A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Meet the 2023 Outstanding Women of Northern Kentucky honorees; luncheon event to be May 18

On Thursday, May 18, the 2023 Outstanding Women of Northern Kentucky honorees will be celebrated with a luncheon hosted by the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Women’s Initiative.

The awards honor women who exemplify notable achievement, outstanding service in their professions or to the Northern Kentucky community, and the qualities of personal integrity, perseverance and leadership.

The awards will be presented at an awards luncheon at Turfway Park Racing & Gaming. Tickets are $60 and available online.

The 2023 Outstanding Women of Northern Kentucky honorees include:

Emerging Leader Honoree

Farduwsa Hassan
Nurse Practitioner Specialist and Owner, Leila Urgent Care

Farduwsa Hassan

Farduwsa Hassan is a nurse practitioner specialist primarily operating out of Northern Kentucky. As the owner of Lelia Urgent Care in Hebron, she strives to help the community with the various medical hardships they may face – a fact that was never more evident than during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Her company provides numerous medical services including treatment of common ailments such as flu and respiratory issues as well as sprains, providing physicals for work and/or school, allergy treatments, and even telehealth services.

Always putting her patients first, she selflessly provides excellent care for individuals who may have difficulty seeking out medical services due to a language barrier or because they lack the financial means to do so otherwise.

“I am extremely honored to be recognized for a job that I love and means so much to me,” said Farduwsa. “As a nurse practitioner, I attribute so much of my success to the numerous mentors who have guided me throughout my journey and the many patients who have entrusted me with their care and wellbeing. I’m so thankful to each and every one of you. Finally, thank you to my husband and family for supporting my dreams and for your steadfast support.”

Outstanding Women of NKY Honorees

Christy Burch
CEO, The Ion Center for Violence Prevention

Christy Burch

Christy Burch is CEO of the Ion Center for Violence Prevention, an organization founded in 1976 with the “intention to provide services to survivors of power-based personal violence” in the Northern Kentucky, Buffalo Trace, and Greater Cincinnati areas. Christy has helped The Ion Center further that mission over the course of her 26 years with the organization.

This is evident in her clemency work for wrongfully incarcerated victims, resulting in the pardon of 10 women. During her time at the University of Kentucky, she utilized the power of art and activism, co-writing six original plays while simultaneously co-creating the nationally acclaimed and research-proven Green Dot violence prevention strategy.

Her leadership style focuses on mentoring and bringing people with her, using a deep understanding of how to create environments full of possibilities that lead to lasting change. Christy has also provided thousands of powerful trainings nationwide, making her a highly sought-after consultant and speaker.

In addition to her work at The Ion Center, Christy is the founder of Your Story is My Story, Inc., a consulting company dedicated to creating social change through art, advocacy and activism. She is the mother of Honor, life partner to Vince, a proud aunt to her niece, Addy, and nephew, McKenna, and daughter of parents, Diana and Greg.

“Thank you to the NKY Chamber and the Women’s Initiative for this incredible honor. Thank you to my colleagues at Ion Center and the many women who mentored me throughout the years – they saw a spark and flamed it,” said Christy. “Thank you to my family for your love and support. Thank you to the thousands of survivors of violence who allowed me to walk alongside them in their pain, suffering, and resiliency as they reclaimed their power. Every single day I wake up and work from a place of loving service knowing it only takes a spark!”

Sarah Giolando-Matlin
Senior Vice President & Chief Strategy Officer, St. Elizabeth Healthcare

Sarah Giolando-Matlin

Sarah Giolando-Matlin is a Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer for St. Elizabeth Healthcare, a five-hospital system in Northern Kentucky and Southeastern Indiana. She is responsible for system-wide strategic planning, marketing, public relations, communications, government relations, community relations, volunteer services and auxiliary departments across the $1.2 billion healthcare system.

She is also an active member of her community, serving on the board of several organizations. This includes serving as the Chair of the Board for the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky University’s Institute for Health Innovation External Advisory Board and the board of the Cincinnati Women’s Executive Forum.

A Fellow with the American College of Healthcare Executives, Sarah earned her bachelor’s degree in international business from James Madison University. She has also completed Harvard Business School’s course on Disruptive Innovation. Additionally, Sarah earned her MBA from the Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management in Belgium.

She was selected for the 43rd class of Leadership Cincinnati and was named one of 20 Professional Women to Watch in 2012 by the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Today, Sarah lives in Clifton with her husband, Reid, and her daughter, Sabrina. Her son, Sal, is a junior at Ohio State University and her daughter, Sophia, is a freshman at the University of Cincinnati. Her son, Brayden Matlin, works at CVG and lives in Hartwell.

“I am honored to share this distinction with so many former honorees who have mentored me along the way and provided inspiration through their dedication and service to this community,” said Sarah. “I am grateful to St. Elizabeth for encouraging me to serve outside of our organization and to my husband and family who have supported my many evenings occupied by board meetings and other events. Northern Kentucky is truly a special place!”

Vickie Henderson
Executive Director, Northern Kentucky Children’s Advocacy Center

Vickie Henderson

Vickie Henderson is the Executive Director of the Northern Kentucky Children’s Advocacy Center, a role which is the culmination of over 30 years of service as an advocate for children. Under her leadership, Northern Kentucky established the first child advocacy center in the Commonwealth. In addition to being the first forensic interviewer in Kentucky, Vickie was one of the founding members and first President of the Children’s Advocacy Centers of Kentucky.

Vickie is a witness to the challenges and the overwhelming emotions that the multidisciplinary team members face every day and throughout the years has recognized the reality of compassion fatigue. It has become a priority to support her staff and colleagues as they investigate, prosecute, and protect the children in Northern Kentucky.

Vickie has drafted children’s advocacy center-related legislation and has lobbied and testified before the state legislature. She has been the safe person for over 6,000 children to share their stories of sexual and physical abuse, domestic violence and trafficking. She considers it a sacred honor when children put their trust in her. A firm believer that “life is a dance filled with building relationships, finding balance and giving back,” she cites her faith as her foundation and is grateful for “The courage to have said ‘yes’ to an incredible opportunity to join the children’s advocacy movement 32 years ago.”

“What an honor it is to be selected as one of the 2023 Outstanding Women of Northern Kentucky, but I have not taken one step in this journey alone,” said Vickie. “I have been surrounded by strong women who mentor and support me, my parents who modeled the importance of giving back, my children who reminded me every day of what was truly important and my wife who has supported my crazy ideas and loves me unconditionally.”

Ash Norton
General Manager of Major Projects, Duke Energy

Ash Norton

Ash Norton has sought to positively impact the world from a young age, overcoming instability in her childhood to become a first-generation college graduate earning her Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from the University of Cincinnati and a Master of Business Administration from Thomas More University.

Over nearly 19 years, she has held various engineering and leadership roles at Duke Energy. Now, she serves as General Manager of Major Projects at Duke Energy, leading a team of over 75 leaders, engineers and project managers responsible for the planning and execution of large electric distribution projects throughout the Midwest.

With a passion for mentoring, Ash coaches and encourages others. Her career advice is featured in Forbes, Harvard Business Review, Inc., and Fast Company. She is also the co-host of LinkedIn Local Cincinnati – with the goal of meeting the people behind the profiles. Ash serves on the Regional Board of Directors for Kentucky Educational Television (KET) and is the Executive Sponsor for Duke Energy’s Cincinnati Business Women’s Network.

When she’s not working, Ash enjoys hiking, playing poker, watching reality competition shows, traveling and cheering on her children at their soccer games.

“I am humbled to be named among the Outstanding Women of Northern Kentucky. God has provided me with more than I could have ever imagined and surrounded me with people who love and support me,” said Ash. “Thank you to my Duke Energy friends for challenging me and believing in me. I am grateful to make an impact with you every day. To the BA Ladies of WE Lead 14, you are incredibly talented and unconditionally encouraging. I am lucky to have you in my life. To my friends and family – your love and laughter make me smile every day. And my husband, Ryan, who works daily to take care of our family.”

Henrietta Cleveland Inspiring Women Honoree

Carolyn Thomas Thompson
Insurance Agent at State Farm Insurance and St. Elizabeth Volunteer

Carolyn Thomas Thompson

Carolyn Thomas Thompson is an insurance agent for State Farm Insurance. Her title, however, is not just reflective of her job, but a family legacy of serving the community across two generations. Working with State Farm for over 30 years, she has spent the last 25 as the company’s agent in Williamstown.

Born and raised in Grant County where her father was the town’s State Farm agent, Carolyn returned to Williamstown 25 years later to take over her father’s business upon his retirement. This also led to her getting involved in the community – with roles at the Williamstown Kiwanis Club and the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.

One of her biggest honors, however, was being asked to be part of the St. Elizabeth Grant County Foundation. The Grant County Hospital has played a vital part in the healthcare of her hometown for 70+ years. She has spent seven years serving as the chair of the foundation’s Community Relations Committee, which is heavily involved in fundraising for various projects. Carolyn also serves on the Grant County Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Directors and as the Chair for the Grant County Schools Foundation. Additionally, she has served 11 years on the Grant County Extension District Board.

Married to her husband, Steve, for 38 years, Carolyn is the mother of two children. Her daughter Meghan is an attorney and her son, Alex, works for a State Farm agent in Omaha, Nebraska.

“I am humbled and honored to receive this award. When you love what you do, you never work a day in your life. That is truly how I feel about my life,” said Carolyn. “I am thankful my State Farm career has given me the opportunity to serve and give back to the community and working with the St. Elizabeth Foundation has truly been a blessing in my life. I hope I can continue to serve the community as Henrietta Cleveland did when she started the St. Elizabeth Hospital.”

Judith Clabes Lifetime Achievement Honoree

Lisa Desmarais
Retired from Kenton County Fiscal Court

Lisa Desmarais

Lisa Desmarais is a technology, finance and operations professional whose career has seen her work in many roles with different organizations and companies, providing excellent service along the way. Her professional roles included employment with the Kenton County Fiscal Court, the City of Covington, and as an adjunct professor in the Master of Public Administration graduate degree program at Northern Kentucky University (NKU).

In 2016, Lisa was appointed by then-Kentucky governor, Matt Bevin, to the Kentucky Community and Technical College System’s Board of Regents which oversees 16 such institutions throughout the Commonwealth. In 2021, she was elected as the Board of Regents Chair, making her the first Northern Kentuckian to serve in that role.

Before making the move to public service via a government role and nonprofit work, Lisa spent 16 years working for Ernst & Young, Fidelity Investments and American Express. Her recognition for community service includes the Behringer-Crawford Two-Headed Calf Award, Friends of Covington Award, and Gateway Community and Technical College “Gateway to Greatness” award. She is also a previous winner of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce’s Community Award and a Kenton County Service Recognition award for her work toward providing broadband internet access to all citizens of Kenton County.

“When asked who has inspired me over the years, I say my paternal grandmother. She was a woman of great conviction and strength,” said Lisa. “As a 4th grade educated Italian immigrant, she survived World War II as a mother to her son while her husband was held as a prisoner of war for seven years. When she arrived in the U.S., she blazed a trail of success: working, owning her own home, and learning to speak English. She believed in hard work but knew that education was the key to success. I learned so much from her and understand the value of hard work, education, and women blazing trails.”

Nancy Janes Boothe Scholarship Recipients

Terrie Lee Frasure
Gateway Community & Technical College

Terrie Lee Frasure

Terrie Lee Frasure has overcome adversity at many turns on her way to being honored as this year’s Gateway Community and Technical College scholarship award recipient. Raised solely by her grandmother, Terrie recalls years of seeing her grandparent struggle to provide the bare necessities for her and her sister. Despite rebelling and balking at authority by her own admission, she graduated high school, the first in her family to do so, “only through God’s grace and mercy” by “the skin of her teeth.”

However, upon entering her 30s, Terrie says she found herself wanting more in life, both personally and professionally, prompting her to return to school after years of college not being on the proverbial radar. Around this time, she also discovered her passion for human services, leading to former roles as a caseworker at the Brighton Recovery Center and a residential supervisor role at Transitions Drug Rehabilitation and Immediate Care.

Currently, Terrie is a full-time healthcare employee at a behavioral health hospital where she enjoys working one-on-one with patients, doing everything from discharging and planning, to helping them apply for Medicaid.

“I want to thank everyone from my husband to my kids for understanding and pushing me to be better,” said Terrie. “I also want to thank my advisor and social work professor, Meredith Ramler, for pushing me to apply for this scholarship. Lastly, I wish to thank Gateway Community & Technical College and my teachers who push me to be a better human daily.”

Jenna Dunham
Northern Kentucky University

Jenna Dunham

Jenna Dunham is currently enrolled at NKU, earning her Bachelor of Science degree in Neuroscience. She plans to further her studies and pursue her Ph.D. in the field, focusing on research in the realms of addiction, stress, obesity and mood disorders. This builds upon more than two decades work with individuals to improve health and fitness, an outgrowth of her personal passion for studying habits and promoting behavior change leading to improved health outcomes.

Jenna is a Research Assistant for the Telehealth Assessment and Skill-Building Intervention for stroke family caregiver team within the University of Cincinnati’s College of Nursing. At NKU, she serves as a student researcher for Dr. Lauren Williamson’s lab, focusing on behavioral neuroimmunology and, in the lab of Dr. Ty Brumback, studying the effects of early substance abuse on the autonomic nervous system plus factors that influence and initiate substance use.

A lifelong resident of Northern Kentucky, Jenna is married to her husband, Nick, with whom she has four children between the ages of 8 and 21. A competitive athlete in her youth, she now enjoys watching her children participate in sports and is an active member of Florence Methodist Church.

“I want to thank my family for their unwavering support of my goals. Returning to school as a parent is challenging, and I couldn’t do any of this without the help of my husband, my amazing parents, and my friends,” said Jenna. “I am grateful to work alongside brilliant researchers, and I want to thank my mentors, faculty advisors and the talented professors of NKU for providing me with learning and growth opportunities. I am honored to be recognized among such outstanding women and am in awe of what women who lift each other up can accomplish.” 

E. Holly Jenkins
Thomas More University

E. Holly Jenkins

E. Holly Jenkins is a 2020 graduate of Thomas More University (TMU) where she earned her degree in business management, she received her BA in Ethical Leadership in 2022. She is now studying for her master’s in Ethical Leadership at the university.

She is also the CEO of Restart Your Life, Inc., a coaching firm specializing in personal and professional development. Her passion for her work reflects the incredible journey that has led her to this point, which shines through in each project she pours her energy into.

Under Jade Six Media, a division of Restart Your Life, Inc, E. Holly is both an accomplished, award-winning author and filmmaker. She has appeared as the subject matter expert on overcoming childhood sexual abuse on both national TV and radio; her documentary film “Empty Closets – In Honor of Those Left Behind” highlights the long-lasting devastation homicide has on both families and our communities at large.

Reading nearly 40 to 50 books annually as her favorite pastime, E. Holly shares her love of reading by serving as a tutor for kindergarteners all the way up to college students. Also, a certified English as a Second Language (ESL) instructor, she edits and helps other aspiring authors by guiding them through the self-publishing process. An active member in her church where she both cooks and volunteers, she also practices transcendental meditation as a way to maintain work-life balance.

“I am honored to be selected for this award a second time and wish to thank Thomas More University’s staff and faculty for their unwavering support and guidance,” said E. Holly. “My family and friends have all been outstanding cheerleaders. No amount of thanks can express how profoundly grateful I am to each one individually and collectively for their love and motivation.”

Additional information about the Outstanding Women of Northern Kentucky awards, past honorees, and more, can be found online at www.nkychamber.com.

Sponsored today by St. Elizabeth Healthcare, the awards were established in 1984 when the late Nancy Janes Boothe, first lady of Northern Kentucky University, suggested the community should have a way to recognize women. The first events were sponsored by The Kentucky Post and a coalition of NKU and Thomas More College and community-minded businesses to honor NKY’s women of accomplishment. The recognitions have continued uninterrupted since then.

The Outstanding Women of Northern Kentucky steering committee, working with the Chamber’s Women’s Initiative, is responsible for selecting the winners of the awards.

Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce

Related Posts

Leave a Comment