Black Women Mentors Acknowledged at Speed Mentoring Event

Crystal Harris Darnell, Terrie Cook, Tia Miles and Alisa Gafeney

By Tricia Hall
The Truth Reporter

Phenomenal Black women who have demonstrated leadership were acknowledged during a networking event held on Thursday, February 22, 2024. Women of Toledo in collaboration with TolHouse, Northwest Ohio Business Mentoring Program and Toledo African American Chamber of Commerce organized the event that welcomed a full house of interested ladies who wanted to receive mentoring from the 16 women.

“Thank you for being here,” began Sierra Ortiz, Women of Toledo associate director. “What an amazing turnout. At Women of Toledo our mission is to educate, engage and empower. I also want to thank and acknowledge our founding members, our partners and staff.”

Guests filled TolHouse for Mentoring on the Moment, a speed mentoring event. Immediately following the 5:30 p.m. registration and the welcome remarks delivered by Ortiz, additional notable leaders delivered remarks.

“African American Chamber of Commerce is an active part of the mentoring program,” said Roy Hodge, president Toledo African American Chamber of Commerce. “The chamber is made up of entrepreneurs and we create wealth in our community. I recognize the great women done by Women of Toledo.”

Ebony Carter, Aikia Carter, Jerrika Brown and Tracci Kamille Johnson

“My heart is full today,” began Olivia Holden, executive director Assets Toledo. “Great to hear from Roy, tonight is a great opportunity. I encourage you to lean on each other and stick together. I have been doing this for a long time.”

The mentors delivered a two-minute introduction to all the potential mentees before moving to a designated location. The mentors were stationary as the mentees moved from station to station every five minutes with a two-minute break. Interested women who want to learn more about the WOT mentoring program can contact Lisa Halsey, WOT Program Associate Economic Development & Mentoring at

“It feels great to look around this room and see all of these women,” began Audrey Johnson, founding member and past president of Women of Toledo. “I remember when I went to the first Women of Toledo meeting with Ramona Collins and I knew that I needed to be a part of this organization.”

A sample list of mentors: Hope Michell, MD of Mitchell Dermatology; Tracie Johnson of Washtenaw Community College; Tisha Mays of aMAYSing Kids; Hope Bland, PhD. of Lucas County Children Services; Ronda Sewell of Toledo Museum of Art; Jerrika Brown of The Browns Business Consulting Agency; Terrie Cook of Simply D’Vine; Ambrea Miklolajczyk of Ark Restoration & Construction; Benita Robinson of City of Toledo; Sheena Barnes of Toledo Public School Board of Education; Ebony Carter of Minority Business Assistance Center; Crystal Darnell of Board of Lucas County Commissioners, Audrey Johnson of The Fair Housing Center; Ramona Collins a Jazz Legend; Brenda Holsey of Ohio Association of Beauticians Inc.; and Lisa Halsey of Women of Toledo.

For additional information about Women of Toledo, visit