This year’s group of Enquirer Women of the Year honorees includes women who have had their hands in major organizations across the city, working behind the scenes to make Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky a better place for everyone.
The women will be honored at a luncheon in October.
This is the 53rd group of Women of the Year honored for their contributions in our communities. Introduced by The Enquirer in 1968, the program annually recognizes area women who have supported philanthropic efforts and who have improved civic life through their investment of time, energy and their belief in helping others.
More than 500 women have been honored over the years.
Here are the 2021 Enquirer Women of the Year:
Iris Simpson Bush – On board with the Flying Pig Marathon since its inception, Iris Simpson Bush has served in a number of capacities, from board member to executive director. Along the way she has helped lead the race from a novelty-themed marathon to a weekend sports festival that now is the 15th largest in the country and a major economic driver for the community, adding an estimated $12 million to the local economy each Flying Pig weekend. Along the way she made sure the "Pig" gives back to the community, helping charities and nonprofits raise more than a million dollars each of the last five years. She also gave women and girls the chance to participate in a race of their own, founding the Queen Bee Half Marathon and 4-Mile event in the fall with an emphasis on female runners and female-centric nonprofits. Over the last six years of the Queen Bee, the event has raised a half-million dollars for charity.
Ariella "Ari" Cohen – When asked to be the chair of one of the largest initiatives the Cincinnati Jewish community will see in the coming years, the Cincinnati 2030 committee, Ariella "Ari" Cohen accepted. This community-based committee will draw on the results of the 2019 Cincinnati Jewish Community Study and extensive community input to plan for the next 10 years of Jewish Cincinnati. "Ari is a Pied Piper, who motivates and inspires her generation to give their time, treasure and talent – but most of all of their hearts," said her nominators. "Ari is leading by example and empowering other young adults and families to give back, whether it is with their time, financial resources or in-kind services."
Deborah Hayes – While extremely busy in her role as CEO/President of The Christ Hospital Health Network, colleagues say Deborah Hayes makes time to teach classes, serve on boards to support the community and give generously of her time and talents. As she goes about her work and her life, it was noted she lifts up other women to provide support and inspiration, unlocking the potential of current and future female leaders. Hayes makes a difference in the lives of others through her work and passion for serving. Her favorite quote is "The role of leadership is to create an environment where people can become heroes."
Nirvani Head – Her selfless devotion to service to the community and the needs of others made Nirvani Head a natural nominee for Woman of the Year, according to friends, colleagues and family members. "The way she loves her family and friends is the way she loves her community- she loves with an open heart and she shows up," said one. Head has given of her time, energy and leadership to groups including the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. Interparish Ministry where she volunteered in the food pantry through COVID, the Immigrant Bus program, the Cincinnati Public Schools tutoring program, Indian Hill Church, the Interfaith Hospitality Network, ArtWorks, Christ Hospital, Seven Hills Schools, ProKids, the Saturday HOOPS program in Over-the-Rhine, and the Women’s Health Center at U.C. in West Chester.
Linda R. Holthaus – From the arts to kids, Linda R. Holthaus uses innovative approaches to all she does. She brings profound business and strategic skills to her passions in the nonprofit community, say her colleagues. While volunteering as a docent as the Art Museum, Holthaus was also leading tours of the Spring Grove Cemetery, doing major fund-raising for the Symphony, Chamber Orchestra, Mount St. Joseph University, DePaul Christo Rey High School, Playhouse In the Park, Ensemble Theatre, and ProKids. Her supporters say she is a tireless fundraiser, with a can-do attitude that gets things done. "Linda does it all - from small tasks to strategic planning," said one. "She's one of the few people I know who can do both so well."
Carolyn R. Mazloomi – Withher own quilts telling complex stories around her African-American heritage and contemporary experiences, Carolyn Mazloomi is a strong advocate for presenting and documenting African American quilts. Dedicated to the advancement and entrepreneurship of African American quilters, many of whom are seniors, Mazloomi has been involved in the economic development of women through the arts for over twenty years. Nominators said her organization, The Women of Color Quilters Network, has been recognized by the International Labor Department in Geneva and the United Nations for its developmental programs to help advance women.
Candace McGraw – Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport CEO Candace McGraw is a globally recognized leader. In addition to attracting new regional airlines to CVG, she was instrumental in securing the airport as a cargo hub for Amazon Air and DHL's second-largest operation in the world. McGraw has overcome nine years of declining air traffic as well as some obstacles with the Airport Board early in her leadership, which she handled with grace, dignity and fortitude, her nomination said. "As a female leader in an historically male role, Candace has navigated challenging circumstances and brought a dynamic and innovative perspective to her role She is compassionate, understanding and empathetic."
Ellen Muse-Lindeman – As COVID 19 began to shut down businesses and schools, Ellen Muse-Lindeman vowed to keep the Kennedy Heights Arts Center open, keep artists and teachers working, and keep community members connected, her colleagues said. She secured funding and her staff never missed a paycheck. She challenged her team to be creative and adaptation became the watchword. Exhibitions moved outdoors with huge canvasses and drive-through viewings. Art Kits were created and included in the CPS Meal Distributions so kids at home would have a creative outlet. "Ellen has a unique ability to see opportunity, put people and resources together, and persevere with optimism and enthusiasm that is infectious." her nominators said. "She makes good things happen for everyone."
Stacy Sims – Thousands of students begin each day with a mindfulness prompt and classical music provided by the Cincinnati Symphony and Cincinnati Opera thanks to Mindful Music Moments, implemented by Stacy Sims. In addition to the musical interludes, which are now part of a national program reaching 170 schools and nearly 100,000 youths every day, she is also engaged in True Body Project. This wellness program impacts thousands of youth and adults in Ohio and was the winner of Best Youth Development Program in Ohio from the Department of Education. "Stacy Sims is a beacon of light who brings hope, peace, joy, and mindful moments of justice and equity to those in our society whose needs are most obvious at this time," a nomination letter said.
Dr. Belinda Tubbs-Wallace – As her nomination letter points out, Dr. Belinda Tubbs-Wallace started her service to others early: As a 9-year-old child she began donating to Feed the Children. As a college student at Central State University, she organized her own Big Sisters organization, linking college students with students at Xenia High school. As a teacher, she began taking students on tours of historically Black colleges and universities and is the founder of Sisters Youth Organization. SYO is a mentoring program that builds healthy relationship with peers to form groups for positive lifestyle in college and the workforce. "It's like she finds a way to get 48 hours out of 24 hours," her nomination said.