Spring 2021 JLC Perspectives

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Spring 2021

Small Business, Big Impact

BLOOM Fashion Show

Learn about a small business owned by a local woman entrepeneuer who is making change in the community.

Check out photos from the big event



What’s Next for the League? A sit down with President-Elect Tara Mosley on the league in a post COVID-19 world.


In this issue 3

President’s Perspective



Small Business & Jody’s Network

10 JLC Non-Profit Spotlights


Racial Equity Challenge

12 Future of the League


Recruitment During COVID

13 JLC Trustees Update

7 JLC Podcast & Columbia Center Renovations

Spring in JLC Photo Review

14 Member Milestones

Your Perspectives Team

Managing Editor Andrea Buschmiller

Assistant Editor Carrie M. Starts

Writer Casey Binder

Writer Elizabeth Longaberger

Writer Meggan Thompson

Thank You The Perspectives Committee would like to extend our gratitude to the many women who volunteered their time, knowledge, opinions, and experiences to make this issue possible. VP Communications Samantha Bodner

Contributers: Lauren Gonzalez, Nazly Mamedova Photographers: Amy Elizabeth Spasoff

The Junior League of Cincinnati is an organization of women committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women, and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. Perspectives is the magazine of the Junior League of Cincinnati, published multiple times throughout the year. Past issues and advertising rates can be found online at www.jlcincinnati.org. For more news and events, follow us on social media. JLCincinnati



Junior League of Cincinnati, 3500 Columbia Parkway, Cincinnati, Ohio 45226 • 513.871.9339 • www.jlcincinnati.org

President’s Perspective Dear JLC members and friends,


s the 2020 – 2021 year winds down, please accept my deepest gratitude to each of you for supporting and sustaining the league throughout a challenging year. Each member has contributed in their own way; from finding creative ways to support our community partners to checking in on each other during a tough time, helping us advance our technology options and connecting in new and organic ways. I am thrilled to see the Junior League of Cincinnati ramping up with our new community partner, Family Nurturing Center. The work FNC does to end the cycle of child abuse by promoting individual well-being and healthy family relationships will be strengthened by the support of the JLC. I truly believe this will also allow us to grow as members and as a league in a new dimension, deepening our commitment to the community. Our fabulous and wildly successful Fashion Show ushered in a return to more normal operations and kicked off a joyous season for the league. Our uplifting and fun Annual Meeting truly acknowledged how far we have come since March of 2020. We continue to be innovative and considerate of how we move forward in the new league year. Leading this incredible organization of over 800 women, has been the gift of a lifetime. While I never envisioned serving during a global pandemic, this was still the most fun and most rewarding position of my JLC career. You all have made this so worthwhile. The League’s work has taken many different shapes over the past hundred years, but we have always been an organization of women who create, who design, who forge. The dedication of our members to our mission and our community continues to be unparalleled. With love and service,

Sarah E. Rieger Be a Builder: of trust. of community. of people.

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Small Business, Big Impact By MEGGAN THOMPSON


ai Stoudemire-Williams is the Founder of Naturally Homegrown Co (NHC). NHC exists to provide access to affordable fresh produce for families and individuals who live in food-insecure neighborhoods, with a focus on Black/African American communities. Kai is a recipient of the Queen City Young Professionals Humanitarian Award and is passionate about serving others through her work.

needed to shift from growing and purchasing produce to make baby food—to growing and procuring produce to meet people where they were—at home, shelteredin-place.

Kai was inspired to start NHC after a failed grocery store run as a first-time mother. Her original vision was to grow and use fresh produce and all-natural ingredients to make baby food. Kai and her husband spent 2019 planning, researching and developing. They hit every milestone and were ready to launch in spring of 2020, but as Kai insists, “God had other plans!”

Kai Stoudemire-Williams

Now, Naturally Homegrown Co delivers fresh produce directly to consumers. For every purchase made, a basket of fresh produce is donated to a family in a food-insecure area of Cincinnati. NHC also partners with local businesses such as Foxtail Farms and KingMe Water, reinforcing support for shopping small, local and natural. NHC currently offer three basket sizes for purchase: The Little Bambino, ideal for kids; Bambino, perfect for singles; When COVID-19 hit, Kai had and the Big Bambino for families. to decide how to evolve her business, because giving up In the future, NHC hopes to grow by adding pick-up locations, was not an option. After lots of a branded delivery truck and reusable delivery containers. prayer and conversations with Immediately, Kai would like to build connections and resources her family, Kai reached out to for her digital platform including a website, subscription Cradle Cincinnati and Guiding capabilities to allow for customers to set up delivery frequencies, Light Mentoring to identify and the ability to track metrics and data. persons in need, and started delivering produce to those If you are interested in partnering with Naturally Homegrown areas most impacted by the food Co. in any capacity, you can connect with Kai via email at shortages. It was then that Kai, kaistoudemire@yahoo.com. at eight months pregnant with To place an order, visit NHC on social media: her second child, realized she Instagram: @naturallyhomegrownfood Facebook: Naturally Homegrown Co

Jody’s Network: Lending Members a Helping Hand By CASEY BINDER


onnection and Support are resounding themes when members share their inspiration for joining the Junior League of Cincinnati. And while this past year may have challenged our ability to connect, Jody’s Network is continuing to provide support for members during their times of celebration and times of challenge.

mothers through various meal trains. And Meg said they have capacity to do more!

Maybe you know a member who is working from home while caring for children, where Jody’s Network can help with babysitting. Or perhaps a member who’s recently gone back to the office and needs help walking her dog. Whatever the Since 1985, Jody’s Network has been supporting members transition or challenge may be, Jody’s Network can provide through happiness, sadness, and everything in between. The support. Membership Engagement Committee started Jody’s Network in honor of sustainer, Jody Kuempel. Jody was known for her ability If you’d like to volunteer to help fulfill Jody’s Network requests, and willingness to rally members behind each other despite the please register online - https://form.jotform.com/jlconline/ circumstances. And now thirty years later, Jody’s legacy for jodysnetworkvolunteers. Once you’ve registered, you will receive emails with details about new opportunities to volunteer lending a helping hand and spreading positivity continues. as they become available; you can volunteer as much or as little Meg Anacker, Chair of Jody’s Network, says the Committee as you choose. If you know a member who could use some extra is willing and able to support members when and where they help, reach out to jodysnetwork@jlcincinnati.org. need it. This year, they’ve filled requests to provide meals to new #JLCincy | 4

Racial Equity Challenge By NAZLY MAMEDOVA


he Racial Equity Justice Challenge is an amazing program with resources and intimate conversations that you might not have another opportunity to experience. This program was one of the first projects that AJLI offered as its commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.The goal of the program is to normalize discussions on racial equity and anti-racism, to practice personal and team accountability, to seek out continued learning and to be authentic and vulnerable.

was so worth our time. After taking the input from participants, the program has evolved and become shorter. Now, it is only 10 days. However, it continues to cover important topics of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. What you get back from this program is invaluable knowledge and connections. You meet other leaguers and get to hear their experiences in open, honest conversations. Where else will you get that opportunity to listen and share experiences unlike yours?

The program is accessible online for any League member, but space is limited. On a typical day, you will be reviewing online materials, reading about the topics provided for the day and then discussing all of the things you learned, including your own personal experiences, with your group. For example, my group had league members from several states including Michigan, Boston, and Washington D.C. We would try to complete our assignments that arrived in an early morning email and we’d schedule the discussion of these materials via zoom the next day. While each group had its own approach and schedule, we found that discussing the materials the next day gave us more time to let it sink in and have more meaningful conversations.

If you are in doubt whether to enroll in the 10-day program, come talk to us about our experiences. Several people in our league have participated, and the DEI committee would love to share our experiences. You can always email to inclusion@ jlcincinnati.org

It was initially 21 days and, while this seemed like a long commitment to daily meetings, readings, and discussions, it

Congratulations on a fantastic 2021 Fashion Show and to the fantastic volunteer work the women of the Junior League perform around the city. -Sheila Jones Cole, Sustainer 3546 Montgomery Road Cincinnati, OH 43207 513.731.100 Monday - Saturday: 8am - 2pm Sunday: Closed

Cream + Sugar is a place where every walk of life is welcomed and encouraged to engage. We pride ourselves on creating a space perfect for business meetings, catching up with friends and family, and a place to refuel or to simply be inspired through the eclectic and artistic vibe that we house.

- be a good human bean #JLCincy | 5

Recruitment During COVID By CASEY BINDER


0% of the Junior League of Cincinnati’s recruiting happens through word-of-mouth or referral by members sharing the League’s mission with other women. In a year when personal connections have been all but stalled, the Membership Recruitment Committee shares how they’ve transitioned their methods to meet prospective members virtually. Chair Amber David and Vice Chair Marlea Handler, said that in years past, the fall is typically full of experiential opportunities for prospective members to join. Early applicants are invited toTour of Kitchens while others may attend a CandO session to gain exposure to the League’s Signature Project. This year, prospective members have learned about the League via virtual experiences. While Zoom fatigue and virtual engagement continues to be a key challenge for recruiting, Amber and Marlea got creative with their offerings for prospective members by inviting them to a socially-distanced pumpkin decorating social and matched prospective members to open slots in socially distant CandO events. They were also invited to participate in select JLC and leadership training to ensure they had meaningful interactions to inform their

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membership decision. In addition, Amber and Marlea have also offered personalized one-on-one informational meetings to prospective new members so they could meet when convenient. Personalized touches were a big part of the recruiting effort this year, including hand-written postcards from the League to potential members who were engaging with email content. They were also sent a copy of Perspectives. This year, the JLC expects to enroll between twenty-five and thirty-five new members (with typical numbers being between sixty-five and eighty).

Prospective Junior League Members Walking Suffrage Tour

Tuning Into History By MEGGAN THOMPSON


he Junior League of Cincinnati is now more accessible than ever! When Lisa Dye started the podcast in 2019, her goal was to connect current members to League history. As then-Chair of the Archives Committee, Lisa decided to approach the podcast in an interview format. Committee members would interview Sustainers, past or active Members, and community leaders—and discuss stories that may not otherwise have a platform to be shared. Since its inception, leadership of the Archives Committee transferred to Jen Schafer and Leslie Touassi. Building on Lisa’s legacy, they evolved the podcast to a discussion of current League concepts and member projects. The podcast remains interviewstyle, meaning they always have a guest—typically a current or past Member, Sustainer or community leader.

While entertaining and informative, “There is so much more to the podcast than just interviewing people,” shares Lisa. You also need to develop skills like sound editing in order to have a coherent listening experience. In fact, several episodes were not usable due to poor sound quality. Leslie and Jen not only fine-tuned their sound engineering skills; during the pandemic they also made the necessary pivot from in-person interviews, to virtual ones recorded through Zoom. In the future, the podcast’s focus will shift to Sustainers and past Members recounting the history of the JLC. However, they understand interviewing current members will help record history as it happens. Currently, the podcast can be streamed through all major podcast platforms including Apple, Google, Spotify, and Anchor.

Columbia Center Gets a Refresh By ELIZABETH LONGABERGER


hen members and supporters of the Junior League of Cincinnati come to visit the Columbia Center in our new 2021-2022 League year, they will find the building looking a little different! Over the past few years, the Columbia Center Committee has been busy compiling a list of repairs and implementing updates throughout the building. The Capital Campaign was able to provide a substantial amount of money to restore the League’s home. Starting with the nucleus of the Columbia Center, the second floor is getting a much-needed refresh which includes new paint; new chairs and new carpet in the auditorium; various updates to the kitchenette; as well as refreshed bathroom vanities. The stairwell light fixture is being replaced with a more up-to-date fixture. The first floor already received a new coat of paint and there are plans in place for new furniture in the meeting spaces, along with updates to the foyer. The basement wall is finally repaired after years behind a plastic tarp. The

basement is also undergoing a makeover to provide better storage for the League. Not only did the Columbia Center undergo aesthetic updates, but also various unseen ones: the portico lighting was replaced, the portico was painted, and the steps and the limestone were repaired. Most of those repairs were needed due to a car accident that happened last year. The exterior of the building also received a fresh coat of paint on the entire fascia and trim. It will be great to see the finished product, and the Columbia Center Committee cannot wait to share with fellow members in Fall 2021. The Columbia Center Committee is happy to provide better functioning, and more usable Columbia Center

meeting space for all members and the community. We will all look forward to enjoying these updates for many years to come.

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Spring in the Junior League Suffrage Walking Tour of Cincinnati

Cincinnati was home to some of the nation’s earliest and most progressive leader’s of the Women’s Movement. JLC Members participated in a two hour walk that included several stops to discuss places of importance related to suffrage history. #womenempowerment

CanDoSaturday Hoops

Saturday Hoops is a free youth mentorship program available to kids every Saturday. JLC Volunteers interacted and assisted Cincinnati youth on the basketball court with fun activities and a friendly game. #mentorship #JLCincy

New Member Walking Tour

New members met for a walking tour of Cincinnati. #JLCNewMembers

Envelope Stuffing

JLC Members safely gathered to stuff envelopes with Fashion Show Invitations. #SpringFashionShow

CanDo Respite Care Bag Assembly

The CandO Committee continues to provide opportunities for members to volunteer. JLC Members gathered to assemble hygiene items in to drawstring bags for the Center for Respite Care. #volunteerlife

50 West Social

Our members are ready to safely get back to live events. Members gathered at 50 West for an outdoor & socially distanced fun afternoon of catching up. #socialtime

Spring Fashion Show

Spring is in the air. JLC Members enjoyed a relaxing afternoon with all things Spring Fashion at our annual Fashion Show. #SpringFashion

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BLOOM: Spring Fashion Show 2021 #JLCincy | 9

Spread Throughout the Community: Women of JLC By ANDREA BUSCHMILLER and CARRIE MASTERS-STARTS


ndrea Buschmiller spoke with Byrd Bergeron to find out organizations.” more about her role with St. Joseph Orphanage (SJO): Byrd, like many women in the Junior League of Cincinnati, She describes the mission of the YWCA as: “Dedicated to eliminating wears many hats. Outside of her full-time job and Junior League racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, responsibilities, Byrd is also a mother and is on the board for SJO freedom, and dignity for all. Its mission is to promote economic equality, prevent violence, ensure safety and end discrimination. and participates in the Program Advisory Committee. Their work is more important now than ever, and they rely on our community of allies to join their effort.” The Orphanage runs several different programs to address the various issues Carrie also connected with René Robers to discuss her nonprofit that children in need face, and the roles. René grew up in Loveland and now lives in Hyde Park with Program Advisory Committee oversees her husband Matt and their 2-year-old daughter. She manages the strategy for each sector of the eCommerce for Heineken USA, a new role she started in March business. after four years in shopper marketing on the Kroger account. Byrd told me more about the great work SJO does in the community and why it’s so special to her. Byrd said, “SJO is a René described her nonprofit involvement as follows: “For the past nonprofit focused on fostering youth. They run a school, a foster ten years, my volunteer career has been one of the key priorities in care program, a rehabilitation and mental health program, and my life: I am reaching the end of my two-year term as Recording several homes for those who have aged out of foster care but are Secretary on the Executive Management Team with the JLC, and not yet adults. There is a huge need for this sort of thing in our preparing to serve as the President-appointed Operations Liaison next year; I also serve as the Marketing Committee Chair for community.” Portaluca, a boutique that exists to serve the mission of Dress Byrd adds, “I personally come from a less-than-stellar childhood, for Success; I am the Communications Officer on the board of the and there were times I did not know where I’d sleep at night. I was Cincinnati region for Network of Executive Women; and I also lucky in that family members always wanted me, but not every lead External Relations for our Women’s Leadership Forum at child has that support network. Knowing that I am doing even a Heineken.” small bit for those children that don’t is a great honor. The JLC often supports SJO with our holiday party toy drive, and I thank Focusing on Portaluca, she explained, “We provide quality fashion at affordable prices, helping women to feel confident, optimistic, each and every one of you that has participated!” and beautiful. Open to everyone, we sell women’s new and new-ish Carrie Masters-Starts sat down with Paaras Parker to discuss clothing and accessories at great prices. Delighting the environment her role with the YWCA and Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. and savvy shoppers alike, we give high-quality, donated items a Paaras is a working mom with a nine-year-old daughter and second life. Most importantly all proceeds from Portaluca boutique five-year-old son. She and her husband, Sean, love to spend time benefit Dress for Success outside as a family, visit the beach, go on family walks and runs Cincinnati to help women achieve and hang out by the pool. They also love to visit Disney and enjoy economic independence.” Disney cruises. Paaras currently works as Head of HR for Kroger When asked how we can help Technology and Digital, 84.51 and Alt. Profit. in the near future, René stated, Paaras enjoys working with the YWCA “Portaluca and Dress for and Cincinnati Zoo, describing her Success will be moving from role as follows: “I serve on the Board Fourth Street downtown to of Directors for the YWCA and the a new location in June, at 4623 Wesley Avenue in Norwood.. JLC Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. Both members can help by shopping at the new store when it opens, of these boards are strategic boards planning shopping parties to drive awareness and sales, and that support vision-setting, and provide holding donation drives to support our inventory. JLC members foresight, oversight and insight. Our role have been fantastic supporters of Dress for Success suiting events, is to also support fund development and and CandO held an accessories drive in April—our partnership is be advocates of the mission, vision and strategic plan of these strong and helps us deliver on both organizations’ missions.” #JLCincy | 10

A Boutique Experience for 135 Years

Carrie VanDerzee, VAR CEO is a Sustainer and proud supporter of the Junior League of Cincinnati

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Where does the League go from here? A conversation with President-Elect Tara Mosley



o Tara, where does the Junior League of Cincinnati go from here?

“Up! 2020 was definitely a year full of unknowns and challenges which came from every facet of life for our members— however, the engagement, excitement, and most importantly commitment that we have seen from the amazing women in our organization has been overwhelming. We are finding our stride and making peace with our new norms, and are ready to safely continue the work of theJLC within our community.”

What do you see moving forward with our Signature Projects? Has COVID-19 prompted a different outlook on what Signature Projects we should be helping? “Each year that our Program Development Committee begins the work for the JLC to evaluate community needs and project assessments is quite the undertaking. There is so much work that takes place behind-the-scenes by the committee before our broader membership is tapped into the process. The committee has done an amazing job of assessing where our League is as a whole—our desires to serve along with member capacities— and surveyed a plethora of community organizations who have expressed a desire to partner with the JLC through the RFP process. After making some very compelling presentations to our membership, the committee narrowed the options down in order to present the top choices to our members for a vote.” “Despite all of the implications of COVID-19, our dedication to partnering with, incubating, and advocating for organizations within our community hasn’t changed. We continue to promote volunteerism and developing our women while improving our community, and while we know that things will forever look a bit different, our overall commitment to our signature project selection process and future execution remains the same. We are simply remaining mindful of all the safety protocols which are in place both nationally and at the state level, while also allowing each of our members and community partners to work within the realm of what makes them feel comfortable. We have always been dedicated to meeting our members where and how they are comfortable, and while on a much larger scale, COVID-19 is certainly no different.” Did you notice anything in particular in the past year that really stood out as a success or unsuccessful that you might incorporate (or not) in the upcoming new League year?

“Virtual Meetings! We started toying with the idea of streaming our General Membership Meetings prior to the pandemic and saw a great turnout with our Facebook Live streams, but once COVID-19 hit hard we knew that like everyone else, we needed #JLCincy | 12

to pivot in a big way. Despite all of the changes of the year our GMM attendance has seen some of our highest numbers ever! Though we are super excited to begin safely meeting again in person, we will not be getting rid of the virtual option because the response has been amazing. As busy women who are navigating our way through careers, family, friends, and other organization memberships we sometimes need a way to maximize our time. Having the option to attend our monthly GMM’s virtually has provided that to so many.”

How is the strength of our membership numbers? “We have seen some shifts in our membership this year as a result of life changes, relocations, and of course COVID-19, but overall, our membership remains strong and dedicated. The committees within our Membership Council have been working tirelessly to ensure that we are engaging our current members and also executing a seamless recruitment plan to attract members for our upcoming new member class. Though we’ve had to get a bit creative with where and how we hold recruitment sessions, member social opportunities, and member check-ins, everyone is dedicated to ensuring that we have a strong and empowered body of women which comprise our JLC membership.”

What does the future hold for meetings and volunteer opportunities? “The future for meetings and volunteer opportunities looks great! Obviously, we are in the midst of a marathon and not a sprint, so there is no ‘quick fix’ or ‘reset button’ that we can hit and take us back to the normal that we used to know, but there are so many wonderful opportunities available for the JLC. We will continue to evaluate each meeting and volunteer opportunity individually to gauge safety and comfort for everyone, but what I think is most important to convey is that there is still so much work for the JLC to do and so many ways for us to safely do it.”

How has the League thrived this past year? The only other thing I would add is how proud I am of our membership. The JLC never ceases to amaze me. We are a group of dynamic women who never steer away from a challenge, and in a year that has thrown nothing but challenges our way I’ve seen our members come together to support each other in any way needed. From coping with COVID-19 illness, to job transitions and uncertainty, finding healthy outlets to stay active and happy, to simply maintaining a healthy level of self-care and awareness this year, our membership has been simply amazing and so supportive!



hroughout the years, the Junior League of Cincinnati’s membership has funded the JLC Endowment Trust Fund (the “Endowment”) through gifts of all sizes, as well as a dedicated Endowment Campaign in 2006. Currently, the Endowment is valued at approximately $2,130,000, of which approximately $1,980,000 is unrestricted. It is carefully overseen by eight current Trustees and four ex-officio Members. Each year, the Endowment makes an annual distribution to the JLC of approximately 4% of the average value of the unrestricted principal of the trust. Since the Endowment was established in 1994, close to $600,000 has been distributed.

included improvements to the JLC’s parking lot and updates to the JLC’s technology. The Centennial Campaign aimed to add $300,000 in additional funds to the Endowment in order to ensure the JLC’s enduring legacy by strengthening the organization’s financial foundation, helping us to maintain our commitment to our mission, and providing a dependable supplement to the JLC’s annual operating budget.

The importance of donating to the Endowment is that any funds donated will be invested—and the larger the Endowment grows, the larger the distribution to help fund the JLC each year. Very tangible uses of these funds have


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Member Milestones

Anisha Bhirud Anisha Bhirud and her husband Ashwin Bhirud welcomed their baby, Bodhi Devraj Bhirud on 2/21/21. All are happy, healthy, and a little tired (as Bodhi’s yawn indicates)

Katie Dulle Better late than never! Brandon and Katie Dulle welcomed their first baby at the beginning of 2021. Caroline Kathryn Dulle has already joined her first Junior League meetings and happy hour!

Mollie Lair Mollie Lair got engaged to Kevin Flynn over Valentine’s weekend.

Sarah Rediford

Rene Roberts

Samantha Zehnder

Sarah and Adam Rediford welcomed their first child, Griffin Abraham Rediford, on February 28th, 2021. (His actual due date!)

René Robers has been promoted to Senior Manager, eCommerce at Heineken USA. After 4 years with the company, she has helped develop this emerging channel to drive online sales growth.

Sam Bodner and Tom Zehnder were married on March 6th, 2021 at St. Francis de Sales Church.

Submit Your Milestone We love to celebrate you! Share your promotions, retirements, awards & nominations, new babies, engagements, weddings, and other milestones! Submit your milestone by logging into the JLC member site or email the Perspectives Committee - Perspectives@jlc.org.

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