September 29, 2020
2020 Women of Achievement Award Winners

Women's Network Leadership Institute presented the Women of Achievement Awards on July 28, 2020. The awards recognize extraordinary women with a history of encouraging success among women, breaking down barriers, mentoring, taking risks to overcome obstacles and supporting the full participation in economic and community life. These award winners have gone above and beyond their own personal or career accomplishments. The next highlight below is the Dorothy O. Jackson Award 2020 recipient, Project Ujima.
Dorothy O. Jackson Award
Project Ujima
Crystal Jones, Co-Founder and LaKesh Hayes, Executive Director
Project Ujima, the 2020 Women of Achievement Dorothy O. Jackson Award winner is a grassroots community engagement organization that teaches and facilitates Discussion Circles to enable diverse citizens to come together, discuss issues of shared concern, develop relationships of trust, discover common ground, and go from talk to action. The organization emulates the values and virtues of the award’s namesake, Dorothy O. Jackson, known as Akron’s Goodwill Ambassador.
Project Ujima is named after the third principle of Kwanzaa, which means “Collective Work and Responsibility: To build and maintain our community together and to make our brother’s and sister’s problems our problems and to solve them together.”
Project Ujima focuses on fostering the conditions that lead to citizens discovering their own efficacy and capacity to work together to strengthen the community. In addition to providing Circle Processes, they provide logistical support to assist with implementation of actions that are agreed upon by Circle participants. Project Ujima, however, does serve the greater Akron community through its consulting services which include training facilitators, framing community discussions and providing facilitation support and customization of the Discussion Circle Process.
Crystal Jones, Esq., Co-founder & former Executive Director of Project Ujima, spent her childhood in Akron, leaving to pursue her education and a career in law. After returning to the city, her passion for service and activism started in the Buchtel community when her young sons attended school at Crouse Elementary where she found the PTO to be inactive.
Project Ujima launched in 2011, created by the Akron Neighborhood Trust to empower disenfranchised residents. The project received a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and focused primarily on enhancing education, financial literacy, student health and pathways to employment from the school system in the Buchtel West Akron Neighborhood.
In 2016, Project Ujima began work to reduce the high infant mortality rate in the region and plays and integral in the Summa Health program A Sisterhood of Support. The sessions bring together women from the areas of Akron that have the highest rates of infant mortality. Representatives from Project Ujima lead the Centering Circles where the group learns about various pregnancy and parenting techniques from safe sleep tips to proper nutrition and breastfeeding. They share their struggles and act as a support system for each other and refer to themselves as a sisterhood.
Project Ujima also provides a Zalika Gathering Home (ZGH) for new and expecting women and families. It is a perinatal safe spot to connect moms, family members and community to each other. It is a judgement free zone that is physical or virtual in a safe and nurturing environment where educating and empowering mothers is a priority. The services at ZGH include nutrition and healthy lifestyle education; personal development and employment readiness; coaching and mentoring; food bank and diaper distribution; individual and family counseling; and family planning and reproductive health information.
Working to reflect the community, Project Ujima was born out a vision to build and maintain the largely African American community to work collectively to make brother’s and sister’s problems the communities’ to solve them together. Today that work continues, and its efforts are impacting far beyond the borders of the Buchtel Neighborhood to the Greater Akron Community.  Congratulations Project Ujima on your vision and passion for making Akron a better place because of your work.
Watch the Women of Achievement Awards full event below:
Click here to read about this year's other two Women of Achievement award recipients and stay tuned for more to come!
WNLI Upcoming Events
How to be Congruent When the World We’re in Isn’t
Arrants McSwain, Lead Consultant Celia King

October 7, 2020 | 8:00 AM
Online Virtual Event

You will walk away from this session with:
  1.  An understanding of the 4 Congruent skills and how to use them an
  2. An assessment tool to help you know how you are experiencing the 4 intuitive skills
  3. A tool for managing your tools and focus specifically, that part of your mind that wanders around more than you'd like
  4. A renewed understanding that you are not alone
Leadership Toolbox Session IV
Prepared for Anything
Stephanie York, Crisis Communication Consultant
Legal Counsel for Hennes Communications

October 14, 2020 | 8:30 AM - 11:00 AM
Online Virtual Event

As a public relations professional and Attorney at Hennes Communications, Stephanie York, will provide guidance on leading an organization through extraordinary times. Whether a global pandemic or a life-threatening crisis within the walls of your organization, her expertise is delivered with candor and humor. This two hour workshop will leave you armed with tools for dealing with the media and understanding the importance of communication to the public always eager to hear the story.
Adjusting the Sails: Thriving in a Changing World
Chrissy Myers, AUI 
October 21, 2020 | 9:00 AM - 10:15 AM
Online Virtual Event

"She stood in the storm and when the wind did not blow her over, she adjusted her sails." Elizabeth Edwards

Chrissy is the Director and CEO of AUI one of the leading employee benefits agencies in Northeast Ohio providing insurance benefits to solopreneurs, small and medium sized businesses in both for profit and non-profit sectors. AUI is one of the largest independently held agencies in the region and holds the highest level of broker distinction with national and regional insurance carriers including Medical Mutual, Anthem Blue Cross & Blue Shield, and SummaCare.

Around Akron Chrissy works to leave her community a better place. A member of Torchbearers and a former chair of the community impact committee, Chrissy helped lead Activate Akron a series of community conversations involving Torchbearers and community leaders gathering around the table to brainstorm solutions to community issues surrounding education, addiction, social justice, entrepreneurship and sustainability. 

As an advocate for families struggling with addiction and mental health issues, Chrissy served on the Board of Trustees for Pastoral Counseling Service of Summit County and is currently a member of the Board of Directors of the Alcohol, Drug Addiction, and Mental Health Services Board of Summit County. She also served on the Deterra Project safe drug disposal program created by Community Partnership of Summit County which is responsible for safely disposing over a million prescription drugs.
October Lunch & Learn
Amanda Cole, Executive Director of Plexus
October is LGBTQ+ History Month
Join us to learn how we can be allies of the LGBTQ+ community.
October 22, 2020 | 12 PM - 1:15 PM
Online Virtual Event

Amanda joined Plexus LGBT + Allied Chamber of Commerce as the first Executive Director in March of 2019. Her work in the non-profit sector began through AmeriCorps service during her undergraduate studies at Antioch College. Her background includes leadership and change facilitation through Points of Light Youth Leadership, People’s Institute for Undoing Racism, and Nonprofit Leadership Alliance.
About Plexus:
As the only LGBTQ-focused business organization in Northeast Ohio, Plexus connects the LGBTQ and allied businesses community including professionals, entrepreneurs, business owners, and corporate, civic and nonprofit leaders. Plexus advocates on behalf of the LGBTQ and allied community by educating and creating awareness about workplace equity, diversity and inclusion and the positive impact of LGBTQ owned businesses on the economy. Plexus is one of the 60 affiliates of the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) in the U.S.
WNLI Curriculum Opportunities
Managing With Strength
Cindy Biggs, Certified coach, trainer, and mentor 

Managing with Strength is a four-part series designed for current managers who could use a refresher course in leadership of individuals and teams. Or, an excellent course for managers who have recently obtained a promotion and find themselves managing individuals who were formerly peers. Even experienced managers have said it is one of the best courses they have ever taken.

The four workshop topics are sequential and include these four topics:  
1) Leading with your Strengths
2) Know What it Takes to Lead 
3) Coaching for Success 
4) The Value of Feedback

Four workshops. October 6th and ends November 17th Meets virtually every other week for four weeks on Tuesdays from 8:00-noon with group discussion and role playing along with breaks from the screen. 
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