Toledo Museum of Art Hosts Celebration of Women’s History Month

Local organizations and elected officials collaborate to honor the contributions of women

Sandy Spang introduces founding members of the WBC

Sojourner’s Truth Staff

Elected officials acknowledge passage of CEDAW Ordinance

On Monday, March 21, the Toledo Museum of Art, in collaboration with the Women of Toledo (WOT), the Toledo Lucas County Public Library (TLCPL) and the local organizers of Cities for CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women) brought together about 100 attendees to the TMA’s Libbey Court to celebrate some of the women who have done so much for Toledo is the past and to acknowledge the debut of the Northwest Ohio Women’s Business Council (WBC) and the passage of the CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women) Ordinance by Toledo City Council.

Chief among those historical figures honored was Florence Scott Libbey (1863-1938), a founder of the Museum, along with her husband Edward Drummond Libbey.

“She will influence the life of this community for many generations to come,” said Mistress of Ceremonies Rhonda Sewell, quoting a note from Libbey’s funeral service in 1938.

Florence Libbey donated her personal collections of ceramics and paintings to the Museum and later served as a trustee, vice president and a member of the Museum art committee. She donated $1.5 million during the Depression to the construction of the Museum’s music center – the Peristyle Theatre.

Also recognized were:

  • Ella P. Stewart (1893-1987), pharmacist, community builder and civil right champion;
  • Grace Estelle Smith (1883-1955), restaurateur and food innovator;
  • Sophia Lustig (1898-1972), clothier and trend setter;
  • Rose LaRose (1919-1972), actress, entertainer, entrepreneur;
  • Mildred Benson (1905-2002), journalist, children’s author, adventurer;
  • Margaret “Rusty” Monroe (1918-2008), promoter, restaurateur, entrepreneur;
  • Betty Timko (1920-1996), restaurant manager, food creator;
  • Mildred Taylor (b.1943),author, Peace Corps;
  • Rose Halicek Ondrus (1892-1962) hardware store owner
Audience and Posters of Honorees

The other significant part of Monday’s event was the debut of the WBC. Nina Corder, one of the driving forces behind the formation of the WBC introduced the organization and noted that the impetus was the thought of “how can we give back to the community where we live?”

The co-chairs of the WBC are Sandy Spang, deputy director of Economic Development City of Toledo, and Sena Mourad Friedman, director of Development and Communications, The Fair Housing Center.

“We create, we innovate and we do business,” said Spang as she explained the purpose of the group. “We will promote entrepreneurship, recognize innovation and close the inequality gap.”

The other WBC founding members are: Rhonda Sewell, director of Belonging and Community Engagement, TMA; Linda Fayerweather, business specialist, Toledo-Lucas County; Olivia Holden, executive director, ASSETS Toledo; Stacey Fowler, regional director, Minority Business Assistance Center; Aby Sadowy, owner, Simplicity Sound, HerHub chairperson;

Toledo Opera soprano Grace Wipfli sings a tribute to the honorees

Megan Reichart, director Innovation, Mercy Health; Meg Ressner, SHRM-SCP, principal, Meg Ressner & Associates, LLC.

Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz, also spoke and noted the way Toledo has traditionally opened its arms for women in elected offices.

“We need to do a better job of lifting up women who use their brains and their talents to lift up our economy,” he said.

Monday’s guest speaker was Soon-Young Yoon, the United Nations representative of the International Alliance of Women and the author of the book, Citizen of the World: Soon-Young and the U.N.