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Local Women Making Their Mark

Sonia Jackson Myles

Title: Founder and CEO

Organization: The Sister Accord LLC, dba The Accord Group LLC

How did the Sister Accord come about?

I was in corporate America for more than 20 years with amazing companies, but I noticed a pattern of men and women having different experiences in the workplace. My women mentees were coming to me and highlighting issues they were having with other women, and it gave me pause. So, I began looking for solutions, and that led me to start my Sister Accord business in 2013.

What does the Sister Accord do?

The foundation has three focus areas: educating girls and women, enlightening girls and women on the power of sisterhood, and eradicating bullying and violence against girls and women. My business focuses on getting the Sister Accord leadership development curriculum in school systems so we can address the issues that girls face. I’m also working with organizations regarding sisterhood and brotherhood in the workplace.

What has been the most rewarding part of your career?

When I get a phone call or an email from a young lady that says, “Your program has transformed my life,” or “Your program has helped me overcome an anxiety disorder.” That’s the return on investment, to have people’s lives change in a sustainable way—that’s been the greatest gift for me.

What words of wisdom do you have for others?

One of the biggest life lessons is understanding what your superpower is. Our superpowers are our gifts and our strengths—they were planted in us as we formed in our mother’s womb. So, once I help women understand and tap into those superpowers, they are on fire, and it’s difficult to extinguish!

Lyn Hogrefe

Title: Founder and Executive Director

Organizations: Happy Hormone Cottage, Women’s Health Initiatives Foundation

“It’s important to show up in your own life. I live by the motto: small things done with great love.”

What kind of work do you do?

I work with women to educate them about their options for natural hormone balance. I began the Cottage 10 years ago because there is a huge void between what our doctors know about hormone balance and the truth. We do hormone testing and can actually create plant-based powders and natural hormone therapy for each woman.

What are the highlights or defining moments of your career?

I was Teacher of the Year from 2004 to 2005 at Mt. Health City Schools where I taught sixth grade. In 2013, I was named a CincyChic Woman of the Year. I was chosen as a Woman of Excellence by the West Chester Liberty Chamber Alliance and wrote a book called Own Your Journey about natural hormone balance in 2015. I co-wrote a book called Success Powered by Relationships in 2016. Then, in 2017, I was chosen as one of the 100 Top Trailblazers by Lean In Ohio.

What challenges have you faced in your career?

I’ve found it challenging to have my voice heard and validated. When I first began, I would educate women and get them feeling empowered and then they would go to their doctor for a prescription and [the doctor] would say “You can’t do bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. That’s witchcraft,” because they’d never heard of it. Over the last 10 years, women have come to us and have gotten better, so now these doctors are sending women to me for help. Also, women now feel more empowered in owning their own health options.

Sammie Puisis

Title: Mason High School Student, Mason Comets Girls Basketball Forward

Recognitions: McDonald’s All-American Basketball Player, Mason High School Senior Star Forward, Two-Time Greater Miami Conference Player of the Year

“To be chosen as one out of 24 basketball players in the nation was just an amazing feeling. I started tearing up when I saw the news and how proud all of my family and coaches were.”

What was it like to be named a McDonald’s All-American?

It was kind of a surprise at first because there’s so much talent out there. That doesn’t come easy, that accomplishment. To be chosen as one out of 24 basketball players in the nation was just an amazing feeling. I started tearing up when I saw the news and how proud all of my family and coaches were.

What has made you so passionate about the sport?

I’m passionate about it because I love it. I’m competitive. There’s just something about playing as a team and getting after it, winning and making your family proud. I drive off of that. That’s why I play basketball.

How have others supported you in your journey thus far?

My parents sacrifice a lot: their time and their energy. They drive me places and take me to all my games. And my peers come and support me. Coaches have taught me a lot. My teammates have made me better. They’re always pushing me, and without everyone around me, I definitely wouldn’t be where I am today.

How has basketball shaped you?

I think it has shaped who I am as a person, but it’s definitely not the most important thing in my life, and it doesn’t define who I am. I believe that I’m so much more than just a basketball player.

Lina Patel

Title: Senior Program Manager

Organizations: Accenture, Mason City Schools, Mason Schools Foundation, Junior Achievement

What are you working on?

I am a senior manager at Accenture and have been with them for 20 years. This school year, they allowed me to take a leave to give back to the community. I’m honored to be part of the journey with Jonathan Cooper's Mason City Schools team driving the district's Three Big Rock agendas: inclusive excellence, culture changes and personalized learning.

What are the challenges of being a working mom?

In our society women get judged for not being home with the kids and for leaving work early to be with the kids. I’m a second-generation immigrant from India and the first person in my family to graduate from college. There’s pressure to not only be the mom that society expects but also to have a business or career. I have to consciously take a pause to overcome judgment from friends, family, co-workers and social media.

Michele Abrams

Titles: Chairperson, Leadership Consultant, Talk Show Host

Organizations: Southwest Ohio Leadership Think Regional!, MBAbrams, Feelin’ Good! Warren County Community Services TV Program

What is your career focus?

I work with Think Regional which includes 15 counties collaborating and creating relationships with leaders throughout Southwest Ohio to drive economic growth and community development. In my past career life, I was a community director for local leadership programs. I helped get the West Chester Leadership 21 and Leadership Hamilton programs started from the ground up. I was also the director of the Leadership Middletown program for 10 years.

Who is your biggest role model?

My mother was a very important role model for me because she went to college and worked in a big city at a time when many women did not go to college. I admire everything that she achieved when it was even more challenging to be a woman.