Monday, August 16, 2010

PositivelyPittsburghLive, Tribute to Women, 5-10-2010

Positively Pittsburgh Live! 5-10-10

A Tribute to Women Leadership Awards

Since it was established in 1983, the A Tribute to Women Leadership Awards has become one of Pittsburgh’s most prestigious events recognizing women’s accomplishments. Through this annual luncheon, the YWCA celebrates the achievements of women and honors those who distinguish themselves in performance and leadership in their fields and in the Greater Pittsburgh community. This year the YWCA will recognize seven women in the following categories:

• Business & Industry

• Entrepreneur

• Health Services

• Civic & Community Service

• Education

• Human Services

Guests/Award Winners:

Allerton Award for Lifetime Achievement

Alma Speed Fox, President, Freedom Unlimited

Business and Industry

Bernadette Eyler Smith, Senior Portfolio Manager, Fifth Third Private Bank


JoAnn Renk Forrester, Business Owner and Consultant, SI Business Associates

Health Services

Debra Caplan, Senior Vice President, Allegheny General Hospital, West Penn Allegheny Health System

Civic & Community Service

Kathleen W. Buechel, Executive director, The Benter Foundation

Senior Lecturer and Director, Philanthropy Forum

GSPIA, University of Pittsburgh


Josephine B. Moore (Jodie), President and Co-Founder, The Neighborhood Academy

Human Services

LaVerne Baker Hotep, Director of Community Arts & Education, Center for Victims of Violence and Crime

These women have shaped our community and improved the lives of others – they are innovators, visionaries and advocates. The selected awardees have advanced the goals of the YWCA – the empowerment of women and the elimination of racism. We are pleased to celebrate their continued accomplishments.

This year’s luncheon event is Wednesday, May 26, 2010 at the Westin Hotel, from 12:00 noon until 1:30 p.m. This event is in it’s 28th year, dating back to 1983. Over 200 women have been honored since then. In 28 years, this is only the 10th time that the Allerton Award for Lifetime Achievement has awarded.

“The YWCA award means so much to me. Their mission, “Eliminating Racism. Empowering Women,” dovetails with my personal passion. I feel blessed to be able to actively contribute to achieving gender equity through my volunteer roles. I feel doubly blessed to be honored by the YWCA for simply acting on my passion.” -Bernadette Smith, CFP


• Senior Portfolio Manager at Fifth Third Private Bank

• More than twenty years of investment management experience

• Implements tailored investment strategies for private and institutional clients.

• Responsible for managing complex fiduciary, agency and individual retirement accounts, as well as charitable endowment accounts.

• Also Managing Executive of Fifth Third’s Women's Financial Group.

• Worked for twelve years at PNC Advisors

• Spent eight years in the DC area as a trust officer with NationsBank and as a financial consultant with Prudential Securities


• Graduate of Pennsylvania State University,

• Bachelor of Science in a dual major of Business Administration and French

• Holds the Certified Financial Planner designation

• Member of the Financial Planning Association


Her passion has been gender equity for women in the US and basic civil rights for women in other countries. Her volunteer roles have been focused on women’s issues.

• On the Boards of Women & Girls Foundation, FISA Foundation, Gilda’s Club of Western PA and the Pittsburgh International Children’s Theater.

• A graduate of Leadership Pittsburgh XXIV

• Volunteers for the Women's Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh

• Appointed by Gov. Rendell as a member of the Inter-branch Commission for Gender, Racial and Ethnic Fairness in 2009

• Recently invited to become a board member for the for-profit arm of the YWCA’s Nathan Hot Dogs franchise

“It makes me sad to think that Americans do not have a sense of urgency around the issue of gender inequity. If the injustice that women endure throughout the world was inflicted on another group of people, there would be moral outrage. If, instead of “bride” burning in India, there was burning of Christians (or Jews or Blacks or any group of people) there would be protests and diplomatic intervention. The same would hold true if, instead of “female” genital mutilation, it was “fill-in-the-blank” genital mutilation. The world sits silently as the most vulnerable are persecuted dismissing the issue as “cultural.”

JoAnn Renk Forrester is an outstanding woman. Relying on a deep faith, and her strong personal convictions, JoAnn has continually worked in the community, and in her business, to help ALL people have access to the help they need to be successful.


• Served five terms as the President of the Greater Pittsburgh chapter of NAWBO (National Association of Women Business Owners,)

• Asked by the National Board of NAWBO to revitalize the Pittsburgh Chapter

• Grew chapter from 12 members to over 100 in two years

• Under her Leadership, the Pittsburgh Chapter of NAWBO was recognized as the 'fastest growing chapter in the nation' in 2002

• Served two terms (2008-2009) as a member of the National Nominating Committee, a ten person committee selected from a membership of over 9000 members


• Actively involved in establishing WOMEN DIRECT, the largest directory of women business owners published in the United States.

• In 1995 served as the primary consultant in the study Financial Portrait Of Women Business Owners, an in-depth regional survey of women business owners and their economic strengths conducted by the SBD of Duquesne University.


• Co-founder, along with Bonnie DiCarlo, of Celebrate & Share, an organization dedicated to honoring Women of Achievement in the Western PA region, and raising funds for organizations that help women and children.

• Organization has raised over $125,000 through events held in March (Women's History Month,) and August, celebrating the ratification of the 19th Amendment, Women's Right To Vote.

• The long term goal of The Women of Achievement events is to establish a permanent Women's Hall of Fame for our region.

• Co-founding member of the Western Pennsylvania Small Business Network (1988) which for 20 plus years has organized and hosted the U.S. SBA Awards Luncheon in Pittsburgh. This is one of the longest serving boards in the nation to conduct an event honoring small business owners.


Author of nominations for over 150 persons to be honored for their contributions to our community. Many have won these awards because of JoAnn's commitment to showcasing the talents and successes of her colleagues. These women received local, state and national recognition for their achievements.


Majority owner of SI Business Associates, consultant to many corporations and firms over the last 30 years

• Women's Yellow Pages

• Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh

• Women's Entrepreneurial Training Program

• The National Association of Minority Contractors/Black Contractors Association,

• Minority Enterprise Corporation

• Numerous colleges and universities


• Co-authored two workbooks including 15 Steps to Writing a Successful Business Plan and "The David vs Goliath" Marketing Workbook.

• Presented workshops, seminars and panel discussions on business marketing, correct pricing, and successful business planning


• Well known talkcast host on the "Empress of Biz," - Reinventing Yourself in Rugged Times on

• Presents and interviews women and minority business owners in order to showcase them and keep their stories as a history of small businesses in the Pittsburgh region.

Senior Lecturer, Public and International Affairs; Leader, GSPIA’s Philanthropy Forum Kathleen Buechel

Through numerous initiatives and leadership roles, Kathy Buechel has worked to enhance the participation of women and girls in education and in the new economy.

• Executive director of The Benter Foundation in Pittsburgh

• Manages the foundation’s grant making

• Founder and principal of Community Investment Advisors serving funders and foundations seeking greater impact through social investing

• Senior Lecturer in International and Public Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh

• directs GSPIA’s Philanthropy Forum

• Research Fellow and Visiting Practitioner at the Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations at Harvard University July, 2006 through December, 2007

• Co-developed funding practices and principles that foster the longer term health of nonprofits

• Visiting Practitioner at the Heinz School at Carnegie Mellon University and

• Taught sustainability strategies at CMU in the fall of 2008

• Brings two decades of philanthropic and nonprofit sector leadership to her work


• As president of Alcoa Foundation, led the reorientation of Alcoa’s global philanthropy toward active community investment in more than 31 countries and over 200 communities

• Expanded Alcoa’s investable assets

• Directed the foundation’s operations and programs as vice president for eight prior years.

• Grew Alcoa Foundation’s assets to $500 million and grew combined contributions

• Held numerous communication, media relations, public policy and marketing roles within Alcoa before joining foundation


• Vice chair of the City of Pittsburgh’s Ethics Hearing Board

• Serves on the boards of Riverlife, Carlow University, Winchester Thurston School, where she is vice president, and Vincentian Collaborative Systems.

• Vice chair of the board of the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh

• A member of the Finance Council of the Diocese of Pittsburgh

• Active in a number of the nonprofit sector’s field building organizations

• Past chair of the Contributions Council of the Conference Board

• A former board member of Independent Sector

• Past president of Grant Makers of Western Pennsylvania


• Received awards from the Women’s Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh

• The Girl Scouts Trillium Council

• Chatham University

• Was an Athena Award finalist


• Received an Honors A.B. in International Relations and Political Science from Brown University

• Was awarded an Arnold Fellowship, and a Youthgrant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to record oral histories of nationalist Irishwomen active from 1914-1945

• Earned a Masters of Public Administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University

To hear this episode of Positively Pittsburgh Live in its entirety go to

Delana Flowers is a Positively Pittsburgh Live reporter, an independent writer and owner of Ingenuity by Delana Flowers (TM), writing effective copy so you don’t have to. Services include copywriting for newsletters, blogs, ad copy, marketing pieces, articles, reviews, invitations, postcards, flyers and more.

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