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  • 18 May 2011 3:34 PM | Kim Fantaci (Administrator)

    Columbus attorney Jennifer Breech Rhoads was sworn in as the 20th president of the Ohio Women’s Bar Association (OWBA) at the association’s annual meeting held yesterday in Columbus.  

    “It’s an honor to have been chosen to serve as president of such a distinguished group of women professionals, particularly at this historic milestone as the OWBA celebrates its 20th year,” Rhoads said. “The face of business is rapidly evolving.  It’s my priority to ensure that the OWBA is a leader in supporting Ohio’s women attorneys in this ever-changing environment.”

    Rhoads is president and chief executive officer of the Ohio Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Store Association (OPMCA). She chaired the OWBA Annual Meeting Committee and the Long Range Planning Committee, a committee tasked with creating a future vision for the OWBA. Rhoads has previously served as president-elect, secretary, and trustee of the OWBA.

    Rhoads is active in the petroleum industry, having been appointed to the Ohio Fire Commission in 2003 by Governor Bob Taft where she represented the flammable liquids industry.  She was reappointed by Governor Ted Strickland in 2009.  Rhoads was recently elected Vice Chairman of the Commission marking the first time a woman has served in this capacity and the second time a representative from the petroleum industry has served in a strategic leadership position on the Commission. 

    Rhoads earned her Juris Doctorate from Saint Louis University School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from The Ohio State University. She started her career as an assistant attorney general for the State of Ohio, and later served as chief legal counsel for OPMCA, handling regulatory and legal issues for the industry, a position she held for more than 10 years before being named president and CEO. 

    Rhoads has two children, Allison and Adam, and resides in Worthington, OH.

  • 10 Jan 2011 12:01 PM | Kim Fantaci (Administrator)
    Below is the speech given by Ohio Women’s Bar Association President Valoria C. Hoover at the swearing in cere- mony for Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor on Jan. 7, 2011, in Columbus, Ohio. To view the ceremony, go to the following link: www.ohiochannel.org.

    It is customary for anyone speaking at these great occasions to begin her re- marks with the phrase, “it is my great honor” or “my rare privilege,” or per- haps “I have the distinct pleasure.” Well, believe me, it is all those things and more. Honor. Privilege. Pleasure.

    But today Chief Justice O’Connor, members of the court, honored guests, my presence here today is a time of joy! Joy to be saying a few words in honor of my bar colleague, a role model and my friend, Maureen O’Connor, as she makes history and becomes the 10th chief justice of the Ohio Supreme Court.

    I said my friend, as Chief Justice O’Con- nor has on occasion jokingly lamented that when she be- came a judge she lost her first name as friends no longer called her Maureen but Judge. Today, I will take a small liberty and occasionally refer to Chief Justice O’Connor as Mau- reen.

    To be sure I also said, “Makes history.” And indeed this is a day to mark in history, for Maureen, for members of my organiza- tion, the Ohio Women’s Bar Association, for everyone in our profession, for this Court and for the great State of Ohio.
    This isn’t the first time Maureen has made history in her career. Nor is there any rea- son to think it should be the last. Certainly this state and nation have seen women at- torneys make historyundefinedin reaching the pin- nacle. Among them: Nettie Cronise Lutes, Ohio’s first woman attorney; Justice Flo- rence Allen, first woman on the Ohio Supreme Court; Ohio Attorney General Betty Montgomery; U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno; Justice Sandra Day O’Connor; Justice Sonia Sotomayor; and most re- cently, Justice Yvette McGee Brown.

    But I am certain that history was never the first thing on the mind for any of those women. It wasn’t on Maureen’s mind when she crossed important thresh- olds earlier in her career or for the one she’s crossing today.

    The remarkable story of her truly re- markable career isn’t one about history or about being among the first or even being the very first. It has always been about being the best. About being a leader. About being the one who takes on an assignment with the determination and strength of character and professional ex- perience to do that job better than anyone else. And then exceeding even those lofty expectations!

    Being first or among the first has always been the least of it. Performing at the level of the very best in her calling is the one and only expectation she set for herself at every turn. And Maureen has met that goal, surpassed that goal on each occasion.
    She may have been breaking through ceil- ings with regularity, but she’s done that with both feet planted firmly on the floor: sure, steady and solid in her professional- ism, integrity, diligence and commitment.

    I have had the great honor (and yes, I’ll also use the phrase “rare privilege” be- cause it fits) of seeing these qualities in Maureen first-hand, as her career has flourished and her extraordinary leader- ship emerged. I saw those qualities in the days when I observed Magistrate and then, Judge Maureen O’Connor on the trial bench in Summit County and as Ad- ministrative Judge during a time when I was working there with the Ninth District Court of Appeals. From my time as a staff attorney at the Ohio Supreme Court, I fol- lowed her career as she was elected Sum- mit County Prosecutor O’Connor and built a record of service and tenacity that led to statewide leadership roles as Lieu- tenant Governor of Ohio and Director of Public Safety, a position that perhaps was the most demanding cabinet role in the months following 9-11.

    So it was no surprise to me or to anyone who had witnessed her performance in those roles to see Maureen elected (by sizeable margins) to two terms as Justice of the Ohio Supreme Court. And now with another strong electoral showing as the overwhelming choice for Ohio’s high- est judicial office.

    The latest step in her career may sound a bit grand to some, but being grand (like doing something just to be the first) is not Maureen’s style. In fact, she has shown a steadfast determination as Supreme Court Justice and now, as Chief Justice not to wall herself up in some judicial ivory tower. She doesn’t let herself be removed from the lives of everyday Ohioans or from appropriate involvement with those who share her passion for the law.

    The Ohio Women’s Bar Association bene- fits greatly from her keen interest and in- volvement. For example, she has agreed to join 11 colleagues from across the state to serve as advisors to our new Ohio Women’s Bar Foundation Leadership In- stitute. Next week, just days after her ad- vancement to Chief Justice, she will be with us for the advisory committee’s first meeting and help us develop programs for emerging leaders among women attorneys in the early stages of their careers.

    Our association and other professional organizations that rate judges and jus- tices base their evaluations on several key criteria, including integrity, judicial temperament, diligence, profes- sional competence and community involvement and understanding. That’s not merely an assembly of grandiose words to be checked off as we work our way down a rating form. These are very meaningful, quantifi- able and essential qualities that mem- bers of the bar look for in a judge, especially for someone who will lead our highest court.

    Those are also exactly the qualities Maureen has demonstrated from her ear- liest days on the trial bench. But Mau- reen also possesses one crucial criterion that isn’t on anyone’s official list for ju- dicial ratings. Yet, it may be the most important quality of all, the most telling as a predictor of judicial temperament, fairness and leadership. And that is Maureen’s unfailing talent for and com- mitment to listening. That’s a rare judi- cial talent alas, much more rare than it should be today. But I saw Maureen use it early in her judicial career in Summit County. And we can all see that today here in this courtroom or on the tele- vised proceedings. (Watch those re- runs. The art of listening is visible and with Maureen, the intensity of her focus comes across in almost every shot.) It’s a clear demonstration of Maureen’s ability, insistence really, on letting the practitioners make their case. Yes, from the bench, as always she’ll be challenging with well-pre- pared, probative questions. But also she will be listening, visibly and in- tently listening, and hearing the case, not truncating it.

    I said earlier that Maureen had taken every step of her career with feet planted firmly on the ground, profes- sionally and personally. In taking office today as Chief Justice of this court she is also aware of the ways her feet now follow in the steps of Chief Justice Tom Moyer. What footsteps to follow! Our late, beloved Chief Justice was also a judge who listened. And with that gift and all his other matchless qualities, he was exactly the kind of judge, justice, chief justice that members of the bar most admire, whether you agreed with his specific decisions or not.

    I believe that history (there’s that word again) will say the same about Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor.

    And that is why for myself and for my colleagues at the bar it truly is my great honor, my rare privilege, my dis- tinct pleasure and joy to salute Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor on this very special day.
  • 10 Dec 2010 12:12 PM | Kim Fantaci (Administrator)


    During a momentous week for the Ohio judiciary, Yvette McGee Brown was sworn in as the first African- American woman justice in the 207- year history of the Supreme Court of Ohio.    Her swearing-in came after Jus- tice Maureen O'Connor took the oath of office the day before, becoming the first woman to serve as Ohio's chief justice. Governor Ted Strickland ap- pointed former judge McGee Brown to the Supreme Court in early December when the seat became open after Jus- tice O’Connor was elected as Chief Justice in November.

    Governor Strickland administered the oath of office to McGee Brown during a public swearing-in ceremony at the King Arts Complex in the Columbus neighborhood where she was raised. More than 750 people from across Ohio gathered to celebrate the historic event. McGee Brown follows former Justices Robert M. Duncan and Lloyd O. Brown as the third African-Ameri- can member of Ohio’s high court and is the eighth woman to serve on the Court. With her appointment, the Court has its third ever female majority.

    Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, Ohio State Bar Association President Carmen V. Roberto, and Judge Nathaniel R. Jones of the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals offered remarks.

    “And, with her addition, she will com- prise just the third-ever female majority on the Ohio Supreme Court in its his- tory. And, this time, we’re gonna make it stick,” Chief Justice O’Connor said. “I’m happy to call her a colleague, ex- cited that such an accomplished, re- spected public servant has joined the Court, and looking forward to tackling the important work we have ahead of us in a collaborative manner with her and the other members of the Court.”

    Retired Judge Nathaniel R. Jones of- fered remarks on behalf of Ohio’s first African-American justice. Justice Robert M. Duncan was unable to attend the ceremony.

    “Justice Brown arrived at this point of her life after hammering out her thought processundefinedher legal and analyti- cal skillsundefinedon sturdy anvils that con- fronted her in her youth as a child in a single-parent home and through her subsequent achievements grounded in a mental discipline of hard work, in- tegrity, judicial experience, and deter- mination that undergirded a genuine respect for the legal system,” said Judge Jones.

    “This prepared her to search for solu- tions to the complex problems that con- front society. As she pursues her arduous duties as a Justice of the Supreme Court of Ohio, Yvette McGee Brown’s colleagues, the advocates that argue their claims before its bar, and the public at large, will come to know that she, as was Justice Duncan, is a consti- tutionalist,” continued Judge Jones.

    McGee Brown said she was honored to join the Court during historic times. “I have tremendous respect for the Court and the important role it has in our democracy,” she said. “I am humbled by this opportunity and consider it a privi- lege to serve with the other distin- guished jurists on the Court.”

    A series of firsts defines the judicial ca- reer of Justice Yvette McGee Brown. Justice McGee Brown was first elected to the Franklin County Court of Com- mon Pleas, Domestic Relations and Ju- venile Division in 1992. As lead juvenile court judge, McGee Brown led the cre- ation of the Family Drug Court and the SMART Program, truancy and educa- tional neglect intervention program. She served on the court until 2002, when she retired from the bench to create the Cen- ter for Child and Family Advocacy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. She served as founding president until early 2010, when she became a candidate for lieutenant governor of Ohio.

    Justice McGee Brown graduated from Ohio University in 1982 with a degree in journalism/public relations. She contin- ued her education at The Ohio State Uni- versity Moritz College of Law, earning her juris doctorate in 1985. In 2008, Jus- tice McGee Brown was inducted into the Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame. Among her many honors, she has received the Champion of Children Award, YWCA Woman of Achievement Award and sev- eral honors from Ohio University and The Ohio State University.

    The Ohio Women’s Bar Association salutes Justice McGee Brown for her groundbreaking work to advance the in- terests of women in and under the law. The OWBA celebrates with pride Justice McGee Brown’s success and remarkable achievements as she continues to make history in her community and in the State of Ohio.
  • 10 Nov 2010 12:17 PM | Kim Fantaci (Administrator)
    It started with a speech by Justice Alice Robie Resnick, April 1991, that sparked the idea about establishing a statewide women’s bar association. Nurtured by Justice Resnick, the Hon- orable Patricia Hemann and Pamela Hagle Hultin, this spark turned into a vision and on Sept. 23, 1991, the Ohio Women’s Bar Association became a re- ality. Twenty-six women attended that first meeting. They, along with the firstclass of founding members, are hon- ored with this award.

    The Ohio Women’s Bar Association honors Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor with the Founders’ Award honoring her achievements and professional excel- lence in the legal profession.

    The Founders' Award is OWBA's high- est recognition for professional excel- lence. Established in 1998, the first recipient of the award was one of OWBA founders, Justice Alice Robie Resnick. The Founders' Award is pre- sented to an outstanding OWBA mem- ber who has contributed to the OWBA and the legal profession, has rendered services to improve the administration of justice, and has helped pave the way for women in the legal profession. In addition, the award acknowledges the recipient's willingness to give back to the legal community, as well as the general public, while demonstrating professional excellence.

    Founders’ Award Recipients:
    Justice Alice Robie Resnick (1998) Pamela N. Hultin (1999)
    Magistrate Judge Patricia A. Hemann (2000)
    Barbara J. Smith (2001) Louise P. Dempsey (2002)
    Magistrate Judge Vernelis K. Armstrong (2003)
    Sandra J. Anderson (2004)
    Mickey Rabin (2005)
    Joyce D. Edelman (2006)
    Holly Taft Sydlow and Kerin Lyn Kaminski (2007)
    Judge Mary Jane Trapp (2009)

    Sponsors for this prestigious event in- clude Kohrman Jackson & Krantz PLL; Porter Wright Morris & Arthur LLP; Chester Willcox & Saxbe, LLP; Mac Murray Petersen & Shuster; Weltman, Weinberg & Reis Co., L.P.A.; Thacker Martinsek; Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP; The University of Akron School of Law; Kegler, Brown, Hill & Ritter; Cooper & Walinski, LPA; and Weston Hurd LLP.
  • 07 Jul 2010 10:31 AM | Kim Fantaci (Administrator)
    The Ohio Women's Bar Association President, Valoria C. Hoover, met with The Ohio State University Michael E. Moritz College of Law Dean Alan Michaels. They discussed the need for leadership programs in the legal field. The Moritz College of Law established the Program on Law and Leadership in the fall of 2007. It is the umbrella for all activities related to leadership at the Moritz College of Law.

    Dean Michaels encouraged members of the OWBA to be mentors in the program, http://moritzlaw.osu.edu/pll/index.php.

    The recently formed Ohio Women's Bar Foundation is currently working on its own leadership academy. Its goal is to have the first inaugural class announced in the Spring on 2011.
  • 30 Jun 2010 10:37 PM | Kim Fantaci (Administrator)
    In the words of Carol Williams, WCPO News Anchor, “style is a state of mind.”  One of the many things we learned at the very first Leading with Style Event in Cincinnati, Ohio.  The event was held at Below Zero Lounge, a chic, loft-style lounge in downtown Cincinnati.  The following sponsors helped make the event a huge success:  Diamond Sponsor- Fifth Third Bank; VIP Sponsor – Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP; Ruby Sponsor – Reminger Co., L.P.A., Law firm sponsors- Mac Murray Petersen & Schuster LLP and Dinsmore & Shohl LLP; OWBA Premier Sponsor – Kohrman Jackson & Krantz, PLL.

    The event was attended by professionals in the Cincinnati, Ohio area.  From head to toe, the vendors gave the perfect opportunity for each of us to make a transformation and learn about the latest fashion trends in make-up, hair styles and clothing in the professional world.  Lancôme make-up artists performed complete makeovers with a special “Sex & The City” theme. Each attendee had the opportunity to transform in to any one of the fabulous main characters of the popular series.  The artists took the time to explain each phase of the makeover from proper skin care to fabulous eye makeup.  

    Jim Broft Salon taught us quick ways to transform our look using a flat iron.  Nora Fink, fashion expert, demonstrated the fashion necessities for the working woman, to include:  the basic black dress, the trench coat, dress pants, the classic shirt, the “any occasion top,” the skirt, the day dress and the jacket.  She gave specific current trends in business fashion, to include the new style in skirt length to hit just below the knee. As she pointed out, this settles any question any of us women business professionals may have regarding “what is too short.”  Vendors supplied any added touch we desired, from handbags to perfume.

    During the VIP reception, we had the pleasure of WCPO News Anchor, Carol Williams. She pointed out that all of us women business professionals have two things in common: we are expected to look good and be good communicators. When forming our business wardrobe, she gave great advice in that we should all strive to choose clothing that will look professional and not distract from our message.  Another important pointer we could all take away from the night.  She left us with a simple quote, “Style is knowing who you are and what you want to say.”

    As the attendees left for the night one by one, a common theme was shared by us all:  A new look, a new appreciation of ourselves, and some great inspiration for our professional look and wardrobe.

    By:  Carrie Masters, Reminger Co., L.P.A.
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