The YWCA Dayton's 2020 Women of Influence honorees are: (top row, from left) Maribeth Graham, Peggy Lehner, Marya Rutherford Long, Jane Marx (bottom row from left) Julia Reichert, Becky Sorrell and Jenell Ross.

7 influential Dayton women everyone should know

YWCA Dayton announces 2020 Women of Influence, new leadership academy for young professional women.

YWCA Dayton will honor seven women who have made a difference in the community during its 2020 Women of Influence awards luncheon next spring.

The awards luncheon will take place March 12, 2020, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the Dayton Convention Center.

This year marks the 23rd anniversary of the award. 

Since 1998, the YWCA Dayton has recognized more than 165 influential women in the Dayton area.

>> Meet the 2019 YWCA Dayton Women of Influence honorees

New leadership program

In conjunction with the award, YWCA Dayton is introducing the YWCA Dayton’s Sojourn Leadership Academy, a new group for young professional women ages 25-40 with potential and desire to become community influences. 

Women must be nominated by past Women of Influence honorees or current members of the YWCA Dayton Board of Directors to participate.

Nominations are being accepted now through Jan. 4, 2020; nominees will then be asked to submit an application, with a final class selected in February. The inaugural Sojourn class will be announced at YWCA Dayton’s Women of Influence awards luncheon on March 12, 2020. Full Academy details and nomination information is available at www.ywcadayton.org/sojourn.

>> PREVIOUS COVERAGE: First phase complete of YWCA Dayton $17M renovation

Honorees in the Women of Influence Class of 2020 are: 

Biographies provided by the YWCA

Maribeth Graham, a 2020 YWCA Women of Influence honoree

Maribeth Graham

Retired Administrator, Iddings Foundation 

From the successful reincarnation of the Victory Theatre to the survival of the Dayton Arcade, Maribeth Graham has played a role in the success of some of Dayton’s most cherished landmarks.

Graham helped found the Victoria Theatre Association, serving as its president from 1997-1979 and continuing on its Board until 1987. She was part of the trio forming Friends of the Dayton Arcade in 2007. A Charter Board member of the Lincoln Society of Dayton, she helped lead the charge to place a statue of Abraham Lincoln on Courthouse Square in downtown Dayton.

She has served on the Junior League of Dayton, Antioch University Midwest trustees, West Carrollton School Board, Dayton Council on World Affairs

Peggy Lehner, a YWCA Women of Influence honoree in 2020.

Peggy Lehner

Ohio Senator 

Peggy Lehner is currently serving her second full term as state senator for the 6th Ohio District, representing portions of Montgomery County, and is one of just three Republican women in the Ohio Senate.

She served one term in the Ohio House of Representatives and 10 years as a member of the Kettering City Council. Lehner serves on a wide array of committees, both in Ohio and nationally, including the Human Services and Medicaid Committee and Judiciary Committee. She has been appointed chair of the Senate Education Committee three times.

She has advocated for the prohibition of female genital mutilation and tightening Ohio’s gun laws to protect victims of domestic violence. Instrumental in the advocacy and facilitation of a multi-acre property transfer by the State of Ohio to YWCA Dayton, which will become the YWCA’s new North Property in Huber Heights. Lehner also helped secure capital bill funding for the YWCA’s first major central building renovations since 1961.

Marya Rutherford Long, a YWCA Women of Influence 2020 honoree.

Marya Rutherford Long

Vice President – Community & Economic Development Manager, Fifth Third Bank 

Marya Rutherford Long is vice president and community and economic development manager for the Dayton Region at Fifth Third Bank, and serves on the senior leadership team for the Dayton market. She manages the Community & Economic Development Program for the Dayton market, ensuring the Region’s compliance with the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), cultivating community partnerships, and executing community development strategies.  

She has more than 25 years of CRA/community development experience, and has served in various community development management roles with PNC Bank, National City Bank, Provident Bank, and the Dayton View CDC. She is chairwoman of the Homeownership Center of Greater Dayton and is a member of the Dayton Business Journal’s Diversity Committee and the Corporate Community Roundtable.

Jane Marx, a YWCA Women of Influence 2020 honoree.

Jane Marx

Vice President/Controller, Culmen Real Estate Services 

An honorary member of YWCA Dayton’s Board of Directors, Jane Marx first joined the Board in 2013. As a partner with Miller Valentine and Vice President and Controller of Culmen Real Estate Services, Marx brought more than 30 years of experience in finance and expertise in tax credit accounting to the board. At the time, YWCA Dayton had a vision to renovate its central building, home to Montgomery County’s only domestic violence shelter. She led the building committee and helped secure funding for the project. The renovation is the largest in building history and is expected to be complete by the end of 2020.

She is past president of Miami Valley Chapter of the Construction Financial Management Association (CFMA), a member of the National Association of Real Estate Companies (NAREC) and continues to serve on the YWCA’s Building and Finance Committees.

Julia Reichert, a YWCA Women of Influence honoree in 2020.

Julia Reichert

Independent Filmmaker 

Julia Reichert has, for nearly 50 years, been an active member of the American documentary filmmaking community. She is a three-time Academy Award-nominated and primetime Emmy-winning documentary filmmaker. Her first film, “Growing Up Female,” was the first feature documentary born from the women’s liberation movement and was selected for the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress in 2011.

In 1971, Reichert co-founded New Day Films, a documentary film distribution cooperative. Today it has more than 150 active members.

Reichert has focused a lens on class, gender, and race in the lives of Americans. Her films have been official selections of the Sundance, Telluride, and New York Film Festivals, among many others. She has twice served as a juror at the Sundance Film Festival, as well as on the juries of the Full Frame Film Festival and the Nashville Film Festival, and on the selection committee for the long-running PBS series P.O.V.

Reichert is a voting member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences and of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, and a member of the advisory board of the Independent Feature Project. In 2016, Reichert was awarded an inaugural Breakthrough Filmmaker Award from Chicken & Egg Pictures. She is Full Professor Emerita of Motion Picture Production at Wright State University and was a member of the Ohio Humanities Council for five years.

>> The story behind ‘American Factory’ with Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar

Becky Sorrell, YWCA Dayton Women of Influence 2020 honoree.

Becky Sorrell

Director, Preble County Job and Family Services 

A 30-year veteran of Preble County Job and Family Services, Becky Sorrell took on the role of director in 2009. She has worked in almost every department in the organization to help Preble County’s most vulnerable citizens become self-sufficient and successful. From coordinating volunteer projects such as weekly emergency shelter meals made by staff and delivered to the local homeless shelter, to ensuring that customers receive quality service in all departments of Job and Family Services, Sorrell has been a client advocate.

She has served on community boards and committees including Adult Protective Services, Continuum of Care, Family and Children First Council, Preble County Council on Aging, and more. She was also previously active with Girl Scouts and continues to serve as a Boy Scout volunteer.

Sorrell has served on the YW Preble County Advisory Board and the Purple Paws: Preble Pets Against Domestic Violence committee.

Jenell Ross, YWCA Dayton Women of Influence 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award winner.

Lifetime achievement award 

Jenell Ross will be honored with the 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award. Ross is president of Bob Ross Auto Group in Centerville, the first African-American owned Mercedes-Benz Dealership in the world and the only one owned by an African-American woman.

She is the only second-generation African-American female automobile dealer in the country. Ross was first honored as a Women of Influence honoree in 2012. 

ABOUT THE SELECTION PROCESS 

Honorees were selected from a pool of more than 130 nominations by YWCA leadership and the volunteer WOI Committee, led this year by Chair Belinda Matthews Stenson, director, Minority Business Partnership of the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce, and Co-Chair Diane Pleiman, president, Premier Health Physician Network. 

 “We stand in awe of these women. They are thought leaders, innovators, literal care givers. They make our community stronger by sharing those gifts to break down barriers and help the most vulnerable among us thrive. That is the mission work YWCA Dayton has done for 149 years, and we are honored to lift up these women in pursuit of that vision,” said Shannon Isom, president and CEO of YWCA Dayton. 

“This year’s class represents not only women who have blazed new trails in their personal and professional lives, influencing our city and region for decades before and those to come, but they also represent a significant milestone: these honorees will be recognized as Women of Influence during YWCA Dayton’s 150th anniversary year.” 

MORE INFO:

Register here: ywcadayton.org/woi20

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