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Out & About in Cleveland

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The Dise & Company Senior Executive Thought Leaders Forum; Chamber of Commerce Luncheon; Women's International Day

   On Tuesday, March 8th, we got up early and drove to the Union Club to attend the Dise & Company Senior Executive Thought Leaders Forum where we were warmly greeted by Ms. Dori Lieber, Research Director, who has known Ms. Margaret W. Wong since law school; Mr. Gregory M. Reynolds, Director of Client Development, who invited us to lunch (and we plan to take him up on it); and Ms. Susan Zak, Director of Executive Recruiting, who sat with us at an International Partners in Mission luncheon at IMG_8772 Windows on the River in the past year.

During the program, we sat next to with Mr. Kevin M. Doherty, Vice President of Human Resources of Carlisle Brake and Friction who sits on the board of Global Cleveland, an organization that means a lot to us also.

On this day, the program consisted of Mr. Ralph Dise, President of Dise & Company, interviewing Mr. IMG_8774Thomas Zenty, III, CEO of University Hospitals. Mr. Zenty talked about the how University Hospital has been affected by recent changes in health care and about its role in the Cleveland community. We especially liked hearing Mr. Zenty's own story. He grew up in rural Pennsylvania at a time when jobs were scarce and was mentored by a local physician. After a while, Mr. Zenty came to believe that his calling was not to be a doctor so he asked his mentor if there was anything else that he could do in the field of medicine. The friendly physician suggested that he explore the possibilities of becoming a hospital administrator and thus, at age 15, he was started on his career path. During the Q and A, we asked Mr. Zenty about University Hospital's efforts to recruit international talent so he talked about the outstanding research that is going on at this time and several programs that make use of technology to help University Hospital communicate with scholars working throughout the world.

Along these lines, Mr. Zenty also discussed several promising medical procedures that are being put to use in other countries but not so much here due to FDA regulations. Nevertheless, University Hospitals is very much in contact with the overseas doctors who have developed them. We stopped to talk to Ms. Lee Nielsen of the Nielsen Group who turned out to be a very good friend of our Mr. Gordon Landefeld and his wife. We also met Mr. T.J. Monachino, a young entrepreneur who founded SOS Speedy Office Supply. As it turned out, Mr. Monachino attended University School with the son of Ms. Margaret W. Wong and used the services of Margaret W. Wong and Associates to help one of his employees, a woman who immigrated to the United States from Romania, obtain her green card. What's more, his aunt, Ms. Maria Cutler used to work for Ms. Wong. So, altogether, Mr. Monachino believes Ms. Wong to be "remarkable". We are very glad that we attended this forum and look forward to attending one very soon because it seems to us that the literature is very correct when it states that the Dise & Company Senior Executive Thought Leaders Forum offers "thought-provoking discussions and great networking opportunities." After our morning networking and dialogue, we had time to grab a vegan cookie (we had our breakfast at 6:30am and needed to recharge our battery) and head over to the gym for a little while before we drove to Solon to attend its chamber of commerce luncheon at the Signature of Solon where we have attended quite a few events over the years.

Most publications who rate cities place Solon quite high. In fact, "Money Magazine" rated Solon as one of the "third best places to live in the United States" and "safewise.com" wrote that "for a city this size, its remarkably low crime rates...are a testament to a residency focused on their quality of life and a strong sense of civic pride." Ethnicity wise, we talked to Solon City Councilman Bob Pelunis who told us that Solon was home to a variety of people from the Asian cultures and that the Chagrin Valley Islamic Center is located not far from here and many of its members meet regularly at the Signature of Solon where we were then gathered. The highlight of the Solon Chamber of Commerce gathering was Mayor Susan Drucker of Solon giving her annual State of the City Address. Mayor Drucker has been in office for six years now and she talked of advances in Solon since she took office as well as over the past year. She made use of a quote by Benjamin Franklin that reads, "when you're finished changing, you're finished." So Mayor Drucker believes in moving forward an effective manner. So during her address, she discussed recent changes in local tax collection which is now done through the Regional Income Tax Agency; successful efforts to eliminate excessive bureaucracy; infrastructure projects; and plans to initiate curbside recycling among other local projects. IMG_8781There was also an impassioned and quite moving short speech by Ms. Cheryl Senko, Marketing Coordinator of Koinonia which sponsored the luncheon. Ms. Senko talked about the mission of KoinoniaIMG_8777 which is "partnering with people who have developmental disabilities to achieve healthy, fulfilling, enriched lives" as well as some of its programs and the need for us to support it. Earlier, we had spoken with Ms. Mary Bondy who is Koinonia's Chief Business Development Officer. We learned that Ms. Bondy's husband, Mr. Rick Bondy had once worked as a manager of an establishment owned by our Ms. Rose Wong back in the 1980's.

Speaking of the Wong family, one of the first people that we spoke with was Mr. Tom Lobe, Law Director of Solon, who told us that he went to law school with none other than Ms. Margaret W. Wong, herself.

Mr. Lobe said that he wasn't sure that Ms. Wong would remember him but we still took his photo to send to Ms. Wong and tell her that Mr. Lobe, an old classmate, says "hello" to her. Mr. Lobe was a very nice man and we, ourselves, believe that Ms. Wong will remember him even though it has been a while because she is very good at that kind of thing.

        IMG_8809Our last event for Tuesday, March 8th, was the Women's International Day hosted by Elite Women Around the World at Executive Caterers Landerhaven. Elite Women Around the World was founded by our friend, Ms. Rita Singh who is also its CEO. As its website states, it is a "global network of individuals, leaders, organizations, businesses, coming together with a shared mission of enhancing the economic position of women globally and creating a worldwide platform for leadership, mentorship, economic advancement, and empowerment for women; collaboration among women businesses; building of alliances with other businesses and civic organizations; education and insights on business issues for global opportunities; strategic networking among local, national, and global leaders."  The evening was moderated by Ms. Katherine Miracle, Founder and President of Miracle Resources, and Ms. DeLores Pressley, CEO of DeLores Pressley Worldwide who both acted as Masters of Ceremonies. They said that the evening would be "a special night and an epic night." The welcome was given by Dr. Mona Gupta, MD, of the Cleveland Clinic who said that we were "all gathered to spread goodness around the world one day and one woman at a time." She said that the goal should be to help women take charge of their own lives and that she, herself, had grown personally through working with this organization so she wanted the rest of us "to join her on this journey." Next there was a leadership panel on "gender parity" facilitated by Ms. Singh in which the participants were Mr. Jeff Nischwitz, President of the Nischwitz Group; Ms. Ruth Kent, President of Ruth Kent, LLC; Ms. Mary Jane Brigger, President of Soul Care Experience; Dr. Shree N. Sreenath, President of Sewa International; and Dr. Krupa Savalia, M.D./Ph.D Scholar. IMG_8812

Dr. Sreenath said that he wanted to see a world where all genders were equal and "exist in harmony." Mr. Nischwitz believed that we all have differences which contribute to our greatness and so these differences should be honored. He recalled that he had once talked to an old-fashioned man from the South who was mystified about how young men were involved these days in child-rearing while he, himself, loved being a dad and spending time with his boys.  

Ms. Brigger talked about the sexism in our society and cited an example of how if a 35 year-old woman without children would be at a disadvantage if she was applying for a job because the employer would be concerned that she would want children in a few years and this would distract her from doing her work. But if a 35 year-old man was an applicant the issue would never come up. She also talked about how she had witnessed Muslim women who had just had babies work all the harder at their jobs. Ms. Kent believed that one needed to take an active hand in working to eliminate gender bias by starting at home when the children were quite young. She believed that in order to effectively do IMG_8815this, a parent had to be aware of media stereotypes which has been our own experience too. After the panel, Mr. Steve Millard, President and Executive Director of COSE, then addressed us for a minute and talked about how he once appointed two young women to be vice presidents and how they changed the organization for the better. The next address was given by Dr. Krupa Savila who talked about the experiences that most affected her at this point in her life. She gave her parents, who both immigrated to the United States from India, credit for teaching her to "take ethically sound risk and thinking big." She was raised to believe that nothing was impossible thus she committed herself to being "part of solutions and finding the value of voice."     Time was set aside for recollections by Ms. Singh who talked about how she feels that it is part of her calling to mentor other women so that they will, in turn go out and do the same for others. In a touching moment, she credited a lot of her success to her husband, Dr. Nip Singh, because he had been very supportive of her throughout the years. She also gave a loving tribute to her assistant, Ms. Paula Hawkins and to Ms. Simran Kahai, an artist who created a very lovely pin which was named "The Sakai" meaning that it stood for power and respect. This pin looks to become a staple in Elite Women Around the World and Ms. Singh gave two of the ones first produced to Ms. Hawkins and Ms. Kahai out of love and appreciation. Then it was time to hand out the annual awards.

First of all, let us say at this time that the popular recipient of the "Women Who Changed the World" award went to Ms. Margaret W. Wong who accepted the IMG_8832award with humor (we were all laughing) and genuine gratitude. She exited the stage to a great round of applause. Other awards were given to COSE (Organizational Leadership) and Dr. Savilia (Young Professional Leadership). The Alpha Woman Award recipients included  Ms. Katherine Miracle and Ms.DeLores Pressley (who presented the awards to each other) along with Ms. Maria Quinn, Attorney with the O'Brien Law Firm, LLC; and Dr. Jane Lehr Eckert, President and CEO of Studio e. Community Leadership Award Recipients were Mr. Laks Venkataraman, Executive VP  and Co-Owner of the Magni-Power Company; Mr. Lou Acosta, PresidentIMG_8827 of North Coast Media; Mr. Nischwitz; and Dr. Sreenath who dedicated his award to Sewa International and the people who it helps throughout the world. There was one more award and this one was the Lifetime Achievement Community Leadership Award and it went most deservedly to Mr. Harlan Diamond who founded Executive Caterers Landerhaven. Mr. Diamond said that his business would not be the success that it is without the patronage of the international community and went on to say that recent political rhetoric that cast immigrants in a negative light was very disturbing to him. He said that he wouldn't be here if his ancestry hadn't immigrated here as is the case with all of us too. Mr. Diamond next credited women for being a major part of his success starting with his own mother who held the family together. "If it were not for women," said Mr. Diamond, taking into consideration his friends, family, clients and wonderful staff, "I wouldn't be here today."

Written by:

Michael Patterson 

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC.

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