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Meet the Outstanding Women of NKY honorees to be celebrated at awards luncheon on May 17

On Tuesday, May 17, the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Women’s Initiative will recognize its 2022 Outstanding Women of Northern Kentucky honorees with a luncheon celebration. The awards were established in 1984 by the late Nancy Janes 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 2022 Outstanding Women of Northern Kentucky honorees include:

Emerging Leader Honoree

Amanda Dempsey, Ed.D.
Early College Supervisor, NKU Young Scholars Academy for Kenton County Schools

Amanda Dempsey

Amanda Dempsey, Ed.D. is the early college supervisor for the Young Scholars Academy at Northern Kentucky University (NKU), an early college program empowering students to pursue higher education by enrolling as full-time college students in their final two years of high school. Throughout her 13 years in education, Amanda has focused on the development of student agency by building relationships with students, families, and their communities.

Amanda’s recent work has revolved around expanding the Young Scholars Academy to a regional program. She strongly believes in the collective impact of effective collaboration between educational stakeholders and works with both NKU and the Northern Kentucky Cooperative for Educational Services to increase access and support for early college initiatives. A first-generation college graduate, Amanda’s passion is helping fellow first-generation students navigate the higher education landscape. She holds a doctorate in education from NKU in Educational Leadership and was a 2019 Golden Apple award recipient from the Northern Kentucky Education Council.

Outside the classroom, Amanda’s life revolves around her family, including her husband of 12 years, Geoff; their two sons, Ian and Crosby; and their intensely affectionate Labrador retrievers, Lulu and Henry. Their family resides in Union.

“Any honor that I achieve is truly the result of teamwork and collaboration, and I can’t say thank you enough to my team,” said Amanda. “My mentor, Dr. Francis O’Hara, who always helps me move forward. Dr. Henry Webb, thank you for your mentorship, innovation, and belief in our team. Dr. Winona Landis, thank you for always being my co-creator of experiences for those students we serve. Thanks to my mom, Beth Owens, for always being my role model for female leadership, and to the guys at my house: Geoff, Ian, and Crosby—being your wife and mom will always be the best role I have.”

Outstanding Women of NKY Honorees

Sylvia Buxton
President/CEO North America, Perfetti Van Melle USA

Sylvia Buxton

Sylvia Buxton is a strategic global executive with more than three decades of experience in fast-moving consumer goods, shepherding high-profile businesses and brands such as Mentos, Airheads, Hershey’s, Reese’s, and Airwick.

She is the most senior woman in global leadership at Perfetti Van Melle Group, currently leading the North American business unit of more than 1,000 employees across the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Perfetti Van Melle is the second-largest global candy and chewing gum manufacturer.

Sylvia is a passionate coach and mentor, with emphasis on nurturing emerging women leaders. She is an active member of mentoring committees for NextUp and the NKY Chamber Women’s Initiative. Under her leadership, Perfetti Van Melle USA was named one of NKY Best Workplaces by NKY Magazine in 2021 and 2022; the company has also been named a Community Champion finalist in the 2020 and 2021 NKY Chamber Business Impact Awards.

Sylvia is active in the local business community, on the Boards of the Cincinnati Regional Chamber and the OneNKYAlliance. She’s also a member of the Board of Advisors at the NKY Chamber. She is also on the Board of the National Confectioners Association (NCA).

When she’s not working or sharing family time with her husband, two adult children and two cats, Sylvia is an avid competitive Masters swimmer, for which she holds several top 10 USA rankings.

“I am extremely proud to be named as one of Northern Kentucky’s Outstanding Women,” said Sylvia. “This honor is shared with the entire team at Perfetti Van Melle who are passionate about our company, our brands and our support of the community. And of course, my family who lifts me up every day.”

Amy Quinn Dye
VP Private Banking, Republic Bank

Amy Quinn Dye

Amy Quinn Dye serves as a VP of Private Banking at Republic Bank in Northern Kentucky, providing her clients with the very best in personalized banking services. With over 30 years of experience in banking, Amy has held several integral roles due to her ability to operate strategically and produce results. Amy is proficient in building and maintaining strong relationships and represents true servant leadership in both her professional and personal life.  In fact, she was the first chair of Republic Bank’s Women’s Business Resource Group founded in 2019.

Amy is actively involved in nonprofit volunteerism in the Greater Cincinnati community and has had extensive involvement with the NKY Chamber. Amy is a proud member of Leadership NKY’s Class of 2004 and served as the 2016 LNK Chair as well as many other committee chair positions. As a steadfast supporter of women, Amy has dedicated herself to the Women’s Initiative as both a mentor and a round table participant.

Amy is a champion for Catholic education and has served on the Board of Directors for Notre Dame Academy (NDA) since 2013. She has taken on many responsibilities since then, including serving as the Board Chair since 2019. Amy also actively participates in NDA’s mentoring program.

With a passion for helping children in need, she has served in many capacities for DCCH Center for Children and Families including Board President, Vice President, Secretary, Development Committee, Capital Campaign Co-Chair and Big Sister Volunteer. Through her professional career, volunteer engagement and philanthropic fervor, Amy has had an indelible impact on the Greater Cincinnati region.

“I am beyond blessed to have had the opportunity to work with and serve so many amazing people over the years – both in my professional and philanthropic work,” said Amy. “I am grateful to my family, friends and employer for supporting me and inspiring me to make a difference in the lives of others.”

Julia Keister
Founder & Owner, Lil’s Bagels

Julia Keister

Julia Keister is a business owner, community activist, and mom who has always worked to make the world a better place for all. Julia spent her twenties teaching special education in Brooklyn, New York. After moving to Northern Kentucky in 2014, Julia started working at The Point in Covington supporting teens and adults with disabilities. Julia then launched her own company, Different x Design, which connected artists labeled as having a disability with art entities in Covington.

It was during this time, that a culinary passion became a reality. Julia perfected the art of making the bagels she dearly missed from New York. This evolved into Lil’s Bagels, named after Julia’s “Bubbe,” Lillian, and eventually the community anchor it is today.

In the beginning, Julia was the visionary, salesperson, marketer, accountant, delivery woman, chef and 4 a.m. baker. She blazed her own path, with a mission that has always been equally dedicated to serving delicious food, as well as a safe space for revolution. Lil’s now employs nearly 15 primarily Queer-identifying people, who proudly serve breakfast, lunch, and inclusivity to Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati. Through monthly fundraisers and numerous other events, Lil’s has raised over $60,000 for local organizations and efforts and has empowered countless individuals.

Julia accomplished all these endeavors, while proudly expressing herself as a Queer Jewish woman. In 2019, she won the NKY Pride LGBTQ+ Inclusive Business award, was named a Center for Great Neighborhoods Commitment to Covington Awardee and in 2021 became a Kentucky Colonel.

“I would like to thank all the changemakers past, present, and future who have inspired me and made my path as a Queer woman possible,” said Julia. “Thanks to my parents who instilled in me the life mission to fight for equality. Thanks to my wife Hannah, and our little rascal Boaz, who have taught me what love, family, and being a woman mean.”

Jennifer Steele
CEO, Meals on Wheels Southwest OH & NKY

Jennifer Steele

Jennifer Steele serves as CEO of Meals on Wheels of Southwest OH & Northern Kentucky, which – under her leadership – has grown into one of the largest and most influential community-based organizations serving seniors in the country.

With more than 15 years of service in the nonprofit sector, Jennifer’s approach to community impact blends a deep respect for history and values with a relentless drive for change and innovation. She approaches problem-solving with empathy and compassion for others, a deep understanding of systemic social issues, grit, and determination to find a better way. Jennifer believes that it’s possible to transform the way that our community and country show up for the seniors who helped to shape and build it, and she channels all her energy into exploring possibilities and blazing new trails.

Jennifer received her Bachelor of Social Work and Master of Public Administration degrees from Northern Kentucky University, where she has served as an adjunct faculty member. She has been honored by the Leadership Council for Nonprofits with the VUCA (Vision, Understanding, Clarity & Agility) award, by both of her alma mater programs as a Distinguished Alumnus, and is a graduate of Leadership NKY. She currently serves as a national board member for Meals on Wheels America and volunteers for Saturday Hoops and the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation. Jennifer lives in Ft. Thomas with her daughter Vivienne.

“I am so grateful for the women and men who surround me with love and support, and who have sponsored me and cleared the brush,” said Jennifer. “I’m also grateful for the people and situations that have challenged me to stay soft while fighting harder, to lock arms with others when I’m tempted to go it alone and to get creative in solving the problems that we’re all facing together.”

Helen Carroll Champion of Education Honoree

Stacie Strotman
Executive Director, Covington Partners

Stacie Strotman

Stacie Strotman has been involved with Covington Independent Public Schools for as long as she can remember. She attended school in Covington from kindergarten through grade twelve, only leaving the city for four years to attend the University of Kentucky. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and her master’s degree in Public Administration from Northern Kentucky University. There, she was recognized as the program’s outstanding graduate.

For the past 23 years, Stacie has worked with Covington’s families and students through a variety of roles. Currently, she serves as the lead for wrap-around services for Covington students, providing mentoring, after-school programming, family engagement, academic enrichment, summer learning, and more. Her most notable success has been increasing after-school program participation from approximately 400 students to over 1,800.

Stacie is a regional and national leader, currently serving as the chair of Leadership Northern Kentucky, a board member for the National Afterschool Alliance and a member of the White-Riley-Peterson policy fellowship program through Furman University, and policy chair for the Kentucky Out of School Alliance Leadership Council. Stacie is also an adjunct professor at Northern Kentucky University teaching Strategic Planning and Evaluation in the Masters of Public Administration Program.

“It has been such a blessing to follow the women who relentlessly created a path when there wasn’t one,” said Stacie. “I will be forever grateful to my parents who have provided me with everything I needed to become successful and my sisters who made it easy to follow their lead. To my husband, Mike, and my daughters, Kayelyn and Emma, you have allowed me to work beyond my abilities through your support and encouragement. It has been my greatest honor to work for Covington Independent Public Schools and lead Covington Partners. I hope I have made my community proud.”

Henrietta Cleveland Inspiring Women Honorees

Amy Beck, VP Private Banking, Republic Bank
Martha Barnes, retired from PNC, St. Elizabeth Volunteer

Amy Beck and Martha Barnes

For more than 60 years, Amy Beck and Martha Barnes have had a successful partnership – as identical twins! Over the course of 35 years, they’ve had successful careers in the banking industry. Amy is a VP of Private Banking at Republic Bank and Martha is retired from PNC Bank.

These roles have provided a solid footing for the fundraising activities they’ve spearheaded over the years, most notably the Rally for the Cure golf outing.

For 17 years, Rally for the Cure has been raising funds for breast cancer patients in the Tri-State area. Too often, patients find themselves uninsured, underinsured and unable to obtain the necessary exams and tests to maintain breast health. Rally for the Cure steps in to assist these patients. After Martha’s breast cancer diagnosis in 2005, helping patients through their cancer journey has become a priority for the twins. Now, Martha volunteers in the Cancer Center at St. Elizabeth.

Amy and Martha currently serve as the Co-Chairs of Rally for the Cure, and have volunteered for many community-minded organizations over the years, including Redwood, Omega Phi Tau Sorority, the NKY Chamber, and they are both active in their church, St. Pius X. They are also past recipients of the Notre Dame Academy Women Making A Difference Award.

“Your world can stop on a dime; it’s how you react that makes the difference. I’ve been so blessed to have won the cancer battle, and I believe part of my recovery is to help others through their journey,” said Martha. “I am truly humbled to have been chosen as an Outstanding Woman of NKY. Thank you to my husband Kevin, and extended family and friends, for their never-ending love and support.”

“I am very blessed to be a part of a loving, close family with parents who taught us to give back. Quickly, I discovered I was rewarded more by giving than receiving,” said Amy. “Thank you to my family, George, Lauren, Johnny, and Kyle for always cheering me on and supporting me. I am proud to be surrounded by such amazing women leaders in our community. Thank you to the NKY Chamber of Commerce for this honor and to Carri Chandler for nominating Martha and me for this award.”

Judith Clabes Lifetime Achievement Honoree

Kathy Jennings
Senior VP of Oncology & Patient Services, St. Elizabeth Healthcare

Kathy Jennings

Kathy Jennings began her nursing career at St. Elizabeth Healthcare more than 39 years ago as a nurse assistant while in nursing school at Northern Kentucky University. She soon found her passion in oncology—a passion that has never wavered. Kathy’s career was nurtured within the oncology program during her time providing direct patient care — her first love — to leading the vision of the oncology program to become the beacon of hope it is today.

Under her leadership as Senior Vice President of Oncology & Patient Care Services for St. Elizabeth Healthcare, the new Cancer Center has come to fruition. This Center offers patients quality cancer care under one roof, including medical, radiation, and surgical oncology, as well as a full complement of services that prioritizes the patients’ psychosocial care. In addition, her Oncology Research team is providing local access to cutting-edge clinical trials while the Precision Medicine and Genomic Health team focuses on healthcare disease treatment and prevention by utilizing genomic information to guide the patient’s healthcare path. 

“I am humbled and honored to receive this award. I am grateful to the senior leadership team at St. Elizabeth Healthcare for their support and mission-driven efforts that allow me to lead a talented team of healthcare professionals in providing patient-centered, quality cancer care,” said Kathy. “Additionally, I am so very grateful for my personal support system, my husband Tom and my children. Without their inspiration and their patience in helping me achieve a successful work-life balance, I would have never realized the professional fulfillment and privilege I’ve been afforded in making a difference in the lives of the people and community we serve. Lastly, thank you to the NKY Chamber for honoring me with this award.”

Nancy Janes Boothe Scholarship Recipients

Rachel Elizabeth Gateley, Allison Jayne Reynolds, and Shannon Swikert

Allison Jayne Reynolds
Gateway Community & Technical College

Allison Jayne Reynolds began her college career during a pivotal point in her life. Due to addiction plaguing her young family, she made the decision to raise her two young children on her own and pull them out of the difficult situation they were facing. That is when the Ready to Work Program through Gateway Community and Technical College swooped in and turned her path around completely.

A natural caregiver, Allison spent many years caring for her elderly neighbors, grandmother, and disabled father. When she saw that Gateway offered the Massage Therapy Program, she knew instantly what she wanted to do. Even with a six-month-old and a two-year-old, she began their life again.

Allison considers it an honor to turn around and help the next person in need. To help others get access to all the help she once had to get herself is beyond rewarding. Today, she helps other students access the on-campus Food for Thought Pantry and begin the process of receiving food, childcare, medical assistance, and counseling.

Her degree is one that will also assist others in physical healing. Her years of caregiving have set her up for so much success in this field. Once she is a Licensed Massage Therapist and finishes her Associate Degree, she looks forward to working with palliative care and creating her own business in Medical Massage.

“Words cannot express how honored I am to be surrounded by such strong, amazing women of Northern Kentucky. It is only by the grace of God, help from my mother and a fiery determination for success, that this was even possible,” said Allison. “The encouragement this has provided me will last me long into my days. To look back and know where I came from, and to look forward at such wonderful women ahead cheering me on is just beautiful.”

Rachel Elizabeth Gateley
Northern Kentucky University

Rachel Gateley is a Revenue Cycle Management Specialist II at Gravity Diagnostics, who is currently earning her bachelor’s degree in Finance from Northern Kentucky University. Rachel also completed her Real Estate Certificate and Associate of Arts degree in Pre-Business Administration from Cincinnati State in 2021.

At Gravity, Rachel was on the front lines during the COVID-19 pandemic. This allowed her to help process samples for those who utilized the nationwide testing that Gravity offered through their drive-thru locations, as well as Kroger locations across the country. Gravity Diagnostics’ 48-hour turn-around-time for COVID-19 test results was crucial in helping prevent the spread of the pandemic.

Rachel recently lost her mother to pancreatic cancer and has used this as motivation to help raise over $6,000 for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network in her mother’s memory. She also spends her free time volunteering with The Barrack’s Project, Inc., a local 100% non-profit 501c3 organization that assists service members and honorably discharged veterans reintegrate back into civilian life.

“I would like to thank my dad for his continuous unwavering support, and my mom for being the driving force behind my desire to always help others,” said Rachel. “Thank you to my boyfriend, Russ, for being there every single time I want to just quit and reminding me that I can accomplish absolutely anything I set my mind to. My friends and family – I wouldn’t have made it this far without every single one of you pushing and encouraging me. I’m honored to receive this award, and I look forward to continuing to better myself and serve our local community.”

Shannon Swikert
Thomas More University

Having recently made the switch from scientist to educator, Shannon Swikert is completing her first year at St. Paul School in Florence where she is the middle school science teacher. This position has provided her with an opportunity to share her love of learning with her students and to experience the exploration of Earth, life, and physical sciences with a renewed sense of awe and adventure. At the same time, Shannon is studying for her Master of Arts in Teaching at Thomas More University.

Shannon earned her Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of McGill in 2021 where she studied the molecular mechanics underlying the formation of medulloblastoma, a pediatric brain tumor, in the lab of Dr. Frederic Charron at the Montreal Clinical Research Institute. In 2011, she graduated summa cum laude from Centre College with a Bachelor of Science in biochemistry molecular biology. Between her two degrees, she worked as a research assistant in Dr. Kathy Saatman’s lab in the Spinal Cord and Brain Injury Research Center at the University of Kentucky.

An active member of her internal community, Shannon served on many committees of the Institut de recherches cliniques de Montréal student association during her time as a graduate student; she even acted as president of the student association in 2017-18. Currently, Shannon is the St. Paul School librarian, which gives her a chance share her passion for reading with the student body.

“I am honored to have been selected for the Nancy Janes Boothe scholarship, and I am grateful to Drs. Kim Haverkos and Alissa Ayres for nominating me,” said Shannon. “I would like to thank Joanne Nesmith and the St. Paul community for their warm welcome and kindness. Most importantly, I would like to thank my family, especially my parents, for their unconditional love and support.”

Outstanding Women of NKY event

Information about the Outstanding Women of Northern Kentucky awards, past honorees, and more, can be found online at NKYChamber.com/OWNK22.

The event is sold out, but to be put on the waiting list, email Beth Farrer at bfarrer@nkychamber.com

The 2022 Outstanding Women of Northern Kentucky Awards are sponsored by:

Title Sponsor: St. Elizabeth Healthcare
Presenting Sponsor: PNC
OWNK Award Sponsor: Heritage Bank
Event Sponsors: Corporex, Humana, Perfetti Van Melle USA
Media Partner: Northern Kentucky Tribune
Nancy Janes Boothe Scholarship Education Partners: Toyota, Gateway Community & Technical College, Northern Kentucky University and Thomas More University.

The NKY Chamber Women’s Initiative, sponsored by PNC, started in 2008 and is the leading organization for women of all career stages to connect, grow and achieve for business and professional success. The Women’s Initiative offers a continuum of growth for women of all ages and stages of their careers.

The Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, Inc., founded in 1969, is the leading business organization in Northern Kentucky with more than 1,600-member companies representing approximately 170,000 employees. The NKY Chamber strives to promote and support the development of strong businesses and a vibrant economy in the Northern Kentucky region, through leadership and advocacy, resulting in a better quality of life for all. Garren Colvin, President and CEO of St. Elizabeth Healthcare, is the Chair of the Board and Brent Cooper is the President and CEO of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.

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