Meet the 2012 Ten Top Women honorees

Published: Tuesday, December 04, 2012 @ 12:55 PM
Updated: Tuesday, December 04, 2012 @ 12:55 PM

It was 50 years ago that Dayton Daily News fine arts editor Betty Dietz Krebs came up with the idea of honoring women in the Miami Valley who were making a significant impact on their community.

Since that time, more than 500 women have received the prestigious Ten Top Women award, and the celebratory luncheon has grown to become one of the most anticipated annual events in our region.

This year, in honor of the 50th anniversary, the celebration was held Tuesday, Dec. 4, at Sinclair Community College’s Ponitz Center, with 700 in attendance.

Betty Blakely, 88, drove three hours from Franklin, Ind., with her daughter for the anniversary event and recalled the very first Ten Top Women luncheon at the Biltmore Hotel in 1962, where she was recognized for her extensive volunteer work.

“Dear Abby — Abigail Van Buren — was the speaker, ” recalled Mrs. Buckley, who was happy to show off her treasured scrapbook filled with notes and letters of congratulations. It also contained a full-page article in the Dayton Daily News that pictured Mrs. Blakely in her kitchen washing dishes in a dress. She and her daughter agreed that times — and women’s roles — have expanded over the years.

Attendees at this year’s luncheon saw photos and clippings from the past 50 years on display and had the opportunity to mingle with many of the women who have received the honor through the years.

This year’s panel of community judges reviewed more than 100 nominations. Judges included Sharon Howard, Director of Marketing/Communications, Dayton Development Coalition and former honoree; Marilyn Klaben, Education Director of The Human Race Theatre; Dave Melin, President, PNC Bank; Don Patterson, Mayor of Kettering; and Col. Pennie Pavlisin, Commander of the 88th Inpatient Operations Squadron at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

Serving as this year’s emcee was Cheryl McHenry, news anchor for WHIO-TV.

We introduce the exceptional group of women who are being recognized during this 50th anniversary year. All have all faced and overcome difficult life challenges and have wisdom to share.

Here are the 2012 honorees:


Chief psychologist, U.S. Army Reserve, clinical psychologist in private practice

Proudest accomplishments

I am fully responsible for the care and feeding of all Army Reserve psychologists. Though the breadth and depth of this position often requires 30 hours of recruiting, training, guiding, supporting and interfacing with Army Reserve psychologists and psychologist recruits, it is enormously fulfilling to be called upon to serve in this capacity.

The second is my work with the Southwest Ohio Critical Incident Stress Management Team. This has been enormously rewarding, particularly the opportunity to provide debriefing services to NYPD in the aftermath of the events of 9/11 on two occasions. Even moreso, this has become the opportunity of a lifetime in terms of interacting with first responders in our community in order to mitigate the impact of catastrophic life events and to work with an extraordinary group of volunteers whose generosity of spirit knows no bounds.

Advice to young women

Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone, to challenge yourself, to take risks in reaching beyond the boundaries of your experiences. Do something for somebody else that involves no pay, no score, no schedule. Volunteer for something that will better the life of just one person without expecting anything in return. Invest in learning about the desperate needs of so many in our own community. Shape history by standing up for something that you believe in because it is good and righteous. Be courageous enough to be selfless. Be a mentor. Remember that the greatest measure of a person is not their successes and failures, but how they treat other people. Give back relentlessly. The rewards will be countless.

Her bucket list

More skydiving, more book writing and more time working with Dayton SWAT, which appeals favorably to my serious adrenalin addiction.

Greatest challenge

Having undergone 58 major and minor surgeries since 1983, many of them to correct congenital defects that I was born with due to my father’s radiation exposure during World War II. The second is overcoming the survivor guilt that I carry in regard to the Ft. Hood Massacre on Nov. 5, 2009, where we lost five of our own soldiers from my unit. I was there. From this horrific event, we moved forward to deploy to the wartime theater of Afghanistan less than four weeks later.

Lessons learned

“Be ashamed to die until you have done something for humanity” — Mann

“But remember — all that is necessary for evil to triumph is that good men/women do nothing” — Unknown

“A veteran — whether active duty, discharged, retired, national guard, or reserve — is someone who, at one point in their life, wrote a blank check made payable to ‘The United States of America,’ for an amount of ‘up to and including my life.’” — Unknown


Retired Director, Human Resources, Kodak

A favorite project

While serving on the Sinclair College Board, I was a founding member of the Out of School Youth task force focused on reducing the dropout rate in Montgomery County. Sinclair, in collaboration with Montgomery County, partners to fund and administer a program that supports youth ages 16-21 who are motivated to earn their high school diplomas. The goal of this program is to return the youth to high school, help them achieve proficiency, earn a high school diploma and to have a positive placement (employment, military, continued education) upon graduation.

This nationally acclaimed and ethically diverse program has succeeded in lowering the dropout rate by approximately 50 percent; more than 5,000 young men and women have been served through this program since its inception in 2001; and Montgomery County boasts the most significant dropout reduction rate of the 10 most populous counties in Ohio.

Students participating in this program serve as role models for others; they help break or prevent a cycle of poverty in our community; and they increase their chances of success in the workplace. We should all be proud that these young men and women have chosen to transform their lives. They strengthen our community.

Advice to young women

No matter what your socio-economic position, you have gifts that can be shared and that be used by any number of community organizations. Raise your hand to help out on community projects, boards, committees or any number of other worthy causes. You will grow through each experience and our community will be well served.

Find and be your authentic self. This self is who you are — not what you are. It is the composite of all your values and your experiences. Ideally, your chosen career path will allow your authentic self to shine. If not, find other ways and outlets in our community to use your unique gifts. Doing so will allow you to be the same on the outside as you are on the inside.

Her bucket list

I have never developed a bucket list. That doesn’t mean there aren’t goals that I constantly strive to achieve. It’s just that throughout my life I have tried to do the things that were my heart’s desire — leaving behind few regrets.

Following the near death experiences of both my husband and my son, I have come to more fully appreciate that each day is a blessing and more fully understand that tomorrow is not promised to us. The lyrics to one of my favorite songs sang by Tim McGraw, “Live Like You Were Dying”, expresses the opportunity given to each of us to leave behind no regrets by living a life that brings joy to us and others.


Witnessing the unconditional love, respect and support that firefighters have for each other was a huge inspiration for me. For months following my son’s accident, which resulted in a traumatic brain injury and a lengthy hospitalization, his colleagues in the Columbus Fire Department never left his side. Every day of his four-month hospitalization one or more of them was there — they prayed, they visited, they intervened on our behalf, they researched, they feed us — but mostly, they never left Anthoni behind. These men and women were my angels, and I will always be inspired by the work they do and the camaraderie I experienced.

Life’s challenges

Being a teenage wife and mother who went on to finish both high school and college with my class was clearly a challenge.

My mom always said that when you are trying to help yourself, others are encouraged to pitch in. And, right she was. Support was all around me — from the counselor who guided me to take child development classes in high school along with college prep coursework, to the Dean of Women at the University who showed me the value of reaching out to help someone and encouraged me to follow that example once I graduated.

A life lesson

You must be the change you wish to see in the world. Personal and social transformations go hand in hand. I have the power to create the life I want to live and so do you. I have the power to change the world (at the very least, my part of it) and so do you.


Hemophilia Nurse Coordinator, The Children’s Medical Center

Favorite projects

Developing the Home Infusion Teaching Program at The Children’s Medical Center addressed an important need that was previously lacking. The program provides parents and patients comprehensive education on hemophilia and instructs them on how to start an IV and infuse medications used to treat painful bleeding episodes at home. This empowering program allows families to build self-confidence and gain control of this lifelong and potentially life-threatening disorder.

My second project has been collaborating on the development of “Family Fest” with the Southwestern Ohio Hemophilia Foundation. For the past 20 years, we have offered this event annually to families affected by hemophilia. It incorporates education, exercise, outdoor activities, team building and camaraderie over the course of one weekend. Speakers and vendors are invited to the event, and they provide information about medications and services thus enabling parents to make informed decisions about treatment products. The third project is my association with the Hemophilia Alliance, where I have been honored to serve on the board for the past 10 years.

Advice to young women

Follow your dreams. The rest will take care of itself.

Her bucket list

I don’t really have a bucket list. As a nurse, I appreciate how fragile life can be and learned early in my career to celebrate each day and be grateful for all gifts — big and little. Even little things can bring joy and laughter to life. Each day provides a new opportunity to experience unexpected joys.

A surprise in life

I was surprised to learn that growing up to be the best person I can be is a lifelong process. Various ages bring new milestones and as they are achieved, new milestones or obstacles arise and the growing up process continues. We are always progressing to be the person we hope to become. We continue to learn new things about ourselves and address new challenges. In the process, we come to a new understanding about ourselves and about others. Thankfully, life never fails to offer us abundant opportunities that allow us to continuously grow.

A life challenge

My biggest challenge has always been the fear of falling short of my expectations. I learned that dwelling on a project or task seemed to make it bigger and more difficult to start. Some fear is natural but too much fear can prevent us from moving forward. The key to overcoming the negative feelings was to tell myself that I was capable of achieving a goal or finishing a project so that it eventually became my truth. If the task seemed too overwhelming, I found it important to think what the first step should be, complete it, and then proceed with small steps that led to achieving the final goal.


Working in the Hematology/Oncology Department at The Children’s Medical Center for 30 years has offered me abundant opportunities to be inspired. I have been inspired by the children — some in my care and others who I have witnessed enduring and striving to overcome the challenges of their devastating medical conditions. I have also been inspired by the excellent team of caregivers in the department — the hematologists, nurses, social workers and the medical assistants that I worked with. The entire team is inspirational on a regular basis as I witnessed their kindness and compassion, tenderness, love and highly skilled, exceptional medical care.

A life lesson

The most important lesson I ever learned was from my mother. She taught me at a very young age to treat others as I would like to be treated. She practiced what she taught as I witnessed her gentle acts of kindness and kind words to all those she encountered.


Montgomery County Commissioner

Favorite project

My work with the Artemis Center, Dayton’s resource agency for the prevention of domestic violence, was one of the most impactful times in my life. I have never been a victim of domestic violence, but I have seen the impact on women and families time and time again. The hopelessness and despair that surrounds victims makes it impossible to sit on the sidelines and not do my part to make their lives a bit easier.

Advice to young women

Get in the game. Whatever you see that needs doing, roll up your sleeves and get it done. Call a charity or agency you are interested in, and offer your help. There will be frustrations and successes but the world needs doers. Start small and think big. Make some small corner of your world a better place and in the words of Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Volunteering for a cause is tremendously rewarding, and it has professional benefits too. You can learn new skills, and you will meet like-minded people. The networks gained from volunteer work will help you advance in any profession.

Her bucket list

Hang-gliding and parachuting, seeing my Pittsburg Steelers play in every NFL stadium in the country, traveling the world with my husband Dennis and my family, attending a taping of my favorite show, “Dancing with the Stars,” working to make politics less acrimonious and more about civil discourse and education, holding my grandchildren (I hope) for the first time.

A mentor

Indianapolis City-County Councilor Beulah Coughenour, one of the first women elected to her position, set me on the path that I am still on today. I was awed and inspired by the idea of a woman in elected position, something far less common in the 1970s. But it was far more than that. She is a woman who gets things done. She helped shape the person I am today, and I think of her when working to overcome barriers in my personal and professional life.

A life challenge

My biggest challenge is a common one: being a working mother with small children. Both of my sons, who I love more than life itself, were born while I was working full time. Sometimes I felt all alone in a meeting that was interrupted so someone could tell me that the daycare provider was on the phone (before cell phones). Sometimes if I took the day off to be homeroom mom, chaperone for a field trip, or volunteer for an event at school, it made me feel like I had let down my bosses. Sometimes coming home from work and realizing that my day was just beginning was the hardest part. As all working mothers must, I learned take one thing at a time, let the small stuff go, get done what I could get done in a day, and be there for my children and family. It can still be a challenge. I live by the motto “life is a balancing act.”

A life lesson

I learned to put family first — not just my own family, but everyone’s family. I have seen too many people rush through busy lives and look back with regret. I refuse to be that person, and I am lucky to have learned this lesson at a pretty young age. I encourage everyone to pick up the phone and call your mother or your father, brother or son. Like so many others, I work hard for the people of this community. I feel like what I do is worthwhile when I can share it with someone I love and share their triumphs, failures, loves and lives in return.


Planning Director, Leadership Institute Project, University of Dayton

Favorite projects

An especially meaningful project was during my time as principal at Holy Angels when every teacher built his/her own computer. Beyond the cost benefits (and there were significant cost benefits), the teachers came away with a newfound confidence in themselves and their ability to work effectively with technology. They were instant “rock stars” in the eyes of their students. That single project proved to be the catalyst for the entire school to take a huge leap forward in creating a positive and “can do” attitude among the faculty that permeated the entire school culture and was even reflected in our students.

Advice for younger women

Do what you love and what you believe in and you’ll have energy and enthusiasm greeting each new day and every new challenge.

Reach out to others, stretch yourself, be willing to take a risk — you will be rewarded in ways you never would have imagined.

Her bucket list

Continuing to spend quality time with my family — soaking in every moment of being a grandma to my eight beautiful grandchildren. Traveling. Continuing to grow in some way every day.

A mentor

Ellis Joseph, former long-term Dean of School of Education at University of Dayton, has been the person who gently, yet firmly has challenged me to continue to accept new challenges and to grow. He always treated me with a level of respect and professionalism beyond where I saw myself. In that way, I learned to help others see the potential that lies within them.

Life lessons

  • Don’t let the seemingly endless number of urgent matters obscure the important things in life.
  • Doing something you really love can be so much fun and have a lasting impact on others.
  • Find the confidence to take the risk to attempt something you want to try.
  • Just do it! Worry and anxiety are of little use.
  • Learn to trust your intuition — it rarely fails you. Trust yourself and trust others.
  • Say “thank you!”



Industrial Hygienist, Concurrent Technologies Co.

Favorite projects

Providing safety training, mentoring and giving talks on safety. The Dayton Daily News headlines may never read, “Well Placed Words from Safety Professional Prevents Horrible Tragedy;” but you will know deep in your heart if you do your best and try enough times, just statistically speaking, at some time, in some place, you will save at least one soul from experiencing anguish and agony; you will save at least one family from experiencing grief; you have helped someone live on to make a difference to others.

Advice to younger women

No matter what anyone else tells you, no matter what your story; no matter what your burdens, you are unique; you are important. You make a difference the way that in a giant, darkened sports stadium, a single person holding up a single lighter can be seen through the darkness. Smile at someone. Hold a door open for someone. Say a kind word to someone. Don’t be afraid to get involved. If one route doesn’t quite work out, try another, and another, and another, until you find your path.

Seek out a mentoring relationship, and become a mentor. It’s your greatest chance to achieve everything you could wish to achieve in life.

Biggest life surprise

The complete feeling of accomplishment, freedom and nirvana that I experienced during my first solo flight in a vintage-1940s Beech 18 twin-engine skydiving aircraft with the door removed, chasing white clouds in a burning blue sky with the wind rushing through the cabin and the Pratt and Whitney R-985 Wasp Jr. 9-cylinder radial engines roaring in my head.

Overcoming obstacles

Fear. Fear is anyone’s biggest obstacle. Fear can destroy you, fear can make you helpless, and fear will prevent you from reaching your highest achievements and self-actualization. Refuse to be a victim. When fear sets in, the initial sense of helplessness turns to anger, and then anger turns into motivation and a refusal to be defeated.

I was afraid of bees, so I got right up close and personal with flowering bushes full of buzzing bees; now I love them. I was afraid of needles so I gave blood, over and over again. I was afraid to go on my very first solo aircraft flight so I just figured I’d either land safely or not; either way nothing was going to stop me from taking the flight. Nothing. From that point on, it took a lot more to scare me. I was afraid of public speaking, so I got up and I gave talk, after talk, after talk until I stopped being scared; and then kept talking, and now I can’t stop talking!

Life lessons

  • Always maintain a grateful heart, and be liberal in showing your gratitude. Strive for humility.
  • Surround your self only with positive people and be positive yourself.
  • Maintain an incredible work ethic; idle hands are the devil’s workshop; busy hands are instruments of the divine.
  • Help others, but also be willing to accept their help. If you fail to accept the help of others, you are denying them the same grace that you yourself seek when you seek to help others.
  • If you’ve made a mistake, even a terrible one, get over it; you’re HUMAN. Figure out what went wrong, and don’t do it again, and help others to learn from your mistakes and save them the agony rather than letting them find out for themselves.



Executive Director, Homefull

Favorite project

I started working with homeless children almost 18 years ago, and I remember thinking every day was an amazing day to see children who had never had the opportunity to experience carefree days lounging at a pool, going to the zoo and doing arts and crafts. It was really that project that hooked me on working with the homeless.

Operation Charlie, our Street outreach project, is a very special project for me. One of my clients, Charlie who had lived on the streets off and on for many years but always seemed to check in with me when he needed something and to let me know he was OK, died in a dumpster one cold night right outside my office. His death profoundly changed me. First no one should die in a dumpster and secondly everyone deserves safe affordable housing regardless of disability, or anything else. His death triggered changes in this community and began a street outreach program in his name. He is buried in Woodland Cemetery; I am reminded we have more work to do each year on the anniversary of his death.

Every project, whether a street outreach project, a new permanent supportive housing project, a summer camp or a new case management model, is my favorite until I move onto the next project.

Advice to young women

It is OK to be excited, angry, happy and sad; don’t apologize for having emotions, it is those emotions that make you stronger, compassionate and passionate about what you are committed to.

Don’t be so rough on yourself. Women tend to be so critical of ourselves, we never think we do enough; we try to balance careers, marriage and families and many times feel like we aren’t doing any of them well. Ask yourself: are the important things being taken care of, do those people most important to you know they are loved?

I also think it is important that when you commit to something commit to it fully, whether that is a job, a project, a friend or your spouse. Don’t do anything halfway, because then you could end up with regrets.

Her bucket list

Write a book, visit the Blue Ridge Parkway late at night and spend quiet quality time looking at the most amazing star-filled sky one more time in my life, with my husband. Visit Europe. Complete a marathon. See my children become fathers and hold my own grandchild. End homelessness.


My first boss at a summer camp in North Carolina taught me a lot about management and how to treat people professionally. One great lesson that I still use every day is do what you said you would do, don’t promise something to people that you can’t deliver on, because your word is important.

My first director at Homefull (or The Other Place at the time) was the most amazing woman I had ever met. She was a visionary who still believed everything was possible and pushed me to become a better person, leader and mentor to others. She was the type of boss who inspired you to meet your own potential by believing in you.

Life challenges

Working with the homeless, I felt my greatest challenge was to change the perceptions that most people have about homeless people. I have been fortunate to learn the stories of so many people over the years who have experienced homelessness and have learned that everyone had hopes and dreams at one point in their life just like me and most didn’t have the opportunities or support they needed to achieve them. There are more common factors than differences.

A life lesson

Dream big, and think that anything is possible and everyone is capable of something. Having high expectations of people doesn’t set you up for disappointment but rather for pure enjoyment when you see people achieve things when others had given up. It is OK to have high expectations of people and yourself.


Professor of English, Wright State University

A favorite project

Sometimes in the grocery store, I look around and wonder how many of the people in a checkout line have been my students. For the last 37 years — at Wright State as well as in businesses and other community organizations — I’ve had the pleasure, joy even, of working on writing with thousands of Miami Valley citizens of all ages and from all walks of life. Good writing requires clear thinking. To imagine I’ve helped people better express their very important thoughts — leading to crucial changes or jobs getting done — gives me great satisfaction.

Advice to young women

Read widely; ponder; act.

Her bucket list

I retired from full-time teaching on Sept. 1. So far, I’ve been part of planning my younger son’s wedding, helped with kitten adoptions in Virginia, and traveled to Mexico and New York City with friends. I don’t have a bucket list yet, but I know that once the celebrating is over, I want to live a slower, more “examined” life than the past four decades have allowed, a life that has more time in it for my precious, growing family, for my own reading and writing, and for new kinds of community engagement.


  • My mother, Lucile Drake Pringle, who showed me what a good mother is. She often said, “You don’t have to be a teacher when you grow up,” letting me figure out for myself what I was meant to do.
  • My first-grade teacher, Edla Teele: who traveled the world and sent me, from second grade through high school, awe-inspiring, written accounts of her adventures on the road.
  • My younger female colleagues: whose brilliance, passion, rectitude, humor and commitment to literary studies thrill me. There have been lessons to learn from them, daily.


Life’s challenges

I don’t think we often overcome challenges. We simply deal with them, on some days better than others. Certainly that’s been true in my life.

A life lesson

I realized early on that I’d probably never be “best” at anything, but I could try really hard. What I’ve found is that persistence can get a job done, once in a while quite well.


Attorney at Law, Roberson Law

Favorite projects

Pam Walker and I were drawn together by our mutual losses: My first husband, David Phillips, died when I was 27, and Pam’s first husband, Don Berg, died when Pam was 30. When Pam called me in June 1990 and proposed starting a support group for young widows, we never dreamed that our humble beginnings would result in a support group that would be thriving 22 years later. We have ministered to over 400 young widows.

In August 2010, God called me to start a second widows group for women over age 50.

Relatively early in my legal career, my teacher and mentor, Jeff Winwood, recruited me to serve on a committee planning a seminar for the DBA’s Probate Committee. For several years, I assisted with planning monthly meetings and the annual seminar and I eventually became chair of the committee.

Before I became chair, monthly meeting attendance was sporadic, and meetings were sometimes downright boring and poorly planned. When I became chair, I inquired of the then continuing legal education (CLE) coordinator whether we could offer credits for the monthly meetings and was told that we could if we offered quality one-hour programs approved by the Ohio Supreme Court.

As credits were offered and program quality improved, committee meeting attendance skyrocketed and continues to do so today.

Advice to young women

  • Don’t strive to make a difference…become the right person and serve others, and you will make a difference.
  • Discover your strengths and focus on them. Stop trying to improve your weaknesses and feeling guilty about them.
  • “Work hard, pray hard, trust God” (a sign in my office workroom)


Her bucket list

1. Driving in the Indianapolis 500 race.

2. Singing like Sandi Patty.

3. Helping my grandchildren grow up and then old.

4. Living productively to age 100.

5. Owning a cabin in Brown County, Ind.

6. Celebrating with the Indiana Hoosiers when the men’s basketball team wins IU’s 6th NCAA Basketball Championship on April 8, 2013, at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Ga.

7. Visiting the Holy Land.

8. Having pretty, real fingernails (I bite mine.)

9. Working only 40 hours per week.

10. Establishing a Christian Legal Society Chapter in the Miami Valley that thrives for generations.

11. Giving $20 million to my favorite charity.

A life challenge

My husband’s death when I was 27 years old was devastating and life-changing, but it was not my fault. Failing the bar exam the first time I took it at age 32 was devastating and confidence-shattering because it was my fault. Developing confidence as a lawyer took time because I was ashamed that I failed the bar exam the first time around when most of my peers had passed it.

Life lessons

  • God is in control.
  • Step out and try out.
  • Do it afraid. At times I have allowed fear to control my life, but I have learned that I don’t have to get over the fear before taking action. Once I pray, get wise counsel, prepare as needed and take action. I am usually surprised at how great things turn out.
  • Simplify.
  • I don’t have to use the latest gadgets or technology if they complicate my life or frustrate me.
  • Experience is the most expensive teacher.



Superintendent, Dayton Public Schools

Proudest accomplishments

My transition from the corporate world of IBM to the elementary classroom was a personally transforming journey. I saw young students who once struggled with mathematical concepts and self-doubt respond to high classroom expectations with great success. I discovered the importance of relationships and followed my students’ progress as I taught a number of grade levels. Their success was a source of great satisfaction, and I am delighted today when I meet former students who are bringing their children to kindergarten. I look forward to seeing their children succeed, just as they did.

In my administrative role during Dr. Mack’s tenure as superintendent, I was asked to help develop a credit recovery program that allows high school students to retake courses that they have failed. After researching and visiting other successful programs, we kicked off Dayton Public Schools’ program in 2004, allowing our students to keep up with their peers and graduate on time. Since then, the program has served hundreds of students who have recovered over 1,000 credits to stay on track academically, and the program is still going strong.

Advice for young women

Always expect the unexpected and listen to your mentors. Many times our goals are centered on one plan… with no option B or C. Research all options before making an impulsive decision. Take time to ponder, dream and reflect on your successes as well as your failures. Mentors have marvelous stories, experiences and resilience… never think you have all the answers.

Be it volunteering or your professional career, approach your work ethically, legally and morally to achieve your goals.

Her bucket list

Pretty simple: Be able to see my grandchildren and be an influence in their lives, take an Alaskan cruise with my family, sing a solo in my church choir, learn how to play the piano and complete our family tree.


I am grateful to have been influenced by Dr. Jerrie Bascome McGill’s grace, passion and knowledge. I truly marveled at her compassion, patience and positive spirit as she fought to improve teaching and learning in Dayton Public Schools. I remember a time when Dr. McGill was facing a challenge, and I asked her how was it that she could be so composed. Her reply was that she downloaded the Bible and when things appeared dark, she read scriptures.

Dr. McGill encouraged me to take on responsibilities that were out of my comfort zone. I would say, I am not ready, and she would wait a couple of weeks and ask again. More importantly, she taught me how to be the voice for the voiceless.

Life challenges

Losing my parents, grieving with my brother and sister-in-law after the birth of a stillborn child, being overweight as a child. Heartaches, yes, but the biggest challenge is right now as superintendent of Dayton Public Schools. All students deserve to have access to high-quality education — and mobilizing staff, parents, and the community to understand we all have a part is daunting. Some naysayers believe we cannot improve the school system. But I can see in my mind’s eye success beyond anyone’s imagination.

I overcome feelings of discouragement every day with an attitude of courage and will. Courage to not be fearful of the hard work and the will to know it can be done.

Life lessons

Remain calm and collected through the storms of life. Negative energy produces negative outcomes.

Multiple mushrooms put the ‘fun’ in fungus

Published: Friday, October 20, 2017 @ 2:57 PM

            Sue Kentner of Butler Twp. took this photo of what calls a “mushroom bouquet” in Butler Twp. on Oct. 6 after heavy rains the day before.
Sue Kentner of Butler Twp. took this photo of what calls a “mushroom bouquet” in Butler Twp. on Oct. 6 after heavy rains the day before.

Share your photos of life in the Miami Valley by season.

Dayton Daily News reader Sue Kentner of Butler Twp. took this accompanying photo.

We invite Dayton Daily News readers to submit favorite photos capturing everyday life and special moments related to the season, to be considered for publication in Neighbors; timely nature scenes, family fun, hikes in the park and more. Photos should be from within the past few months.

Please send a high-resolution image to the following address:

Important: Use the email subject line “Seasons photo” (without the quote marks). Submissions should include the date the photo was taken, the location the photo was taken and a brief description of the photo. The photographer should include his/her first and last name and specific town of residence for a photo credit.

Why are more black women dying of breast cancer compared to white women?

Published: Friday, October 20, 2017 @ 12:58 PM

What You Need to Know: Breast Cancer

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, black women under 60 years old are more likely to die from breast cancer than white women in the same age group. In fact, data from 2015 showed black women had a 39 percent higher breast cancer death rate.

>> Read more trending news

New research from Emory University, the American Cancer Society (ACS) and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute points to differences in health insurance as the culprit.

The findings, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, included data from the National Cancer Data Base on 563,497 black and white women between the ages of 18 and 64 who had been diagnosed with stage I to stage III breast cancer between 2004 and 2013.

The researchers examined five factors for the study:

  • Demographics (age, stage, state, year of diagnosis, etc.)
  • Comorbidities (other health conditions)
  • Insurance (lack of insurance, private insurance, Medicare/Medicaid, etc.)
  • Tumor characteristics (size, type, stage, etc.)
  • Treatment (chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, surgery, etc.)

The findings

They found that insurance explained one-third of the additional risk of death among the black women compared to white women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer.

Additionally, almost three times as many black women (22.7 percent) were either uninsured or had Medicaid insurance compared to white women (8.4 percent).

“Lack of insurance is a barrier to receipt of timely and high-quality treatment and screening services,” study authors wrote.

Other major factors that explained the differences: tumor characteristics (23.2 percent), comorbidities (11.3 percent) and treatment (4.8 percent).

Nearly 80 percent of the women in the study had the most common type of breast cancer (hormone receptor-positive breast cancer) and according to the researchers, when matched for factors such as insurance, comorbidity and others, those factors accounted for a combined 76.3 percent of the total excess risk of death in black patients.

The authors noted that when it came to treatment differences, black and white women contrasted most for hormone therapy, which, according to ACS, is typically used after surgery to help reduce the chance of recurrence.

“Several studies reported that black women are less likely to complete chemotherapy and hormone therapy,” study author Ahmedin Jemal told the ACS. “This could be for many reasons, including problems with transportation or the inability to pay for medicine.”

Additionally, previous research has shown that black women get lower quality mammograms and are less likely to have a follow-up appointment after receiving abnormal mammograms.

(Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

And insurance is vital for both high-quality cancer care and for early detection.

“We know so much about cancer prevention and control,” Jemal, who is also vice president of the ACS surveillance and health services research program, said. “But we’re not applying it to the whole population equally. We have to make the standard of care available to everyone, including people with low income. And blacks are disproportionately represented in that group.”

Read the full study at

Can you master this Dayton mega hiking challenge?

Published: Thursday, October 19, 2017 @ 6:00 AM

Here are Dayton's top places to take a hike (video by Tabatha Wharton)

Camaraderie, calorie burning and even creativity – the Every Trail MetroPark Challenge Series can provide it all.

“Hiking is a great way to clear your head, reset, refocus and find inspiration,” avid hiker Michelle Coleman said.

It was, in fact, while Michelle and her husband Brian were on a hike a few years ago that the concept of the challenge series came to life.

“We went hiking on Thanksgiving Day and thought, ‘wouldn’t it be great to hike every park,’ ” she said. “By the end of our three-mile hike, we had it all figured out.”

The first challenge got underway four years ago with Michelle and Brian leading the hikes. Another series was held the following year. Last year’s challenge was derailed a bit as Michelle was sidelined with a stress fracture. But she will be back on the trail for this year’s Every Trail MetroPark Challenge Series, which gets underway on Sunday at Hills & Dales.

>> The best hiking trails in Dayton

The goal of The Every Trail MetroPark Challenge Series is to thru-hike every trail color and non-color coded trails, except for mountain and bridle trails in every Five Rivers MetroPark in one season. Those who complete the challenge will receive a thru-hiker patch. CONTRIBUTED(Contributing Writer)

The goal of the series is to thru-hike every trail – color and non-color coded trails, except for mountain and bridle trails – in every Five Rivers MetroPark in one season. Those who complete the challenge will receive a thru-hiker patch. An occasional time conflict is not a problem as participants who miss a group hike can complete it on their own and still earn the patch.

“Year one far exceeded anyone’s expectations in terms of participation, so we upped the ante a bit and went at a little faster pace the second year,” Coleman said. “We will do the same this year.”

From a 3.5-mile excursion through Hills & Dales on Week 1 to an 18-mile trek through Germantown in early March, the distance will increase with each hike. That hasn’t been a deterrent, as close to 20 people signed up for the challenge the first day it was posted online.

>> Meet the local guy who hiked 1,400 miles across Ohio

The goal of The Every Trail MetroPark Challenge Series is to thru-hike every trail color and non-color coded trails, except for mountain and bridle trails in every Five Rivers MetroPark in one season. Those who complete the challenge will receive a thru-hiker patch. CONTRIBUTED(Contributing Writer)

“I think people need something to look forward to in the winter,” Coleman said.

Ben Kendrick – who completed the challenge two years ago – agrees.

“It’s great motivation, getting out and hiking with a group,” he said.

The Huber Heights hiker enjoyed the camaraderie and the variety.

“I signed up so I could check out all of the MetroParks,” Kendrick said. “I frequented quite a few of them, but others were new to me.”

>> How Metroparks has made planning your hikes a piece of cake

Kendrick’s love of hiking has grown steadily over the years and he is now a hike leader with the Dayton Hikers.

Coleman is hopeful that this series will spark that enthusiasm in other novice or experienced hikers.

“We’re very excited to be able to help keep them motivated,” she said.

For more information or to register for the hikes, visit the Dayton Hikers Meetup page at

Those who complete The Every Trail MetroPark Challenge Series will receive a thru-hiker patch. CONTRIBUTED(Contributing Writer)


Oct. 22 2 p.m.: Hills & Dales — 3.5 miles

Nov. 5 10 a.m.: Cox Arboretum — 4 miles

Nov. 12 2 p.m.: Aullwood/Englewood South — 4.8 miles

Nov. 26 2 p.m.: Carriage Hill — 6.5 miles

Dec. 10 2 p.m.: Sugarcreek — 6.6 miles

Dec. 16 10 a.m.: Island/Deeds/RiverScape — 7 miles

Jan. 14 1 p.m.: Possum Creek — 8 miles

Jan. 21 1 p.m.: Twin Creek — 9.7 miles

Feb. 4 1 p.m.: Englewood — 10.5 miles

Feb. 11 1 p.m.: Eastwood-Huffman & back — 9+ miles

Feb. 18 10 a.m.: Taylorsville — 16 miles

March 4 10 a.m.: Germantown —18 miles

To be determined, Wesleyan and Wegerzyn

Man killed by toddler whose dad allegedly gave him loaded gun and said, ‘get him’: Sheriff

Published: Friday, October 20, 2017 @ 8:31 AM
Updated: Thursday, October 19, 2017 @ 1:25 PM

Authorities say a South Carolina man has been charged with murder after he allegedly gave his 3-year-old son a loaded 9mm handgun and told him to chase another man — who was then killed when the child discharged the weapon, PEOPLE confirms.

Albert Davis, 31, also faces charges of possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime, possession of a stolen handgun, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and unlawful conduct toward a minor, authorities say.

“Our defendant gave his 3-year-old son a weapon and had him chase the victim around a vehicle saying, ‘Get him, Get him, Get him,’ and at some point the weapon discharged,” Aiken County, South Carolina, Sheriff’s Office Capt. Eric Abdullah tells PEOPLE.

“At that age, he [the child] thinks it is a game,” Abdullah says.

He says 24-year-old Timothy Johnson was fatally shot in the chest as a result.

“In my 25 years in law enforcement, I have never encountered anything like this,” Abdullah says. “To me this is an extreme tragedy where both families have been greatly impacted, especially this young child. This recklessness of giving this young child a loaded firearm should not have happened.”

Abdullah says authorities were called to an acquaintance of Davis’ house on Beckham Road in Warrenville, South Carolina, around 3 p.m. on Tuesday and found Johnson lying on the ground.

He was pronounced dead at the scene.

“We don’t have a motive yet,” Abdullah says. “It is still an ongoing investigation.” The relationship between Davis and Johnson remains unclear.

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Abdullah says there were numerous witnesses in the front yard of the house when the shooting occurred. “All of their stories were corroborated,” he says.

Davis allegedly fled the scene and was picked up by police later that day at his home in nearby Graniteville, South Carolina, around 8 p.m.

He is being held without bond in the Aiken County Detention Center.

It is unclear if he has entered a plea to his charges, retained an attorney or when he is scheduled to appear in court.

He faces up to life in prison if convicted on the murder charge. The child abuse charge carries a penalty of up to 10 years.