A virtual reception will be held 7-8 p.m. Nov. 5. To register, visit weldusa.org and click on the events section.

Each year, a group of strong and generous women come together to celebrate the outstanding contributions and talents of other women leaders in the Columbus region—the WELDing the Way Calendar honorees for 2021 have been announced.

Women for Economic and Leadership Development (WELD) will host a virtual calendar reception from 7-8 p.m. Nov. 5, to recognize this group of 12 women. Tracy Townsend, news anchor for WBNS-10TV, will emcee the virtual event.

The Columbus chapter has been producing a calendar for the past 16 years to increase awareness that “there is no shortage of talented, qualified women leaders who come from diverse backgrounds,” says Barb Smoot, WELD president and CEO. WELD’s mission is to develop and advance women’s leadership to strengthen the economic prosperity of communities it serves.

The theme of the calendar is 'The Resilient Leader,' and proceeds from the event provide scholarships that benefit women’s organizations and their members/recipients throughout the Columbus region, including Dress for Success, among others.

“Now more than ever, we are at a mission-critical juncture,” Smoot says. “There’s so much going on impacting women leaders right now. Because of the pandemic, about 25 percent say they are done (leading) or are going to be scaling back,” she adds, referencing the McKinsey Women in the Workplace 2020 report.

Each of the 12 calendar honorees were chosen because they are a leader in their company or industry, are giving back in their communities and are investing in the growth of women-owned businesses. Honorees were selected through an open nomination process and include both members and non-members of WELD, Smoot says.

The 2021 class includes:

• Tara Bair, president and CEO, Community Health & Wellness Partners

• Melissa Blount-Garner, vice president, community and economic Development, Fifth Third Bank

• Heather Brilliant, CEO and president, Diamond Hill Capital Management

• Kim Carter, campus dean, Strayer University

• Janet Chen, CEO, ProMusica Chamber Orchestra

• Betty Collins, CPA, director, Brady Ware & Co.

• Joy Kouns Lewis, vice president of human resources and risk management, Children’s Hunger Alliance

• Sandra Lopez, legislative advisor, Columbus City Council

• Mary McCarthy, president, Women’s Small Business Accelerator and YMT Consultants

• Sachiyo Isoda Peterson, partner, Vorys Sater Seymour and Pease 

• Dr. Sophia Tolliver, clinical assistant professor, Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center

• Guadalupe Velasquez, managing director, Welcoming City

Volunteer co-chairs Victoria King, partnership activation specialist, Columbus Blue Jackets, and Kara Spinosi, IT communication/adoption process manager for infrastructure operations, Nationwide, led the development of the calendar and planned the reception.

The reception is open to WELD members and non-members, and various sponsorship levels are available. For more information, visit weldusa.org or email info@weldoh.org.

Rebecca Walters is a freelance writer.