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More Women At the Table

WELD Southern Ohio Chapter Supports Local Women’s Professional + Economic Development

The Women for Economic and Leadership Development (WELD) Southern Ohio Chapter has provided local women with professional and economic development skills and resources to support the community’s economic strength since its establishment in 2017. 

Founded in 2003 in Columbus, Ohio, the national nonprofit organization WELD has found roots in several regions across the country, including Southern Ohio. While WELD approaches its 20th year anniversary this spring, leaders of the WELD Southern Ohio chapter say the division, now in its sixth year, is just getting started. 

Lynda Kline, chapter founding member, says she was first inspired by WELD’s mission after participating in a WELD panel event with her employer, Big Lots. 

“That’s a big part of WELD–getting more women at the table and getting more women on boards,” Lynda says. “It’s just about lifting women up. WELD really is an organization that is helping push women forward.”

Lynda and fellow chapter founders Lisa Glass and Karen Singer, all found themselves drawn to WELD’s goal. While the nonprofit had attempted to previously establish a Cincinnati chapter, the Southern Ohio region was left without a local division in 2017. So, when WELD President and CEO Barb Smoot asked attendees during an event featuring women leaders at Procter & Gamble if there was interest in launching a Cincinnati chapter, the three stepped up to lead the program. 

“Anyone can launch a chapter or an organization, but if you don’t have that connection to the organization and the mission and people surrounding you and good leadership, it’s not going to get off the ground,” Lynda says. “We believed in it, and even [when] we hit some bumps in the road, we didn’t give up.”

Nationwide, there are nine WELD chapters–four classic chapters and five e-chapters. Currently WELD boasts more than 1,000 individual members nationwide. With 35 active members who do not live within a 50-mile radius of a classic chapter, WELD’s Southern Ohio chapter is considered an e-chapter. While experiencing steady traction following its initial launch, Karen said the chapter’s growth was challenged during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Karen predicts the chapter’s membership will grow in the coming months. 

“In a sense we are relaunching,” Karen says. “We are getting the word back out there.” 

The goal of the WELD Southern Ohio chapter is to impact as many local women as possible.  

“[WELD is] not focused on one area specifically, it’s more about what are the things happening in our community that we can support, learn from and share,” Lisa says. “It goes across all industries, functions, ages and levels of careers–it doesn’t matter.”

In its short history, the chapter has hosted several different events focused on promoting WELD’s mission at the local level. For instance, Lynda pointed to a “shark tank” inspired event the group hosted for local Girl Scout Troops. At this event, Girl Scout members worked with local business leaders to develop a business plan and learn how to pitch their idea to investors. 

While only in its sixth year of operation, Lisa says WELD’s impact on local women and the community is hard to quantify. She says the WELD chapter can influence each member differently, recalling how at the group’s recent roundtable panel on financial acumen, one member was brought to tears while discussing how local women can follow their dreams and leverage their own skills and talents. 

“It’s not about who you are compared to somebody else,” Lisa said. “It’s more about you living your best life. Are you using your gifts to make the world a better place?”

Get involved with WELD. Sign up for the chapter newsletter and learn more about upcoming events and initiatives online. 

WELD Southern Ohio Chapter |, 866-614-9353

WELD’s logo features Rosie the Riveter, a famous cultural icon often associated with women’s employment and economic development. Rosie was featured on posters produced during World War II along with the declaration “We Can Do It!” encouraging women to join the workforce. WELD adopted this figure to “pay tribute to the women who challenged the perception of women’s capabilities in the workplace and in society.”

“That’s a big part of WELD–getting more women at the table and getting more women on boards,” Lynda says. “It’s just about lifting women up. WELD really is an organization that is helping push women forward.”

  • Karen Singer, Lisa Glass and Lynda Kline
  • Attendees at a recent WELD event
  • Attendees at a recent WELD event