In Fairfield, women are coming together to ‘just go for it’

Women Mean Business is a place for collaboration, spur change in community and beyond.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Women Mean Business has been growing every year. From its inaugural Recognition Luncheon in 2019 to this year’s sold-out awards ceremony at the Fairfield Community Arts Center on June 18, Peggy Emerson, president of the Fairfield Chamber of Commerce, said the group has “blossomed” into what it is today.

“It’s been fun to watch them take the bull by the horns as they figure themselves out and just go for it,” Emerson said.

The group was created to bring together Women in business in Fairfield to give them a place to meet and learn. Jamie Bella, chair of Women Mean Business wrote in the award ceremony program that the group is meant to uplift the community by coming together.

“We believe in the power of unity and collaboration to affect positive change,” Bella wrote. “By welcoming women from diverse backgrounds and industries, we harness the collective strength and wisdom of our community. Together, we strive to break barriers, overcome challenges and create a more inclusive and empowering environment for women in business.”

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

The group meets monthly and consists of women who own small businesses ranging from one-person businesses to representatives of larger businesses such as Mercy Health, according to Emerson. Along with its monthly meetings, the group holds an event every quarter including March’s “Equal Pay Day” which had a guest speaker talk to the group about the art of negotiating.

While the monthly meetings are attended by more than a dozen people, the quarterly events bring in more than 50 attendees.

This quarter’s event, the Women Mean Business Awards ceremony, featured 13 nominees across three different categories — Educate, Empower and Elevate. Angela Vanoss, Apostle Miya Lee and Bonnie Nuxhall took home the custom-made awards from InsideOut Studio for their dedication to helping women in their respective categories.

The requirements for the nominees were that they had to live or work in Fairfield and be nominated to the category. Winners are selected by an anonymous awards committee.

This year was also the first year the Virginia Blauvelt Award was given out. Blauvelt was the first female Chamber of Commerce executive secretary in Ohio when she began in 1956.

According to the award’s description, it was created “to honor her legacy and to acknowledge a woman who is serving the Chamber and community as a volunteer and leader.”

This year’s winner was Lighthouse Gunsmiths President Mary Ann Henninger. Henninger volunteers across Southwest Ohio for everything from Ross School District’s band fundraising to the American Lung Association’s Fight for Air Climb. She said she does it because she wants to help others around her.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

“I give back because not everybody has money to give to an organization,” Henninger said,” but we certainly have some time that we can devote to it.”

Although Henninger attends the group’s meetings, she said she was blindsided by the recognition and is excited to see the group grow next year to spread the impact the group has on the community.

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