CEO; JVM Ventures
Executive Co-Chair; NEW Cincinnati
Q. How important is it for a leader to have experienced a season of volunteerism?
A. It is extremely important for a leader to volunteer. As leaders we have the responsibility to give back to our communities and leave the world a better place than we found it. I know this is a simple quote, but it is true: “With great power comes great responsibility.” We must not underestimate the influence we have as leaders in the community because we can do much to impact change in a positive way. As I have matured and become more confident in my career, I have better learned how I can better use my network to impact the community.
Q. When you were an upcoming leader, who is someone you observed in a volunteer position or a leadership role?
A. I have had so many. One that comes to mind, both personally and professionally, was one of the first supervisors that I worked with at The Kroger Company — Kathy Kelly, President of Kroger Personal Finance. At the time, I was corporate counsel for Kroger and was Kathy’s legal representation when we launched the Kroger Personal Finance joint venture. Kathy opened my eyes to see that I could have a career outside of the law department and be a leader in the company.
Kathy encouraged me to take a leadership role with the joint venture. I was a little anxious about it at the time since practicing law was what I knew, but I never looked back. I credit that to Kathy realizing the potential I had and encouraging me to take a position that was really outside of my comfort zone at the time. She was a huge inspiration to me, and an influential mentor. She was a gracious person; warm, caring and giving. She was also a good mother, and she took leadership roles with notable charities and nonprofits. I looked at her as someone I wanted to emulate because she seemed to have it all and did it with grace and style. Kathy modeled for me that you can be a good and kind person and still make it in the corporate world, keeping your integrity intact. I have a huge respect for that. We are still friends.
A second person who inspired me is Lisa Holsclaw, another vice president at Kroger. Kroger and P&G had started the Cincinnati Region of the Network of Executive Women, and Lisa encouraged me to succeed her as the Kroger co-chair in leading our region. At that time, I was apprehensive of taking on that responsibility leading a region of over 600 members, not to mention emceeing events with over that amount. I felt the shoes were too big to fill, but she saw something in me and believed that I could continue the success of the organization. Today I am proud to say that together with my co-chair Amy Eskoff Garrett at P&G we have done just that. We have built on the foundation that our predecessors started and significantly increased our membership, sponsorship and event attendance. It has been a truly rewarding experience both personally and professionally, and I am so grateful to Lisa for giving me that nudge I needed at the time.
Q. The role of leaders in the community is significant. How do you manage your time between working/leading and providing a role model for community work?
A. I now have more independence in my current role as a board member/consultant versus having a corporate assignment. I treat my nonprofit work the same as my for-profit work, so I don’t really place parameters around windows of time. I put the effort into what needs to be done at the moment and I don’t get caught up in how much time I am spending. It is more about the quality of work rather than the quantity of my time. I think that is what effective leaders do.
Q. What title would you give this chapter in your life?
A. “A New Beginning.” I worked for 16 years for Kroger and before that, seven years in law firms. One of my favorite positions was leading the natural foods division for Kroger, and I still lead the Network of Executive Women, Cincinnati. Now I want to focus on sharing what I have learned over my career to impact positive change for organizations that I am passionate about. A lot of my consulting and board work has been with emerging brands in the “better-for-you space” and women-led businesses. This combines my love of the natural and organic space with helping women leaders. This period of my life is a lot of first times — new people, new ways of doing business; a lot of figuring things out. Instead of looking at it as a challenge, I see it as an opportunity to gain new, different and rewarding experiences.
Q. What’s the most fulfilling part about what you do?
A. I would say my leadership roles with the Network of Executive Women, and serving on the boards of ProKids of Hamilton County and Xavier University, William’s College of Business. I am passionate about what these organizations stand for and advancing their missions. But the most fulfilling thing I do is being the mom of three girls. I am trying my best to raise them to become confident women. One of the things I enjoy the most is watching them play sports, and I coach my youngest in lacrosse. Athletics can do a lot to grow strength and self-assurance in young girls and teach them how to work well as a team. These skill sets will be valuable when they join the working