Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy has been leading the way in Entrepreneurship & Sustainability (E&S) Studies for high school students both within Greater Cincinnati as well as across the country. Most recently, the school hosted a first of its kind event— “Elevating the Standard: Women in Entrepreneurship”—on Tuesday, 11/29/22 in CHCA’s Lindner Theater. This event is the first in a series of “Elevating the Standard” events that will be hosted by CHCA’s Entrepreneurship & Sustainability Program.
Led by CHCA’s Director of Entrepreneurship and Sustainability, Stephen Carter, the event kicked off with an hour of networking among attendees, speakers, and students. The hors d'oeuvres that were served were created by program students in CHCA’s own Teaching Kitchen, led by Executive Chef and Teaching Kitchen Manager Christina Painter '07. All were then invited into the Lindner Theater to hear from guest speakers, followed by a Q&A panel of female entrepreneurs.
CHCA Upper School Teacher Beth Stranko welcomed guests and introduced the speakers. She also shared her own experiences of entrepreneurship from her mother, Jane Conn, whose roles have included being a top performer at Fidelity Investments, leading one of the first MOPS programs in her area—becoming the Director, and then serving at the national level, volunteering and becoming the Director for the Crisis Pregnancy Center of Cincinnati, serving as Director of the Victim Witness Advocate Division for Warren County, and for over a decade, serving as the Director for SAFE on Main, which includes Warren County’s largest shelter for women and children fleeing domestic violence.
Amy Connor, owner of CMO on Loan and CHCA’s Board of Trustees President, shared her story of how she went from a successful corporate career in Marketing at larger corporations such as Procter & Gamble and Luxottica, to an entrepreneur in recent years. Her passion for starting her own business formed when she realized the key attributes of an entrepreneur were the same as the key attributes so needed in the world today: creativity, professionalism, risking-taking, passion, planning, knowledge, social skills, open-mindedness, empathy, and a focus on helping.
Nichole Sims, Career Coach with Bold Career Consulting, shared her personal story on “Taking the Leap” in starting her own business. Sims spoke about movement opening doors and shared these words of wisdom: “If you move forward with what you know to do, all the next steps will become clear. But if you don’t move forward with what you know to do, everything you don’t know will paralyze you.” She boldly and vulnerably shared that the very things that could have held her back actually propelled her forward.
The keynote address for the evening was delivered by CHCA parent and founder of Brilliant Balance, Cherylanne Skolnicki, who spoke about “Entrepreneurship and Life Balance.” Most notable were the five pieces of wisdom that she wished someone had shared with her when she began her journey as an entrepreneur:
Want what you want. Don’t apologize.
Time and energy are not infinite. Honor this.
Design a business to fit your life. Not the other way around.
Learn to delegate. You can’t (and shouldn’t) do it all yourself.
Momentum is everything. Know how to get yourself unstuck.
The evening concluded with a Q&A panel discussion moderated by Christy Johnson, COO of OCEAN Programs, which is a training community for entrepreneurs that integrates practical business skills with biblical wisdom so that you can start and lead a sustainable business without the pressure of figuring it out alone. The panel included Connor, Sims, Skolnicki, and CHCA parent and founder of The Polen Group, Stephanie Polen. Polen and others were challenged to share wisdom of their failures and practical advice for starting and running a business. The Q&A time was thought-provoking and provided tangible advice for the attendees.
CHCA senior and E&S student Maggie Seitz shared, “I thought the evening was an incredible success. It was so cool to see community members come to the event and be so excited to hear our speakers give amazing talks and advice on entrepreneurship!”
It was apparent that attendees were grasping the insights and wisdom shared from entrepreneurs in the community and walked away feeling more equipped and empowered.
The "Elevating the Standard: Women in Entrepreneurship" event at CHCA was the best women's entrepreneurship/networking event I've been to in Cincinnati! The organization and execution of this event from registration to the real-life conversations of the speakers was relevant and so timely. I came away with renewed enthusiasm, inspiration, and the knowledge that there are other Christian women to look to as examples of success in following God's plan for their journey."
-Dr. Wendy LeBorgne, Voice Pathologist
Stay tuned for further events to come.
*E&S Students who participated in the event: Faith Bentley, Valyn Bryant, Paul Collins, Dane Custis, Emma Dal Betto, Drew Dobyns, Marlana Doepker, Julianna Filomena, Nikolai Gertsman, Ben Griffin, Alex Helmsworth, Ava Kraft, Sofia Leni, Johnathan Russell, Beata Sedova, Maggie Seitz, Mallori Sideris, Marco Siegel, Tucker Skolnicki, Bin-II Smoot, and Nick Wilkowski.
More photos here
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CHCA's E&S Studies kicks off first of its kind event!