Today, July 24th, we attended the 2014 Women of Note Luncheon put on by "Crain's Cleveland Business" who has been honoring women of achievement and accomplishment, including Margaret W. Wong, for the past 12 years. This year the luncheon was put on at La Centre in Westlake and about 350 people attended and 15 women were honored. The reason for this was eloquently stated by Mr. John Campanelli, Publisher of "Crain's Cleveland Business", in a letter which appeared in the program which read in part, "less than 15% of the executives at Fortune 500 companies are female. Women hold less than 16% of the board seats at American companies. And females are still paid less, on average, than men in the same position. All this despite the fact that women are the majority of the workforce and are getting most of the undergraduate degrees. When women become leaders in business, good things happen. Generally speaking, female leaders foster more collaboration, they improve company culture by lowering silos and nurturing work-life balance. Quite simply, more female leadership means a more evolved workplace, more fulfilled employees and more success." On this day, the 15 women honored were:
- Ms. Kristen Baird Adams, Senior Vice President, Managing Client and Community Relations at PNC Bank, Cleveland
- Ms. Teresa Metcalf Beasley, Partner at Calfee, Halter & Griswold, LLP
- Ms. Nancy C. Renacci, Managing Director, and Head of Equity Research at Keybanc Capital Markets
- Ms. Laura Carmella Cowan, Director and Founder of the Laura Cowan Foundation
- Dr. Pamela B. Davis, Dean and Senior Vice President for Medical Affairs at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine
- Ms. Dianne DePasquale-Hagerty, CEO of Medina Creative Housing
- Ms. Iris E. Harvey, Vice President for University Relations, Chief Marketing & Communications Officer at Kent State University
- Ms. Ariane B. Kirkpatrick, President of The AKA Team
- Ms. Pat Lambrix, President of of Soluna Air Charter
- Dr. Margaret Larkins-Pettigrew, Associates professor, head of global health programs in Obstetrics and Gynecology at MacDonald Women's Hospital, University Hospitals Case Medical Center
- Ms. Mel McGee, President/CEO of imageNation Web Experts/Rovar Augmented Reality
- Ms. Radhika Reddy, Founding Partner of Ariel Ventures LLC, Ariel International Center
- Ms. Maryrose T. Sylvester, President & CEO of GE Lighting
- Ms. Shelley Underwood, Owner of Johnny Mango
- Ms. Maureen Wood, Executive Director, Assurance Services at Ernest and Young, LLP
To be sure, quite of few of the honorees knew Margaret W. Wong. Dr. Larkins-Pettigrew once served on a panel with her and admires her very much. Ms. Reddy is a very good friend of ours and has worked with our office many times. Dr. Davis was very sorry that Ms. Wong couldn't accompany her on a trip to China because Ms. Wong was very busy helping President Obama's uncle obtain his green card at that time. Ms. Beasley told us to be sure and say hello to Ms. Wong for her and Ms. Kirkpatrick will be sending Ms. Wong a letter soon. In addition to the honorees, we also spoke with Ms. Elizabeth McIntyre, Editor of "Crain's Cleveland Business" who was very appreciative of Ms. Wong's serving on their diversity board. We shared a luncheon table with Ms. Laura Pettit Rusick, President of OPT Solutions who said she saw Ms. Wong speak at the Union Club where her topic was foreign born people who have immigrated to the United States and started businesses and agreed with the content of Ms. Wong's talk and thought that her style, that Ms. Rusick termed "hysterical", was both entertaining and very effective. This was certainly a big day for Father Robert Marva of the St. Agnes/Our Lady of Fatima Church because two of the honorees, Ms. Kirkpatrick and Ms. Beasley, were his parishioners so he was here to congratulate them both. During the course of the program, each of the honorees was called to the podium individually to received their award and say a few words. If there were common threads that ran through their brief speeches they were: that in order to succeed one had to work hard; it was not possible for anyone to succeed by themselves so a family and/or support network was vital; and those who have succeeded have the responsibility to mentor/assist others so that they will succeed. A moment that we particularly liked was when Ms. Cowan recounted her history as a victim of domestic violence and how she pulled her life together to create a foundation that assists domestic violence victims. We also liked it when Dr. Davis said that "women are starting to take over the world and Cleveland is in good hands." And, on a lighter note, Ms. Underwood who owns Johnny Mango said that she was tempted to put watermelon margaritas underneath the seats and when it was her turn to speak tell everyone to have one on her! Let us conclude by mentioning a delightful woman that we were privileged to sit next to named Ms. Patty Austin who owns a flying school named Curious About Flying. She describes herself on her business card as "the kindergarten teacher of Aviation". Ms. Austin offers classes for young children who are curious about flying as well as for "those who sit on the right seat next to the pilot; those who might want to be a pilot; and those with concerns about flying." We have never heard of a business quite like this before; perhaps in a few years we will attend a Women of Note luncheon where Ms. Austin will be honored. Our next three events for July 24th all took place downtown and two of these were at the City Club of Greater Cleveland so we parked in the parking lot right next door to the City Club and went from there. The first of these events was advertised as "an informal feedback and Q and A opportunity" concerning the recent occurrence where new applications for assistance from the Creative Workforce Fellowship program which directly supports individual artists were placed on hold. According to the City Club notes, "administered by the Community Partnership for Arts and Culture (CPAC) and funded by the Cuyahoga Arts and Culture (CAC), the Creative Workforce Fellowship has been awarded to 20 local artists ($20,000 each) every year since 2009. CPAC and CAC agreed to delay any new applications to this program to allow both organizations to learn from the findings of a recently completed independent evaluation of the program." Placing the applications "on hold" has caused consternation in the arts community so today Mr. Dan Moulthrop, CEO of the City Club asked questions about this to Mr. Tom Schorgl, President and CEO of CPAC and Ms. Karen Gahl-Mills, Executive Director of the CAC before throwing it open to the 35 or so attendees, mostly from the arts community, to ask questions also. Among the things that was said today was that much of the funding for this program comes from the cigarette tax that was passed in 2006 which has generated substantial amounts of revenue over the years but is now, due to the fact that many people do not smoke or do not smoke as much, not generating as much. We spoke to several people here today including Mr. G. Romain Williams of Nubain Dream Art who knows Ms. Wong from their work together at Cleveland Marshall. Ms. Sheela R. Das from "Roots of American Music" appreciates Ms. Wong's support of community arts programming and really admires her work on behalf of immigration because her own father immigrated to the United States from Calcutta. What's more, we met Mr. Mark Krieger, a local artist, who used to be a teacher and taught Ms. Wong's son Steve when Steve attended University School. To be sure, it seemed that the issue that was being discussed has several sides to it, and we would have to study it more thoroughly before we would be comfortable rendering our own opinion but we will say that we really value what the arts and individual artists have done for Cleveland so we hope that this matter can be resolved soon and that as much funding as possible be efficiently reinstated. We were happy when Ms. Gahl-Mills invited everyone to come to the next Board of Trustees meeting of Cuyahoga Arts and Culture on September 15th at 4pm at SPACES in Cleveland to offer their input and we might also attend. Next we walked over to Panini's on West 6th Street to attend a fundraiser on Ms. Wong's behalf for Mr. David C. Sheldon who is running for Probate/Juvenile Judge in Medina County. We were very impressed by Mr. Sheldon both as a person and as an attorney.
As for the latter, he has worked in the legal profession for over 26 years. Among other ventures, he worked in the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office prosecuting both juveniles and adults. In 1995 he became an assistant prosecuting attorney in Medina where he worked for 4.5 years before he went into private practice in 2000 and opened his own law office in 2005. In 2012 he became an acting judge in Medina Municipal Court. As for the former, he seemed like a genuinely concerned individual who would be an asset to anything he was involved with. We were very glad that we got the opportunity to meet him and were very glad that Ms. Wong's old friend local attorney Michael O'Shea invited her to this event so we got to go. We also met a several other attorneys from Cleveland and Medina who promised to keep us in mind should they need some help with immigration cases. Then we walked back to the City Club (our exercise today was indeed extensive but welcomed) where we attended our last event for the day which was another Q and A conducted by Mr. Moulthrop of the City Club this time with Dr. Toby Cosgrove, who (we shouldn't have to say this because he is so well-known and respected) is the President and CEO of the Cleveland Clinic. To no one's surprise, the City Club was absolutely packed. Dr. Cosgrove recently wrote a book "The Cleveland Clinic Way: Lessons in Excellence from One of the World's Leading Health Care Organizations". Dr. Cosgrove said that one of his motivations for writing this book was that it seemed that much of what is currently being written about health care is so negative that he wanted to say something good about it. Dr. Cosgrove went on to talk about transformations at the Cleveland Clinic and one of the ones that stood out for us was the fact that everyone at the Cleveland Clinic gets paid a salary-it does not matter the number of operations that a doctor performs, his salary is still the same. Dr. Cosgrove says that this takes away the incentive of "you eat what you kill" and now a doctor can say to his patient, "I don't need the money but you need the surgery." Another thing that we liked is that the Cleveland Clinic is a "group practice" meaning that the physicians work more closely together than they do in other hospitals. They govern themselves and make their own rules. Dr Cosgrove says that this is their "secret sauce" for success.
It was refreshing to hear Dr. Cosgtove admit that their were areas where the Cleveland Clinic could use improvement such as the system of billing. He recalled when former U.S. Senator Voinovich came to him and asked him to explain a recent billing so Dr. Cosgrove called in a man from the finance department who looked at the bill and couldn't understand it either. Another area that Dr. Cosgrove readily acknowledged was not as good as it should be was their telephone system because five years ago they terminated the old system (which was even worse) and had to start all over from scratch and establish a call center. Nevertheless, Dr. Cosgrove assured the attendees that the people at the Cleveland Clinic were hard at work to improve both the telephone and the billing system. A particularly touching moment occurred when Dr. Cosgrove took a question from a person on whom Dr. Cosgrove had performed surgery years ago when they were both much younger men, and his former patient told the attendees how Dr. Cosgrove had helped him to achieve a longer, fuller life. At the program's conclusion, we shook hands with Dr. Cosgrove and told him that Ms. Wong sent him her best and he told us to be sure to say hello to Ms. Wong. Mr. Dan Moulthrop undoubtedly captured the spirit of this event when he said in the beginning, "I'm sitting here with the most famous health care executive in the nation, if not the world."