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The Trailblazers: Rewriting the Narrative

The editorial team has a special attachment to our new series, The Trailblazers: Rewriting the Narrative, because so many of us feel that media portrayals of women have been too one dimensional. Today, women are doing incredible things in all fields – from science and technology to finance, law, business, athletics and more. With the Trailblazers series, we hope to highlight and celebrate female role models, encourage more equal and just representation in the media, and help foster a more tight-knit community locally helping women find mentors, business partners, friends and more.

Chelsea Gibson

Most of my adult life, I was unsure of a career path that suited me. I am definitely right-brained and have always been very artistic, into singing, drawing, painting, but never really expected to make a career in the field. I have worked in the restaurant industry, at auto parts stores, in the cosmetology field, but nothing ever really stuck or kept my interest. After I had my children, my daughter in 2015, and son in 2017, my interest peaked in photography. I enjoyed taking photos of my kids, and found a $60 DSLR camera for sale online, and started learning everything that I could through YouTube videos. I loved how much you could change your image with the different functions. Read more>>

Emily Egner

I was born and raised in Cincinnati, but always knew I wanted to move to New York and pursue a career in entertainment. I took the leap after I graduated from the School for Creative and Performing Arts, and wound-up attending college in the big apple. I was having the time of my life – learning, growing, finding myself, and pursuing the things I love. Flash forward to junior year and there’s a global pandemic. My school went online and I was suddenly back in Cincinnati in a matter of days. Funny thing is, I haven’t left since I’ve returned home back in March 2020. I’ve reconnected with so many incredible friends and mentors, and have found a new love for teaching. I work 3 different jobs and couldn’t be happier. Read more>>

Tina Marie

My story began in Cleveland when I was in high school, I began working in the local malls doing beauty services specializing in eyebrow threading, makeup, and eyelashes. After graduating high school, I went to the University of Akron for a couple years for music, then I moved back home to enroll into beauty school in North Olmsted to become an Esthetician, as I realized one of my callings in life were to be in the beauty industry professionally. Eventually, I relocated to Florida, in which I completed skincare school and became a Licensed Esthetician. I juggled between doing my own mobile beauty services along with working in local franchise salons. After I had my children, I realized I wanted to pursue another journey, which was making handmade products for your skin. Read more>>

Crystal Ann Hall

I am Afro-Hispanic, born and raised in Cleveland, OH. Both my parents were born and raised in Puerto Rico and moved to Cleveland in their 20s – where my father became the first Hispanic male officer assigned to the Narcotics Unit/Task Force, Tactical Unit, and the Recruitment Unit after serving in the Army. During the first few years of my education, I took ESL-based classes. My parents worked with me on my communication and art proficiency, teaching me to be intentional about succeeding. I have a strong passion for communication and community engagement. I attended and graduated from a digital arts-based curriculum high school, SuccessTech Academy. That was when I began to pursue a passion for digital arts and graphic design. I worked as a freelance throughout college, creating flyers and branded materials for local car washes, beauty salons, and small businesses. Read more>>

Melissa Arey

I unknowingly started Hello Invite in 2010, after designing all of the wedding stationery and paper goods for my very own wedding! I got my first inquiry DURING our wedding reception! From there, it snowballed from a “hobby” to my full-time job! Read more>>

Jessica Thomas

Ever since I learned how to do my makeup, I always played up my eyes as my focus feature. My go-to beauty look then (and still is now) is a soft neutral smokey eye with a winged liner and a wispy tapered lash. My love for eyes not only grew within my own looks but also within my artistry as a professional makeup artist. The eyes are the window to the soul and have such a large ability to transform a look entirely. To me, makeup is an art form of creative expression that should make people feel beautiful, sexy, confident, and most of all empowered! In the lash industry, it is a struggle to find a lash to compliment every look. A lot of times, I would cut lashes up and piece them together or double/triple up my lashes. Read more>>

Tracey Watts Cirino

I help motivated female entrepreneurs and business owners create the life and business of their dreams with my cutting-edge systems and strategies.  Tracey Watts Cirino is an #1 International Bestselling Author and speaker, podcast host of Beyond Common Business Secrets. As a thought leader, and unshakable optimist dedicated to helping you get out of your own way so you can become the person you most want to be. She is a former award-winning salon owner and most sought-after color transformation expert turned business success coach and strategist. As an all-in, no BS, passionate female business success coach and speaker Tracey loves speaking and doing keynote presentations hosting training workshops, women retreats, and masterminds, and lighting up the stage to deliver her Beyond Common Success message of Hope & Possibility. Read more>>

Emily Anderson

I moved to Orlando, Florida in 2007 to get the ultimate cosmetology experience at Paul Mitchell the School Orlando. After completing my program, I moved back to Northeast Ohio to begin my career, networking, continuously learning all aspects of the business, and hustling to get my clientele built. After only a few years behind the chair, I decided to become self-employed at only 22 years-old and quickly learned that it was the way to go in our industry! My goal had always been to open my own salon and I knew that I wanted to help other stylists that had an entrepreneurial spirit, make this intimidating jump to working for themselves. In May of 2018, I opened Good Co. Salon & Spa in downtown Cuyahoga Falls and at the same time the entire city was being rebuilt around me. It was an incredible experience to be a part of my own hometown’s revival. Read more>>

Stacee Starr

I started exploring photography as a teenager. I was lucky enough to have access to a darkroom and film supplies at my high school, along with a teacher willing to let me spend some extra time working after hours. Over time, I fell in love with the science behind balancing light and emphasizing my favorite features in life. It helped me find the beauty in nature, in people, and in myself. Over the years, I found my eye was unique and appreciated by my creative peers. I started working with people I respect and revere as artists, finding my stride and finding how to contribute in a creative sense. Money was always a goal, but I felt that couldn’t be my only goal. For a while, I avoided paid shoots and gigs just because I wanted to enjoy myself without any pressure. Now, I see what I do and I see value. Pay your artists!! Read more>>

Stefanie Frankenstein

When I was young, my grandparents, Phyllis & Dick Frankenstein, owned the original Frankenstein’s Nursery, so plants are in my blood. I grew up spending a lot of time with my grandparents at the nursery and playing in the greenhouses while my grandpa watched me and worked. We had a tight bond, although coming from a small family, we have all been pretty close. My grandparents retired when I was in junior high, so I never really had the chance to slide into a real job at their greenhouse. By the time that I grew up, I had lost a little bit of that connectedness to plants and nature but redeveloped that once I had a space of my own that allowed me to garden. Read more>>

Candice Tolliver

My start in the beauty industry was a little slow. I have always had a love for all things beauty ever since I could remember, but I decided to go to college instead. After several years of trying to purse a degree in criminal justice while raising an infant I dropped out. That was probably one of the lowest moments in my life because all of my college friends went on to graduate. There I was a college dropout turned server and bartender for the next 10 years. Although the money was lucrative for me in the service industry I knew the back-to-back doubles, and the long night shifts standing on my feet for hours wasn’t going to be a long-time career for me. But I still did it anyway because I couldn’t think of another job that was going to give me the same pay and flexibility. Read more>>

Sonya Moore

First, I’m a child of God, daughter, a daddy’s girl 💕, a wife of twenty-three years, a mother of two young adults, a dog lover, and the CEO/Owner of my own boutique administrative consulting and support firm, Moore Planning & Consulting. As a child, I always was the go-to person if someone needed help organizing an event, brainstorming an idea, leading a group, etc. Using my administrative skills just came naturally to me. So much so that I even went to a vocational school in high school for business. That’s where I fell in love with the office life and it became my dream to become a secretary. I absolutely loved typing, organizing, filing, and learning all the skills of being a secretary. I was determined to be THE best secretary there was and I was! Read more>>

Elaine Bell

I’ve always identified as an “artistic” person and pick up art-making skills quickly. After graduating art school, I found myself being what someone once referred to as a “Kerouac-esque” character, jumping from field to field, constantly exploring what felt right to me; that balance between what feeds the heart and what puts food on the table – and it was tricky to find. I was working in catering during the pandemic and started following people on social who had created careers for themselves by making their art in one way or another. The mural scene was particularly inspiring to me, and I thought, “I could be good at that…” After going on a vacation with my partner and getting space from my day-to-day grind in food service, I realized I wasn’t putting my natural gifts to their full use, and so I started All Trades Design Co. to design murals and illustrations that bring joy and connection to people’s spaces. I’ve been running it for almost a year now! Read more>>

Emmy Walker

Growing up in Cincinnati, I’ve had plenty of beautiful scenery surrounding me for stunning photography. I have always loved photography from the time I could remember. Whether it be being behind the camera taking the photos or looking through my parent’s old photo albums, I was obsessed with all things photography. I would ask my family for a camera every single year for Christmas – I finally got my wish during my freshman year of college at The University of Mississippi (Ole Miss). I would do photo sessions for my sorority sisters and bring my camera to sorority events. I even took my camera into an Ole Miss game and took pictures of players on the field. I learned a few weeks later that unless you are approved by the school, you can’t just bring your DSLR camera into an SEC sports event… whoops! Read more>>

Barbara Yehsakul

I started this website because my husband was sent to Cleveland for residency and it was hard to find a place to live. Most medical families have to do all housing hunting online and medical professionals have very specific housing needs. I thought to myself, there had to be a better way. By training, I am a speech-language pathologist and I was a stay-at-home mom when I started the site. I had no training in web design or marketing, but I had this idea and a problem to solve. I found a Cleveland company named Go Media that helped me build the site. Read more>>

Lisa Marker Robbins

Lisa Marker Robbins understands how overwhelming the college-bound journey can be for families. She takes joy in watching her clients move from overwhelmed and confused to motivated, clear, and confident about what comes after graduation. With information is power and Lisa’s purpose is to guide families to be able to make informed decisions. For over 30 years, Lisa has professionally worked with teenagers and their parents. She began as a teacher and then became an independent college counselor in 1999 as she started her first company LEAP, a test prep, academic, and college coaching company. In 2010, she began her work as a college major and career coach. Read more>>

Whitney Hamilton

I’ve been photographing for 7 years now! I was passionate about photography from the beginning, and having my own flexibility and control over my schedule was important to me. I took classes online regarding business and photography, determined to “make it” in the photo world. I worked with another photographer in Cincinnati for about 3 years, learning everything I could, and officially started photography under the name of “WhitneyWhitneyMedia” in 2020. I learned that although I love all types of portraits, branding, business and headshots is where my creativity thrives most. 2020 and 2021 were two very challenging years to begin a business, but I came out strong and successful strictly due to my passion and downright refusal for failure. Read more>>

Kathryn DiMartino

I’ve been an illustrator since I was very small! I originally wanted to illustrate children’s books because I loved to read, but as an adult and professional I had trouble finding my niche until my late 20s. My current body of work started with an illustration of a demon at a night market on a Suzuki RA125, a little dirt bike used in the Japanese tokusatsu series “Kamen Rider Black”. I did six illustrations in that series, but I had never ridden a motorcycle! Later that year I found out a friend of mine actually had several bikes, including a rare minibike (a Kawasaki KD80x), and they let me take a little ride around a parking lot one warmer day in December. After that, I was obsessed. I couldn’t get enough – I bought my own motorcycle less than three months later, a Yamaha TW200. I was (am!) hell-bent on learning to ride and being a better rider. Read more>>

Julie Ann Yoe

I began teaching in the Euclid City School district in 2001. During my 18 years in Euclid, I taught grades kindergarten, first, and second grade as well as coaching high school cross country. While working on my second master’s degree in Educational Administration I began to truly reflect on my educational career. My coursework at Ursuline College focused on self-reflection as well as learning how to care for emotionally well-being. It also provided and encouraged time to notice how my students needed more social and emotional guidance, especially with the high poverty rate in my district. I began exploring mindfulness with my students and started with various breathing exercises. Read more>>

Christina Ayoub

I was a young single teen mom & on my own. I had never given much thought on what I wanted to be when I grew up. I knew I needed a career, not just a job. I saw an ad for a CNA position at a nursing home that included the certification class, it was perfect. I spent the next few years in working in nursing homes. This will always be hands down my best life experience. I learned so much about life & love for others. I always wanted more! I soon realized I needed 2 jobs. I worked 6-2 at a nursing home and 2-6 at a daycare for years. When my daughter started Pre-K, I decided I needed a 9-5 job to spend more time with her. I spent the next 18 years as an insurance agent. As my daughter started getting older, I started realizing that I had the perfect opportunity to reinvent myself. Read more>>

Elizabeth Falco

Ricardo Reinoso’s vision for 2020 was to plan and launch Cleveland Dinners, a relaxed monthly gathering of diverse people to share a meal and have conversations about race and equity. The model has been used in other cities and been successful in bringing people together in Chicago for decades. In the early days of 2020 Reinoso’s plan was to have dinners around the city and Cleveland suburbs, groups of eight to 10 hosted at people’s homes, but the coronavirus pandemic put that plan on hold. After seeing the success of the Decatur Dinners—a 1,200-person conversation about race that took place over a shared meal in 120 locations across Decatur, Georgia—Reinoso knew he had the perfect pedigree to bring a similar initiative to Cleveland. Held in August 2019, the timing coincided with Reinoso’s participation in the Neighborhood Leadership Development Program, which empowers emerging civic leaders by requiring them to helm a local project aimed at positive change. Read more>>

Tina Garriott

There are many stories inside the story I am about to share but I will explain small beginnings. I had the pleasure to work with the 1st executive director in the 1st month of Growlers production in mid-2016 through a special needs student I served/worked within the Columbus City School district. For 19 years I had been a Special Needs Instructional Assistant our classroom taught real-life job skills at 7 different companies such as Jo Anns, Ronald McDonald, and Mount Carmel Hospital. Growlers was a social enterprise which takes spent grains from local Microbrewers and created dog bones. What a business… environmentally helpful, serving the population I have spent my whole life with and DOGS! I gladly accepted the co-founder position. We worked side by side and I soon learned we did not see the same future. Read more>>

Natalie Rich

I am proud to be 1/4 of the team at Gallery 202, located in 78th Street Studios in the Gordon Square Arts District in Cleveland, Ohio. Myself (Tesori dal Lago Jewelry), along with Aaron Swank (Aaron Swank Ceramics), Marcus Schafer (SWORKS), and Mark Yasenchack (Ceramics) are approaching our one-year anniversary as Gallery 202 on May 1st. Gallery 202 currently represents over 40 Northeast Ohio Artists. Every two months, our themed group shows change for a whole new experience. The most popular time to visit the monthly 78th Street Studios’ Third Friday artwalk from 5-9PM. Gallery 202 is also open on Wednesdays, 4-7 PM, Thursdays & Fridays, 11 AM – 5 PM, and Saturdays, 12-4 PM. Read more>>

Heather Wolking

I was a freshman in college (fall of 02) and I was dating a guy whose mother was a hairdresser. And I honestly never thought of that as a career. I always enjoyed playing with min and my friends’ hair. And I loved to experiment with mine both cutting and coloring. So, I meant this guy’s mom and she found out I was doing my own hair and said “for no professional training you do a really good job, imagine what hair school could teach you!” So, I put it into consideration and by the end of my freshman year, I decided to enroll into cosmetology school at Aveda in Hyde Park. After cosmetology school, I struggled finding a salon that would higher someone with tattoos and piercings. I just didn’t seem well received. So eventually I reached out to a fellow Aveda graduate to find out where she went. So, I interviewed for Pump salon/Mitchells salon and day spa. I was hired by them in Nov of 2006. Read more>>

Heidi Vitchner

This all started by accident. Prior to 2010, roughly, I was looking for earrings to match a necklace my husband had given me. I searched every major department store as well as the smaller boutiques, to no avail. One day I was walking around our local shopping district. There was a bead shop that sold to jewelry makers but also had already made items displayed “For Sale”. I thought “what the heck” maybe they’ll have something to match the necklace. They didn’t but I did end up making my own right then and there. I was hooked. What struck me when I walked in was how distinctive and beautiful the jewelry was. It may sound corny or cheesy, but I was mesmerized by all the glorious gemstones and sparkle of the Swarovski crystals to say nothing of all colorful beads. I was like a kid in a candy store. Read more>>

Melissa W. Hunter

Writing has always been an essential part of my life. I first discovered my passion for writing when I was in the seventh grade and my English class was assigned the task of keeping a daily journal (Thank you, Mrs. Williams!). Putting pen to paper was a cathartic experience for me and helped me deal with the adolescent emotions I was feeling at the time. After a few “Dear Diary” entries, I decided to try my hand at a story idea that had been brewing in the back of my mind. It was a ghost story about a girl who speaks to her recently deceased sister and helps her family find peace. The words just seemed to flow! From that moment on, I was hooked. Over the years, I’ve written everything from science fiction and fantasy to historical fiction to romance, yet writing about my family and my personal experiences is now what I enjoy most. Read more>>

Allison Ingley

I grew up in Central Ohio and was involved in multiple sports throughout my life. When I was 9 yrs. old I was involved in a car accident leading to a broken leg and this was my first experience as a physical therapy patient. Fortunately, this was not my only experience with physical therapy and after a few more injuries and many bouts of rehabilitation, I fell in love with the world of physical therapy and the ability of my clinicians to help me return to the activities I loved and feel “whole” again. These experiences as a patient were my primary driver to go to school and become a physical therapist. I earned my Doctor of Physical Therapy degree in 2010 and less than 1 month after graduation I delivered my first child and experienced my first bout of pelvic floor dysfunction. Read more>>

Megan Fitz

Art of all forms was something I have always had an interest in as far back as I can remember. I told my dad at a very young age that I was “born to be an artist,” and he really encouraged me to explore my creativity as I was growing up. I have a very distinct memory of the exact moment that I realized I wanted to pursue photography. I had just gotten my first digital camera while on vacation in Rhode Island when I was maybe 11. I played around with this for a few years, before joining a really great commercial photography program that was offered at my high school. Here is where I was able to learn all sorts of photography, from film photography to food photography. I actually graduated from high school thinking I wanted to be a food photographer. My camera gathered dust for a few years until I had my second child. Read more>>

Amanda Ellis

I always had a love for photography since I was a little girl. My dad and uncle loved landscape photography and had old film cameras that I dabbled with. I also was inspired by black and white photographer Ansel Adams and his photographs of the West. I’ve done a little bit of every genre of photography: weddings, high school seniors, pets, families, and kids. But then I had 2 friends back-to-back ask me to photograph their maternity and newborn photos. The reaction to their beautiful images and the self-esteem they gained was really inspiring to me. I wanted to make all women feel beautiful and goddess-like during a time when your body is changing so much and you don’t always recognize yourself. Read more>>

Brittany Carr

Somewhere in my mid-twenties, I was not fulfilled in any way, creatively or otherwise, by my day job. I’ve always been a creative person and interested in creative projects—my mother is a from-scratch home cook and baker and my parents raised us doing a lot of hands-on crafts and activities in the arts—and so I would bake as a way to release stress and try new things. There was something very therapeutic about it for me that helped me focus and tune out things that were weighing on me. Someone suggested selling the bakes I would bring in to work and eventually, I was between jobs and decided I really had nothing to lose. At the time, iced sugar cookies were starting to be all the rage and I ended up trying my hand at it. I’ve been making small-batch, custom orders of cakes and cookies ever since, so for about four years now. Read more>>

Regina Alhassan

I didn’t plan on it but I’ve spent my entire career in major gift fundraising, specializing in building and managing pipelines of donors with giving capacity of $1 million or more. My first job in fundraising was with my alma mater, The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. I learned a great deal about the art and science of philanthropy at Ohio State. Before departing University Development, I had the great fortune of building donor pools to support multi-billion-dollar campaigns. Now, in my own firm, I am able to replicate that success for non-profit organizations across the country. I fell into fundraising right out of undergrad and it stuck! I remain genuinely inspired by the generosity of others. Read more>>

Alison Colman

I founded the Fuse Factory in 2006, shortly before leaving academia. I had previously come across a number of art and technology initiatives in the U.S. and abroad while doing my graduate research and was deeply inspired by the work they were doing. I felt that Columbus’ cultural landscape would benefit from a similar initiative, so I took it upon myself to learn how to start a non-profit organization. With the help of a few artist friends, I formed a board of directors and became an “official” 501c3 in early 2007. Our first event took place at the office space of a Fuse Factory board member in March 2008, a juried exhibition featuring the work of central Ohio artists working in digital media, electronics, video, and film. Read more>>

Lisa McCraw

As a kid, I always had an interest in fine art and photography. After graduating college, I found myself in a social work job that although was somewhat rewarding, was depleting all of my emotional energy. Friends of ours had a successful wedding photography business and they invited me to learn the craft and to photograph their overflow. I soon began booking a lot of weddings and found myself in a crossroad whether or not to start my own business. I was absolutely terrified to go out on my own but another close friend said to me, “Lisa, you have to jump out of the boat to learn to swim.” So, I did. Full force…a little like a bulldozer. We quickly grew to an average of photographing 50 weddings. Next thing we knew, we were traveling the world from Italy to Jamaica, to Punta Cana, to LA, to New York, and many other fabulous locations photographing weddings. Read more>>

Mary Beth Schrudder

How did I decide to become a Transformational Life Coach? Long story short is that I made many mistakes in life! I found my way out of each of them on my own after many years of failures, self-help, personal development books, and courses… the hard way! I never reached out for help, and I regret that because I wasted a lot of years struggling to figure it all out myself. I was stubborn. So, I decided to become a guide for people who are possibly going through similar struggles that I experienced. Divorce, being a single-parent, career path challenges, battles with addiction (food, alcohol, relationships), self-worth, and even health issues. Read more>>

Jennifer Herko

I started the handmade appliance covers business in 2007. I got my start on eBay. I created my line of quilted appliance covers after my daughter was born. I had planned to return to traditional employment but she was a colicky baby. The business gave me the work-life balance I was seeking. Self-employment has solved many of my life event issues. I became a caregiver to my grandmother in my 40s. Traditional employers didn’t want to offer me flexibility to do that. I had a major health issue and was treated at the Cleveland Clinic. I had a 6-week recovery. Self-employment got me through that.  Consumer demand led to the design and creation of the zipper toaster covers. When more than one customer asked about zipper toaster covers, I knew I needed to sell those. Read more>>

Shelby Van Weelden

I’ve always loved seeing homes, but I didn’t really think of being a realtor as a possible career option until I moved to Northern Kentucky. When my fiancé and I bought our house a couple of years ago we used a Pivot agent, and he just made the process fun and easy for us and I wanted to do that too. I wanted to make a positive difference in peoples’ lives, I wanted to have fun at work, I wanted to get to see the world during the day instead of being cooped up in an office for 8 hours, and I wanted the opportunity to make great money without limitations. I’m really happy that I decided to make the career change because I’ve gotten to meet so many great people and I’ve learned so much from working at Pivot. I have so much fun here and I love the company so much that I also accepted the opportunity to be a Career Development Lead, so I get to help bring more great people into our culture! Read more>>

Sophia Sparks

I have always loved interacting with people of all ages, so I knew from a young age I would go into a field that allowed me to engage with people. I received my bachelor’s degree in Social Work and then went on to obtain my Masters in Clinical Counseling in 1993. I am a licensed Social Worker and a Licensed Professional Counselor. I became a therapist and worked in a variety of settings such as Outpatient Mental Health, School Settings, Emergency Rooms, Residential Treatment Facilities, and lastly, I decided to open up a private practice. I also became certified as a life coach to work with people who do not necessarily have mental health issues but who want to set goals and make positive changes in their life. In addition, I pursued becoming a certified Neurofeedback Brain Trainer and offer that to my clients as well. Read more>>

Nichole Burton

I started drawing at the age of 5 years old. My room’s walls were my favorite places to draw. At the age of 8, my uncle and Mom turned my room into an art studio. I use to cut up my skirts to make clothes for my Barbie’s. In the 3rd grade, I taught my class how to print and write in cursive because my handwriting was better than my teacher’s handwriting. Read more>>

Ciara Williams

Hello, all! My name is Ciara, but people call me Ci! I grew up in Columbus, Ohio, and was always a creative kid. I spent a lot of time drawing and writing for fun. That transferred into my young adult life, which led me to study applied communications and graphic design at Kent State University. I got my start in makeup during my freshman year of college (2015/2016). It all started with me being bored in my dorm room one day. I had a thought, while watching makeup tutorials on YouTube, that maybe I could do makeup! I began to purchase makeup from the drugstore and practice on myself. It was at that time that I began to record YouTube videos and post to my channel. I did my own makeup just about every single day. I didn’t care about what people thought. I knew that I wanted to get better, which meant I had to continue practicing. Read more>>

Mikayla Chess

I love when people ask this question but I always have to decide if I should give the long version or the short one to answer this question. It started in my teen years. I started modeling and soon after started to participate in pageants. Modeling was amazing, I trained here in Cincinnati and got to travel, doing runway shows. I walked in New York, Black Chicago Fashion Week, Walk Atlanta, Derby City Fashion Week, Charolette, and more. After winning Miss Black Ohio Teen 2014 and competing as Miss Black Ohio Talented Teen USA 2015 at the Miss Black USA pageant I gained so much confidence and wanted everyone to feel the same way I did when I was on stage in their everyday life. At first, I started by teaming up with Friars Club, a youth sports organization that I volunteered at for years. Read more>>

LaTasha Pannell

I have always had a love and passion for helping people. When I was in middle school, I was in a club called natural helpers. It involved being a role model to my peers and helping anyone in need. I also enjoyed working with the individuals in my school with developmental disabilities. There was one particular student with cerebral palsy that I would teach cheers and she loved it. The joy I seen in her eyes made my day. In high school, I went to the career center and studied to be a medical assistant. I was inducted into the national honor society while at Fort Hayes Career Center. My dream was to go to Hampton University and become a pediatric nurse but of course, plans never go as planned. I had a child soon after I graduated high school and I started The Ohio State University in the fall of 1999, as life was happening, I found myself working a job with Job and Family Services. Read more>>

Wendy Milligan

Well since your publication is aptly named Voyage Ohio, it might be relevant to indicate that I’m not originally from Ohio, but from a small town in Northern Ontario Canada called Timmins. I first moved to Cleveland to pursue my Master’s degree and after falling in love with the area, spent the bulk of my career working here as a Speech Language Pathologist. Read more>>

Sara Bates

After learning my mother had acquired HIV and was moving to Ohio for a new research drug trial at the Cleveland Clinic, I decided to pack up my things, and leave the ocean behind to invest in the time she had left. I transferred to a local Red Lobster and established residency for affordable tuition costs at The Ohio State University enrolling the following year. My majors changed yearly between Criminology, Psychology, and Education. My work-study jobs followed suit, as I worked in a guidance office at a local school, admissions at OSU-Mans, psych research assistant, and at The Culliver Reading Center as a tutor. Eventually graduating with my Bachelor’s of Science in Middle Childhood Education, I pursued substituting as it was the middle of the school year. Read more>>

Abigail Swihart

Abigail Swihart is the Owner of E. Laine Properties LLC. Abigail is a graduate of The Ohio State University with a BA in Business Communications and Counter-Terrorism. Born and Raised in Columbus, Ohio, Abigail took her first job out of college to work for Donald R. Kenney. It was there at DRK, she learned strategic business practices, leadership skills, and project management. Under the umbrella of DRK, Abigail was hired by Donald R. Kenney himself to help start the deregulated utility company, Capital.Energy as their second employee. During the 4 years, she worked at Capital.Energy, she directly helped contribute to the company, which grew to make $100+ million dollars and earned the business first Fast50 Award, placing 7th out of 50 of Columbus’ fastest-growing companies. Throughout the life-cycle of the startup, Abigail wore many hats, such as Marketing Director, Customer Support Manager, and Commercial Accounts Manager. Read more>>

Aly Goelzer

My photography journey began at a young age playing with my mom‘s camera and eventually my own little digital camera, but the story really accelerates forward in my first year of college when I took a film photography class and got to learn all the ins and outs of the film world and all of the time and patience it takes to develop your photos by hand in the darkroom as well as mix chemicals correctly to get the best end product. I also got to learn all of the Photography basics in a medium where you can’t immediately see your results which is definitely rewarding and challenging. After that initial class, I took many other classes across different creative mediums and ended up switching my major to photojournalism and diving in headfirst. Read more>>

Meg Sharp

I am a third-generation family business owner at Sharp & Associates, founded over 60 years ago by my grandfather, Dennis Sharp. I’ve been working there for about 10 years now alongside my grandfather, my mom and our amazing team of employees that have been with us longer than I can remember. We deal in Commercial Leasing, General Contracting, Self-storage and vacation rentals, which are all seemingly different industries, but at the root of it, we basically specialize in Rental Space. We build it, we own it, and we rent it out. Read more>>

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