Dayton ‘Dangerous Dames’ to be honored for impact on community

League of Women voters have selected Rev. Dawn Martin, Vanessa Ward and Carol Graff as "Dangerous Dames'' and will honor them Tuesday for their commitment to the Dayton area community.

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League of Women voters have selected Rev. Dawn Martin, Vanessa Ward and Carol Graff as "Dangerous Dames'' and will honor them Tuesday for their commitment to the Dayton area community.

The League of Women Voters will pay tribute to them on Tuesday.

Three local women will be honored this week for their “dangerous” endeavors and positive impact on the Dayton community.

This year’s Dangerous Dames of Dayton evening will take place on from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 8 at the NCR Country Club, located at 4435 Dogwood Trail in Kettering.

The term “dangerous dames” was coined in honor of the Dayton suffragists who marched and protested on the streets of Dayton and were deemed “dangerous to polite society,” according to the League of Women Voters. Those suffragists ultimately founded the LWV of the Greater Dayton Area in 1920.

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“Every year, the League of Women Voters honors women that make an incredible impact on our community and certainly, this class of Dangerous Dames have demonstrated their commitment to making the greater Dayton community better,” said LWV executive director Christine Corba.

Each year, a class of Dayton women are recognized by the League of Women Voters for their contributions to the community and are celebrated as the year’s Dangerous Dames. We asked this year’s class as Women’s History Month starts to tell us about themselves and why they do what they do:

Carol Graff

Former City of Beavercreek mayor, retired teacher and community volunteer

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Carol Graff

Carol Graff

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Carol Graff

Q: Tell us about yourself and how you got here:

A: Professionally: I am a retired Teacher. I was an Adjunct Instructor in Mathematics and Computer Science at Wright State University. Civically: I have over 40 years in appointed and elected positions as a Beavercreek Township Trustee(26), City of Beavercreek Councilmember(8) and Mayor(2), City of Beavercreek Planning Commission(2), Beavercreek Township Board of Zoning Appeals(4). I served on the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission for decades and was Chair twice. I retired from elective office Dec. 31, 2017.

My volunteer work included the Family Violence Prevention Center of Greene County, the Beavercreek Women’s League – President, Treasurer, Newsletter Chair. Currently my activities include: the Greene County Library Board member and President, the City of Beavercreek Youth Development Council, Greene County Sanitation Source Water Area Protection Committee, the Beaver Creek Wetlands Association Spotted Turtle Trail Committee, and Temple Israel as a Board member and Secretary of the Board, the Beavercreek Township Fire Department Auxiliary with which I was abale to work with the Greene County Health Department at the COVID-19 clinics in 2021.

I am a native of New York City, and I received my Bachelor of Arts degree in Mathematics from Brooklyn College. I am the mother of four and grandmother of two. I taught at Beavercreek High School for a short time and then joined the faculty of Wright State University as an adjunct instructor in both the Mathematics and Computer Science Department at Wright State University. I worked for the Provost in part-time administrative positions at WSU introducing a gifted student program for high school and with the student and faculty exchange with a Japanese University.

Q: What does it mean to you to be named one of Dayton’s “Dangerous Dame” and to join the decades of local woman who came before you?

A: It is an honor to be recognized for the energy and time I have devoted to my community. I never considered the possibility of being honored for any of my endeavors. Each activity in which I have been involved or in which I am currently involved is because I want to be a constructive individual making the world in which I exist a better place in which to live.

Q: What would you say to someone who reads this and is inspired by your work to make more of an impact in their corner of the community?

A: Become involved. Find area in which you have an interest and volunteer, participate. There is a need for volunteers, there is much to do. The real reward is seeing the difference your participation can make.

Q: Who or what inspired you to be a person who causes change and helps to continue to move women forward?

A: That is difficult to answer. My parents encouraged me to work hard, get an education and by example showed me the need to volunteer. During my college days, my sorority Phi Sigma Sigma sisters encouraged and strengthened my leadership skills. Locally in addition to my spouse who supported my efforts, ) Fran McGonigle and Alice Klentzman guided me into the local civic arena. Eleanor Koch, WSU VP, showed me the way to get involved at WSU, and last but not least Nora Lake, Executive Director of the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission mentored me to leadership roles.

Q: What is something we could all do right now, that would make the world a better place?

A: Find some way – in your place of worship, school system (PTA, tutor, room parent) , local civic committees, etc. to volunteer and give of your time and energy to help others. Donate money if you can, there are too many individuals and families that need food and housing.

Reverend Dawn Martin

Associate Minister at Omega Baptist Church and founder of The Risen Empowerment Resource Center, Inc., Diva by Design Ministries and G.E.M.S, Girls Empowered and Mentored to Success
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Reverend Dawn Martin

Credit: Contributed

Reverend Dawn Martin

Credit: Contributed

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Reverend Dawn Martin

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

Q: Tell us about yourself and how you got here:

A: I was born in Dayton, and I have always been determined to help my community. As a victim of early molestation, I knew that knew that there was a better way to “GET OUT” of my situation. My mother and grandmother had always encouraged me to do well in school, but most importantly fight for what is right. Changing the lives of girls “LIKE ME” has always been the mission for my life. When my mother passed away in 2003, I entered the biggest fight of my life, Grief and Depression. I had no clue that going through the darkest time of my life would start on the GREATEST journey of my life. I am the founder behind Women On Assignment, Just Dazzlind Productions, Diva By Design Ministries, and Girls Empowered and Mentored to Success (G.E.M.S) and Women By Design, which is a complete Educational and Success tool and resource for families and community.

I currently hold a Master of Science in Human Services and I have completed a second master’s in clinical Mental Health Counseling in 2021. I have a passion for helping girls and women find purpose within themselves after struggling with life’s grievances. As the author of “Fill My Cup-Transitioning to Purpose,” my plan to develop long lasting partnerships to help create a better world is the mantra I stand by, which is driven by her faith. My goal is to uplift, enhance, motivate, and celebrate community. I hope that all will join me in the inspiration, development, enhancement, motivation, economic development and education of those building their success.

Q: What does it mean to you to be named one of Dayton’s “Dangerous Dame” and to join the decades of local woman who came before you?

A: I am overwhelmed, by the outpouring of support from this Prestigious Selection! I am standing in the ranks of very courageous, inspiring, motivated, spiritual, advocates for ALL women and girls, and I am beyond honored to be inducted with these Dangerous Women, and an even special treat to be selected in the company of Rev. Vanessa Oliver Ward.

Q: What would you say to someone who reads this and is inspired by your work to make more of an impact in their corner of the community?

A: “GET INVOLVED” that is always my response to anyone that feels inspired by me! Be a part of the solution for our community, our children need guidance and they need to see the adults fighting for their future.

Q: Who or what inspired you to be a person who causes change and helps to continue to move women forward?

A: Women and Girls like me that had to start life with life itself being the road block. Most of our urban girls and boys at birth are already running the race of community survival. What they see, is violations after violations starting with mother’s raising them without the support of their fathers, starting with father’s that can’t envision a college degree because they’re looking for ways to support the families they’ve made. Starting with schools that dummy down their intellect because they learn different than what others say they should learn, starting with housing that just isn’t fair for a stray dog to live in, starting with leadership that don’t represent them let alone look like them. All of these reasons are reasons for me to be INSPIRED, and my mother Vickie Bohanon and grandmother Betty Martin taught me that “I REPRESENT THEIR ADDRESS AND THAT IS SOMETHING TO BE PROUD OF.”

Q: What is something we could all do right now, that would make the world a better place?

A: We can start with encouraging self to be better and motivate self to do the work. We cannot have expectations for the next generation to be trendsetters, go-getters, influencers and world changers if we don’t leave the roadmap.

Reverend Vanessa Oliver Ward

President of the Omega Community Development Corporation
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Reverend Vanessa Ward

Credit: Contributed

Reverend Vanessa Ward

Credit: Contributed

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Reverend Vanessa Ward

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

Reverend Vanessa Oliver Ward was not available for a Q&A with the Dayton Daily News. This information was provided by the League of Women Voters.

Reverend Vanessa Oliver Ward is the President of the Omega Community Development Corporation and Pastor Emerita of the Omega Baptist Church. As President of the Omega CDC she oversees the organization’s mission of providing services that help to develop and improve the lives of the youth, the families and the community of Northwest Dayton.

Under her leadership, the Omega CDC has directed two projects: 1) served as co-developer with MVAH in the construction of a $13 million 81-unit affordable senior housing facility, the Omega Senior Lofts, which opened in May 2020; and 2) the construction of a $11 million evidence-based, two-generational model for the reduction of poverty, named the Hope Center for Families, which will open in November 2021.

Currently, Rev. Ward is a member of the Learn to Earn Dayton Board of Directors, the 2-Generation Advisory Board, The Dayton Chamber of Commerce, Dayton Early College Academy and 1st Vice-President of Membership for the Dayton Chapter of the Links, Inc.

Other awards Rev. Ward has received include the Dayton YWCA Women of Influence Award, the 2018 Brother Raymond L. Fitz, S.M., Ph.D. Award and 2020 Honorary Doctorate in Ministry, United Theological Seminary.

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The "founding suffragists" photo of Dangerous Dames in 1913. In this photo they were heading to Washington, DC to protest the inauguration of Woodrow Wilson who, at the time, did not support women having the right o vote.

Credit: Contributed

The "founding suffragists" photo of Dangerous Dames in 1913. In this photo they were heading to Washington, DC to protest the inauguration of Woodrow Wilson who, at the time, did not support women having the right o vote.

Credit: Contributed

Combined ShapeCaption
The "founding suffragists" photo of Dangerous Dames in 1913. In this photo they were heading to Washington, DC to protest the inauguration of Woodrow Wilson who, at the time, did not support women having the right o vote.

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

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