C L Magazine Volume 10 - 2024 Winter | Spring Issue

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Up For Those With Autism Winter/Spring 2024 • Volume 10 • Issue 1 cl-magazine.com
Women’s History Month Craft Your Legacy: The Importance of Estate Planning Demystifying Artificial Intelligence Women in Philanthropy Nurturing Ohio’s Children: Adoption & Foster Care
Attorney Jacquelyn “Jakki” Nance and Julie Billiart Schools President & CEO Lannie Davis-Frecker are champions of
autism advocacy and education. Speaking

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contents 8 Women’s History Month Highlighting three phenomenal women who are breaking barriers. 14 Craft Your Legacy: The Importance of Effective Estate Planning by Carmen M. Scott 19 Demystifying Artificial Intelligence: A Guide to Understanding AI 24 Women in Philanthropy: Strategies for Effective Giving 28 Nurturing Ohio’s Children: A Closer Look at Adoption and Foster Care By Meredith M. Dial 31 Arts & Culture Shake off the winter blues with some fresh cultural engagement around Cleveland. COVER STORY 36 Empowering Minds and Nurturing Spirits: The Inspiring Legacy of Julie Billiart Schools in Northeast Ohio by Jennifer Coiley Dial 41 Advance Care Planning Gives You Peace of Mind 43 Book Suggestion: I’m Single, So What? by Heather E. Burton, PhD 45 Seasonal Recipe: Thai Noodle Salad with Carrot Ginger Dressing Coming Next Issue: Meet Some of Charlotte’s Powerful Black Women WINTER/SPRING 2024 | 3
owns, manages, and updates a database of more than 31,000 email addresses on 76 separate lists. If you want to safely and securely market your upcoming event, look no further! READ MORE WE CAN HELP FILL THE SEATS! C L Magazine is published digitally on a quarterly basis by the Women of Color Foundation (WOCF), a 501 (c) (3), tax-exempt organization, for the benefit of women and girls of all colors. Our offices are located at 4200 Warrensville Center Road, Medical Building A, Suite 353, Cleveland, Ohio 44128. Toll Free Phone number: 866-962-3411 (866-WOCF-411). Copyright © 2014-2022. All rights reserved. No portion of this publication may be distributed electronically, reproduced or duplicated in whole or in part, without written permission of the publisher. Readers and advertisers may subscribe for free at: www.CL-Magazine.com Magazine Production: GAP Communications Group CLMagazine_ CLMagazine CLMagazine_ CL Magazine Team Publisher Alexandria Johnson Boone Editor Jennifer Coiley Dial Creative Director Barbara Somrack Senior Copy Editor Michelle E. Urquhart Business Manager Paula T. Newman Assistant to the Publisher Bernadette K. Mayfield Social Media Strategist & Researcher Melissa Gorris Senior Strategist, Subscriber & Community Development Simone E. Swanson Database and Information Coordinator Cheretta Moore For advertising information please contact us at: advertising@CL-Magazine.com Subscribe free online: www.CL-Magazine.com Winter/Spring 2024 • Volume 10 • Issue 1 4 | CL MAGAZINE

LETTER from the

Greetings to my sisters worldwide,

I can’t believe that the first quarter of 2024 has already passed us by. And before we know it the second quarter will be gone on June 30.

I have often shared with many people, my plans to retire from my role as Chairwoman of the Women of Color Foundation.

But now I realize, the timing isn’t right!

How can I walk away from 24 years of fighting for black and brown women and girls. In fact, now is the time for me to do more to impact their lives. I need to get involved actively and publicly in the areas of advocacy and policy development.

As we know, women are often not treated the same as our male counterparts. But I am ready to meet with our male allies and white women to rewrite the history that has marginalized, black women and girls. The larger community has failed to recognize our brilliance, our values, and our ongoing quest for equality.

It is also important to note, that the majority of wealth in this country is held by women!

It is my hope that women across this nation will join me as I take a new journey towards leveling the playing field for women and girls.

Of course, the Women of Color Foundation will continue to create, host and present signature, educational, career development, life skills, leadership, and entrepreneurial events and programs. Let’s join together under the umbrella of collaboration versus competition.

Bloomberg recently published a report that showed that Cleveland, Ohio was the worst place for black women to live and work. OMG, Cleveland is my hometown!

Please be clear that is not a situation that we can’t address or change. We must eradicate gender and racial bias. Your help in these areas would be greatly appreciated!!

In the spirit of the greatness in us all, Alexandria Johnson Boone Publisher/Chief Editorial Officer

C L Magazine and Chairwoman/Founder Women of Color Foundation alex@cl-magazine.com


LETTER from the


Dear Readers,

To wrap up Women’s History Month, we’ve featured three amazing ladies who are breaking barriers around the country. Vernice “Flygirl” Armour was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps in the late 1990s. When she finally earned her wings in July 2001, the ambitious highly-ranked pilot made history as the Corps’ first African American female pilot. After serving two tours of duty in Iraq, she worked as a diversity liaison officer to the Pentagon before starting a career in the private sector as an entrepreneur, business consultant, author and speaker. Dr. Uché Blackstock is a physician, thought leader and speaker on bias and racism in medicine and healthcare. She is the founder of Advancing Health Equity in 2019 with the goal of partnering with healthcare organizations to dismantle racism in healthcare and to close the gap in racial health inequities. Dr. Blackstock – the daughter of Dr. Dale Blackstock – is the author of “Legacy: A Black Physician Reckons with Racism in Medicine.” Dr. Angelique S. C. Grant is an associate with Aspen Leadership Group. Dr. Grant provides counsel in diversity, equity and inclusion practices, fundraising, and nonprofit strategies. Services include philanthropic strategic thought partnership, building and leading effective diverse teams, recruitment and retention strategies, diversity audits and assessment, and cultural awareness training. She is a certified unconscious bias trainer and facilitator, speaker, and author.

Carmen Scott shares the importance of effective estate planning in the article “Craft Your Legacy” (page 14). While estate planning sounds like a daunting task, Carmen breaks it down and dispels some myths and misconceptions. She explains that starting early is important, and crafting a well-thought-out plan is crucial at all stages of life. Along those same lines, empower yourself with knowledge and make informed decisions about health care and advance directives in “Advance Care Planning Gives You Peace of Mind” (see page 41).

The landscape of philanthropy has undergone a significant shift in recent years, and women are emerging as key players in shaping the future of charitable giving. They are leveraging their financial resources and championing causes close to their hearts. Want to know what strategies to take to jumpstart your philanthropic efforts? Check out the story starting on page 24.

Everybody is talking about AI –but what is it exactly? In our handy guide, we break down one of the most transformative technologies of the 21st century (page 19). Have room in your heart and home for a child? We took a closer look at the adoption and foster care landscape in Ohio on page 28. Don’t miss the profile about Dr. Heather E. Burton and her book I’m Single, So What? (page 43).

Cleveland International Film Festival is kicking off our Arts & Culture section (page 31). Deborah Plummer’s Trust in Black & White is one of a slew of exciting films in this year’s 11-day in-person festival. At Cleveland Museum of Art the exhibit “Africa & Byzantium” will be on display from April 14 – July 21. The pieces are on loan from collections in Africa, Europe, and North America, and many of the pieces have never been exhibited in the US. At the City Club of Cleveland on April 19 be sure to catch a discussion with Jeremy Johnson (president and CEO of Assembly for the Arts) and Rhonda K. Brown (City of Cleveland’s Senior Strategist for Arts Culture, and the Creative Economy).

April is National Autism Appreciation Month and two Northeast Ohio women, Lannie Davis-Frecker and Jakki Nance, are leading advocates. Davis-Frecker is the president and CEO of Julie Billiart Schools. The schools’ mission is to cultivate and nurture an inclusive community where every student feels valued and supported. Read their inspiring legacy. Jakki Nance, a parent of two children on the spectrum, is tireless in her efforts to advocate for families. Her son, Ricky, is a former Julie Billiart Schools student, and hopeful future teacher. When I had the chance to catch up with Jakki, she had just returned from the Advocacy Forum and Capitol Hill Day, an event that brings together autism advocates from across the country for a three-day grassroots conference and Capitol Hill Day. Jakki and her husband Fred will be honored in May at Autism Speaks Cleveland Chef Gala, an event that takes place every other year at the InterContinental Hotel. A well-deserved honor! Check out the cover stories starting on page 36.

Until next time,

Jennifer Coiley Dial Editor, C L Magazine jen@cl-magazine.com




History Month

The origins of Women’s History Month can be traced back to International Women’s Day, which was first observed in the early 20th century and gained global recognition in the 1970s. In the United States, the celebration expanded from a week-long event to a month-long observance in 1987, following a proclamation by Congress and the President. To close out Women’s History Month, we would like to highlight the contributions and achievements of some phenomenal women who are currently breaking barriers around the country.

Vernice “Flygirl” Armour was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1973 and moved to Memphis, Tennessee after her parents divorced. By age four, she knew she wanted to be a police officer that rode a horse downtown. She graduated high school in 1991 from John Overton High School for Creative and Performing Arts where she was active in the music program, class vice president, a member of Mu Alpha Theta (mathematics honor society), and The National Honor Society.

In 1993, the future combat pilot enlisted in the Army Reserves and joined the Army ROTC program while at Middle Tennessee State University. During an Army ROTC career day, the seed of becoming a pilot was planted when Vernice saw the image of a young Black female in an Army flight suit. In June 1996, after a brief stint as a Nashville Sheriff’s Department correctional officer, Vernice took a break from college to accept an invitation to the Nashville Police Academy. She graduated in December 1996 – and later became the first woman of color on the Nashville Police Department’s motorcycle squad. She graduated from MTSU in December of 1997 with a B.S. in Physical Education: Emphasis in Exercise Science.

With the aviation seed in full bloom, Vernice was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Marine Corps on December 12, 1998, and on her way to flight school. When Vernice finally earned her wings in July 2001, the ambitious pilot ranked No. 1 out of both her class of 12 and of the last 200 to graduate. She made the Naval Air Station’s prestigious Commodore’s List, received the Academic Achievement Award, was the top graduate in her class, and went on to make history as the Marine Corps’ first African American female pilot. She served two tours of duty in Iraq as a Marine. She was also a diversity liaison officer to the Pentagon for Headquarters Marine Corps. After her military service, FlyGirl revved up her career in the private sector as an entrepreneur, consultant to business, author and highly sought-after speaker.

As her newest business venture, in 2020 FlyGirl started FlyGirl Construction, a General Contracting Firm in the Atlanta, GA area.



Dr. Uché Blackstock is a physician, thought leader, and soughtafter speaker on bias and racism in medicine and health care. Dr. Blackstock founded Advancing Health Equity in 2019 with the goal of partnering with healthcare organizations to dismantle racism in healthcare and to close the gap in racial health inequities.

As a child, Dr. Blackstock watched her mother, Dr. Dale Blackstock, a Black woman in medicine, navigate the world with the odds stacked squarely against her. Dale was raised by a single mother with six children, on public assistance, and Dale was the first person in her family to attend college. Dale died of acute myelogenous leukemia at only 47 years old. Dr. Blackstock’s mother’s legacy inspires her to work to advance health equity for Black Americans and to address the detrimental effects of systemic racism on health outcomes.

In 2019, Dr. Blackstock was recognized by Forbes magazine as one of “10 Diversity and Inclusion Trailblazers You Need to Get Familiar With.” In 2020, she was one of thirty-one inaugural leaders awarded an unrestricted grant for her advocacy work from the Black Voices for Black Justice Fund. Dr. Blackstock has received numerous awards and honors, including the American Medical Women’s Association’s 2021 Presidential Award, the 2021 Harvard Humanist of the Year, and the NAACP Brooklyn Chapter’s 2022 Valiant Service Award.

Dr. Blackstock’s writing, including numerous OpEds, has been featured in the Chicago Tribune, Scientific American, the Washington Post and New York magazine. In April 2021, she became an exclusive medical contributor for MSNBC and NBC News.

She is a former associate professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine and the former faculty director for recruitment, retention, and inclusion in the Office of Diversity Affairs at NYU School of Medicine.

Dr. Blackstock received both her undergraduate and medical degrees from Harvard University, making her and her twin sister, Oni, the first Black mother-daughter legacies from Harvard Medical School. They have been profiled in The New York Times and on PBS NewsHour.

In June 2021, Dr. Blackstock signed a book deal with Penguin Random House Books for her generational memoir, LEGACY: A Black Physician Reckons with Racism in Medicine. LEGACY was published January 2024.

Dr. Blackstock currently lives in her hometown of Brooklyn, New York, with her two small children.



Angelique S.C. Grant, Ph.D. is an Associate with Aspen Leadership Group. Through her work with ALG clients and as the Founder and Principal of The Inclusion Firm, Dr. Grant provides counsel in diversity, equity and inclusion practices, fundraising, and nonprofit strategies. Her services include philanthropic strategic thought partnership, building and leading effective, diverse teams, recruitment and retention strategies, diversity audits and assessment, and cultural awareness trainings. She is a certified unconscious bias trainer and facilitator, has been an active speaker for countless industry associations over the years, and has chaired and served as faculty for several conferences across the country.

Dr. Grant recently compiled this expertise into the first comprehensive book on DEI in advancement: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Advancement: A Guide to Strengthening Engagement and Fundraising Through Inclusion (CASE 2020), which she coauthored with ALG’s Ron Schiller. It serves as a guidebook for nonprofit teams seeking to move from awareness of DEI to action and sustained behavioral change. It features interviews with philanthropy leaders across all nonprofit sectors, as well as the “DEI Maturity Model,” which she developed.

Throughout her 25-year career, Dr. Grant has successfully managed teams to meet fundraising goals in several multi-million-dollar campaigns, and two separate billion dollar campaigns. Previously, she served as an Assistant Vice President of Development and Assistant Dean of Medical Advancement, Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine at Florida International University. Her extensive experience in higher education advancement has also included roles at Princeton University, Washington State University, and the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine.

Dr. Grant is a proud Miami, Florida native. She is a Fulbright Scholar who holds a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration specializing in Institutional Advancement from Washington State University. She has a M.A. in Communication, specializing in Public Relations and Media Management from Washington State University, and a B.S. degree in Journalism from Florida A&M University.

She is the founder of the South Florida Network of Blacks in Philanthropy and serves on numerous boards, including Our Fund (LGBTQ) Community Foundation, the African American Development Officers (AADO) Network, and the Advisory Committee for Women of Color in Fundraising and Philanthropy (WOC). She has been recognized as one of the 25 Most Influential and Prominent Black Women in South Florida by Success South Florida Magazine, a Lumina 10 in ICABA Honors South Florida 100 Most Accomplished Blacks Healthcare & Law and selected as a Top Hat Woman of Achievement Award for Community Empowerment.



Craft Your Legacy: The Importance of Effective Estate Planning

One of the biggest misconceptions about estate planning is that it is for the wealthy, the elderly, the sick, or the dying. Another misconception is that it is complex and costly. Spoiler Alert: Estate planning is for everyone! And if you think estate planning is morbid or costly, wait until you hear about the cost of not planning (medical wishes not being honored, loss of control, family disputes, assets being distributed inconsistent with your wishes) then add taxes, attorney fees and probate costs to that… Are you starting to get the picture yet?

Understanding and dispelling some of these misconceptions can encourage more individuals to be proactive, ensuring a better quality of life, financial security, and wealth transference.

Before we dive into why estate planning is so important and why starting early matters, we need to understand what estate planning is in its simplest form as to remove the eerie, mortal stigma associated with it. Estate planning is the term used to describe the two-prong process of planning for incapacity by naming persons who are authorized to make medical and financial decisions when one cannot manage their affairs and for addressing who inherits assets at one’s death. See, not that bad!


In fact, a well-thought-out estate plan contains several components and covers various considerations: health, personal finances, business succession planning, asset protection, legacy planning, special needs planning, philanthropy, probate avoidance, and dare I say taxes?!

Let’s break it down, in no particular order:


Used to nominate the executor to your estate and details the distribution of your assets at your death. It also accounts for your biggest asset(s), your minor children, by nominating guardians for them.


To deed or not to deed? Your estate planning addresses how your home or other real estate property will be passed to your beneficiaries.


Used for various purposes such as providing more control over how assets are distributed at your death (because we all love control), making distribution to persons with disabilities without jeopardizing government benefits, avoiding probate (note: probate is not always the devil it is perceived to be), and minimize taxes, to name a few.


Used to incorporate your values, beliefs, and principles and ensure they are passed on to future generations.

Do I really need to continue?


Used for naming the person(s) you want to handle your financial matters such as banking and paying bills.


Used to ensure business ventures are set up for continued success by way of planning for future ownership and management.


Used for wealth building and wealth transference.


Used to ensure your care wishes are carried out (because 100% of my clients want to grow old in the comforts of their homes).


Used for naming the person(s) you want to make medical decisions for you and gives your doctor end-of-life instructions.

Hopefully by now you are beginning to understand that estate planning plays a crucial role in all parts of our lives and in providing overall peace of mind when it comes to quality of life, financial security, and preserving family legacy.

There you have it, clean, quick, and easy. Estate planning does not have to be confusing and scary but if you still have questions, I can help.

Carmen M. Scott is a shareholder at Sarringhaus & Scott Co., LPA, and her practice focuses on issues that impact the aging community and individuals with disabilities. She can be reached at cscott@oberlin.net

For publishing or graphic design services visit coyleemedia.com Have you always wanted to write a BOOK but feel you don’t have the time? Let’s talk.

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Demystifying Artificial Intelligence:

A Guide to Understanding AI

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become one of the most transformative technologies of the 21st century, revolutionizing industries, shaping economies and fundamentally altering the way we live and work. Despite its pervasive presence in our daily lives, understanding AI remains a daunting task for many.

Unraveling the Mysteries of AI

What is Artificial Intelligence?

At its core, AI refers to the ability of machines to perform tasks that traditionally required human intelligence: learning from experience, recognizing patterns, making decisions and understanding language. From virtual assistants (think Siri and Alexa) to advanced autonomous systems, AI exists in various forms, each tailored to specific tasks and objectives.

The Building Blocks of AI

Understanding AI requires familiarity with its underlying technologies. Machine Learning (ML), a subset of AI, lies at the heart of many intelligent systems. ML algorithms enable computers to learn from data, recognize patterns, and make predictions or decisions without explicit programming. Deep Learning, a sophisticated form of ML inspired by the structure and function of the human brain, has propelled AI to new heights, powering breakthroughs in areas such as image recognition, natural language processing, and autonomous driving.

Types of AI

AI can be classified into Narrow AI and General AI. Narrow AI (also known as Weak AI) is designed for specific tasks such as voice recognition or recommendation systems. General AI, on the other hand, represents a theoretical form of AI with human-like cognitive abilities capable of understanding, learning, and reasoning across a wide range of tasks. While Narrow AI is prevalent today, General AI remains a distant goal, sparking debates and speculation about its potential impact on humanity.


Applications of AI


AI holds immense promise in revolutionizing healthcare delivery, from improving diagnostics and personalized treatment plans to accelerating drug discovery and enhancing patient care. Machine learning algorithms analyze vast amounts of medical data to identify patterns, predict disease outcomes, and assist clinicians in making informed decisions.


In the financial sector, AI is driving innovations in fraud detection, algorithmic trading, risk management, and customer service. AI-powered algorithms analyze market trends, identify anomalies, and execute trades with unprecedented speed and accuracy, transforming the dynamics of financial markets.


The advent of AI-powered autonomous vehicles promises to reshape the future of transportation, offering safer, more efficient, and sustainable mobility solutions. From self-driving cars to intelligent traffic management systems, AI enables vehicles to perceive their environment, navigate complex scenarios, and make split-second decisions, ushering in a new era of mobility.


In retail, AI is revolutionizing the customer experience, enabling personalized recommendations, dynamic pricing strategies, and predictive inventory management. By analyzing customer behavior and preferences, AI-powered systems optimize marketing campaigns, streamline supply chain operations, and drive revenue growth.


AI is driving significant advancements in manufacturing, optimizing production processes, enhancing quality control, and enabling predictive maintenance. By leveraging data from sensors and IoT (Internet of Things) devices, AI algorithms identify inefficiencies, predict equipment failures, and optimize resource allocation, leading to increased productivity and cost savings.


Ethical Considerations and Challenges

Privacy and Security

The widespread adoption of AI raises concerns about data privacy, security, and surveillance. As AI systems collect and analyze vast amounts of personal data, ensuring the protection of sensitive information and safeguarding individuals’ privacy becomes paramount.

Bias and Fairness

AI algorithms are susceptible to biases inherent in the data used for training, leading to disparities and discriminatory outcomes. Addressing algorithmic bias and promoting fairness and transparency in AI systems are essential for mitigating the negative consequences of biased decision-making.

Job Displacement and Economic Impact

While AI promises to boost productivity and drive economic growth, it also poses challenges such as job displacement and income inequality. As automation accelerates across industries, policymakers must devise strategies to retrain and upskill workers, foster job creation, and ensure inclusive economic prosperity.

Ethical AI Governance

Developing ethical frameworks and governance mechanisms for AI is crucial for promoting responsible and accountable AI development and deployment. From establishing principles of AI ethics to implementing regulatory frameworks and standards, concerted efforts are needed to address the ethical, legal, and societal implications of AI technologies.

Looking Ahead: The Future of AI

As AI continues to evolve and permeate every facet of our lives, understanding its implications and harnessing its potential for positive impact are imperative. Embracing AI responsibly requires collaboration across disciplines, transparency in AI development, and proactive engagement with stakeholders to address ethical, social, and economic challenges.

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Women in Philanthropy:

Strategies for Effective Giving

In recent years, the landscape of philanthropy has undergone a significant shift, with women emerging as key players in shaping the future of charitable giving. From leveraging their financial resources to championing causes close to their hearts, women are increasingly making their mark in philanthropy. However, despite their growing influence, women’s giving strategies are often distinct from those of their male counterparts, reflecting unique priorities and perspectives. In this article, we explore the evolving role of women in philanthropy and discuss effective giving strategies tailored to empower women as agents of change.


Cultivating Personal Connection

Women often approach philanthropy with a deep sense of empathy and personal connection to the causes they support. Whether driven by lived experiences, community ties, or a desire to address systemic injustices, women’s giving is frequently guided by an emotional resonance with the issues at hand. To harness this powerful motivator, women can prioritize causes that align with their values and experiences, fostering a sense of purpose and fulfillment in their philanthropic endeavors.

Collaborative Giving and Collective Impact

Collaboration lies at the heart of many women-led philanthropic efforts, as women are adept at building networks and fostering partnerships to amplify their impact. By pooling resources, sharing expertise, and collaborating with like-minded individuals and organizations, women can achieve greater collective impact than they might alone. Whether through giving circles, donor collaboratives, or strategic alliances, collaborative approaches enable women to leverage their collective strength to effect meaningful change across a range of issues.

Investing in Women and Girls

Recognizing the transformative potential of investing in women and girls, many female philanthropists prioritize initiatives that empower and uplift women globally. From supporting access to education and healthcare to advocating for economic empowerment and gender equity, investing in women and girls yields ripple effects that extend far beyond individual beneficiaries. By addressing the unique challenges faced by women and girls, women philanthropists play a pivotal role in advancing social progress and fostering inclusive societies.

Strategic Grantmaking and Impact Measurement

Strategic grantmaking is essential for maximizing the efficacy of philanthropic investments and driving sustainable change. Philanthropists can employ a strategic approach to grantmaking by conducting thorough research, engaging with grantees and stakeholders, and rigorously evaluating outcomes. By prioritizing transparency, accountability, and impact measurement, women can ensure that their philanthropic dollars are allocated effectively and generate tangible results in the communities they serve.

Mentorship and Leadership Development

Women’s philanthropy extends beyond financial contributions to encompass mentorship, leadership development, and capacity-building initiatives. By investing in the next generation of female leaders, women philanthropists can nurture talent, foster innovation, and cultivate a more diverse and inclusive philanthropic sector. Through mentorship programs, leadership training, and networking opportunities, women can empower emerging leaders to drive positive change and create lasting impact in their respective fields.

As women continue to redefine the philanthropic landscape, their unique perspectives, priorities, and strategies are shaping a more inclusive and impactful approach to giving. By cultivating personal connection, embracing collaboration, investing in women and girls, prioritizing strategic grantmaking, and fostering leadership development, women can leverage their philanthropic resources to effect meaningful change and create a more just and equitable world for generations to come. As agents of change and champions of social progress, women are poised to lead the way in shaping the future of philanthropy.

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Nurturing Ohio’s Children: A Closer Look at Adoption and Foster Care


Adoption and foster care systems play crucial roles in safeguarding the well-being of vulnerable children and providing them with stable, loving homes. From matching children with adoptive families to supporting foster parents in their caregiving journey, these systems are essential pillars of support for Ohio’s youth in need.

Adoption in Ohio is facilitated through public and private agencies, as well as through independent adoption attorneys. Prospective adoptive parents undergo rigorous screening including background checks, home studies, and training to prepare them for the joys and challenges of adoption. Ohio prioritizes placing children with adoptive families who can meet their unique needs, whether through infant adoption, foster-to-adopt programs, or older child adoption.

Ohio’s foster care system serves thousands of children who cannot remain with their biological families due to abuse, neglect, or other safety concerns. Foster parents undergo comprehensive training and assessment to prepare them for the unique challenges of caring for children in foster care. The state prioritizes family-based placements whenever possible, recognizing the importance of stability and continuity in a child’s life. One agency, Destiny Family Services, is the second Black-owned foster care agency in the state of Ohio.

“There were very few minority agencies,” said Ralph Williams, owner of Destiny. “There were only three, including us, in the state of Ohio. We saw that most of the kids in foster care were kids of color and I wanted to do more for them.”

promotes opportunity for healthy growth and development emotionally, physically, psychologically, and spiritually in a loving and nurturing family setting. It is a private, faith-based, non-profit therapeutic foster care agency committed to ensuring the highest standard of care for children and families. It provides access to ongoing support and contact with a case manager, as well as a minimum of one home visit per month. Most children served by Destiny are experiencing behavioral, emotional, and/ or mental health problems and receive therapy either on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.

To support foster families, Ohio offers a range of services, including financial assistance, respite care, and access to medical and mental health resources. The state also emphasizes collaboration between child welfare agencies, courts, and community organizations to ensure that children in foster care receive the holistic support they need to thrive. Destiny Family Services has offices in Independence, Columbus, Newark and Cincinnati to support children in these large metropolitan areas of the state.

The intersection of adoption and foster care underscores the interconnectedness of these systems and the importance of collaboration among stakeholders. Many children in foster care are ultimately adopted by their foster families, highlighting the fluidity between temporary and permanent placements. Ohio’s child welfare agencies work diligently to facilitate successful transitions for children and families, prioritizing the child’s best interests every step of the way. Through innovative programs, robust support services, and collaborative efforts, Ohio continues to nurture futures filled with promise and possibility for children in need. By championing the rights of Ohio’s youth and investing in strong, supportive communities, we can ensure that every child has an opportunity to thrive and reach their full potential.

Destiny prioritizes advocating for children and


“It’s a calling,” said Williams about the reason he’s in this field. “My love for kids and wanting to see them have an opportunity to be successful in life. I hope to see more people of color getting involved in foster care agencies to help kids feel represented and given care from people who look like them.”

Learn more about becoming a foster parent at www.destinyfamilyservices.org.

Meredith M. Dial is an alum of Bowling Green State University where she majored in psychology and human development and family studies. She is currently an office manager at Destiny Family Services and working on a master’s degree from Cleveland State University.


Thaw out from the winter blues with some fresh cultural engagement. Here’s what’s going on around Cleveland.

Cleveland International Film Festival

April 3-13, 2024

The 48th Cleveland International Film Festival promises a slew of exciting celebratory happenings surrounding this year’s 11-day-in-person festival. Founded in 1977, the Cleveland International Film Festival (CIFF) is a leader in helping the world discover the power of the film arts to educate, entertain, and celebrate an inclusive human experience. Among the longest-running and largest film festivals in the USA, CIFF is an Academy® qualifying festival, and one of seven Resident Companies of Playhouse Square.

One film, Trust in Black & White, was directed by Clevelander Deborah L. Plummer, the founder and executive director of Getting to We ( https://gettingtowe.org/). According to the film festival, Trust in Black & White captures the multiplicity of perspectives and experiences by Black and white women. It is an invigorating documentary aimed at creating racial equity through gender solidarity. Centered on the discussions that took place during the Bridging and Bonding: Women Social Trust Retreat in April 2022 in Cleveland, the film follows psychologists Deborah L. Plummer, Ph.D. and Lori Stevic Rust, Ph.D. as they lead a group of women through open and vulnerable conversations around racial identity and equity. With further interviews from women around the country, their dialogue ranges from topics of privilege, to how community functions differently within different races, to the Karen moniker, to Black hair – all with the objective of building trust and a more equitable society.

Playhouse Square

1501 Euclid Ave #200 Cleveland, OH 44115

https://www.clevelandfilm.org/ A R T S & C U L T U R E


A R T S & C U L T U R E

Africa & Byzantium

April 14 – July 21, 2024

Three centuries after the pharaohs of ancient Egypt ended their rule, new African rulers built empires in the northern and eastern regions of that continent. Spanning from the Empire of Aksum in present-day Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Yemen to the Christian kingdoms of Nubia in present-day Sudan, these complex civilizations cultivated economic, political, and cultural relationships with one another. The Byzantine Empire (Byzantium)—inheritor of the Roman Empire—also took part in these artistic and cultural networks as it expanded its footprint in northern Africa. Together, these great civilizations created their own unique arts while also building a shared visual culture across the regions linked by the Mediterranean and Red Seas, the Nile River, and the Sahara Desert.

Africa & Byzantium considers the complex artistic relationships between northern and eastern African Christian kingdoms and the Byzantine Empire from the fourth century CE and beyond. The first international loan exhibition to treat this subject, the show includes more than 160 works of secular and sacred art from across geographies and faiths, including large-scale frescoes, mosaics, and luxury goods such as metalwork, jewelry, panel paintings, architectural elements, textiles, and illuminated manuscripts.

Lent from collections in Africa, Europe, and North America, many works have never been exhibited in the US. Most were made by African artists or imported to the continent at the request of the powerful rulers of precolonial kingdoms and empires. The art and faith of these historical kingdoms—including Christianity, Judaism, and Islam—resonate with many worldwide today.

The exhibition is organized by the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Cleveland Museum of Art.

Cleveland Museum of Art

11150 East Boulevard

Cleveland, OH 44106



The Changing Landscape of Arts & Culture in Northeast Ohio

April 19, 2024

Jeremy Johnson is president and CEO of Assembly for the Arts, the umbrella organization that advocates for, and unites, Greater Cleveland’s complex creative sector. A mix of diverse nonprofits, individual artists, and creative businesses comprise the region’s arts and culture industry. In the coming months, Assembly will endeavor to motivate Cuyahoga County voters to, once again, pass a tobacco levy in support of arts and culture nonprofits.


S & C

Join Rhonda K. Brown, the City of Cleveland’s Senior Strategist for Arts, Culture, and the Creative Economy at the City Club. She will lead a discussion with Johnson about the opportunities and challenges for Greater Cleveland’s future economic and cultural growth.

The City Club of Cleveland

1317 Euclid Ave Suite 100 Cleveland, OH 44115



The Inspiring Legacy of Julie Billiart Schools in Northeast Ohio Empowering Minds and Nurturing Spirits:


Nestled within the heart of Northeast Ohio lies a beacon of hope and education, embodying the transformative vision of its namesake, Saint Julie Billiart. Julie Billiart Schools stands as a testament to the power of special education, offering a haven for children with special learning needs to flourish academically, socially, and spiritually.

Founded in 1954 by the Sisters of Notre Dame, Julie Billiart Schools have remained steadfast in their commitment to serving students with mild to moderate autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dyslexia, and other learning differences. With a philosophy deeply rooted in Catholic values and the belief that every child is a gift from God, these schools provide a supportive environment where students can embrace their unique abilities and reach their full potential.

With campuses in Akron, Brecksville, Lyndhurst, and Westlake, Julie Billiart Schools students come from 40+ school districts across Northeast Ohio. At the center of their approach is a dedication to individualized education. Recognizing that no two students learn alike, teachers employ personalized strategies tailored to each child’s strengths, challenges, and interests. Small class sizes and low student-to-teacher ratios allow for targeted instruction, fostering a sense of belonging and empowerment among students who may have struggled in traditional academic settings. In the state of Ohio, over one in seven students has a documented disability and related Individualized Education Plan (IEP).

“We focus on the potential of a child, and our teachers make the magic happen. When you respond to a child with love, they begin to see and feel their potential,” said Lannie DavisFrecker, President and CEO of Julie Billiart Schools.

Central to the school’s mission is the cultivation of a nurturing and inclusive community where every student feels valued and supported. Faculty and staff work collaboratively with families to create a partnership built on trust and open communication, ensuring that each child receives the individualized care and attention they deserve.

Beyond academic excellence, Julie Billiart Schools prioritize the holistic development of every student. Through a comprehensive curriculum that integrates therapeutic services, social skills training, and extracurricular activities, students are equipped with the tools they need to navigate the complexities of the world with confidence and resilience. For the past decade, 100 percent of JB students have graduated from high school, an equivalent/vocational program, or are currently on track to do so.


One former student, Ricky Nance, is currently attending Notre Dame and studying to become a teacher. “Ricky is wonderfully blessed with a sense of humor,” Lannie said. “After a few years at JBS, we noticed a visible change in his level of confidence both academically and socially. In addition, Ricky has taught over the summer for our Beyond Camp program, which fits into our desire to hire alumni and give them a workforce experience in a supportive atmosphere.”

Ricky’s mother, Jakki Nance said, “JB is a wonderful place. Two weeks after he started, he told his aunt ‘I like that there are kids like me.’ JB is a hidden gem – such a special place where kids learn how to advocate for themselves.” Ricky started at Julie Billiart Schools in 4th grade, but Jakki wished she had known about the schools before then. “It’s like home for him.” Ricky is 21 now, and his goal is to someday teach at JB so that he can “help kids like me,” he said.


Students keep them ever-focused on their “why.” But the impact of the Julie Billiart Schools extends far beyond the confines of the classroom, enriching the lives of students, families, and the broader community. The resilience and dedication of their community has fueled growth and propelled the schools forward. By fostering a culture of empathy, acceptance, and understanding, these schools serve as a catalyst for positive change, challenging societal norms and breaking down barriers to education for children of all abilities. Their mission isn’t limited to serving only JB students. Their call is to support all families and children with learning and social differences.

2024 marks 70 years of giving their students the love, acceptance, and belonging that every child deserves. In concert with this special milestone, Julie Billiart Schools will be opening its fourth school in Brecksville this fall, and their Annual Celebrate Gala will take place Thursday, September 12, 2024, at the new location. For more information about this event, please visit https://e.givesmart.com/events/ADO/

As the legacy of Julie Billiart continues to inspire future generations, Julie Billiart Schools remains steadfast in its mission to empower minds and nurture spirits. With unwavering dedication and a commitment to excellence, they stand as beacons of hope, illuminating the path to a brighter and more inclusive future for all.

Learn more about Julie Billiart Schools: https://www.juliebilliartschool.org/

Autism Speaks Cleveland Chef Gala

On Wednesday, May 8, 2024, at the InterContinental Cleveland Hotel, Autism Speaks Cleveland Chef Gala will honor community advocates and philanthropists Fred and Jakki Nance. Fred and Jakki are dedicated community builders who have devoted more than three decades of their lives to philanthropy. As the Vice Chair of the Autism Speaks National Board, Jakki works tirelessly to help push forward Autism Speaks’ mission of creating a more inclusive world for all individuals with autism on a local and national level.

The Autism Speaks Chef Gala unites a selection of the region’s finest chefs with autistic individuals to create inspired dishes for guests to enjoy while bidding on exceptional auction items. All auction proceeds will support Autism Speaks’ public health and awareness initiatives, global research efforts, state and federal advocacy work and programs across the lifespan that make a difference for the autistic community. For more event information, please visit autismspeaks.org/clevelandchefgala.

Autism Speaks is one of the largest autism advocacy organizations in the United States and is dedicated to creating an inclusive world for all individuals with autism throughout their lifespan.

Jakki and Fred Nance’s son Ricky with his poster at the Chef’s Gala in 2022.

Advance Care Planning Gives You Peace of Mind

In many cultures, discussions surrounding death and end-of-life care can be considered uncomfortable. However, it is crucial to empower yourself with knowledge and make informed decisions about health care, including creating advance directives. At Hospice of the Western Reserve, we encourage these conversations with loved ones to prevent further discomfort down the road. When it comes to decisions about your health, it is better to be prepared with advanced directives and not need them, rather than needing them and not being prepared.

Advance directives are documents that guide your plan of care at a time when you are unable to speak for yourself. If for any reason you are incapacitated and are unable to make medical decisions for yourself, advance directives let doctors, and your loved ones, know what you would and would not want. It is critical to mention that these documents, which include a durable power of attorney for healthcare,

a living will, and organ donor registration, only govern healthcare decisions. They will not affect your material possessions or your finances, and these documents do not take effect until you are unable to speak for yourself. In the meantime, no one else can make healthcare decisions for you.

Hospice of the Western Reserve provides a resource for you to help guide these conversations. “Courage in Conversation” is available to download on our website: https://www.hospicewr.org/Advance-CarePlanning In this document, you will find all the forms and prompts you need to consider how you want your family and your physicians to care for you.

Advance directives can provide a sense of control and peace of mind, both for you and your loved ones. By documenting your preferences in advance, you alleviate the burden of decision-making for your family and allow them to focus on the best possible care according to your wishes.


Corporatepreneur to Entrepreneur with Charmaine Brown

Hi, I’m Charmaine! I am a Corporatepreneur turned Entrepreneur with a career that spans over 29 years. My successful transition from corporate career to entrepreneurship gave me the motivation to inspire and support women everywhere to make their own transition with courage, clarity and community. My new venture, Corporatepreneur to Entrepreneur, is on a mission to help women just like you find their inner strength and achieve success on their own terms. I am so passionate about helping others reach their goals and dreams and firmly believe that every woman has the power to change the world. You’ve Got This!

Helping you successfully transition from Corporate life to Entrepreneurship with Courage, Clarity, and Community

Is This You?

4 Finally, READY to turn that idea into a business.

4 You want to build a successful business but don’t know where to start or what steps to take

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It’s Time to Give Yourself RADICAL Permission to Build Your Dream Business!

Society tells us that we have to choose between a successful career or a fulfilling life.

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Book Suggestion

This is an invitation for women to search within and discover what’s preventing them from embracing solitude and finding gratification in a Christ-centered season of singleness. The book was written to aid in understanding that authentic happiness is not derived from marriage or validation from a significant other. Bountiful happiness, in any stage of a Christian woman’s walk, is manifested through building a personal relationship with Christ and overcoming obstacles that lead to discontentment. Interviews tell real-life stories of single women and their journey to contentment. Included are assessments and exercises to score behavioral and emotional contentment.

Heather E. Burton, PhD

Heather E. Burton, PhD, is a graduate of The Ohio State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Black Studies with a minor in Theater, a Master of Social Work, University of Akron, a Master of Public Administration and a Doctor of Philosophy in Urban Studies and Public Affairs both from Cleveland State University.

Dr. Burton is associate vice president and senior director for faculty and institutional diversity with Case Western Reserve University, specializing in gender and racial equity. Dr. Burton works to create and encourage individual and systemic change through policy and practice.

Dr. Burton serves as adjunct faculty in the African and African American studies program, theater, and social work teaching on concepts of race, racism, and social policy. She has been featured locally, nationally, and internationally as a speaker and workshop presenter. Some of her published works include: “My Eloquent Angry Black Rage” book chapter in Teaching Beautiful Brilliant Black Girls, Crimson Heights, I’m Single, So What? and upcoming releases Where are the Women: A Guide to Intergenerational Women’s Ministries.

Because of her diligence and dedication to reflect change within the community and Case Western Reserve University, she has received the Feminist Mentor Award, Staff Diversity Award, Qgrad Outstanding Faculty and Staff Mentor Award, Mather Spotlight & Women of Achievement Award, National Women’s Studies Association Mentor Award, YWCA Women of Achievement, RH Boyd Award for Excellence and Who’s Who of Black Cleveland.

She was Co-Chair for the Ellipsis Institute for Women of Color in the Academy, CWRU (2018, 2019, 2020) and now serves as a member of the Board of Directors.  She also serves on the Boards of The Greater Cleveland Delta Life Development Center and SHINE, Inc. She is founder of Crimson Heights, Ministries, Inc. a 501 (c)(3) geared towards the holistic development of women. As an active member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Greater Cleveland Alumnae Chapter, she serves as Co-Chair of Arts & Letters, Sergeant of Arms.


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Thai Noodle Salad with Carrot Ginger Dressing

Can’t wait for salad season? This fresh, tasty salad is served cool or at room temperature, and is full of fresh, finely chopped veggies easily found all year long. It’s a perfect combination to get you excited for those spring and summer mixes. Bonus: it can be made a day ahead, and keeps for several days!


4 medium carrots, peeled and chopped

1/2 medium onion, chopped

1 1/2 tbsp chopped fresh ginger

1/2 cup rice vinegar

1/4 cup tamari soy sauce

6 tbsp peanut butter

3 tbsp maple syrup

2 tbsp oil (avocado or olive)

1/2 tbsp sriracha, optional

1 tsp toasted sesame oil

Adapted from Star Infinite Food


2 1/2 cup shredded red or green cabbage

1 cup shredded carrots

1 cup cooked edamame

1 red bell pepper, finely chopped

1 cup finely chopped cucumber

1 cup chopped cilantro

1 cup chopped scallions

3 oz vermicelli rice noodles, cooked and chopped into bite-sized pieces

1/3 cup chopped roasted peanuts (or almonds or cashews)


Prepare the dressing by adding the carrots, onion, ginger, rice vinegar, soy sauce, peanut butter, maple syrup, avocado oil, sriracha, sesame oil and salt to a blender. Blend until very smooth. Set aside.

Add the cabbage, carrots, pepper, cucumber, cilantro, scallions, rice noodles and scallions to a large bowl. Toss to combine. Add the dressing to taste and toss again until well coated.

Personalize it by adding:

• Chopped Avocado

• Sesame Seeds

• Chopped Mango

• Diced Jalapeño

• Grilled Chicken or Tofu


■ Grow your business to $1Million+.

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