By Megan Alley
The achievements by women in business were celebrated during the Clermont Chamber of Commerce’s second annual Women’s Business Awards luncheon, held June 7 at Receptions Eastgate.
“I believe every professional female has unique talents that they bring to their workplace,” said keynote speaker Angela Byers, Special Agent in charge of the FBI’s Cincinnati Division.
Before the awards were presented, Byers spoke about the evolving role of women in leadership, business and beyond.
“Over the last 30 years of my career, there have been a lot of changes,” she said. “Most have been very positive.”
She added, “I can remember times much earlier in my career when I was given a specific role because I was a female special agent; one in particular stands out.”
Byers recounted that she was working with a team on a public corruption case. Due to a “babysitting issue,” the case agent asked her to watch his four children while he attended an event tied to the investigation.
“They don’t exactly provide that type of training at Quantico, as you would guess,” she quipped. “But, at the end of the night, they wanted to know if I could always be their babysitter.”
She added, “This is one of those incidents I laugh at now, but clearly, I was called upon to help with that situation because I was a woman.”
Years ago, FBI Director John Edgar Hoover wouldn’t allow women to become special agents, Byers said.
“Law enforcement was seen as a ‘males only’ career,” she added. “That’s unfortunate because the viewpoint of an intelligent woman can provide ideas, methods and solutions to improve an organization.”
Byers said that she often had to work harder than her male counterparts to prove that she could succeed in law enforcement management.
“You may face the same challenges in your profession, and I would encourage you to persevere,” she said.
She added, “Thanks to you, there are more opportunities for women in the professional world than ever before; I encourage you to take full advantage of these opportunities and work to create even more for yourself and for other professional women.”
Last year’s Business Woman of the Year winner Cyndy Wright, Woman Owned Business of the Year winner Natalie Fiscus and Young Professional of the Year winner Katie Foran-Mulcahy were each introduced by Local 12 News Anchor and returning event emcee Sheila Gray.
Wright, Fiscus and Foran-Mulcahy presented this year’s winners in each of their respective categories.
Nancy Ball, CEO for Summit Solutions Consulting Inc., was named Business Woman of the Year.
“Truly, I am very surprised to be standing here,” Ball said. “When I saw the list of the finalists, I was just incredibly honored to even have my name on that list.”
The other finalists were Mary Eisnaugle, Lykins Energy Solutions vice president of marketing and advertising, Julie Highley, senior vice president of HORAN, Berta Velilla, director of early learning programs for Child Focus Inc., and Christine Wick, director of the Clermont County Public Library.
Ball added, “I’m really excited to be here – I was excited to be here last year – because it feels great to be surrounded by strong women.”
Ball, a Clermont County native who recently hiked 100 miles of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, has been involved with Impact 100, the Leadership Council of Human Service Executive, Boys & Girls Clubs of Clermont County, the Eastern Area Action Council of United Way of Greater Cincinnati Eastern Area, Agenda for the Future, the Cincinnati Nature Center, Crossroads Church, Cincinnati Adventurers and Volunteers Group and many more.
“I love Clermont County, and here, we’re really good at taking care of each other,” she said. “Women do indeed bring some very unique skills and talents to the workplace, and sometimes those skills and talents are overlooked and under utilized.”
She added, “I truly believe that we all benefit when we encourage each other to excellence.”
Other winners were Elizabeth Tracy, CEO of TaleMed, which was named Woman Owned Business of the Year, and Jackie McNary, senior program director for the Clermont County YMCA, who was awarded Young Professional of the Year.