Island native who moved to Cincinnati in 2012, Laura is focused on promoting philanthropy and vibrancy in the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky region. This is evident in both her past efforts as a member of the 2015 Leadership Northern Kentucky class and current work as its 2020 Chair. In addition, she leads Impact 100’s Charlotte R. Schmidlapp Young Philanthropist Scholarship Program and serves on several boards/committees. These include: The Renaissance Covington Board, the St. Elizabeth Planned Giving Committee and the Historic Licking Riverside Civic Association Executive Committee.

Laura has also co-chaired the St. Elizabeth Young Patrons Guild, chaired the Junior League of Cincinnati Transfer Committee and taken home the fundraising trophy at the 2019 “Dancing with Children’s Law Center Stars” event. She was also a competitor at that event. She now lives in Covington.

“What an incredible honor and joy to stand among these women and to be part of the legacy of this program. In this region I have found such a wealth of opportunities, experiences, and friendships – I feel lucky to have landed here. My heartfelt gratitude goes to my team at GCF, my LNK family, and all the friends who joined me for long talks and walks as we muscled through this past spring, together.”

Henrietta Cleveland Inspiring Women Honoree

Presented by St. Elizabeth Healthcare

Kristi Nelson

Kristi P. Nelson
Multi-Color Corporation

Kristi Nelson is Vice President of Global Human Resources and General Counsel for Multi-Color Corporation, a position in which she is responsible for overall management of human capital and legal affairs. Given its approximately 10,000 employees and manufacturing facilities in 26 countries, the Cincinnati-based company is one of the largest label solutions leaders in the world. Her professional work follows her extensive education, having earned an undergraduate degree from Arizona State University, a juris doctorate from Northern Kentucky University’s Salmon P. Chase College of Law and is admitted to both the Kentucky and Ohio bars.

Volunteerism and community work are staples of this Northern Kentucky native’s life given her innate sense of responsibility to “pay it forward” and uplift others in the community. Kristi’s work away from the corporate world is just as rich as she currently serves on the boards of several local organizations, including: The Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, the Northern Kentucky Convention Center Corporation and the Northern Kentucky University Foundation. Additionally, she is an advocate for Northern Kentucky Children’s Advocacy Center and co-chairs the St. Elizabeth Foundation’s capital campaign for its new state-of-the-art cancer center, a cause to which she is personally invested. These are among the reasons she is proud to be the 2020 recipient of the Henrietta Cleveland Inspiring Women award.

“Henrietta Cleveland refused to allow death and despair to define her. Through faith in God, Henrietta emerged from great personal loss with a renewed sense of purpose: to establish a hospital in Covington to fulfill unmet needs. We celebrate Henrietta’s legacy and her influential role as creator of St. Elizabeth Healthcare. It is an honor to be recognized as the 2020 recipient of the Henrietta Cleveland Inspiring Women award. May my gratitude be best expressed through my actions and ardent support for St. Elizabeth’s advancement of comprehensive cancer care in our region.”

Judith Clabes Lifetime Achievement Honoree

Tammy Weidinger

Tammy Weidinger
Brighton Center, Inc.

Tammy Weidinger is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Brighton Center, Inc., a community-based agency working to create opportunities for both individuals and families to achieve self-sufficiency through support services, education, employment and leadership. Beginning her career at Brighton Center in 1981 providing emergency assistance services for local families, Tammy’s career has expanded to work on several community initiatives including Family Resource Centers, P-14 Education and 2Gen Practice. She is also the President and CEO of Brighton Properties, Inc., whose mission is to assist people in obtaining self-sufficiency by developing housing opportunities. Tammy also helped develop transformational programs such as the Brighton Recovery Center for Women and the Northern Kentucky Scholar House.

Away from the Brighton Center, she is involved with many community organizations, including the Federal Home Loan Bank’s Affordable Housing Advisory Council, the Kentucky Housing Corporation’s Board of Directors, Success by Six, the Women’s Crisis Center Board of Directors, the Newport Business Association Board and the Health Collaborative.

“I didn’t know the first day I walked into Brighton Center that I would spend my entire career there—I didn’t know I would fall in love with the work, the people, the community—but that’s exactly what happened. I have loved the opportunity to create innovative programs, the privilege of collaborating with incredible people and the perspective that comes with knowing people on all kinds of journeys in this life. Careers begin and end with family—I’m grateful for my grandmother and mother (two strong, hard-working, independent women), the love and support of my husband, Ken, and the inspiration of our children Sarah and Eli, who have fulfilled my dreams by making me a grandmother.”

Nancy Janes Boothe Scholarship Recipients

Savannah Buck

Savannah Buck
Gateway Community & Technical College

Savannah Buck is the Outstanding Women of Northern Kentucky Nancy Jane Boothe Scholarship recipient for 2020. A student studying Human Services at Gateway Community and Technical College, Savannah has overcome several challenges and gone on to achieve success worthy of this award.

A peer mentor in the Student Services department at Gateway (where she helps fellow students access resources to ensure academic success), Savannah was also appointed to serve as Student Representative to Gateway’s Board of Directors. The role finds her gaining formal experience in coordinating and developing strategic plans to promote the college’s role to her constituents. Additionally, Savannah is a participant in the Kentucky Community and Technical College System Student Leadership Academy and a certified on-call volunteer hospital advocate for the Women’s Crisis Center of Northern Kentucky. The latter service stems from inspiration from her 5-year-old son and her family, and a strong desire to make a difference in the community.

She cites losing her mother a few months before her 16th birthday for sparking her desire to work in social work; she also finds inspiration to help others in older sister Danielle, who, at just 21 years old, adopted her after having already adopted her four sisters—all of whom were younger than 10 at the time.

“I’m very honored to have been selected for this scholarship and to be considered an outstanding woman in my community. Without the support that I have received from my older sister Danielle, and my wonderful boyfriend Austin, I don’t think I would have made it this far in my academic journey. I would also like to thank Denise Critchelow, Sarah Young, and Christina Powers for encouraging me and believing in me throughout my journey at Gateway.”

Barbie Watkins

Barbie Watkins
Northern Kentucky University

Barbie Watkins is a dedicated public servant with the Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati (MSDGC) where she works as an environmental laboratory analyst of water quality. She credits her success at MSDGC and gaining skills in testing techniques, analytical procedures and resolving challenges—a result of the people she works with—for helping her learn from their professionalism and approach to serving the public. She cites the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) pandemic as the catalyst for recently re-affirming these core values as much as her innate devotion to chemistry itself.

Set to complete her bachelor of science at Northern Kentucky University in the spring of 2021, Barbie was recently awarded the Analytic Chemistry Award by the university’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. In her spare time, Barbie enjoys swimming, writing and recording music.

“First, I would like to sincerely thank the Outstanding Women of Northern Kentucky committee and the NKY Chamber of Commerce Women’s Initiative. To be acknowledged by this committee (everyone involved) and mentioned with the current recipients and the legacies of those of the past is truly humbling. I would also like to extend my sincerest appreciation to my adviser, Dr. P.J. Ball, Northern Kentucky University, specifically, President Vaidya for their continued support and encouragement of students.

“Additionally, I would like to recognize all of my co-workers with MSDGC. They have all played an integral part in my professional growth. Finally, I would like to thank my mother. Although, we are all standing on the shoulders of heroic women who have come before, my personal journey of understanding the power of advocacy, resilience and service began with her love and wisdom. Again, I am honored and humbled by this scholarship recognition.”

Holly Jenkins

Holly Jenkins
Thomas More University

Holly Jenkins is the founder and CEO of Restart Your Life, Inc., a coaching firm specializing in personal and professional development. She is also an author and filmmaker whose works under Restart’s Jade Six Media division have helped propel her to appearances as an expert on issues of childhood sexual abuse on both national radio and television. She is exceptionally proud of her documentary film Empty Closets – In Honor of Those Left Behind, which highlights the lingering devastation homicide leaves on individuals, families and communities.

Her love of learning and education has compelled her to work as a reading tutor for kindergarten through college-age students as well as become a certified English as a second language (ESL) instructor. This is also why Holly will graduate this August with a degree in business management from Thomas More University after pausing her own academic pursuits to raise her family and see them through school. Having earned Dean’s List honors each semester of her college career, she has already registered to begin her pursuit of a second degree in Ethical Leadership this fall. An avid reader, she finds balance in her life by practicing transcendental meditation, cooking and volunteering at her church’s Sunday school.

“I am honored to be selected for this award and wish to thank Thomas More University’s TAP staff for their support and guidance. My family and friends have all been outstanding cheerleaders. I wish to thank them individually and collectively for their love and motivation.”

The 2020 Outstanding Women of Northern Kentucky Awards are sponsored by:

Title Sponsor: St. Elizabeth Healthcare
Presenting Sponsor: PNC
Silver Sponsors: Humana and Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc.
Media Partner: Northern Kentucky Tribune
Education Partners: Toyota, Gateway Community & Technical College, Northern Kentucky University and Thomas More University

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