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Eastern Lake County Chamber of Commerce; International Business Network (IBN) Speed Networking


On Thursday, October 5th, our first event of the day was an Eastern Lake County Chamber of Commerce "Coffee Contacts" held at "Symphony at Mentor-A Memory Care Community" which is neatly tucked away on Mentor Hills Drive in a setting that can be best described as like being in a beautiful forest.

 Interestingly, several other members at this particular "Coffee Contacts" talked about helping programs that they were involved in like our friend Ms. Grace Himmelright 

We got to meet Mr. Wayne Louis, II, the Executive Director of "Symphony at Mentor..." who described how he often has to be creative to fit a patient's special needs. For instance, one resident didn't want to give taking care of his bills and bank accounts so Mr. Louis arranged for him to have a tailor-made check book so that the person would not loose his sense of responsibility and purpose. Mr. Louis said that sometimes memory care can be more of an art form than a science and he really loves what he does.

 Not too long after we left the Mr. Louis and the "Symphony at Mentor..."  we went to the "City Club" for the monthly gathering of the "First Friday Club of Cleveland" where we met another person who really loves what she does and that person was Ms. Judy Ghazoul Hilow, the Executive Director of "Malachi House" who has held that position for two years now.

 Let it be noted that during her tenure at "Malachi House" fundraising has increased nearly 85% which is not too surprising since fundraising for worthy organizations is something that Ms. Ghazoul Hilow discovered she had a knack for after she got involved in the outreach campaign at "St. Maron Church" which she successfully helped conduct while carefully balancing her time between these activities and the needs of her family.

 Accompanying Ms. Ghazoul Hilow on this day was her beloved husband, Mr. Henry Hilow, who she has known almost since childhood since their fathers were good friends.

 During the course of her address, Ms. Ghazoul Hilow told us how her parents immigrated to the United States from Syria around 1954-1955 and how they eventually settled on Dartmouth Avenue near Rocky River Drive where they attended "Our Lady of Angels" and raised their family. Arabic was spoken in the home and the children, including herself, knew no other language until they learned English in kindergarten. But the Ghazoul family was blessed to have very kind and welcoming neighbors and they felt very accepted. In fact, one of these neighboring families was the Granzier family and she formed a lifelong friendship with Mr. Joseph C. Granzier who now is the chairperson of the "Malachi House" board of trustees and encouraged Ms. Ghazoul Hilow to accept her current position as its executive director.

 When she was younger, due to a family illness, Ms. Ghazoul Hilow didn't get to attend "John Carroll University" as was initially planned so instead studied accounting at CSU and took a promising job as an auditor at "Ernst & Whitney" until she and Mr. Hilow started their family when she left the firm.

 Even though she was quite busy with her five children, Ms. Ghazoul Hilow's parents had instilled in her the obligation to joyfully serve one's community so she got involved in the fundraising activities at "St. Maron Church", her own parish, and performed them so well that, over the years, she developed an outstanding reputation for outreach which lead to her acquiring her position at "Malachi House" which is a home for the terminally ill.

 To be sure, Ms. Ghazoul Hilow loves what she does and finds it very rewarding to work with the residents themselves as well as performing the managerial tasks which keep the facility going. She believes that she is now realizing her potential as a leader and has found that so much can be accomplished by asking those working along with her what they feel the best way to handle a particular situation is and going from there instead of ordering people around from above.


 Most of all she credits her strong faith for guiding her along the path that has lead her to her current vocation and a happy life with her family. In the course of his offering of the closing prayer, Bishop Roger Gries, OSB, the Spiritual Moderator of the "First Friday Club of Cleveland" said that he has come to the conclusion that a good speaker is "a good person who speaks well and this can apply to Judy."


Our last event for Thursday was a speed networking session put on by the International Business Network (IBN) at the "XYZ The Tavern" on Detroit Avenue.

It had been a long time since we had been to an IBN event so it was a pleasure to reconnect with Mr. Don Esarove, its President/Chairman, and Ms. Kathy Friedrich, its Administrator, once more.


On this occasion, the networking was coordinated by Ms. Kimberly Holizna, from "KPH Global Trade" and we got to talk to several people that we had met before like Ms. Amy Freedman, International Trade Specialist with the "U.S. Commercial Service" and Ms. Jenny Rodriguez, Export Sales and Operations Manager with "Brandes International" and get acquainted with people that we were meeting for the first time like Mr. Arthur G. Rice with "ACE Global Trade Consulting, LLC" and Mr. Michael D. Easton, General Manager with "Star USA, Inc."

We also conversed with people who immigrated to the United States from Argentina and Columbia as well as a person who might need the assistance of "Margaret W. Wong & Associates" in terms of helping a visiting international relative remain in the United States.

As Mr. Esarove explained to us, the purpose of IBN is to help its membership and others involved in international business so that the process goes as smoothly as possible and mistakes are not made.

Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC


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