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Paying Tribute: local and global gratitude

She is strong. Resilient. Compassionate. Wise. Kind. Supportive. Thoughtful. She is your mother. Your sister. Your friend. Your teacher.  Your mentor. She is every woman who has ever encouraged, empowered, and believed in you.  

At the Women’s Fund we believe in paying tribute in honor or memory of the special women, and girls in our lives. A tribute allows you, in your own words, to share your appreciation and gratitude. 

With Mother’s Day a month away we are highlighting a couple women who have affected the lives of Women’s Fund supporters and donors. While also reminding ourselves of the power a mother, or grandmother has globally and locally. 


Magdalena “Lena” Bauer Patton was a strong, trailblazing woman who was ahead of her time in many ways.  She was born in 1912 to German immigrants who came to Springfield, Ohio, for a better life.  They owned a bakery and they struggled.  Lena was often told in words and in actions that she was less important than her big brother.  When his socks were worn through and unfixable, Lena would be expected to wear them.  When she dreamed of going to college, she was told women should not be educated.

Lena believed in herself and in the need for women to be educated.  She put herself through Wittenberg University during the Depression.  She earned a biology degree and graduated in the class of 1933.  She worked three jobs while going to school to pay for Wittenberg.  She graduated at noon and was back to work at 1:00 p.m.

Lena Bauer Patton was my grandmother.  She was hugely influential to me and she is reason I have my career.  I would go to her house after school as a young child.  She, my grandfather, and I would watch the business news channel (the pre-curser to CNBC) and track individual stocks like Coca Cola, Disney, and Nike.   She taught me about being generous while being conservative with spending.  She taught me about the joy that comes from spending money on experiences with family and friends.  

Despite health and life challenges, she was a shining example of civic involvement.  She was on the boards of Ridgewood School and the Y.W.C.A. in Springfield.  She had four children and a husband who traveled for his career but she made time to give back.  She was the matriarch to her adoring family which also included 10 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren while she was living (now 12).

Lena Bauer Patton believed in education for all.  All of her grandchildren have undergraduate degrees and 7 have advanced degrees.   She was intellectually curious and always kept up with current events.  She read the Wall Street Journal every day of her life until she passed away at the age of 93.  Her sharp business acumen was not allowed to flourish due to other life responsibilities.

She is the reason I majored in Economics at The University of Virginia.  My first present when I went away to school was my first subscription to the Wall Street Journal.  Early in my career, I sent my grandmother a note of thanks and picture of myself in my first real office.  I sent her my business card.  I had hoped she would smile and keep it on the “ice box”.  Instead she cried tears of joy, pride, and happiness. 

I asked my grandmother one year at Easter to answer 10 questions I had written about her life and the historic world events she had lived through – the Depression, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, the social and cultural changes in America, etc.   At Christmas, she presented me with a notebook filled with pictures, family history, and expanded answers to my many questions.  No one else in my family knew I had asked her and received this treasure trove of memories.  She passed away on July 20, 2005 surrounded by family – the same way she had lived her pioneering life.  At the funeral, I presented copies of her memory book to her children and grandchildren.  Her life and her stories – written in her own handwriting – continue to teach us, guide us, and help us as we encounter the challenges and joys of life.

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Written by Cary Hanosek, Women’s Fund Programs Committee & Merrill Lynch Financial Advisor


At the Women’s Fund we are working locally to create gender equality and influence in central Ohio. By working with soHza, a company that connects women change makers, we are able to be a part of something even bigger.

soHza believes that when a woman is at the center of change, anything is possible.

soHza facilitates a partnership between local non profits for women and global inspired artist from all over the world. So, as we honor mother’s and women mentors locally we would also like to pay tribute to them globally.


Check out the Women’s Fund’s soHza collection here:


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Will you join us to see Ashley Judd on May 1?

Your know her. You love her. Now, see her like never before! 

Join us for an intimate conversation with author, activist, and actor at the Ohio Theatre on Thursday, May 1st:


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Equal Pay Day: Women, Wages, and the New Year

I would like to invite you to take a moment to think about your New Year’s resolution.

Can’t remember? Never made one? That’s okay. I went months without any thought of my ‘commitment to organization in the New Year.’ In all, my service to this cause lasted about an hour and mostly involved scribbling notes on a calendar. I recently added a new note, however, for a day that made me recall my resolution and pushed me to make a better one.

The day I marked was April 8, 2014: Equal Pay Day. Based on the national wage gap, the day symbolizes how far into 2014 women must work in order to earn what men earned in 2013.

I wish I could say that I had simply forgotten to mark the day in my original flurry of notes, but the truth is that I only recently learned of Equal Pay Day—thanks to an email from The Women’s Fund. I knew roughly what the current wage gap looks like, but I had never really stopped to think of its cumulative effect until I went to mark the day, fifteen weeks and four pages into my calendar.

Nationally, a woman who works full-time earn 81 cents for every dollar a man earns. Here in Central Ohio, she earns 78 cents on the dollar. Equal Pay Day illustrates how these dollar differences amount to days and years of inequity among workers.

The day also offers a chance to reflect on the progress made over the past several decades. After all, when President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act in 1963, women were paid just 59 cents on the dollar. Advocates for pay parity have made tremendous progress, but women in 2014 are still playing catch up.

Young professionals like me will largely determine how much longer this inequity will continue. Achieving equal pay will require quite a bit of legwork on our part, but can we stand to live we the alternative? Consider that, on average, female-headed households in the Central Ohio area are much more likely to live in poverty and have lower median incomes than male-headed or married households. And poverty rates for girls remain higher than average for all females, with more than 1 in 4 girls in Franklin County living in poverty. The additional dollars and cents and calendar days available as a result of equal pay could go a long way towards improving this picture.

Young professionals in the workforce now assume a great responsibility, but we are lucky to have organizations like The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio and the Columbus Young Professionals Club offering us guidance. For this year’s Equal Pay Day, the Women’s Fund and the CYP Club—with support from Fifth third Bank—bring together an impressive group of women to lead a panel discussion titled Equal Pay Day: Leaning Into Your Full Potential. The event offers young professionals an opportunity to learn a variety of concrete skills needed to close the wage gap. 

The panelists include:

Aisha Allen, Director of Sales Coaching and Development at Nationwide, as moderator of the discussion.

Kris Cannon-Jackson, Training Coordinator for the City of Columbus, sharing her recent experiences in the workplace.

Catherine Lang-Cline, President and Co-Founder of Portfolio Creative, offering an employer and entrepreneur’s perspective.

Tanya Menon, Associate Professor of Management & Human Resources at the Fisher College of Business, addressing the importance of negotiation.

I hope that our commitment to pay parity will ensure that “wage gap” is a term that girls only read of in history books. Maybe later in life we will even lament that young women take our achievement for granted, a problem that would evidence our success.

For this year’s Equal Pay Day, as women financially begin year, I’d like you to join me in making a new New Year’s resolution. Think of some small way to stay conscious of the wage gap and its impact on our community. If you attend the Equal Pay Day: Leaning Into Your Full Potential panel, pick one piece to carry with you this year. If you can’t make the event, read up on legislation like the Equal Pay Act or the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act from 2009 to better understand the equal pay laws we’ve got on the books. And, if you haven’t already, plan to attend Keyholder on May 1, 2014 to celebrate the potential of women and girls.

Happy New Year—let’s make the next one come a little earlier.


Written by Patricia Arehart

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Equal Pay Day: Leaning in to Your Full Potential

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On Equal Pay Day, Tuesday, April 8th, we will host a panel around the power of realizing and leaning into your full potential.  


We are partnering with Columbus Young Professionals to convene this Equal Pay Day conversation moderated by Aisha Allen, and featuring panelists:

Kris Cannon-Jackson, Training Coordinator for the City of Columbus

Catherine Lang-Cline, President and Co-Founder of Portfolio Creative   

Tanya Menon, Associate Professor of Management & Human Resources at the Fisher College of Business      

Join us on Tuesday April 8th 

5:30 – 7:00 p.m. 

The Women’s Fund Offices

2323 West Fifth Avenue Suite 230  

 Columbus, Ohio 43204  

Equal Pay: Leaning into your full potential.

Join in the conversation #EqualPayCbus   

Click here to register*

*If you do not wish to register through CYP, please email Sarah Pariser at to process your registration.

Thank you to our sponsor:

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Change-Agents in Time


Hatshepsut.  Before today, I had never heard of her, or even known it was a woman’s name.  Egyptologists refer to her as the “first great woman in history of whom we are informed.”  Hatshepsut was an Egyptian pharaoh who ruled for over 20 years in the 14th century B.C.  She is perhaps the most influential and successful of all the pharaohs in all of Egypt.  Hatshepsut helped ensure economic prosperity for Egypt and built and restored monuments throughout the lands.  She was a change-agent.

Like me, maybe you had never heard of Hatshepsut before now.  Just like maybe you’ve never heard of Sybil Ludington, Hedy Lamarr, or Juliette Gordon Low.  I know I hadn’t.  There’s a serious problem here, and it’s not our fault.  The problem is that women’s history is not known.  What is history if it’s not studied, written down, remembered, and used?  Studies show that only 10% of individuals identified in U.S. history textbooks are women.  In addition, less that 8% of the 2,560 national historic landmarks chronicle the achievements of women.  Women’s history is seriously lacking. 

Why are women not represented in our own history?  We know that it is not because women are not changing the world.  A simple internet search will prove that. The issue has never been can women make a change, but rather how and when, and why haven’t we heard about it.  We are called to step forward and make changes, but we don’t know enough about our history to trust in ourselves; to know that we are the change the world needs; to know that we can catalyst off of the woman change agents of our past and become change agents ourselves.  Catalysts create and encourage change, but they also need people to react with.  In chemistry, a catalyst added to nothing, is just a catalyst, unable to react.  We need to know about our past so that we can use it to catalyst us into our full potential.

What we need to do now is change the conversation.  Let’s talk about why we aren’t in history books.  Let’s talk about why monuments of women don’t adorn the walkways and entrances of big buildings in cities around the country.  Let’s talk about how we can change the world, regardless of the extra steps we may need to take to realize and recognize those who have come before us.

Throughout history women have been called to change the world but not treated like the men who changed the world while standing right next to them.  Whether we change this or not, it’s important that we know that women change agents go back as far as our history.  In fact, the first female change agent was one of the greatest pharaohs in history, changing Egypt in a way no man before or after her was able to.  Taking note of this, and of all of the incredible women who have come before us, let’s all move forward as change agents.   

And in case you were wondering…Sybil Ludington outdid Paul Revere-travelling twice as far as him, Hedy Lamarr made cell phone use possible, and Juliette Gordon Low founded the Girl Scouts.  Amelia Earhart flew across the Atlantic Ocean, Jeanette Rankin was the first woman member of the US Congress, and Toni Morrison was the first black woman to receive the Nobel Prize.  We are catalysts!

We may never change the history books, or the difficulty with which we find out about the women who have blazed trails before us.  We can, however, write our futures.  We have the ability to be aware of what has come before us and to create what is to come next.  Let’s continue the trailblazing, change-agents!  And on the day you can research simply ‘change-agents’ and not ‘female change agents’ to find out all about the women who have made a difference in our world, we can look back and smile, about how passionately we knew this day would come.

Despite our limited mention in history text books, several women are continuing to carry the torch and be change-agents that we can both admire and look to for inspiration.  One of these women is this year’s Keyholder, Ashley Judd.  Taking steps forward, creating her own change, and being a catalyst for those of us who aspire to change the world, Ashley Judd truly is a change-agent of our time.  Join us on May 1st as we become inspired by the ways in which she is changing the world and providing catalyst for us to do the same. 

Written by Brittany Teal, Women’s Fund Intern

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Change-Agent: Maya Angelou

Throughout history many women have left their mark and made an impact on our society. Women who broke down barriers, who became trailblazers in science, politics, athletics, arts, and beyond. Women who stood up for their gender and themselves. Women who challenged the prevailing views, many times male dominated, to take a stand and advocate the rights of equality for women. Their personal actions have created a foundation for future generations of women and their legacies ignite important global conversations.

As a modern woman, I look to these change-agents as an inspiration to have the courage to use my voice and to do whatever it is that I would like to do in life (within limits of course, but societal pressure not being one of them).

Maya Angelou is a notable change-agent because she used her artistic voice to speak on behalf of women and African-Americans alike. Her voice in her writing is strong and wonderfully unapologetic. Her works convey a message about having the courage to persist and to overcome, and for women to “refuse to be reduced” by what unwillingly happens to them.

At the age of eight, Angelou was raped by her mother’s boyfriend. Shortly after he was found guilty, he was beaten to death, a death for which Angelou felt she was responsible. As a result, Angelou was mute for five years, believing that “my voice killed him, I killed that man because I told his name.” A loving woman and family friend helped Angelou eventually come out of her silence and encourage her passion for poetry and language.

Throughout her life, Angelou overcame many daunting obstacles—she dropped out of high school, became pregnant at age 16, worked as a nightclub dancer and prostitute, and led a live of poverty. Despite all of this, she continued to cling to her dream of becoming a writer.

To date, Angelou has published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, and several poetry books, plays, movies, and television shows. She is the first African-American female director in Hollywood. She has written and produced several award-winning documentaries, most notably Afro-Americans in the Arts. She is an accomplished actress, nominated twice for a Tony award for her performances in the Broadway production of Look Away and Roots .

Maya Angelou is an extremely accomplished woman in many facets of the arts, but it is her legacy through her works that continues to inspire legions of women. Her works encourage women to open themselves up to the public without shame, and her life story inspires women to be resilient and to pursue their dreams with a fiery passion.

We’ve come a long way as women, and have overcome many challenging obstacles presented to us solely because of our gender. We have our trailblazing ancestors to thank for changing history, and we have ourselves to thank for actively working to change the future.  


At Keyholder, we celebrate both the women of the past and the present who work to advocate something bigger then themselves. We’ve invited modern-day change-agent Ashley Judd to speak about her humanitarian work and to empower all voices. Ashley will without a doubt inspire us as women to continue the legacy that women in which women like Maya Angelou have laid the groundwork.


Written by Andie Boutelle, Women’s Fund Intern

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Powered Up for Potential!

Recently, I’ve had the pleasure to spend time each week with a group of middle school girls delivering Power Up, our bullying prevention program. The first couple of sessions were awkward, but that’s to be expected – after all, they didn’t know me, I didn’t know them, and many of the girls barely knew each other outside their typical friend groups.

So, we spent those first few weeks building up a safe space for the girls – we call it “bubblicious,” because when we close the door to the classroom we are creating a bubble around our group, and we don’t want to say or do anything outside our bubble to cause the bubble to pop. We developed a group agreement, outlining how we were going to treat each other. We talked about the good, the bad, and the “ugly” of being friends with girls – and just how much exclusion, rumors, and gossip hurt. To help break the ice, I even shared one of my personal experiences – it’s a bit of a long story so I won’t go into it here, but it emphasizes how long it can take to re-build a friendship once things turn ugly.

Just last week, we had finally built up enough of a safe space talk about the three types of bullying (physical, verbal, and relational) and share our personal stories. It was one of the most intense and emotional sharing sessions I’ve experienced in the three years that we’ve been offering the program. With each story, my heart broke a little more for the things these girls have experienced – rumors, exclusion, name-calling; you name it and at least one of the girls had experienced it. It was heartbreaking and tears were shed. But then a surprising thing happened – as girls became emotional, other girls around them began jumping up to provide comfort, hugs, and encouraging words to each other, crossing their friend groups. It was sisterhood at its best, and an amazing sight to see!

Thanks to the Women’s Fund of Central Ohio, we’ve been able to expand this powerful program into other counties by sending four people to Colorado for the Power Up train-the-trainer experience. With these new Supertrained women, we’re able to train even more teen girls and young women to deliver the program. With their help, we’re building girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place by becoming defenders against bullying behavior!

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Written by Lindsay Collett, 

Program Services Manager for the Girl Scouts of Ohio’s Heartland 

Wisdom Behind Women’s Day

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March 8th is International Women’s Day. When I remembered the significance of the day I immediately started searching the internet for Gloria Steinem, Eleanor Roosevelt, Toni Morrison,  and other inspirational women that give meaning to the day. I was ecstatic. I Googled away. I found great and inspirational quotes. I re-read stories of accomplishments all of these great women had made and things they had said that inspired others.

I Googled ‘women who have changed the world’ and read about Cleopatra, who was the Queen of Egypt at 18 and the last Pharaoh; who spoke nine languages and during her reign brought together Egypt and the Roman Empire in a way that those before her had not been able to do.  I read about Sojourner Truth, who fervently fought for the abolishment of slavery and women’s rights, and spent her years after the Civil War educating and helping former slaves transition into lives of freedom. I read about Grace Hopper, who invented one of the first easy-to-use computer languages and propelled herself into a field that had yet to see much work by women.  And I read about Eleanor Roosevelt, who approached a newly elected President John F. Kennedy in the 1960s with a list of women that were qualified to be in his administration, demanding that he give women a chance, thus inspiring the Presidential Commission on the Status of Women. I read about so many women. And when I tired of reading, I watched videos, looked at pictures, and imagined epic quotes coming out of these amazing women.

I researched and researched, barely remembering to take a breath away from all of the amazing information I had found.  I had always been proud of the women of the past, but I didn’t completely understand the gravity or the impact they had on us now.  I had always looked at the history of women as just that—the history.  When I finally took a breath, it was one of inspiration.  I thought about the time I had spent researching, and what it had done to me.  I wondered what it all meant. I wondered what I was supposed to do with all of it and I wondered how my research could be any different than anyone else before me. I wondered what twist I could take on these great achievements and then I remembered that I wasn’t writing a research project.  I was being inspired by change agents. These women weren’t just historical figures, icons, authors, inventors, activists, etc., they were change agents. They were women who not only changed the world, but inspired others to do so, too. They started change movements that we get inspired to become a part of.

I wondered why we are always so inclined to research and admire the past, when we should be breathing it in and letting it change us; breathing it in and using it to change the world.  We’re reminded that there have been female trailblazers, but taught that those trailblazers were one in a million.  It’s great to admire the past and learn from the women who have changed our present, but what now?  What about us?  What about our future? There are still women around the world getting abused and beaten for having ideas,  girls denied the right to go to school, and women being denied equal pay in the workforce for doing the same jobs as men.  We have come far, but there are still miles left to go.  There are still stories to be written, strides to be made, change agents to do their part.  International Women’s Day isn’t a memoriam; it’s a celebration, a reminder, and an encouragement.

Every year, the United Nations declares a theme for International Women’s Day. This year, the theme is ‘Inspiring Change’, which I think couldn’t carry a greater message.  Maya Angelou once said that “people may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.” Years from now we may not remember the distance Amelia Earhart flew, or the years of service put in by Mother Theresa, but we will remember that reading their stories of bravery, courage, and resilience made us feel like invincible women.They made us realize that we all have a reservoir of potential, waiting to be utilized.  Inspiring change is all about using your potential.  Inspiring change is about changing your own life and the lives of all of those around you. Inspiring change is exactly what all of the historic women of the past have done. All of the women that I had researched were change agents. They changed themselves and they changed people. They changed the world. The women of history began to come together into this giant change agent inspiration that I wanted to be a part of.

Gloria Steinem, historic women’s rights activist, author, and change agent, said this about the women’s rights movement:

“This is no simple reform.  It really is a revolution.  Sex and race because they are easy and visible differences have been the primary ways of organizing human beings into superior and inferior groups and into the cheap labor in which this system still depends.  We are talking about a society in which there will be no roles other than those chosen or those earned.  We are really talking about humanism.”

She talked about change in a way that really speaks of both the gravity and the attainability.  She speaks of change like a change agent. To her, and to all of the women I researched, change was something they not only felt within themselves, but also something they encouraged others to feel, too. They were part of a women’s movement that isn’t stopping because they refused to stand still, and we are, too. That’s what change agents do–they keep the ball rolling.

It finally came to me. International Women’s Day is not about finding an influential woman to quote. It’s not about citing research that shows how much women impact our world. It’s being able to write this blog. It’s about Google searching ‘women’ and getting back the most inspirational and moving results the internet has to offer. It’s about having an endless amount of search results.  It’s about us.  It’s about so much bigger than us. It’s about being a change agent. It’s being able to intern at the Women’s Fund of Central Ohio. International Women’s Day shouldn’t make us read statistics and try to be inspired, because we should be doing that every day. International Women’s Day is a day of homage, respect, and inspiration. It’s a day to breathe. It’s a day to thank the women in your life.  It’s a day to live your life. 

As you celebrate today, you may take a moment to stop and think about the strides we have made. You may take a moment to stop and think about where you would like to be. You may take a moment to stop and say thanks. Most of all though, take a moment to be you. In the words of Janis Joplin- “Don’t compromise yourself.  You’re all you’ve got.”

Everyday we are called to be the strong, independent, and fierce women that we are.  We are called to be ourselves. We throw off the bowlines, honoring the women who came before us, and paving pathways for those who are yet to come.  We inspire change, within ourselves in within others. We are change agents.        

Tomorrow, as we celebrate International Women’s Day, let us keep in mind the places we have come from, and the places where we aspire to be. 

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Written by Brittany Teal, Women’s Fund Intern

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Tell us, who is a woman in your life that is a change-agent?

#SheDocs is a month-long festival of films by prominent independent filmmakers that focus on women and girls who are transforming their lives, their communities, and the world.


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YOU are a Change-Agent

We are all change-agents.

By definition, a change-agent is someone who acts as a catalyst for change. In science, they are substances capable of initiating a chemical reaction or transformation. In business, they are people who restructure existing networks for increased output. In communities, they are people who seek to set higher social standards and lasting impact.

Mother Teresa said “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” Set the example and live by it. Take action and accountability. Your time, money, and voice are catalysts for social change for women and girls in our community. You actions count, no matter how big or small. Every woman is a part of the Women’s Fund movement, and together we make an extraordinary difference.

In short, social change starts with YOU.

The journey of a thousand miles begins when one woman takes a single step forward. Individual women have instigated movements that have created positive change for the masses. Oprah Winfrey, Sandra Day O’Connor, and Malala Yousafzai are modern-day trailblazers who have created a significant change in society.

We have many change-agents around us on a local level. The late Stefanie Spielman made it her life mission to raise money and awareness for breast cancer. She used her voice and public battle with breast cancer to raise millions of dollars for breast cancer research, education, and patient assistance. Her memory lives on, and so does her effective campaign to raise awareness.

Donna James used her own story and experiences to create the nonprofit that focuses on helping teen parents succeed. The Center for Healthy Families engages parenting teens and their children in opportunities to acquire self-sufficiency capabilities of health and well-being, positive networks, education and employment through a coordinated network of the most effective community services. Donna demonstrates being a change-agent by approaching hr work and leading with the sake of human dignity, safety for all, and creating a community for young women to thrive. 

Jeni Britton Bauer turned her passion for desserts into a successful business. Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams started off as a small stand in the North Market and now has sixteen stores in four different states. Her ice-cream has been praised by Time, Cooking Light, and Food & Wine. Jeni inspires young women to follow their dreams, Jeni is an example of how strength and vision can make dreams a reality. From mentorship to being a community supporter, Jeni constantly motivates those around her.

Nellie Krumlauf, founder of Nellie’s Catwalk for Kids (NC4K), touches lives on a daily basis while also creating a community of support for children and families of childhood cancer. Starting NC4K at just 16 years old, Nellie has continued to make an impact in the hearts and homes of families battling pediatric cancer. Always acting as an agent for change Nellie symbolizes just how the power of one can inspire many. Her work ignites hope, raises awareness, educates the community as a whole, and creates lasting optimism.   

No matter your age, capacity, or experience- You too are a change-agent in our community.

Your support for the Women’s Fund is helping to create gender equality and social change for women.   

This year’s Keyholder is Ashley Judd, is an accomplished actor and humanitarian. We’re looking forward to hear Ashley share her inspirational stories and passion for human justice; we’re just as excited to celebrate you, the social change agents in our community. Keyholder is an opportunity for all of us women to come together and commemorate the work we do as advocates and philanthropists for women and girls. She exemplifies what it means to be a change-agent.

At Keyholder–we say you hold the key; you have power to unlock the potential for women and girls. Your awareness and action is the reason why the Women’s Fund continues to create gender equality and amplify women’s voices in Central Ohio.

You are a change-agent. 


Join us at Keyholder this year on Thursday, May 1st as we focus on being agents for change.

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Written by Andie Boutelle, Women’s Fund Intern and Sara Mitchell 

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The Wonder Girls: Otterbein’s Women’s Leadership Network


When Hannah joined the 7th grade girl’s leadership club, Chick Chat, she always took a seat at a disheveled desk in the far corner of the classroom and kept to herself.  She was very antsy, shifting her body from side-to-side during activities, staring out the window, and making loud sighs when her attention wandered. It was as though she carried her troubles into the room, but struggled with how to let them out. 

After the third club session, the university mentors collected all the journals from where the girls had been inscribing their personal thoughts about their time together.  In dark rapid pencil strokes, Hannah shared that she was dealing with a death in her family and was also trying to cope with her father’s arrest and sentencing to jail. 

Knowing that Hannah was having a difficult semester, at the next session on “Facing Fears,” her mentor, Liz, took her hand and asked her if she wanted to share something.  It was in that moment that Hannah started to open up to us on a more personal level and shared her story with her peers in the group.  As she found the confidence to tell her story, her middle school peers did the same, confronting their fears, finding their voices, and helping each other come up with solutions to the everyday pains of middle school.  They needed Hannah to open the circle.  Her bravery helped the other girls to harness their own resiliency and made the space for strong bonds to form.  She was the catalyst for a support system in that room where voices were strong and strategies for empowerment were forged.  At the end of our fall programming, she wrote in her journal four powerful words that later became the title of their ‘zine:  I Am Not Alone.

Hannah’s story is not unlike the stories of most of the middle school ‘tweens who participate in Otterbein’s three middle school clubs.  In surveys of these girls, they tell us that they need to build their self-confidence, find strength, fight back bullies, and figure out what to do with their lives.  The 135 girls in our programs over the past year are among the 33% of their peers who are economically disadvantaged in a school designated as “at risk” by the Ohio Department of Education.  Given their backgrounds, they are more likely to have low cognitive scores, significant learning disabilities, and lower graduation rates. 

If these girls do make it to college and persist to graduation, they will earn only 77 cents to the dollar their male classmates make upon graduation.  They are also far less likely than male students to move into an executive position in one of Ohio’s companies.

Middle school girls face well-documented external barriers to their academic success, including a lack of social support, absence of role models, and bullying.  Last year, 82% of the girls in our leadership programs said they also struggled with their own lack of self-confidence and voice as they moved through their daily lives.  With a grant from The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio, Otterbein’s Women’s Leadership Network (The NET) is addressing these obstacles by expanding our near-peer mentoring programs to a new group of sixth graders and growing a wider network of university women volunteers to serve in our girl’s clubs.  University students have also designed new empowerment days for the girls to come to campus for their first 1/2 Day of College while they develop personal and collective strategies for social change they can take back to their schools. 

During our most recent campus visit for the girls, Hannah was part of a group of 45 ‘tweens who participated in their own Wonder Women for Social Change campaign.  After an early leadership session in a campus classroom where we shared a brief herstory of women social change agents, the girls spent the rest of the day together designing an anti-bullying campaign for their school. University mentors hosted a workshop for the girls to explore their own experiences with bullying and one of our students trained by the Girl Scout’s Power Up program shared a session on how to stop bullying.  Adorned as caped crusaders in silk blue and red capes, the girls ended their day as superheroes posing for a photoshoot, videotaping for a short documentary, and creating campaign posters to hang up in their school.

Hannah and her sisters in leadership are embarking on new leadership journeys with the help of their Otterbein University mentors.  Together, they are creating new pathways in central Ohio for brave young women to face their fears, find their voices, and lead the next generation of social change.

For more information about the Otterbein Women’s Leadership Network, please visit our website





Written by Dr. Melissa Kesler Gilbert, Associate Dean at Otterbein University

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Appeal vs. Athleticism: how female Olympians were represented in Sochi and beyond

After last night’s closing ceremonies and Sochi has officially ended, just how big of a stride was made for women athletes?

This past August, the Women’s Fund partnered with the Blue Jackets Foundation, the Greater Columbus Sports Commission, and the YWCA to host a special viewing of Branded, and an espn-W documentary that was part of their Nine for Title IX series. The film explored the double standard placed exclusively on female athletes to not only be the best athlete, but also the sexiest. Branded begged the question: will sex appeal always override achievement in the realm of women’s sports? The conversation continues to be relevant, especially with the ongoing Olympic games in Sochi. More than ever, women are predominately leveraging their looks for fame.

But is this the athletes’ fault?

Do we blame the player or the game?

According to Time magazine, during the two weeks of the Olympic games, female athletes get more screen time than usual—only 4% of airtime is dedicated to them during the rest of the year. Female athletes are pressured to capitalize on this exposure to fund their next four years of training, and doing this typically requires them to play up their sex appeal.  Olympic bobsledder Lolo Jones, who has been criticized for publicizing her looks, reflects this sentiment in Branded as she states, “I have a chance to get sponsors every four years, and that money has to last. If you know anything about the Olympics, in between—those four years in between –it’s like the desert [financially speaking].”

Using beauty for endorsements can also backfire on female athletes; such is the case for U.S. figure skater and Covergirl spokeswoman Ashley Wagner. She was accused by the media of earning her spot on the Olympic team because of her looks, not talent (a claim that U.S. Figure Skating denied). It’s doubtful that a debate this public would even occur if it were about male athletes.

This blatant sexism is perpetuated by the media and sports advertisements. Olympic sponser Covergirl set up a beauty challenge sweepstakes in which women are encouraged to be “inspired by” athlete’s beauty tips. What we should be encouraged to be “inspired by” are these women’s unbelievable ability and dedication—that is, after all, what got them to the Olympics in the first place.

As an avid follower of the Olympic games, I see the Olympics as something more than a competition; the games and the media surrounding it represent the global values that we all share. The perfect timing of Julia Mancuso’s nearly-nude photo spread in GQ Magazine seemingly overshadows her bronze medal winning performance in women’s alpine skiing.  To me, this sends a clear and morally incorrect message to young girls that winning is important, but appearing sexy is even more so. When and how can this lens change? 



(example advertisement used during Olympics to highlight women athletes)

Written by Andie Boutelle, Women’s Fund Intern

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Love is Respect

One in three teens will experience dating violence and two-thirds of them will never report it. Abuse crosses all social, economic and ethnic boundaries, devastating a young person’s health and safety. Dating violence hurts victims, families, friends, schools and communities.

For resources of all kinds – Go to: loveisrespect: A project of Break the Cycle and the National Domestic Violence Hotline. 

There is much research on Teen Dating Violence. One perspective links bullying and dating violence, linking  the  shared risk factors of both bullying and dating aggression.

According to Albert Bandura: 

A “moral disengagement”  is created by the key fundamental elements and root causes of bullying which  create a power differential within interpersonal relationships.  Moral disengagement is defined as, “a lack of self regulation regarding moral conduct”. While there is not a direct causal link between bullying and dating agression later in life, researchers point out that young adolescents who perpetrate bullying become involved in romantic relationships earlier than those who do not bully, and are therefore more likely to report verbal and physical aggression in their earliest intimate relationships (Josephson and Pepler, 2012).

Written by Julie Harmon,  Ph.D Executive Director IMPACT Safety

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The Authentic Advocate: Ashley Judd

We all know Ashley Judd for her incredible on-screen presence spanning more than two decades. She’s been the leading lady in over twenty films, like Ruby in Paradise, Double Jeopardy, and High Crimes. She’s starred in the Broadway adaptations of Picnic and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. She’s a Golden Globe and Emmy nominated actress who has played both meaningful and strong roles; showing that a woman can be smart, determined, caring, tough, and everything in between.

Off screen, Ashley Judd is a humanitarian who has dedicated her life to being a voice for the voiceless. She currently serves on the board of directors of Population Services International, Defenders of Wildlife, and Shaker Village. She has traveled to Southeast Asia and Africa to visit programs focused on poverty, public health, and human rights. Judd is a Global Ambassador for YouthAIDS, a nonprofit initiative that both provides assistance and educates the public about the proliferation of HIV/AIDS. She works with Women for Women International, an organization that helps women to rebuild their lives after war, and Equality Now, which protects the human rights of women and girls globally.

Working to help others find their voices, Ashley believes society holds the responsibility, “It’s up to us to take pop culture back and to express quality and dignity for both boys and girls.”

Judd also uses her political connections to advocate issues on behalf of the suffering and impoverished. She amplifies all the voices she meets around the globe to create change and encourage gender equality. “You have so much power to bring awareness, prevention and change,” Ashley Judd truly lives by her own wisdom with this decree.

Ashley Judd is a woman to whom we all can relate. She graduated from the University of Kentucky with a major in French and was a member of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sisterhood. Like many of us, Ashley Judd has had to face some challenging obstacles in life. She proved her resilience in battling depression and codependency as a result of childhood abandonment and abuse. Through her recovery, Judd found a voice that was strong and authentic; a voice that she has used for the greater good of humanity.

Her authenticity radiates as she builds on the words of Robert Keegan:

“‘When we take the risk of really witnessing another human being, when we validate their human experience, we risk becoming recruited to their welfare.’  I allow my empathy to be engaged, and once it is – because my feelings help teach me what my values are – I’m on the path for which there is no return.  I am inexorably an advocate when I allow my empathy to be engaged.”

She is an advocate, a woman of action, an inspiration. Ashley Judd personifies the values of The Women’s Fund. The Women’s Fund of central Ohio educates, engages, and raises awareness in the community to bring about change. On May 1st as our 2014 Keyholder Ashley Judd will empower all voices as change-agents. 



AJ and kids

Join Ashley Judd and the Women’s Fund of Central Ohio on Thursday, May 1st for Keyholder 2014. Tickets on sale now: click here to learn more. 

Written by Andrea Boutelle, Women’s Fund Intern 


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