BPW talks networking, welcomes Nike Club

MEETING HIGHLIGHTS — Officers of the Ohio Valley Business and Professional Women with September guest speaker Tiffany Jenca, second from right, are, from left, Marie-Helene Wilson, treasurer; Sara Lane, president; Mary Lou Jones, secretary; and Sarita Asawa, vice president. -- Janice Kiaski

STEUBENVILLE — Networking was a key topic when members of the Ohio Valley Business and Professional Women kicked off their 2017-18 club year, welcoming as guests a large group of Steubenville High School students who are involved in their sister organization Nike Club, a club mentored by the BPW.

President Sara Lane welcomed those attending the dinner meeting held at the YWCA of Steubenville and initiated an ice breaker where Nike Club members were asked to stand and introduce themselves and cite their reason for joining the group that’s led by Katrina Morrow and boasting 50 members this year.

They included Victoria Collins, Olivia Arnold, Shayna Blackwell, Kelsie Hilliard, Delaney Connor, Jillian Haney, Niajah Carter, Jaelynn Lawrence, Sarah Kostecki, Chrishae Booth, Liena Walker, Bryauna Mitchell, Quan Gee, Gina Williams, Zolie Lester, Taylor Emery, Shayla Martin, Ann Knight, Savannah Bowman, Hayle Garrison, Hanna Rugg, Adrianah Crossland, Samaria Blackwell, Shawna Blackwell, Danica Smith and Diamond Thompson.

During the Sept. 19 event, the business portion of the meeting included the installation of Sarita Asawa as vice president, joining other officers who are, aside from Lane, Marie-Helene Wilson, treasurer, and Mary Lou Jones, secretary.

Welcomed as a guest on hand with BPW member Lorraine Linton of the Salvation Army of Steubenville was newcomer-to-town Lt. Barri Vazquez-Muhs, who along with her husband, Erik Muhs, are the new commanding officers of the Salvation Army at 332 N. Fourth St., Steubenville.

Meetings for the 2017-18 club season were outlined with the Oct. 26 event to be the club’s hosting of the political forum at Eastern Gateway Community College.

Beyond that, the 6 p.m. dinner meeting dates are Nov. 21, guest speaker Shari Prichard, location to be announced; Dec. 1, Christmas party at Gio’s Family Restaurant, 3013 Pennsylvania Ave., Weirton; Jan. 16, Angela Lombardo, location to be announced; Feb. 20, author party at the Schiappa branch of the Public Library of Steubenville and Jefferson County, 4141 Mall Drive, Steubenville; March, the annual wine and shoe extravaganza fundraiser; April 17, speaker Trish Maple at The Inn at Brandywine, 786 twp. Road, 244, Toronto; and May 15, the scholarship awards banquet and officer installation at The Laurels of Steubenville, 500 Stanton Blvd., Steubenville.

The BPW state conference will be held May 18-20, which Lane said she plans to attend and hopes to recruit five members to also participate.

Building the local BPW membership — and retaining it — is a priority for the organization, Lane announced, noting she hopes to grow it from 20 to 35. Membership is open to area women with dinner meetings held September through May at 6 p.m. on the third Tuesday of the month at various locations. It connects its members with mentors, colleagues and friends for career networking and supports women through career transitions and at different levels of industry. Annual membership is $40. For information, contact Lane at SaraLaneBPW@yahoo.com.

She explained the group’s one fundraiser is the annual Wine and Shoe Extravaganza that includes recognizing Women of the Year honorees and raising money for the group to award a traditional scholarship; a scholarship for a nontraditional student; and a Nike Club scholarship.

The guest speaker was Tiffany (Melko) Jenca, a 2001 graduate of Steubenville High School who works for Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC in Pittsburgh.

Jenca explained how networking is a necessity that involves relationship-building, which can’t be initiated when a need arises but rather is nurtured over time.

“You have to invest yourself,” she said, noting, “It doesn’t matter who you know, it’s who knows you.”

Networking’s value comes into focus, for example, as needs arise, be it for letters of reference or job prospects and interviews. Her advice was to build a brand — be kind, honest, dependable, doing your best work always. There’s also interest networking, being involved in a group or cause because of a like and interest in the people and/or its mission.

Lane shared what makes BPW relevant to her includes her love for meeting and socializing with people as well as surrounding herself with successful people such as those in the group, a monthly gathering she said she looks forward to as a girls’ night out.

But Lane said every woman needs a BPW, as the overall organization, among other issues, works to eradicate the gender wage gap, promoting equal pay for equal work. Nationally, a woman earns 79.8 cents for every dollar earned by a man in the same position. In Ohio, she said, it’s 75 cents.

The BPW of Ohio was established in 1920 and was part of the Business & Professional Women/USA.

“BPW has a proud history of working for women’s rights and issues,” the state BPW website notes. “Over the years, BPW has worked for the women’s right to vote, allowing women to serve on juries, pay equity, health issues, discrimination in the job market, etc.,” it continues. “Our locals work to better the lives of women by offering scholarships, donate to domestic violence shelters, food banks, rape crisis centers and the America Legion Buckeye Girls State. BPW is an organization dedicated to women helping women.”