The Better Business Bureau’s Women in Business Networking (WiBN) program is thrilled to announce the 2024 Women To Watch honorees, as well as Jeanne Porter Career Achievement Award recipient.
WiBN Women To Watch honorees are dynamic professional women who have been recognized for inspiring and encouraging those around them to actively challenge the status quo, working to improve their communities, develop their employees and advocate for women in general. Rather than being content with others just watching them work, these women involve those around them in their endeavors thereby increasing their collective impact. They help others ”Prepare To Propel”, which is also the WiBN theme for 2024.
Sheri Sword, WiBN executive director, shares, “The Women To Watch honorees are amazing women that model the way for other women in our marketplace. They are making a difference in our community through their actions as they live, work, play and volunteer. It is our privilege to put a spotlight on them and their efforts.”
2024 Women To Watch include:
Sarah Bennett is an accomplished business photographer. Her photography journey took an unexpected turn as community service transformed her from a photographer into a dynamic videographer. Serving as a facilitator for “Getting Ahead in a Just Getting by World,” she found her calling in bridging poverty gaps by collaborating with nonprofits and uncovering hidden community resources. As a four-year graduate in portrait and commercial photography, Sarah’s dedication to her craft is matched by her commitment to continuous learning. As a driving force behind WeDoVids, she crafts compelling narratives that drive business growth and community change through multimedia.
Kettering College & Sarah Brandell Coaching
Infertility Life Coach
Sarah Brandell, a Dayton native graduated from Centerville HS (2009), Ohio State University (2013) and Kettering College PA Program (2016). She currently serves as full-time faculty with her alma mater Kettering College, teaching future PAs her skills in Emergency Medicine and Primary Care. In addition to her work as a PA, Sarah is an advocate for women navigating infertility and pregnancy loss. She hosts The Path to Motherhood Podcast which shares insights about the emotional rollercoaster of infertility and loss. Sarah also works as a life coach for women navigating their own infertility journey and hosts a local infertility support group. Sarah’s a wife to her high school sweetheart, Jason, and mother to their own rainbow baby girl. Their journey with infertility and recurrent pregnancy loss is what inspired her work supporting other women on the journey.
Preschool Promise, Inc.
Emily Broughton is a community advocate and mother of three. Her career spans over a decade in marketing, public relations and development roles in both for-profit and nonprofit industries. She is currently the director of marketing and development at Preschool Promise and the president of the Women’s Board of Dayton Children’s Hospital. She has served on various area boards and committees and is a current member of the Culture Works board and the immediate past president of the Dayton Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America.
(DE-FI) Global INC
Caressa Brown comes from a long line of business owners and civil rights activists. A 1998 graduate of Jefferson High School and a 2007 graduate of Wright State University, she’s also a 2019 Dayton Business Journal Top 40 Under 40 recipient and 2021 Ohio Black Excellence award winner who has launched the careers of thousands of models, designers, photographers and more into the fashion industry. Owner of the first-of-its-kind fashion incubator, the volunteer led, (DE-FI) Global INC, Caressa has worked behind the scenes of major New York Fashion Week events produced by IMG/Endeavor via the Council of Fashion Designers of America CFDA where she’s a founding member of the CFDA Connects Program serving the programs executive board during the inaugural year and is a voting member for the CFDA Awards Guild. Caressa also helped develop and currently sits on the advisory board for Hocking College’s Fashion Design & Retail Merchandising Program.
Strategic Ohio Council for Higher Education
Patty Buddelmeyer, senior vice president of development, has worked at Strategic Ohio Council for Higher Education (SOCHE) since 2015. She has been instrumental in leading the organization into new and diverse opportunities to strengthen its portfolio and local impact. She created and led innovative programs that established workforce pipelines, curricula for critical skills needed by high-tech employers and experiential learning opportunities for high school and college students in Ohio. Patty has extensive leadership experience guiding STEM development teams, as well as program management experience. Before joining SOCHE, she worked in technical leadership roles at AT&T and PNC Bank. Patty is thankful to be following her passion and helping others pursue their educational and career goals.
Sarah Chapman is sr. director, digital strategy at CareSource. She began her career in ICQ chatrooms and has been deep in person-to-person interaction ever since. Sarah has managed consumer interaction and engagement on some of the world’s largest brands and is best known from her time behind the Charmin bear discussing iconic issues like the #MadPooper. In her current role, she blends the power of text, web, social and other digital touchpoints to help make a lasting difference in some of our most vulnerable populations and communities by encouraging people to engage with tools that improve their health and well-being. Sarah is also a passionate advocate for the arts, serving as vice-chair of Culture Works, a Dayton arts-funding organization.
Abbey Credit Union
Blanca Criner is an accomplished marketing leader, banking executive, community champion and relationship connector. She’s the chief marketing and business development officer at Abbey Credit Union. During her tenure, she has expanded the membership base to five counties, built successful relationships and won national awards. Prior to AbbeyCU, Blanca was vice president of Channel Development at PNC and previously held leadership roles with Vocalink, Wells Fargo, and Bital Bank. Blanca is an active community volunteer and leader, serving on several boards including the Better Business Bureau’s Women in Business Network (WiBN), Women in Christian Leadership and serves with VISIONS – Vandalia Butler Foundation. She was recognized with the WiBN Sandie Geib Ambassador of the Year award for 2022. In her personal life, Blanca shares her journey with her husband, David Criner, and their son, Joey.
The Brightside Music & Event Center
Carli Dixon is the founder and owner of The Brightside Music & Event Venue, as well as founder and owner of Bloombeads|Freezeframe floral preservation. She has been an entrepreneur since graduating from The American University in 1996, where she received a BSBA with a focus in entrepreneurship. Carli became established in downtown Dayton in 2009 when she and her husband Hamilton Dixon purchased several abandoned properties on E. Third Street that are now home to The Brightside Venue, Bloombeads|Freezeframe, and Hamilton Dixon’s metal studio. Carli plays an active role in the day-to-day operations of both the venue and floral preservation company, while also being a wife and mother. When not working a wedding or concert, or doing landscaping and maintenance on the properties, she enjoys travel, yoga, biking and dining in downtown Dayton’s many great restaurants.
Waibel Energy Systems
Christy graduated Virginia Tech with a Bachelor of Arts and a Master’s in Public Administration. She worked in local government for eight years. She was the assistant superintendent for operations for a school district for seven years. She’s been with Waibel Energy Systems for the past five years and recently promoted to the director of business development and sales. She is president of the Dayton IFMA Chapter, member of the Associate Board for DRMA, a member of the BizOps team with OASBO, and a member of the Board of Directors for the Troy Chamber of Commerce. In 2014, Christy was a 40 Under 40 winner through the DBJ and Outstanding Business Operations Manager of the Year through OASBO. She constantly looks for ways to make a difference in her profession and community. Christy lives in Troy and has been married since 2009 to Tim and has a 12-year-old son Jake.
Dayton VA Medical Center
Erinn Heymann is a hospital administrator at the Dayton VA Medical Center, and she holds an Independent Clinical Social Work License. She has a passion for serving others through all avenues of health and wellbeing. Her experience within the mental health field and hospital administration, set the foundation for her continued service to VA partners, Veterans and Veteran families. When Erinn is not working within the hospital setting, she continues to serve her community through her self-owned online counseling firm or through community outreach and volunteering efforts that she leads through her beloved church, Miami Valley Church of Christ. Rather it be professional or personal, Erinn is a leader who shines best through her ability to serve others.
Lisa Japs is a driven and accomplished woman with a diverse range of experiences. With a career spanning two decades at Dayton Live, Lisa’s impact has been profound. Her journey began in the Ticket Office, allowing her to gain deep insights into customer service and theatre operations. Lisa currently serves as COO, where she is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the organization’s operations. Holding a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Dayton has provided her with a strong foundation in human behavior and has been invaluable in her professional and personal pursuits. Outside of work, Lisa loves to garden and is an active volunteer with Levitt Pavilion Dayton. She currently serves as the Chair of the Friends of the Library Board. Through her volunteer work, she has been able to give back to her community and make a positive impact in the lives of others.
Margaret (Meg) Maloney
City of Dayton
Meg Maloney is currently the sustainability manager at the City of Dayton. In this role, she advocates for a more sustainable future for Dayton residents and businesses through energy and environmental justice programs. Through this role, Meg has helped save over $14 million dollars for residents and small businesses in 2022-2023 through energy programs. In addition, Meg has helped identify over $3.5 million dollars in savings through utility billing auditing and curtailment for City of Dayton facilities in 2022. Meg is passionate about advocating for the redevelopment of disinvested communities and works to turn blighted sites into community assets. Over the past two years, Meg has been recognized for her sustainability work and was honored as a Dayton Business Journal Innovator under 25, Best Sustainability Staff Member in the State by the Ohio Mayor’s Alliance and the top Sustainability Leader for the Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio region.
Violence Free Futures
Debbie Matheson is the executive director of Violence Free Futures. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in social work from Cedarville University and then her Master’s Degree in social work from Edinboro University. She’s a licensed social worker. Debbie has served in different roles at Violence Free Futures for 30 years. She started by volunteering to work with the children who suffered from the effects of domestic violence and found a strong passion for working with families affected by the devastation of domestic violence and sexual assault. Her energy now is spent educating the community, producing creative responses to domestic violence and sexual assault while supporting the talented staff at VFF.
Priscila’s life can be described as diverse. She was born and raised in Sao Paulo, Brazil – a megacity of 16 million people. After moving to the US and earning her Chemical Engineering degree from the University of Wisconsin, she found herself, at one point, living in a town of less than 2,000 people. Her employers have been diverse, as well. She has worked for Fortune 500 giants – Procter & Gamble, Dannon and Owens Corning – as well as Wright Patterson Air Force Base, and now the University of Dayton. Her current role is, without a doubt, the most meaningful. She serves as a business development manager at a group called FastLane, housed at UDRI. She has initiated and led projects across 150+ Dayton manufacturers which has yielded almost 2,500 new or retained jobs. Priscila is married to Brian and they have two little ones together that keep them young at heart.
Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce
Veronica Nunamaker is the director of marketing and member engagement for the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce. She holds a bachelor’s degree in communication studies from Wright State University and a master’s degree in grant writing, evaluation and management from Concordia University Chicago. Prior to her role with the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce, she spent eight years at CareSource working in customer care, service delivery and external communications. Veronica has over a decade of experience working with both for-profit and not-for-profit organizations. She has served as a board member for the Junior League of Dayton, the Dayton Area Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, Hannah’s Treasure Chest and Gem City Kitties. She also has volunteered with the Southwest Ohio Association for the Education of Young Children.
The Foodbank, Inc.
Michelle Riley is the CEO of The Foodbank, Inc. located in Dayton, OH. She’s a graduate of Wright State University and Leadership Dayton. Michelle devotes much of her time working to strengthen the hunger relief safety net, including having served on the Board of Ohio Association of Foodbanks. Over the past twelve years under Michelle’s leadership, The Foodbank has tripled its food distribution to a network of 110 soup kitchens, emergency shelters and food pantries in Montgomery, Greene and Preble counties of Ohio. Michelle’s visionary leadership contributed to the continued growth and success of the organization, including the roll-out of a new strategic plan focused on three root cause centered initiatives: Advocacy; Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion; and Re-entry. In addition to The Foodbank, Michelle is passionate about education, sharing her knowledge with leaders and future leaders in the community.
Evelyn Ritzi is a dynamic communications professional with a passion for creativity, collaboration and community engagement. As content marketing manager for Ohlmann Group, she writes compelling marketing messages for the agency’s wide range of clients. As a longtime member of the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce’s Generation Dayton Steering Committee, she is dedicated to fostering belonging among Dayton’s young professionals through meaningful networking and learning experiences. For these efforts, she was named the chamber’s Volunteer of the Year in 2022. In addition to her role as chair-elect for GenD, Evelyn serves as member retention chair for the Junior League of Dayton and is on the Outreach and Engagement Committee for Levitt Pavilion Dayton. Evelyn is a graduate of Wittenberg University, where she obtained a BA in Communication. She resides in Dayton with her husband, Cody.
Economic Development Center
Utsey T. Shelton is a Tour-de-Force within the small business community. She’s a business advisor for the Miami Valley Urban League and provides technical assistance and opportunities of capital infusion to assist minority businesses in the city of Dayton and surrounding counties. She lends her enthusiasm and support to local organizations for annual fundraising, including the Dayton Heart Association and National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ). She served on the advisory board and facilitated coffee talks for WiBN. In 2022, she graduated from the Miami Valley Regional Environmental Justice Academy. Utsey holds a bachelor’s in communications from Central State University and was an on—air producer for WCSU-FM radio. She is a published author of the devotional Secret Moments, and co-authored Success Powered by Relationships and The Audacity to Phenomenally Become Her!
Color World of Dayton
Lora Sigritz is a certified professional life coach, author and co-owner of Color World of Dayton. She passionately championed the cause of 9-to-5 working women and achieved national recognition as one of the 75 women honored during the 75th Anniversary of the Women’s Bureau at The White House. She’s also sung backup for Reba McEntire and lived in Saudi Arabia, where she helped women by teaching them to drive. Lora is a dedicated advocate for women’s workplace rights and survivors of domestic abuse. Her most significant achievement lies in the empowerment of women through her organization, FLY (Finally Loving Yourself). As the franchise owner of Color World of Dayton, Lora is committed to excellence in residential and commercial painting and holiday lighting services throughout the Miami Valley. She actively supports local charities, including Habitat for Humanity, and is a member of The 100+ Women, Women in Business Networking and The Heart of Centerville.
Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton
Chaplain Gayle Simmons is the manager of chaplains at Ohio’s Hospice Southwest Care Region, managing the Spiritual Care team of twenty-five chaplains. Gayle’s an ordained Itinerant Elder and endorsed Chaplain of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. She received her bachelor’s in management from Wilberforce University and a Master of Divinity from Payne Theological Seminary, both located in Wilberforce, OH. She completed her chaplaincy residence at the Veteran Affairs Medical Center in Dayton, OH, and additional supervisory clinical pastoral education at Christ Hospital in Cincinnati, OH. Gayle has completed further studies at the Sacred Art of Living Institute in Bend, Oregon and is certified in Spiritual Direction, focusing on Spiritual Pain at the End of Life. Moreover, she completed the Chaplaincy Management Program with the Spiritual Care Association and the Supervisory Leadership Program at the University of Dayton. Chaplain Simmons is married to Reverend Dr. Michael Simmons, and they have five children and eleven grandchildren.
Dayton VA Medical Center
Katina Stone-Jones received many accolades over the years for her commitment to integrity, leadership and clinical achievements. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Wright State University, and received a Master degree in Social Work from the University of Cincinnati in 1999. She’s been employed with the Dayton VA Medical Center since 1999 working in various capacities to include Mental Health Service Director of Programs, Chief of Social Work Service, Transformational Leader for the Community Living Center and the Chief of Quality & Patient Safety Service. Katina’s a graduate of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Leadership VA and Health Care Leadership Development Program. She’s a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives and an independently licensed clinical social worker for the state of Ohio. Katina is a married mother of two daughters. She enjoys being with family and mentoring.
Mary E. Tyler Consulting
Mary E. Tyler is the proud principal of Mary E. Tyler Consulting, LLC., excels as a strategist for organizational performance and is a Certified Diversity Professional. Mary is a thought leader who frequently presents content locally and nationwide. She’s still engaged in the community as a retired nonprofit leader, community connector, protectress of human rights and ignitor of action. She was instrumental in declaring Dayton as a Human Rights City. Mary passionately uses her skills and talents to strengthen organizations that impact individuals and families throughout the region. She serves on a few local and national boards and committees. As modeled by her mother, when Mary sees a need or injustice, she believes it is her responsibility to advocate for justice or help find solutions. Mary is the proud mother of two caring adult children she raised to understand that we are blessed to be a blessing to others.
Clark State College
Tracy serves on the Board for Leadership Clark County, Small Business Development and the Salvation Army Advisory Board. At Clark State College – where she is also employed – she’s served on the Strategic Leadership Team, Safety Committee Co-Chair, Staff Senate President, Diversity Committee and as a Champion City Scholar Mentor. Tracy was also named as one of The Extraordinary Woman of Clark County for 2023. In her position as director of workforce & business solutions at Clark State, Tracy develops partnerships with employers and community organizations to deliver training programs to meet the needs of the current workforce. She also helps to identify critical needs, and designs and delivers targeted contract trainings to address those needs. Tracy builds relationships with other local educational institutions to provide a comprehensive approach to workforce development. Tracy graduated from Leadership Clark County in 2018 and Clark State’s SOAR program in 2019. Prior to joining Clark State’s Workforce & Business Solutions team, Tracy served as director of conference services for the college. Tracy is the wife of the late Clark County Sherriff’s Deputy Matthew Yates. She lives in Springfield with her three children.
2024 Jeanne Porter Career Achievement Award Recipient
Day Air Credit Union
Bettina Buscemi will be the recipient of the 2024 Jeanne Porter Career Achievement Award posthumously. This honor is presented annually to a woman who continues to inspire, influence and impact the business community and the world around them well beyond their initial recognition as a WiBN Top 25 Woman or Woman of Impact. This award is meant to recognize an impactful professional legacy, like that of Jeanne Porter, founder of WiBN.