Tri-C Hosts Fourth Annual Women’s Summit  

Author: Share:

By Christina Easter

On March 1, Corporate College East hosted the fourth annual Women’s Summit with “Catch the Fire: Women as Agents of Change in the Workplace” as its theme. The list of speakers and panelists shared their knowledge, experience, and wisdom for adapting to a changing workforce using the latest technologies, business models, and success strategies. The event was made possible by faculty, staff, and student volunteers and support from the Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) family. Although the vast majority of attendees were women, the Summit welcomes all genders.  

The Summit is one of the committees that plays a pivotal role under Tri-C’s Advancing Women in Equity and Inclusion taskforce whose goal is providing students, faculty, and staff of all gender identities with information, services, programming, and training that address matters of particular concern to women.  

The theme of this year’s Summit was based on bringing awareness to women working in different environments that are nontraditional in breaking barriers. Speakers and panelists included Deirdre R. Jones, first female to supervise the homicide unit of the City of Cleveland Department of Public Safety; Gina DeVito-Staub, first female fire officer at Twinsburg Fire Department; firefighter and entrepreneur Lauren Phillips; entrepreneurs Jennifer E. Bosco, Sabrina Cali, Ariane Kirkpatrick, Meltrice D. Sharp, Karen Mitzo Hilderbrand, Tari Rivera, and Sara Stucky Sayner; Tri-C staff and faculty members Holly Craider, Ronna McNair, and Suzanne Ortiz; and Reverend Gloria Chaney. 

“We knew we were going to be influencing students, so we wanted them to walk away inspired to consider professions outside of what they are normally exposed to,” said Magda Gomez, executive director Diversity and Inclusion. People are thinking about women in leadership roles in corporate environments and most of the time you’re not going to encounter women in spaces like public safety and construction unless you go to an event like the Women’s Summit.”  

The Summit opened with attendees being greeted to a continental breakfast as they completed registration and before opening remarks by Sonja Elekhtaby, manager Adjunct Services at Eastern Campus and Terrii Zernechel, scheduling specialist.  

Renee Tramble Richard, president and CEO of Tri-C Corporate College gave the opening keynote in an interview with Danita Harris, news anchor and founder of the non-profit organization S.H.I.N.E. Tramble shared information about working as an attorney and climbing the corporate ladder as a mother and wife. 

The keynote was followed by breakout sessions: 

  • Set Your Voice on Fire: Public Speaking as an Agent of Change presented by Holly Craider, Associate VP of Curriculum, Assessment and Accreditation Activities; 
  • Fostering Collaborative Leadership for Impactful Workplace Transformation presented by Jennifer Bosco, Ed.D and founder of Bosco Consulting;  
  • Fire Up Your Passion: Developing an Entrepreneurial Mindset presented by Ronna McNair and Suzanne Ortize; and  
  • Striking a Harmony in Pursuit of “F.I.R.E.” in Our Lives presented by Reverend Gloria Chaney, pastor of the Affinity Missionary Baptist in Cleveland. 

Katie Ponsart, student life advisor for the Westshore campus served as a committee member after attending the Summit the last two years. Ponsart attended the Set Your Voice on Fire breakout session and said the Ruth Bader Ginsburg quote “speak your mind even if your voice shakes,” is advice she will use. Ponsart will also use the public speaking tip “not to worry about what you can do to the people in that room because public speaking isn’t about you.” 

After lunch, Dee Dee Pfister, associate vice president Academic Professional Development led a networking session in which attendees introduced themselves to each other and shared professional experiences and information. Sabrina Cali, adjunct professor at Tri-C’s Sports and Exercise Studies program followed with a mindful movement/well-being session. 

A major highlight of the Summit was The Trailblazer Panel which featured women across Northeast Ohio who have paved the road for others to follow which was moderated by Tari S. Rivera, founder of Regency Construction. Panelists included Gina DeVito, captain of Twinsburg Fire Department; Deidre R. Jones, retired from Cleveland Division of Police; Ariane Kirkpatrick, president and CEO of the AKA Team; Lauren Phillips, full-time firefighter and entrepreneur; and Sara Stucky Sayner, architect and owner of Stucky | Sayner Architects. Each of the panelists spoke about the risks they have taken and risen against as they broke new ground and challenged the status quo. 

After attending each Summit since 2019, Zernechel decided she would join the committee and applied to get her master’s degree from Tiffin University. “I have been so inspired to make changes in my life after the first in-person Summit in 2023,” Zernechel said. “I have never missed a Summit and I want to make sure that other people have the same opportunity, and I hope we accomplished that this year.” 

Nikki Matala, liaison for Campus Community Relations volunteered with the Speaker’s Committee which encourages women to be strong and blaze their own tails by selecting a career that they are passionate about.  

“It’s not always a white collar job or career that every woman is passionate about,” said Matala. “Some thrive from the hands on excitement, rush of adrenaline, and thrill of knowing they have made a difference in the lives of others. So, this year’s approach to getting speakers was refreshing and more inclusive.” 

Gomez, Elekhtaby, and Zernechel are already preparing for next year’s Summit by reviewing feedback from the surveys. “It takes a lot of work to put it together,” Gomez said. “And it would not have been done without our co-leads and all of us who work at the College. So, kudos to everyone for making sure we stayed on task and did everything required to execute an event like this.”  

Previous Article

The MEHA Conference: Tri-C in Indiana 

Next Article

Women’s Basketball head coaches win co-Coach of the Year  

More from The Voice

Leave a Reply