Seven Local Women Honored During YWCA Milestones: A Tribute to Women Event

By Tricia Hall

Sojourner’s Truth Reporter


The YWCA of Northwest Ohio presented the annual Milestones: A Tribute to Women event which publicly acknowledged local women during a Facebook live event on March 26. The 25th annual event was live streamed on the YWCA of Northwest Ohio Facebook page to hundreds of individuals. Diane Larson of 13abc news served as the event mistress of ceremonies.


The 2021 honorees were: Suzanne Rorick of Toledo Opera received the Arts award, Linda Mansour-Ismail, Esq received the Business award, Clara Petty of Monroe Street Neighborhood Center received the Education award, Judge Nicole Hayes Khoury received the Government award, Michele Knox, PhD received the Sciences award, Shantae Brownlee of the Land Bank received the Social Services award, and Susan Carter received Volunteerism award.


“I am very honored to receive this award. When I saw the list of women who have received this honor, I notice that I’ve worked with so many of them. I am honored to be a woman in a leadership position,” said Rorick.


“I’m only on this Earth this one time and I wanted to make an impact. I work with disadvantaged women and this award means a lot because it acknowledges the grassroot and activist people and not those in positions,” shared Mansour-Ismail.


“I was excited when I received the notification. I’m honored to be a recipient in the area that I work in. I would advise young women to never give up on their dreams or when it gets hard,” explained Petty.


“I was surprised when I received the call. In 2007 I knew people personally with autism and wanted to use my musical talents. So, we raised money through fundraisers and formed a 501c3. We’re lucky that we were able to host a week-long event last year before the shutdown, it’s a fun loving and welcoming event in the community,” shared Khoury.

“In my role I primary treat children and families, but because I work with children I also work with their parents. I want to help them be the best parents who raise kids who are happy and health,” said Knox.


“My entire professional career has been built by serving the community in some fashion. Every single job has a mission that aligns with who I am as a person. This is the community that I live in, raise my kids in and worship in as well,” shared Brownlee.


“I learned from my mother that you’re not here to take up space. If you have a problem or see someone in need, step in and fix it,” explained Carter.


The Milestones Awards event was established in 1996 to recognize northwest Ohio women for outstanding accomplishments and contributions in the areas of: arts, business, education, government, sciences, social sciences and volunteerism. Potential nominees must live in northwest Ohio and demonstrate outstanding achievement or distinction in career, community work, outstanding leadership in their particular field, serve as a role model for other women and living a life consistent with the YWCA mission.


Several times throughout the live stream, congratulatory messages were displayed from groups and individuals connected to the honorees, past honorees, and event sponsors.


“It’s been my honor to receive the milestone award years ago. The women honored this year and the women honored in previous years are all strong groups of women from our area,” said Chrys Peterson.


“Congrats to all the winners, you’ve done tremendous work in our community,” said Rita Mansour of Mansour Wealth Management, event sponsor. Rita Mansour is a past Milestones honoree.


“It’s a pleasure to recognize and support the YWCA today. The milestone celebration is each year. It’s an honor to support these selected community leaders,” said Billie Johnson, a previous Milestones honoree and the president/CEO of Area Office on Aging.


“I learned from my mother that you’re not here to take up space. If you have a problem or see someone in need, step in and fix it,” explained Carter.


The 2021 milestone sponsors: The Andersons, Area Office on Aging of Northwest Ohio, ACLU Ohio, Bugbee & Conkle, The Blade, 13 ABC news, Fifth Third Bank, First Energy, Grand Lubell Photography, Greater Toledo Community Foundation, Mansour Wealth Management, Palmer Energy Company, ProMedica, Toledo Opera, Toledo Lucas County Public Library, Toledo School of the Arts, The Links Incorporated, Toledo, Legal Aid of Western Ohio and Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Lucas County Board of Commissioners, The University of Toledo Medical Center and University of Toledo, and Zonta Club of Toledo.


“Thank you for joining us today. These women are paving the way for future honorees,” shared Amy Hoffman, event chair and board secretary.


“Thank you for joining us for this amazing celebration of women and see you next year,” said Lisa McDuffie, president and CEO of YWCA of Northwest Ohio.


YWCA Board of Directors: Diane Friedman, chair; Karyn McConnell, vice chair; Jerilyn Main, treasurer; Amy Hoffman, secretary and Milestone chair; and members Jacalyn Brown, Angie Gerdeman, Debora Gregory, Ireathe Hollie, Leah Maguire, Stacey Mallett, Barb Oostra, Melody Piller, Meghan Anderson Roth, Reem Subei, Valerie Thompson, Lisa Washington and Amy Wilt.